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In article <4c9hvg$>, AAA  

In his World Wide Web site,

Jochen Katz has put forth a number of "arguments" which question the
Qur'an in one form or another.  

It has 'difficulties'.

Katz has portions of a book online by a Dr. William Campbell, and Katz
says of Campbell's book:

"In Dr. William Campbells book there are several chapters on different 
aspects of the alleged scientific accuracy of the Qur'an in the fourth 
section of his book."

I beg to differ.


Campbell has one chapter talking about the Qur'an and science.  He divides 
it up into two parts, one talking about cosmology/geology related 
issues, and another on human biology issues.


A personal observation: Punctuation like '?!?' is amusingly childish.

+=1. MOUNTAINS    
+=On pages 180-182, Dr. Bucaille has a section on ``The Earth's Relief'' 
+=in which he discusses the Quranic verses about mountains and says, 
+=  ``Modern geologists describe the folds in the Earth as giving 
+=foundations to the mountains, and their dimensions go roughly one 
+=mile to roughly 10 miles. The stability of the Earth's crust results 
+=from the phenomenon of these folds.'' 
+=The verses under discussion which refer to mountains read as follows,
+=The Prophets (Al-Anbiya') 21:31, Middle Meccan, 
+=  ``And We have set on the earth firm mountains, lest it should 
+=shake with them...'' 
+=The Bee (Al-Nahl) 16:15, Late Meccan, 
+=  ``And He has cast onto the earth firm mountains lest it should 
+=shake with you...'' 
+=Luqman 31:10, Late Meccan, ``He has created the heavens without 
+=supports that you can see, and has cast onto the earth firm 
+=mountains lest it should shake with you..'' 
+=The News (Al-Naba') 78:6-7, Early Meccan, 
+=  ``Have We not made the earth an expanse, and the mountains as 
+=stakes.''(``as those used to anchor a tent in the ground'' -
+=Bucaille p182.)
+=The Overwhelming (Al-Ghashiya) 88:17,19, Early Meccan, 
+=  ``Do they (the unbelievers) not the mountains, how they 
+=have been pitched (like a tent)'' (Translation Bucaille p 181) 
+=These verses say clearly that God placed (threw down) the mountains 
+=on the earth like tent pegs to keep it from shaking. Throwing the 
+=mountains down onto the earth may be poetry, but to say that 
+=mountains keep the earth from shaking is a ``difficulty''.  
+=Commenting on Dr. Bucaille's statement found at the beginning of 
+=this section, Professor of Geology, Dr. David A. Young says, 
+=``While it is true that many mountain ranges are composed of folded 
+=rocks (and the folds may be of large scale) it is not true that the 
+=folds render the crust stable. The very existence of the folds is 
+=evidence of instability in the crust.'' (emphasis mine) In other 
+=words, Mountains don't keep the earth from shaking. Their formation 
+=caused and still causes the surface of the earth to shake. 

[stuff deleted on the formation of fold and volcano mountains.]

+=  We can conclude from this information that Mountains were formed 
+=originally with movement and shaking; and that now, in the present, 
+=some earthquakes are caused by their continued formation. When the
+=plates buckle over each other there are earthquakes. When the
+=volcanoes erupt there can be earthquakes.

Ok, here are two "difficulties" with Campbell's analysis.

1. He's made the most *common* error: basing his analysis on an
*English* translation.  Allah did not reveal the Qur'an in English.
Problems with the English words should be directed to the translators.
There are no problems with the Arabic.

The word for shaking used in the verses you quote is "tameeda".  Now,
you've jumped to the hasty conclusion that this refers to earthquakes.  In
Arabic, there is another word for that: "zalzala".  See Chapter 99 of the
Qur'an for use of "zalzala".  Also, see At-Tabari's Tafseer for the meaning
of "tameeda".

