Is it permissible to interpret the Qur’aan according to modern scientific theories?
Praise be to
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen
(may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked this question, and he replied
There are some risks involved in interpreting
the Qur’aan according to modern theories. That is because, if we interpret
the Qur’aan according to those theories, then other theories are produced
which contradict them, this implies that the Qur’aan will be incorrect
in the view of the enemies of Islam. The Muslims would say that the
error is in the understanding of the one who interpreted the Qur’aan
in that manner, but the enemies of Islam are always watching for an
opportunity to attack Islam. Hence we must exercise the utmost caution
against rushing into interpreting the Qur’aan according to these scientific
matters. We must leave these alone and let matters take their course.
If it is proven that some of these theories are correct, we do not need
to say that the Qur’aan has already proven it, the Qur’aan was revealed
for the purpose of worship and moral, and for people to ponder its meanings.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“(This is) a Book (the Qur’aan) which
We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over
its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember”
It was not revealed concerning these
matters which are subject to experimentation and which people study
as part of their scientific quest. It may also be very dangerous to
apply the aayahs of the Qur’aan to these theories. For example, Allaah
said (interpretation of the meaning):
“O assembly of jinn and men! If you have
power to pass beyond the zones of the heavens and the earth, then pass
beyond (them)! But you will never be able to pass them, except with
authority (from Allaah)!”
When man reached the moon, some people
started to interpret this aayah and apply it to this event of reaching
the moon, and they said that what was meant by authority was science
and that by their science they had passed beyond the zones of the earth
and escaped the gravitational pull (of the earth). This is wrong; it
is not permissible to interpret the Qur’aan in this way. What this implies
is that you are testifying that thius is what Allaah meant. This is
a serious testimony and you will be questioned concerning that.
Whoever ponders the meaning of this aayah
will find that this interpretation is incorrect, because this aayah
comes after the aayahs (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will
And the Face of your Lord full
of Majesty and Honour will remain forever.
Then which of the Blessings of your Lord
will you both (jinn and men) deny?”
[al-Rahmaan 55:26, 28]
So we ask: did these people manage to
pass beyond the zones of the heavens?
The answer is no, for Allaah says (interpretation
of the meaning):
“If you have power to pass beyond
the zones of the heavens and the earth, then pass beyond (them)!”
Secondly: has there been sent against
them flames of fire and copper?
The answer is no. So the aayah cannot
be interpreted in this manner. We say that they reached what they reached
through science and experimentation. But for us to distort the meaning
of the Qur’aan and to try to make it fit this event, this is not correct
and is not permitted.