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Shaykh Muhammad Umar Bazmul on the Study of 'Scientific Miracle' in the Qur'an
In his commentary on the Muqaddimah Usool al-Tafsir of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (based on lectures given in 2002-2003), the Shaykh commented (p. 16):
... And some people expand in this matter and boldly make the Qur'an to carry (in meaning) that which it does not carry of contemporary matters of knowledge, basing this around the issue of "the Quran's amazing aspects do not expire." And this scientific tafseer of the Qur'an, it is from the perspective of explanation based upon (personal) opinion, and this is not accepted unless it fulfils the five conditions previously mentioned[*]. A person comes along and he enters (a meaning) into the explanation of the verse, and he makes it to carry scientific meanings which are negated in light of the context, or what has preceded, or what contradicts what has come from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and from the Companions, or what makes the word to depart from its actual linguistic indication (of meaning). So this is blameworthy explanation through opinion, and saying, "(the Quran's) amazing aspects do not expire" does not change anything in reality, because I say: Yes, it's amazing aspects to do not expire but it is not a book of science, it is not a book of geography, nor a book of engineering, noro a book of medicine, nor a book of geology, nor a book of astronomy, and nor a book of biology. It is a Qur'an, a book of guidance, a book of inimitability, you will not find a flaw in it. And using opinion to deduce (matters) as evidence from it requires the aforementioned conditions in acceptance of the explanation using opinion, and from this (category) is the scientific explanation! And approaching the Qur'an from this foundation, in this manner (i.e. with the conditions), there is no harm in it.
The five conditions alluded to by the Shaykh are found a few pages earlier (p. 13) and they are:
The Explanation of the Two Flowing Waters Which Mingle Without Corrupting the Sweet and Salt Properties of Each
The following is a summarization of the exegesis provided by Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310H) of the verse in Surah al-Furqan:
And it is He Who has made the two seas (types of water) flow into each other, one palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter, and He has set a partition and a prohibitive (restraining) barrier between them. (25:53)
Allaah, Exalted is His remembrance says: And Allaah is the one who made the two seas to flow into each other, so He made one of them to mix into the other and poured it into (the other). And the foundational (meaning) of "maraja" is "al-khalat" (mixing). Thereafter, "takhliyah" (emptying, vacating) is also referred to as "maraj" because when a man vacates a thing until he engages (mixes) with another thing then it is as if he has mixed with it. And from (what gives the meaning of "maraj") is the report of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), his saying to Abdullah bin Amr, "How will you be O Abdullah when you will be amongst the lowly ones amongst the people whose covenants and agreements will have become confusing (mixed)" and then he made his fingers (of either hand) to interlock (as an illustration), and by "marijat" he means mixed. And there is also the saying of the Exalted, ( فِي أَمْرٍ مَّرِيجٍ) "(So they are) in a confused state..." (50:5), meaning mixed (disorderly)... and it is also said "marajta daabbatak" meaning you have let it loose to go where it wishes...
Then al-Tabari quotes authorities to support this interpration of مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ (making the two waters to flow, mix):
Ibn 'Abbaas: (خلع أحدهما على الآخر) He has made one of them to be to be conferred (i.e. flow) upon, over the other. Mujaahid: (أفاض أحدهما على الآخر) He has poured out, spread one over the other. al-Dahhaak: (خلع أحدهما على الآخر) He has made one of them to be to be conferred (i.e. flow) upon, over the other.
Then regarding the interpretation of (هَذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ وَهَذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ), al-Tabari says:
And His saying, "This one is palatable and sweet", palatable, meaning intensely sweet, is is said this is "maa'un furaatun", intensely sweet water, and His saying, "And the other salty and bitter" He says: And this one is salty, bitter, next to the intensely sweet, which are the rivers and rainfalls and the salty and bitter are the seas (oceans). And He means by this (to show) that it is from His favour upon His creation, the greatness of His authority that He mixes the sweet sea water with the salty, bitter sea water and then prevents the salt from changing the sweet water from its sweetness thereby corrupting it, all through His Ordainment and decree so that its corruption of it does not lead the salt flowing into it so that they (the creation) do not find water that they can drink when they require water. So He, lofty is His praise, said, (وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَهُمَا بَرْزَخًا), "And He placed between them a partition", meaning a (prohibiting) barrier that prevents each of them from corrupting the other (وَحِجْرًا مَّحْجُورًا), He says: And He made each one of them unlawful, prohibited upon its companion (i.e. the other water) that it should change and corrupt it.