My point: "tameeda" means disturbance and shaking but NOT necessarily on
the short time scales we associate with earthquakes.  Allah certainly
does talk about enormous time scales in many places in the Qur'an; here
is one that specifically talks about mountains:

"You see the mountains and think them firmly fixed; but they pass away as
the clouds pass away..." [27:88]

2. Campbell provides a single, unreferenced quote from Dr. David Young.
>From one quote, a faulty generalization is made: "Therefore....".

Here too is a single but referenced quote from the Muslim geologist,
Dr. E. L. Naggar.  This comes from his "The Geological Concept of Mountains
in the Qur'an", International Institute of Islamic Thought, International
Graphics Printing Services (301 779 7774), 1981.

"Continental orogenic belts are the result of plate boundary interaction,
and such interaction reaches its climax when two continents come into
collision. This results in considerable crumpling of the margins of the
two continents and the cessation of all forms of activity at that junction.
The two lithospheric plates become welded together, with considerable
crustal shortening in the form of giant thrusts and infrastructural nappes,
as well as considerable crustal thickening in the form of deep roots
that extend downwardly for several times the elevation of the mountainous
chain. Consequently, these collosal chains with their very deep roots
stabilize the Earth's lithosphere as plate motions are almost completely
halted at their place. Again, the notion of a plastic asthenosphere makes
it possible to understand why the continents are elevated above the oceanic
basins, and why the crust beneath them is much thicker than it is beneath
the oceans. This implies that inasmuch as mountains have very deep
roots, all elevated regions such as plateaus and continents must have
corresponding roots extending for an exceptional distance downward
in the asthenosphere. In other words, the entire lithosphere is floating
above the plastic or semi-plastic asthenosphere, and its elevated structures
are only held steadily by their downwardly plunging roots (Text-Fig. 1)."

Conclusion: at the *very least* it is quite premature for
any geologist to say that mountains do not prevent any sort of shaking.

+=  Dr. Torki also discusses these verses. For the most part his efforts 

[stuff deleted about how *Dr. Torki* may have made an error.  Agreed.
But Dr. Torki meant well, and may Allah forgive him.  And I.]


+=  The Qur'an speaks in several verses of the ``seven heavens''. 
+=Dr. Torki speaks of these verses and quotes them as follows, 

[stuff deleted of the *Dr. Torki's* speculative analysis.]

Campbell refutes a *human's* unsupported and likely erroneous
analysis.  However, Campbell has NOT refuted the Qur'an itself.

+=The Ranks (Al-Saffat) 37:6-10, Early Meccan.
+=  ``We have indeed adorned the lower heaven with the beauty of the 
+=stars and for guard against every defiant devil, so they cannot hear 
+=the highest assembly but be cast away from every side - repulsed for 
+=theirs is a perpetual torment - except he who snatches something by 
+=stealth, and a piercing flame (shihabun thaqibun) pursues him.'' 

[stuff deleted for brevity.]

+=  Scientifically, what are popularly called ``shooting stars'',
+=include two main classes of astronomical objects - meteors and

[more stuff deleted.]

+=In addition to sporadic meteors, there are also meteor showers during 
+=which many meteors may be observed at the same moment. [...deleted...] 
+=In their notes, or by their translations, Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, and 
+=Hamidullah have all indicated that the Arabic words used in the above 
+=verses refer to meteors.
+=  The difficulty here is obviously not with the science and 
+=composition of meteors and meteorites. The difficulty is how to 
+=understand what the Qur'an can be talking about. The word 
+=``rajm'', usually translated as ``cursed'' in modern translations, 
+=comes from the verb meaning ``to stone'', and Hamidullah translates 
+=67:5 which is quoted above with the words,
+=  ``and We have designed them (the lamps) as a means of stoning
+=the devils.'' (translation from French mine) 
+=  What shall we understand when it says that God throws meteors, 
+=whether made of carbon dioxide or iron-nickel, at non-material 
+=devils who steal a hearing at the heavenly council? And what are 
+=we to understand when the meteors come in showers and are traveling 
+=in parallel paths? Are we to understand that the devils all lined up 
+=in rows at the same moment? These are not easy questions.  

