Dr. Maurice Bucaille is an eminent French surgeon, scientist, scholar and author of “THE BIBLE, THE QUR’AN AND SCIENCE” which contains the results of his research into the Judeo-Christian Revelation and the Qur’an. It is a unique contribution in the field of religion and science.
Being an outstanding Scientist, he was selected to treat the mummy of Merneptah (Pharaoh) which he did. During his visit to Saudi Arabia he was shown the verses of the Holy Qur’an in which Allah says that the dead body of the Pharaoh will be preserved as a “Sign” for posterity. An impartial scientist like Dr. Bucaille, who (being also a christian) was conversant with the Biblical version of Pharaoh’s story as being drowned in pursuit of Prophet Moses. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that unknown to the world till only of late, the Holy Qur’an made definite prediction about the preservation of the body of that same Pharaoh of Moses’ time. This led Dr. Bucaille to study the Holy Qur’an thoroughly after learning the Arabic language. The final conclusion of his comparative study of Qur’an and the Bible is that the statements about scientific phenomena in the Holy Qur’an are perfectly in conformity with the modern sciences whereas the Biblical narrations on the same subjects are scientifically entirely unacceptable.
The present booklet, which is a lecture given by Dr. Bucaille on the subject: “Qur’an and Modern Science” at the Commonwealth Institute London, will provide guidance towards the eternal truth of Islam.
THE QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE
ON 9 NOVEMBER 1976, an unusual lecture was given at the French Academy of Medicine. Its title was “Physiological and Embryological data in the Qur’an”. I presented my study on the existence in the Qur’an of certain statements concerning physiology and reproduction. My reason for doing this was that our knowledge of these disciplines is such, that it is impossible to explain how a text produced at the time of the Qur’an could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times.
There is indeed no human work prior to modern times that contains statements which were equally in advance of the state of knowledge at the time they appeared and which might be compared to the Qur’an.
In addition to this, a comparative study of data of a similar kind contained in the Bible (Old Testament and Gospels) seemed desirable. This is how the project was formed of a confrontation between modern knowledge and certain passages in the Holy Scriptures of each monotheistic religion. It resulted in the publication of a book under the title, The Bible, the Qur’an and Science. The first French edition appeared in May 1976 (Seglers, Paris). English and Arabic editions have now been published.
It comes as no surprise to learn that Religion and Science have always been considered to be twin sisters by Islam and that today, at a time when science has taken such great strides, they still continue to be associated, and furthermore certain scientific data are used for the better understanding of the Qur’anic text. What is more, in a century where, for many, scientific truth has dealt a deathblow to religious belief, it is precisely the discoveries of science that, in an objective examination of the Islamic Rrevelation, have highlighted the supernatural character of certain aspects of the Revelation.
When all is said and done, generally speaking, scientific knowledge would seem, in spite of what people may say, to be highly conducive to reflection on the existence of God.
Once we begin to ask ourselves in an unbiased or unprejudiced way about the metaphysical lessons to be derived from some of today’s knowledge, (for example our knowledge of the infinitely small or the problem of life), we indeed discover many reasons for thinking along these lines. When we think about the remarkable organisation presiding over the birth and maintenance of life, it surely becomes clear that the likelihood of it being the result of chance gets less and less, as our knowledge and progress in this field expand. Certain concepts must appear to be increasingly unacceptable; for example, the one put forward by the French winner of the Nobel prize for Medicine who tried to get people to admit that living matter was self-created as the result of fortuitous circumstances under the effect of certain outside influences using simple chemical elements as their base. From this it is claimed that living organisms came into being, leading to the remarkable complex called man. To me, it would seem that the scientific progress made in understanding the fantastic complexity of higher beings provides strong arguments in favour of the opposite theory: in other words, the existence of an extraordinarily methodical organisation presiding over the remarkable arrangement of the phenomena of life.
In many parts of the Book, the Qur’an leads, in simple terms, to this kind of general reflection. But it also contains infinitely more precise data which are directly related to facts discovered by modern science: these are what exercise a magnetic attraction for today’s scientists.
