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WERE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH CREATED IN SIX DAYS OR EIGHT?
By Veronika Matulova
Among alleged contradictions in the Qur’an is the question of the number of days the heavens and earth were created. “Two days for the creation of the earth, then four days to fill the earth with mountains, blessings and nourishment for all its inhabitants, and in the end two more days to create the seven heavens and create the stars in them. This adds up to 2+4+2 = 8 days in contradiction to the 6 days mentioned in the other verses.”1
CLARIFICATION TRANSLATION OF THE QUR’AN
To be able to determine, if there is in fact a contradiction regarding the number of days of creation of heavens and earth, it is necessary that we examine these verses not from the translation point of view, but in the light of the original text.
When misconceptions are quoted, only the translation of the Qur’an is used. However it is not the translation that would clarify what was intended. Qur’an is not translatable, because no translation can do justice to its eloquence and beauty. The greatest problem with translation is the fact that it transforms the word of Allah to the speech of a human in another language, thus destroying
the beauty and miraculous nature of the Qur’an, including perfect choice of wording, the syntax of the verse and others. The Arabic language is an extremely rich and powerful language and for this reason it is merely impossible to convey to another language all the meanings or words.2 So in order to clarify the intended meaning, we need to look to the original – Qur’an in Arabic language.
HEAVENS AND EARTH CREATED IN SIX DAYS
said in the Qur’an in surah Al A’raaf, verse 54 in the translation of the
“Indeed, Your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days…” There are many other verses stating the same count for example surah Yunus: 3, or surah Hud: 7 and others. While in surah al Fusilat: 9-12 we read in the translation of the meaning: “Say, "Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds." And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and
An Introduction to Science of the Quraan by Yasir Qadhi, p. 349, 361, 362
determined therein its [creatures'] sustenance in four days without distinction - for [the information] of those who ask. Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, "Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion." They said, "We have come willingly." And He completed them as seven heavens within two days and inspired in each heaven its command. And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.”
When reading the translation, it seems like these verses in surah al Fusilat contradict other verses in the Qur’an. Following are two most commonly used explanations on this matter.
“IN FOUR DAYS”
َ ْ ِف ِ ى أ َ ر ب َ ع ت
Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid explained that the earth was created in two days, and the mountains and the sustenance in two more days, which would be total four days. Then the creation of the heavens took another two days, which would add up to six days in total as mentioned in other verses of the Qur’an. To understand that another four days are added to the two days of creation of earth would be misunderstanding.3 Al Baqawi in his tafseer said that “in four days” means the creation of what is in the earth. The measuring of the sustenance was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which along with Sunday and Monday add up to four days.4 Al-Zajjaaj in his Al-Kashshaaf said that “in four days” means two days added to the previous two days.5
IslamQ&A Tafseer al-Baghawi, 7/165
Al Qurtubi in his commentary said that “in four days” is similar to statement, “I set out from Basra to Baghdad in ten days and to Kufa in fifteen days, meaning a total time of fifteen days.”6 The indication of the time “in four days” is by preposition “fee” which can be translated as “within”. This period will then include the previous period describing the creation of earth and support the claims mentioned above. As for example, “I have read the first chapter of the book in 2 days and finished the whole book in 10 days.” We can see that the second period of time can be taken to include the first period of time. As to why wouldn’t be better to say simply “in two days” instead of “in four days”, Zamakhshari said, “If you say: Wouldn’t it be better said: ‘in two days’? And what is the benefit of this conclusion? I say: If He says in four days after He have said that earth was created in two days, it is acknowledged that things in it were created in two days. So, the choice between saying in two days and saying in four days becomes equal. But (saying) in four days has a benefit over (saying) in two days; it is the indication that they were exactly four complete days no more and no less. If He said: in two days, while (the term) two days can be given to most of the two days, it would be possible that He meant by the first and the last two days the most of them.”7
MEANING OF THUMMA
Dr. Zakir Naik in his explanation said, “The verses of 41:9-12 speak of overlapping actions in spans of four and two days each. The adverbs are the keys to
Al Khashshaaf, vol. 3, p. 444 Al Jaami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’aan, vol. 15, p.343 7 Az-Zamakhshari, op. cit., p. 104
understanding this. The verses of 11 and 12 use the adverbs "thumma" and "fa" which imply consecutiveness of action. Neither of these two, however, are used in verse 10 (the only one which mentions four days) which instead uses the adverb "wa" implying parallel, or "overlapping" actions. In other words, the grammar tells us that the four days mentioned in verse 10 are a continuation of the two mentioned in verse 9. The four days of "measuring the earth's sustenance" refers to the two days of the creation of the earth in addition to the two days of the "spreading out of the earth's features.8 The correct translation of the word “thumma” here is “moreover”, which indicates that while the earth along the mountains was created in six days, simultaneously the heavens were created in two days. In other words, that the creation of heavens is not subsequent rather parallel. Therefore in total we will have six days of creation.” 9
CONCLUSION As we could see this and other alleged contradictions are merely misinterpretations of the Qur’an. There are no contradictions in the Qur’an, because it is the Word of God. It is very important in order to understand the intended meaning to look at the Qur’an in the language it was revealed. And so it becomes essential for the Muslim in particular to learn the Arabic language, as this is the language of Islam, in order to understand the Qur’an.
Al-Baghawi. Tafseer al-Baghawi. Al-Munajjid, Sheikh Muhammed Salih. Islam Q&A. www.islamqa.com. Al-Qurtubi. Al-Jaami’ li Ahkaam al-Qur’aan. Al-Zajjaaj. Al-Kashshaaf. Answering Islam - a Christian-Muslim dialog. http://answering-islam.org. Bismika Allahuma; Muslim responses to anti-Islam polemics. www.bismikaallahuma.org. "Call To Monotheism." The Number of Days Taken to Create the Universe by Ansar Al-'Adl. http://www.call-to-monotheism.com. I love Zakir Naik. www.ilovezakirnaik.com. Islam: The True Religion Of God Almighty. http://www.answering-christianity.com. Naik, Zakir. Q&A session YOUtube. Peace TV. Qadhi, Abu Ammar Yasir. An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan. The Noble Qur'an - Sahih International Translation. Zamakhshari. Az-Zamakhshari.