In fact, they are silly questions, if you'll excuse me for a moment!

1. The Qur'an does not say "All meteors are pursuing devils".  It
says that when a devil gets close to where he or she shouldn't be,
s/he is pursued by a piercing flame.  Which *some people* understand
to be meteors.

2. Assuming Campbell believes what he wrote, "sporadic meteors"
may be what the Qur'an is referring to.  As for the rows of meteors,
I can only say: who really cares?  That is a problem Campbell's created
for himself.

I can't resist: I don't claim to be a master in devil psychology, but
assuming you wanted to sneak around and get something, would you go
in a crowd or singly?  Please, don't answer.  We've wasted enough time.

+=  a. The Quranic Days of Creation.
+=  In Chapter II of Section I, we talked about the meaning of the word 
+=``smoke'' in relation to the days of creation. In this section we want 
+=to look a little more at the number of days and their order. There are 
+=seven references which speak of God creating the heavens and the earth 
+=in six days - 7:54, 10:3, 11:7 25:59, 32:4, 50:38, and 57:4. Of these 
+=it will be sufficient to quote the Late Meccan Sura of Jonah (Ynus)
+=10:3, which includes all the information given by the others.
+=  ``Indeed, your Lord is God Who created the heavens and the earth in
+=six days, then He mounted on the throne directing all things. There
+=is no intercessor except after his permission. That is God your
+=Lord, so worship Him.'' 
+=  That all sounds very straight forward, but in the Late Meccan Sura 
+=of Ha-Mim Al-Sajda 41:9-12, it reads, 
+=  ``Say, `Do you deny Him Who created the earth in two days? And do 
+=you join equals to Him? He is the Lord of the worlds, and He placed 
+=therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured 
+=therein its nourishment in four days, according to (the need) of 
+=those who ask (for food).  Then He turned equally to the heaven when 
+=it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth, ``Come together
+=willingly or unwillingly.'' They both said, ``We come obediently.''
+=And He completed them seven heavens in two days and inspired in
+=each heaven its command, and We adorned the lower heaven with lamps
+=and rendered it guarded. That is the decree of the Mighty, the

Campbell has made two serious errors here: an error of translation
(not solely his fault), and an error of omission.

The Arabic word "thumma" does not necessarily mean "then".  It can
also mean "moreover".  I will not bother to give the full argument
showing how this affects the *erroneous* translation of the verse
shown above.

The MAIN problem is the error of omission.  I am not giving the full
argument because this very point is refuted completely in Bucaille's
book.  However, Campbell does NOT include it in his analysis - which
really does not hold up to what Bucaille has explained.

[more deleted]

--- Continued in Part 2 ---

In article <4c9hvi$>, AAA  


[stuff deleted about a HUGE strawman created on the basis of some
unnamed Muslim's interpretation of a Qur'anic verse.  This time,
no name and no reference is provided.  There is no point in disputing
over such things.]

+=The third and biggest problem, though, is that, unlike the Bible, the 
+=Qur'an uses the word ``sulb'' for loins in a verse which won't allow a 
+=euphemistic interpretation. In the Early Meccan Sura of the Night-visitant 
+=(Al-Tariq) 86:5-7, it reads, 
+=``Now let man think from what he is created! He is created from a gushing 
+=fluid that issues from between the loins (sulb) and ribs (tara'ib).'' 

My mother (!) and I have consulted three different tafseers for this
verse: Tafseer At-Tabari, Ibn Katheer, and As-Saabooni.  I note that
Campbell has not listed the source of his interpretations.

I should note that even knowing Arabic is not enough to interpret the
Qur'an.  We should also consult the classic Tafseers.

+=Here we find that Man is made from a ``gushing fluid that issues from the 
+=adult father during the ``now'' of the reproductive act, from a specific 
+=physical place ``between the loins and the ribs.'' (other translations 
+=have backbone instead of loins) 

They're *misleadingly right*.  But more below.

