Material presented to be miraculous in the Qurʾān is one of the major categories of videos addressing science and Islam. This page provides some context for these videos.
“Classically, the term iʿjāz indicates the ‘invalidation of a challenge,’ the impossibility of imitating the Qurʾān as to its content and form. … This teaching is rooted in specific Qurʾānic passages such as 17:88: ‘Say, ‘If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qurʾān, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.’ ” (Bigliardi, 2014, 38) Iʿjāz as we’re using it here is shorthand for iʿjāz ʿilmī, which might “be translated as ‘scientific miracle’ (or ‘scientific miraculousness’) of the Qurʾān.” (Bigliardi, 2014, 38) Those “who uphold and produce iʿjāz ʿilmī identify a correspondence between some passage of the Qurʾān and (what they perceive or present as) ‘scientific data’ or ‘facts’ to argue that such correspondence is proof of the divine origin of the Qurʾān itself.” (Bigliardi, 2014, 38)
Iʿjāz “may be classified as follows.
“(a) The Qurʾān contains passages coinciding with scientific theories; for instance the theory of an expanding universe.
“(b) The Qurʾān contains passages that describe natural phenomena currently ascertained by science but unknown at the time of revelation. For instance: the development of the foetus in the mother’s womb or planetary motion.
“(c) The Qurʾān contains passages that accurately describe specific, circumscribed facts or events or occurrences currently ascertained by scientific investigation (possibly but not necessarily unknown at the time of the revelation). For instance: the preservation of the mummy of the Pharaoh who pursued Moses or the splitting of the Moon.
“(d) The Qurʾān contains passages that foretell contemporary scientific-technological developments or inventions. For example: aviation or the exploration of space.
“(e) The Qurʾān displays numerical patterns that correspond to the numerical patterns exhibited by natural phenomena and/or occurring in scientific laws. This might be called numerological iʿjāz.
“(f) Permanent or widespread natural phenomena (for example the shape of the continents or of an animal’s skeleton) match some proper symbols or terms of Islam, such as the shahāda (i.e. the declaration of one’s belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as His Prophet), the name of God, or the positions of the prayer. No direct reference is made in this case to Qurʾānic passages. We might call this ‘iʿjāz without Qurʾān.’ The iʿjāz without Qurʾān seems to be a rather amateurish, homemade product; it requires minimal or even non-existent theological and scientific knowledge to be produced and its existence and emergence can be related to the increasing availability of computer programmes that allow easy manipulation of images.” (Bigliardi, 2014, 39-40, italics in original, footnotes omitted)
“Another term used almost interchangeably with iʿjāz (ʿilmī) is Bucailleism (or Bucaillism), from the name of the French physician Maurice Bucaille (1920-1998) who in his immensely popular book The Bible, the Quran and Science (1976) as well as in other writings and conferences expressed the idea of harmony between Qurʾānic content and ‘scientific’ data with unprecedented clarity and the aura of a Western convert and a successful medical doctor. … Bucaille’s work inspired a flood of similar ones, usually produced by authors trained in natural science or engineering and with no formal theological training.” (Bigliardi, 2014, 42)
We use iʿjāz as a category alongside the scientific fields because in these video materials, it generally functions that way. By examining the videos and information on their original sites (about popularity and the like), one may begin to learn about the diversity of this category.
Bigliardi, S. (2011). “Snakes from Staves? Science, Scriptures, and the Supernatural in Maurice Bucaille.” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science 46(4): 793-805.
Yazicioglu, I. (2013). Understanding the Qur’anic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age. University Park, PA, Pennsylvania State University Press.