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* Heavens or Earth? Which was created first? First earth and then heaven [2:29], heaven and after that earth [79:27-30]. 

The earth was created first, as mentioned in the first verse of Al-Baqarah(2):29. The first verse uses the word "Khalaqa" (created). The second set of verses only say that God "Daha" (spread out and gave features) the earth after the creation of the heavens, not that he "Khalaqa" (created) it. Please verify my claims by referring to any convenient dictionary, such as "Lisan Al-Arab." In other words, God created the earth, created the heavens, and then gave the earth its features and spread them out. This is explained in sufficient detail by the Companion of the Prophet Ibn Abbas who's words in this regard have been recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari. The very verses themselves even explain it for those who would like to read the very next verse. The verses say "And the earth He "daha" after that; He extracted from its water and its fodder, and the mountains He planted firmly..." Thus, it is quite clear from the verses themselves what is meant by this word. It simply means "to spread out and give features, such as streams, mountains, plants, etc."

It is very possible that what is meant by "spreading out and giving features" in this verse is the well known "continental drift" theory. In the early 20th century a German meteorologist by the name of A. L. Wegener, after studying numerous scientific indications suggested that the continents had started out as a single unified continent millions of years ago when the earth was first formed. These continents then split apart, and like a giant jigsaw puzzle they moved apart to form the continents we know today as Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, etc. This splitting of the continents is postulated to have begun in the Mesozoic Era and is continuing in the present era.

Originally, a huge primeval supercontinent that Wegener called Pangea (Greek, "all land") had rifted and the pieces had separated to form the present continents. According to Wegener, South America and Africa began to separate about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, as did North America and Europe, thereby creating the Atlantic Ocean. The Indian Ocean began to open up during the Jurassic Period. The principal movement, however, occurred during the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, when the Indian subcontinent moved north and collided with Asia, and Australia became separated from Antarctica, driving into the Indonesian Archipelago. The westward drift of the American continents generated the compressive forces that produced the western Cordilleran mountain ranges, and the northward drift of India crumpled a large area, thus forming the Himalaya mountain range. Similarly, the Alpine mountain ranges were the result of north-south compression between Africa and Europe. 

Wegener supported his hypothesis by producing evidence from various fields. Wegener did not base his theory simply on the celebrated "jigsaw fit" of the Atlantic continents, rather, much more convincing were the numerous indications evident in the geographic distribution of distinctive types of fossils. The conventional "stabilist" interpretation rejected continental drift and favored transoceanic land bridges that had sunk, such as the fabled Atlantis. Wegener showed, however, that this interpretation was geophysically implausible. Other evidence supporting Wegener's hypothesis came from a comparison of the rocks on both sides of the Atlantic, which seems to indicate that the continents had been closely connected in the past, as well as from a study of ancient climatic zones and a series of late Paleozoic sedimentary deposits known as tillites.

Although Wegener's hypothesis originally received a generally hostile reception, recently, new geophysical evidence tends to support the hypothesis of drifting continents. Convection cells, plate tectonics, and seafloor spreading are three new sciences which have recently combined to support the continental drift theory.

It is interesting to note that in the Qur'an God ties the "spreading out" (Daha) of the earth with the formation and "planting" of the mountains. An issue which Wegener has confirmed and considers to be an integral part of this theory as seen above. It is also interesting that this matter is only just beginning to receive wide-spread acceptance in the scientific community in this century. One wonders, if prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not receive his message from God, then where did he get the theory that the earth was "spread out" long after its creation and that this spreading out is related to the creation of the mountains among other issues? 

Further, it is also strange that in spite of the fact that the Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the Marmaduke Pickthall, and the Hilali and Khan translations of the meanings of the Qur'an all translate the second verse as "spread out" or "extended," still, in order to generate a "contradiction" the author of this list managed to change this word to "create" in order that it might support his allegations. A strange way to 'prove' one's case.


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