+=Since the verse is speaking of the moment of adult reproduction it can't 
+=be talking about the time of embryonic development. Moreover, since 
+=``sulb'' is being used in conjunction with ``gushing fluid'', which can 
+=only be physical; and ``tara'ib'' which is another physical word for 
+=chest or thorax or ribs, it can't be euphemistic. Therefore, we are left 
+=with the very real problem that the semen is coming from the back or 
+=kidney area and not the testicles.
+=Dr. Bucaille, as a physician recognizes this problem only too well, so he 
+=wiggles and squirms (as he accuses the Christian commentators of doing) 
+=and finally after quoting the verse as we have seen it translated above 
+=says, ``This would seem more to be an interpretation than a translation. 
+=It is hardly comprehensible''. This is the second time he has called the 
+=Qur'an obscure or hardly comprehensible when there was a problem.

There is no need for this patronizing rot.

+=Therefore, let us look at the translations which I have been consulting. 
+=Those made by Muslims are:
+=Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Egyptian, 1946 with a preface from 1938
+=``He is created from a drop emitted---proceeding from between the backbone 
+=and the ribs.''

Yusuf Ali was Indian NOT Egyptian.

Therefore, Yusuf Ali's native language was not Arabic.  And I should note,
his commentary is some of the *weakest* going around.  I'm not saying this
rudely, not at all.  But if you compare classic Tafseers that bring up
other verses of the Qur'an, the reasons for the verse's descent, hadith
that explain it, Companions sayings, etc.....  it's like comparing the
Sun to a star.  There is no comparison.  If you want commentary, ditch
Yusuf Ali's, and get a traditional one.

+=Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, English, 1977 (translation probably 1940)
+=``He is created from a gushing fluid that issued from between the loins 
+=and ribs.''

Pickthall's native language was not Arabic.

+=Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Pakistani, 1971
+=``He is created from a fluid poured forth, which issues forth from between 
+=the loins and the breastbones.''

Khan's native language was not Arabic.

+=Muhammad Hamidullah, French, 1981 (10th Edition, completely revised)
+=``Il a ete cree d'une giclee d'eau sortie d'entre lombes et cotes.''
+=He was created from a spurt of water coming out between the loins and ribs.

My guess is that Hamidullah is a native speaker of Arabic.

+=Made by a non-Muslim:

[non-Muslim translation deleted.]

+=That these five translations are exactly equal is perfectly obvious to 
+=every reader even if he does not know French or the original Arabic.

True enough.  However, if five people say something, and Allah says
something else...

+=Dr. Bucaille's Translation
+=What would Dr. Bucaille like to suggest? He writes, ``Two verses in the 
+=Qur'an deal with sexual relations themselves...When translations and 
+=explanatory commentaries are consulted however, one is struck by the 
+=divergences between them. I have pondered for a long time on the 
+=translation of such verses (In plain English that means there is 
+=``an improbability or a contradiction, prudishly called a `difficulty''' 

The insertion of pithy remarks like this ("In plain English...") does
very little to increase the weight of Campbell's work.  In fact, it
severely detracts.

+=(sic+=), and am indebted to Doctor A. K. Giraud, Former Professor at the 
+=Faculty of Medicine, Beirut, for the following:
+=`(Man was fashioned from a liquid poured out. It issued (as a result) of 
+=the conjunction of the sexual area of the man and the sexual area of the 
+=``The sexual area of the man is indicated in the text of the Qur'an by 
+=the word sulb (singular). The sexual areas of the woman are designated in 
+=the Qur'an by the word tara'ib (plural).
+=``This is the translation which appears to be most satisfactory.''

Ma-sha-Allah, Dr. Bucaille!  Well said, well said, and well said!

My mother and I went through three different tafseers of this verse.  (See
above for references).  Verdict: Bucaille appears to be right, and most
translations are misleading at best.  It really requires a good
understanding of Arabic to understand this verse.  Note that 'sulb' is
*singular*.  In the dictionary by Wehr you cite below, you will see that
its meaning of backbone is *only* when we take the *plural* word of sulb
(aslaab).  In its singular form, it means hardening.