ENCYCLOPEDIA KNOWLEDGE NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND THE QUR’AN
For many centuries, man was unable to study them, because he did not possess scientific means. It is only today that numerous verses of the Qur’an dealing with natural phenomena have become fully comprehensible. I should even go so far as to say that, in the 20th century, with its compartmentalization of ever-increasing knowledge, it is not always easy for the average scientist to understand everything he reads in the Qur’an on such subjects, without having recourse to specilalized research. This means that to understand all such verses of the Qur’an one is today required to have an absolutely encyclopaedic knowledge, by which I mean, one which embreaces very many disciplines.
I use the word ‘science’ to mean knowledge which has been soundly established. It does not include the theories which, for a time, help to explain a phenomenon or a series of phenomena, only to be abandoned later in favour of explanations which have become more plausible, thanks to scientific progrss. I basically only intend to deal with comparisons between statements in the Qur’an and knowledge which is not likely to be subject to further discussion. Wherever I introduce scientific facts which are not yet 100% established, I shall, of course, make this quite clear.
There are also some very rare examples of statements in the Qur’an which have not, as yet, been confirmed by modern science. I shall refer to these by pointing out that all the evidence leads scientists to regard them as being highly probable. An example of this is the statement in the Qur’an that life is of aquatic origin; and another is that somewhere in the Universe there are Earths similar to our own.
These scientific considerations should not, however, make us forget that the Qur’an remains a religious book par excellence and that it cannot, of course, be expected to have a ‘scientific’ purpose per se. Whenever man is invited to reflect upon the works of Creation and the numerous natural phenomena he can observe, the obvious intention, in using such examples, is to stress Divine Omnipotence. The fact that, in these reflections, we can find allusions to data connected with scientific knowledge is surely another of God’s gifts whose value must shine out in an age where scientifically based materialistic atheism seeks to gain control at the expense of the belief in God.
Throughout my research I have constantly tried to remain totally objective. I believe I have succeeded in approaching the study of the Qur’an with the same objectivity that a doctor has when he opens a file on a patient: in other words, by carefully confronting all the symptoms he can find to arrive at a diagnosis. I must admit that it was certainly not a faith in Islam that first guided my steps, but simple research for the truth. This is how I see it today. It was mainly fact which, by the time I had finished my study, had led me to see in the Qur’an a text revealed to a Prophet.
We shall examine statements in the Qur’an which appear today merely to record scientific truth, but which men in former times were only able to grasp the apparent meaning of. How is it possible to imagine that, were there any subsequent alterations to the texts, these obscure passages scattered throughout the text of the Qur’an were able to escape human manipulation? The slightest alteration to the texts would automatically have destroyed the remarkable coherence which is characteristic of them, and prevented us from establishing their conformity with modern knowledge. The presence of these statements spread throughout the Qur’an looks to the impartial observer like an obvious hallmark of authenticity.
The Qur’an is a preaching which was made known to man in the course of a Revelation which lasted roughly twenty years. It spanned two periods of equal length on either side of the Hijrah (migration to Medinah). In view of this, it was natural for reflections having a scientific aspect to be scattered throughout the Book. In the case of a study such as the one we have made, we had to regroup them according to subject, collecting them surahh by surahh (chapter of the Qur’an).
How should they be classified? I could not find any indications in the Qur’an suggesting any particular classification. So I have decided to present them according to my own personal one.
It would seem to me, that the first subject to be dealt with is the Creation. Here it is possible to compare the verses referring to this topic with the general ideas prevalent today on the formation of the Universe. Next, I have divided up verses under the following general headings: Astronomy, the Earth, the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms, Man, and Human Reproduction in particular; the latter is a subject which, in the Qur’an, is allotted a very important place. To these general headings it is possible to add sub-headings.
Furthermore, I thought it useful to make a comparison between Qur’anic and Biblical narrations from the point of view of modern knowledge. This has been done in the case of such subjects as the Creation, the Flood and the Exodus.