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Published in the 16-31 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Big-Bang and the Holy Qur'an 
By Dr Qamrullah Khan

It is no doubt that ‘Science’ is one of the dominant realities of the time, which emerged by answering to questions like What? When? Where? and Why? etc., in terms of complete correlation between observation and experiment expressed by logical interpretation. These set of questions, basically contain the parameters of an ‘event’ in space-time related with its spatial position, time, mass, distance, speed etc. These parameters together with their inherent connections obeying a certain class of physical laws undergo a mathematical formalism which in turn is expressible in the form of mathematical equations. The solution to these equations makes certain predictions, which in case, match the observational facts, it is presumed that the theory is justified. In order to know the origin of the equations one has to go as back in the past as about 13th centuries which was a period of a mixture of Greek and Muslim Arab heritage of science, philosophy and Mathematics.

Today we come to know about the scientific and other achievements of the Muslim world of middle ages through the books written by non-scientist scholars, the sources of whose information are western historians like George Sorton, Wall Duraunt, Draper etc. These historians have accepted the pioneering authority of Muslims in the field of science and their supremacy in the domain of Mathematics and Astronomy. But, by just mentioning only some examples of the worth of Muslim Arab and non-Arab scholars in various fields, they have refused to give the trace of those Arabic texts which were seized from various centres of learning in Baghdad, Cordoba, Granada etc., by Christian crusaders during 13th century AD. However, listening to the praises and appreciation of the scientific works of our ancestors – who were forerunners in the field of science and knowledge – by Western scholars may add to or pride and imaginary superiority, but in fact gives an opium effect which sets our mind and body at rest, and consequently for them we become a subject for satire and ridicule.

Algebra: However, fact is a fact. It describes itself not in words but in its history. For example, the position that Algebra holds in Mathematics owes much to the manuscript "Al-Jabrwal-Muqabla" universally know to be written by an Arab scholar Mussa Al-Khwarzmi in 825 AD. Khwarzmi put up two fundamental problems on ‘division Algorithm’ and ‘Euclidean Algorithm’. Al-Khwarzmi also propounded equations of 1st degree to 3rd degrees and evolved the method to solve them. He also introduced equations containing one to three parameters, giving the law that for solving such equations, i.e. to determine the parameters, there must be same number of equations as the number of parameters. That is why the equation in Newtonian Mechanics or Einstein's field equations, additional conditions are imposed if the number of parameters in there equations is larger. It is for this reason that Einstein's solutions are not yet perfect and render no definite predictions.

Geometry: As for as geometry is concerned Al-Khwarizmi has, nevertheless, equally contributed to the three dimensional geometry along with a co-ordinate system which is followed even today, and somehow became associated with Euclid. However Newton in the frame work of Euclidean geometry considered space as three dimensional and supposed time to be absolute i.e. the time interval between two events in space will be the same, who so ever measures it (i.e. at rest or in motion). Contrary to this Einstein presumed that Time is not absolute, but relative, which he called I-Time, He-Time. He explained that if one lives in a paradise like atmosphere for, say, one year and suddenly he is made to move elsewhere, he would feel that he had lived there only for few days. To him one year will measure only few days. On the other hand if one is made to sit on a very hot plate for few minutes the painful suffering for few minutes would make him feel sitting on the hot plate for days together. To him few minutes will measure in days. This relativity of time has been described in the holy Qur’an 14 centuries ago. The Qur’an reveals: "Yet, they Hasten on the punishment, But Allah will not fail in His promise. Verily a Day in the sight of Thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning" (Surah 22, Ayat 47).
Explanation: According to the Ayat the non believers are hastening on the punishment as a challenge. On the other hand Allah says, He will do this according to His promise. But He informs them that one day or minute of punishment in hell fire will appear to them as if they had been sitting in this fire thousand years on the earth. Thus it is quite obvious that the idea of relativity of time as illustrated by Einstein, above, has it source in this verse.