Before we get to 'taraa'ib': In all three tafseers, 'sulb' is given to
belong to the man.  The 'hardening of the man', an obvious metaphor which
I don't think I need to explain. My mother, bless her, was a bit hesitant to
tell me that one on the phone :-).  The 'taraaib' is also given in the
tafseers to belong to the woman.  Several people commented on its 
meaning according to Ibn Katheer.  Ibn Abbas (ra) declared it to be
the area of the woman where she places a necklace (i.e. breasts).  
Ad-Dahhak said that it encompassed the woman's eyes, breasts, and legs.
You will find much the same in Steingass's dictionary.  To the Arab,
this verse can easily be understood to metaphorically (and actually in some
sense, very directly) refer to the human being's erogenous zones.

Bucaille was right.  That he didn't provide enough references is well
taken, but unlike most English translations, he got the *sense* of the
verse correct, as opposed to a literal translation that turns out 
misleading.  In some English commentaries (e.g. Maududi), the 
mistake is even worse: it is assumed that 'sulb' and 'taraaib' both
belong to the man!  This is *incorrect*, and Maududi even includes a letter
from a medical doctor pointing out big problems with this interpretation.

Also consider that the previous verse talks of the ejection of a man 
during climax.  It would not be unusual for the following verse to 
continue with the sexual context.  The Qur'an is Allah's book, and
He talks about many things in it.

+=When compared, however, with the five translations quoted above, it is 
+=clear that Dr. Bucaille's suggestion is not a translation, nor even a 
+=paraphrase. It is an ``explanation'' and ``interpretation'' which rests 
+=on the following basic assumptions: 
+=a.   That the word ``sulb'' can stand for the male sexual area. Though 
+=no examples of such a usage from the 1st century of Islam have been given.

My mother picked it up immediately.  It took me a little while, but I
got it too (Perhaps I need to get married ;-)).  The main problem is
that neither Bucaille's nor Campbell's Arabic is developed enough to
grasp this verse easily - but Bucaille did get it eventually.

+=b.   That the phrase ``(as a result) of the conjunction'' can be found 
+=in the two Arabic words ``min bain'' which literally mean ``from between''.

No problem here.  The liquid is ejected from the interaction of the 
male and female (the latter having multiple erogenous zones).  'min 
bain' works here.

+=c.   That the word ``tara'ib'' can mean ``the sexual areas of the woman''. 

It can.  See above and below.

+=This last word occurs exactly one time in the Qur'an and you cannot 
+=establish a meaning with one usage. The dictionaries of Wehr, Abdel-Nour, 
+=and Kasimirski mention (a)the chest, (b)the upper part of the chest 
+=between the breasts and the clavicles, and (c)the ribs, and Abdel-Nour 
+=includes (d)the euphemistic extension to the breasts. It can also include 
+=the neck up to the chin and speak poetically of the area for a woman's 

And more.  Consult F. Steingass "A learner's Arabic-English 
Dictionary", Librarie du Liban, 1978, 1242 pages.  For 'taraaib':

"the four upper ribs; ribs; chest, breast, bosom; place above the 
collarbone; neck; hands; feet; eyes."

Though I am not married, I must say I appreciate the neatness of a 
lesson in sex education just by this one verse: a man really is only
concerned with a single organ as far as his sexual stimulation goes, 
but a woman has many *many* 'nooks and crannies' if you'll excuse me. 
:-)  But it is beautifully true.

Lest anyone think that Allah would not place such a reference in the
Qur'an, think again.  Islam is a complete way of life.  The Prophet
(saas) spoke only what Allah inspired him to on this Deen.  For further
example, here is a hadith cited in Muhammad Abdul-Rauf's "Marriage in
Islam", Al-Saadawi Publications 1993:

"Let not anyone of you fall upon his woman in the manner a male animal
suddenly jumps over its female victim.  Let there be a messenger between
them." He was asked, "What is the messenger, O Messenger of Allah?" He
said, "Kissing, and endearing speech." "




Campbell's points about 'alaqa go away when he interprets it as something 
which clings.  He correctly mentions this, but then proceeds to flog a 
nonexistent horse anyway.