Then al-Tabari cites authorities (Ibn Abbaas, Mujaahid, Qataadah, al-Dahhaak) for what he has just explained, all of them affirming that a) the sweet water is prevented and forbidden from mixing with the salt water and vice versa b) that one does not change the taste of the other. This is after the affirmation in the first part of the verse that the two waters are made to flow into each other (mix). After these citations al-Tabari then concludes:
Abu Ja'far says: We have chosen the (preferred) saying that we have chosen regarding the meaning of His saying "and He has set a partition and a prohibitive barrier between them" instead of the saying in which the one who expressed it says that its meaning is: "He made a barrier of the earth (i.e. land) or of dry (land) (between them)." This is because Allaah, the Exalted already mentioned at the beginning of the verse that He mixed the two waters (i.e. cause them to flow into each other), and "al-maraj" is "al-khalat" (mixing) in the language of the Arabs as I have explained previously. So if the partition (barzakh) that is between the palatable and sweet of the two rivers and the salty and bitter was a piece of earth or dry land, then He would not have mixed the two waters, yet He has clearly informed that He has mixed them both (made them to meet and flow into each other). As for when each of the (two waters) are in a separate containing (basin) from each other, then there is no mixing, and there is no wondrous thing of which the people of ignorance (in this matter) can be informed and reminded, even if everything which our Lord has created (invented, brought about) is wondrous, and comprises the greatest of lessons, admonitions, and far-reaching proofs.
From this exegesis of al-Tabari we understand that whilst the two waters are made to mix, there is a partition which prevents the sweetness and saltiness of each water from being altered or corrupted by the other. This is something that many people can witness directly, first-hand, and it is a sign of Allaah's great mercy, favour and bounty.
What We Take From the Above
What you will notice here is the simplicity, certainty and beauty in the explanation from the Salaf, the absence of takalluf (pretentiousness and unnecessary burden in explanation) and the absence of pretending to be intellectual and sophisticated and the absence of pretending to be rooted in the worldly sciences of the non-Muslims when you are clearly not (like todays 'scientific miracle' bandwagon peddlers). And if you were to present this to a non-Muslim it is not something he can reject or deny at this level. However, when we start seeing the 'scientific miracle' bandwagon peddlers going into all the detailed scientific verbage in order to impress non-Muslims, and relying upon the detailed studies and often incomplete theories (of the non-Muslims themselves) as to why what is observed is observed, they open themselves up for attack, because they have now moved from the basic simplicity and beauty of the Qur'an and entered into the world of theorization and detail which carries with it a lot of speculation. This is because the non-Muslims try to explain all phenomenon through theoretical foundations that they have laid down for various fields, and in most cases, they do not truly and really fathom what is going on in as much detail as they woud like to, and hence, they bring assumptions or theories into play. When there exists this type of uncertainty and variation in possible explanations, then it allows room for debate and counterargument. Thus, if an ignorant Muslim comes along and starts citing this scientist or that scientist in relation to a particular phenomenon (attempting to correlate a very specific and detailed scientific explanation to what is just a generalized indication in the Qur'an), he has really opened himself up for attack through the sayings of numerous other scientists who hold different theories and views as to why what is observed is observed at that level of detail. Hence, this approach requires a person to move from the simplicity, beauty and certainty of the Qur'an into the world of speculation and theory. So far from inviting Muslims to 'faith' these 'scientific bandwagon' peddlers are causing Muslims to doubt in their faith.
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