Besides, Newton had already reconciled to the idea that the space is not absolute but relative. This implies that directions are also relative. e.g. the Sun rises in the east, that is to say to an observer at distances apart will have a different east relative to sunrise. So in fact there are so many east and similarly so many west (relative to sunset). Again the relativity of directions in space has already been described in the Qur’an as "Now I do swear to the Lord of all easts and wests, that we can certainly substitute for them better men than they." 

Space-Time: In a three dimensional space, the directions being relative the co-ordinate is already relative. Therefore, according to theory of relativity, the position (associated with three co-ordinates) and time at which some event has occurred, should represent a point in a Four-dimensional continuum. It was Minkowaski first who evolved this idea by the name space-time using Riemannian Geometry instead of Euclidean Geometry. Einstein predicted that gravitation is a property of the curvature of his space-time.

Big-Bang: Einstein presented a non static model of the Universe (The Universe was by then supposed to be static i.e. it was there as such without motion) by field equations whose solution gave infinite value for the density of matter at a certain time value called singularity in the solution. This lead many cosmologists to derive various unsuccessful interpretations, thereby treating non static models of the Universe afresh. However, in 1929 Hubble, on account of his observation revealed that the Universe is expanding in such a way that Galaxies are moving apart in such a manner that their speed is increasing as they are moving apart, when seen from any direction. So much so the present temperature observed from black body radiation is 3° K (-270° C) whereas the density of matter is acutely small. With the advancing time and increasing speed of Galaxies separating apart, if we go back in time in the past, then the speed of the Galaxies and the distances between them are getting shorter and shorter, there should have been a point in time when the total matter of the Universe must have been all joined together with infinite density and infinite temperature and it was at that so called zero-time, when a big explosion should have thrown the entire matter into motion and consequently forming the expanding universe. This great explosion in the zero-time has been named "Big-Bang". It should be made clear that the conclusion drawn depends only on the witness of a partial universe which is only few percent of the existing one.

Holy Qur’an: Again it is astonishing that some fourteen centuries ago, revelations were made to Prophet Mohammad (PUBH) through the verses of the Qur’an in which it is quoted "Do not the unbelievers see That the Heavens and the Earth were joined together (as one unit of creation) before we clove them asunder (In pieces apart), We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?" (Surah 21, Ayat 30).

Explanation: If in the present Ayat, we ponder over the word "joined together" we come to two cases. One, if two objects are joined together, there must be some substance to join them. If they move apart without falling they must be moving under the action of some force. The joining substance may be considered as energy which forms some relationship between their masses. Similarly the force separating them apart may be called gravitation in scientific term (It is interesting to mention here that there was unity in all forms of energy known today. Still more interesting is the fact that why Einstein predicted the unification of gravitational and electromagnetic energies, and later, still there are attempts to prove the unity of all form of energy including weak and strong nuclear energies, otherwise the idea of Big-Bang will break down. Therefore, the earth and heaven joined together as one unit of creation implies that the energy of the matter must have been unified at Big-Bang. Secondly, if the matter at Big-Bang was a combination of all its three states i.e. solid, liquid and gas, we can take an example: Let us pour two sugar cubes in a cup of milk. Both have a different density. If we stir the milk till sugar cubes are dissolved, the density of the solution will become higher than either one. Therefore, the entire matter of the universe being considered to be joined together, obviously means that the density at big-bang should have been infinite. So science only coins terminologies and equation in accordance with the ideas presented in Quran. Even Einstein did so, which is apparent from his statement that "God does not play dice". i.e. the universe has not come into being by itself. Again Holy Quran states "Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down their sides, And contemplate the (Wonders of) creation in the Heavens & the Earth, (with the saying our Lord Not for Naught Hast thou created (All) this" (i.e. thou has not created all this purposelessly or at random) (Surah 3, Ayat191). Here again it is quite reasonable to believe that Einstein's thought and statement has its roots in the Qur’an.

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