[more deleted, my apologies.  There isn't much that is new in this

Campbell's musings about the order of development have been refuted by some
of the leading authorities on embryology.  That's a dead issue.  At the
*very least*, there is evidence to suggest that the *interpretation*
offered by Bucaille and Moore is correct.

+=``This Hadith is reported according to Abi `Abd-ar-rahman `Abdallah ibn 
+=Mas`ud, may God be pleased with him, who said: The Apostle of God, may 
+=God bless him and grant him salvation, spoke to us and he is truthful 
+=and worthy of belief:
+=``The creation of any one of you is accomplished in various stages in 
+=the abdomen of your mother; 40 days a drop of sperm; then he will be 
+=(`alaqa) a clot for the same period, then chewed meat for the same 
+=period; then the angel will be sent to him and he will blow into him the 
+=spirit (soul) and he will order four words (about the future) by writing: 
+=his monetary fortune, and his length of life, and his actions, and 
+=whether he is to be damned or happy in the hereafter.
+=``And I swear by God Whom there is no other God except Him: it could be 
+=that one of you will do acts as the people of heaven until there remains 
+=only one arms length between him and it (heaven), and the writing 
+=(of his future) will overtake him and he will do the acts of the people 
+=of the fire and he will enter it. And it could be that one of you will 
+=do acts of the people of the fire until there remains only one arms 
+=length between him and it, and the writing (of his future) will overtake 
+=him and he will do the acts of the people of heaven and he will enter it.'' 
+=(translation mine)

translation: Campbell.

+=Transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim

Here are a couple of related ahadith from Sahih Muslim and Bukhari.

Note that 'drop' is in the Arabic, but 'semen' is not (I have the
Arabic version).  The translation of the first hadith tries to bring that

Sahih Muslim, Book 32, Number 6392: 
Narrated Hudhayfah ibn Usayd: 
Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: When the drop of (semen) 
remains in the womb for forty or fifty (days) or forty nights, the 
angel comes and says: My Lord, will he be good or evil? And both these 
things would be written. Then the angel says: My Lord, would he be 
male or female? And both these things are written. And his deeds and 
actions, his death, his livelihood; these are also recorded. Then his 
document of destiny is rolled and there is no addition to and 
subtraction from it. 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 430: 
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mus'ud: 
Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(The matter of the 
Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother 
in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar 
period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah 
sends an angel who is ordered to write four things. He is ordered to 
write down his (i.e. the new creature's) deeds, his livelihood, his 
(date of) death, and whether he will be blessed or wretched (in 
religion). Then the soul is breathed into him. So, a man amongst you 
may do (good deeds till there is only a cubit between him and Paradise 
and then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he 
starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) 
Fire. And similarly a man amongst you may do (evil) deeds till there 
is only a cubit between him and the (Hell) Fire, and then what has 
been written for him decides his behavior, and he starts doing deeds 
characteristic of the people of Paradise." 

If these ahadith are hard to understand, then either our understanding 
is bad, the translation is bad, or in the worst case, the hadith is 
bad.  It would not be a shock.  Other Muslims are better qualified than
me to speak about this, but as far as I'm concerned, if this hadith is 
shown to be weak in the future, it's of no consequence.  Other ahadith
speak of Allah's Divine Will and Power, etc. etc.  Allah is still One,
without any sons or daughters, Muhammad (saas) is still the Last Messenger,
the Qur'an is still the Word of Allah.

*Nothing* has changed.

[remainder deleted].

I don't choose to go over things like Muslims in space.  Campbell provides
the answer himself, and any respectable Muslim scholar will tell us that
these are very silly, very fruitless points to bring up to debate.


What is good here is from Allah, what is not is from me and/or the devil.
My apologies.

Ahmed A. Abd-Allah

Send your comments.

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