Islam and Science – Water in the Quran
30 Apr 2011
Environment, Miracles / Ijaz
Zaghloul R. M. El-Naggar (An-Najjar)
Zaghloul El Naggar (An Najjar) presents this undated episode of Islam and Science for Peace TV. The show as a whole advocates for the use of the Qurʾān in order to understand science, a form of iʿjāz.
In this episode, El Naggar discusses how water came to be on Earth, and how its evaporation-rain cycle is described “miraculously” in the Qurʾān. He begins by stating that all the water on the surface of the Earth came through volcanic processes as the crust of the Earth expanded. He suggests that like the word “Earth/earth” in English, in Arabic the word aruḍ has three meanings: the planet as a whole, the continents on which we live, or dirt which composes the continents.
El Naggar states that there are 63 verses of the Qurʾān which mention water, “and each of them includes a scientific fact”, thereby proving for him that the Qurʾān has a divine source. Although he does not state which verse(s) of the Qurʾān he is explicating, the majority of the show his discusses verses 79.30-31. He briefly mentions verses 59.68-70 when discussing potable water.
Most of the Qurʾānic passages provided in the show are presented only in Arabic without explanatory references, so those with no Arabic will have difficulty looking up the material in the Qurʾān.
Although the concept of iʿjāz is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable, the interpretations of the Qurʾān provided here are non-standard, and are stretching the actual text in order to create evidence for the assertions here.
The presentation of water having come from inside the Earth is one of two theories around which a scientific consensus has formed. Although El Naggar makes a few small misstatements (the height of the atmosphere is not measured, for instance, from the Equator, and there cannot be plants, animals and humans when the planet does not yet have surface water), the material here generally conforms to contemporary scientific consensus.
The basic outlines of water vapor and condensation were well known long before the life of the Prophet Muḥammad. The rudimentary outlines about the water cycle provided in the Qurʾān would not have been beyond the knowledge of civilizations in the seventh century. Part of the construction here is similar to Intelligent Design, suggesting that the water cycle as it arose on Earth could not have happened without intervention from God. Scientists and others find applying science as “proof” of a religious text problematic. An example of this perspective among Muslims may be found here.
About Zaghloul R. M. El-Naggar (An-Najjar)
Born in 1933 in Egypt, Zaghloul El-Naggar received a PhD in geology in 1963 from the University of Wales in the UK. The majority of his scholarship has focused on i’jāz, the idea that scientific facts may be found in the Qurʾān, proving its miraculous nature. A collection of his videos can be found on the Discovering Islam website.
He was considered a threat by earlier Egyptian governments; he now is the head of the Committee of Scientific Notions in the Qurʾān, Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Cairo.
El-Naggar believes that scientific interpretation may only be done with material that may be experienced, unlike references to the soul, jinn, etc, which should be approached with faith alone. However, he also suggests that the Qurʾān may “orient scientists in attaining new ‘cosmic truths’.” (Bigliardi, 103)
“Zaghloul El-Naggar” Wikipedia. Accessed 19 April 2015.
Bigliardi, S. (2014). Islam and the Quest for Modern Science: Conversations with Adnan Oktar, Mehdi Golshani, Mohammed Basil Altaie, Zaghloul El-Naggar, Bruno Guiderdoni and Nidhal Guessoum. Istanbul, Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul.
“Dr. Zaghloul Najjar.” Discovering Islam. Discovering Islam, n.d. Web. Accessed 18 June 2015.