Saturday, January 19, 2013

Expanding Universe predicted in Qu'ran debunked - Pt 2

In my previous post on this apparently contentious topic, a Muslim reader, "Farrukh", took me to task for daring to offer an opinion on the meaning of an Arabic word. I quote his comment below:

"Vastness of space and the stretched out skies are mentioned at numerous places in the Quran too. However, what is different in 51:47 is the hint of expansion. While you claim that here is no justification for referring to the idea, it is clear to the vast majority of muslims:
وَالسَّمَاء And the heavensبَنَيْنَاهَا We constructed بِأَيْدٍ with strengthوَإِنَّا and We areلَمُوسِعُونَ its Expander
Just as I should not try to teach you English, you should not be lecturing on the meanings of the Arabic word La Moo See Oona. Unfortunately for you, we the muslims know its meaning as well as what it implies and your attempts to dissuade us otherwise is serving no purpose other than to show case your desperation and ignorance (of arabic)."
Let's ignore for the moment the fact that the meaning of the verse became clear to "the vast majority of Muslims" only after it was discovered that the universe was expanding, and that prior to the discovery not a single translator had thought to render the word as "expander". (Are we to suppose that Muslims prior to Edwin Hubble's discovery in 1929 were ignorant of this meaning of lamūsiʿūna? If it is so clear to so many Muslims now, why was it apparently so opaque to all the Qur'an scholars prior to 1929? )

In any case, never one to duck a challenge, I've been doing some research into the word lamūsiʿūna. I have used exclusively Islamic experts. Here's what the Qur'an Dictionary in the Qur'an Arabic Corpus has to say:

The triliteral root wāw sīn ʿayn (و س ع) occurs 32 times in the Quran, in six derived forms:
  • six times as the form I verb wasiʿa (وَسِعَ)
  • six times as the noun saʿat (سَعَة)
  • five times as the noun wus'ʿ (وُسْع)
  • nine times as the active participle wāsiʿ (وَٰسِع)
  • four times as the active participle wāsiʿat (وَٰسِعَة)
  • twice as the form IV active participle mūsiʿ (مُوسِع)
The translations below are brief glosses intended as a guide to meaning. An Arabic word may have arange of meanings depending on context. Click on a word for more linguistic information, or to suggestion a correction.Verb (form I) - to encompass, to extend
(2:255:41) wasiʿaExtends
(6:80:19) wasiʿaEncompasses
(7:89:26) wasiʿaEncompasses
(7:156:19) wasiʿatencompasses
(20:98:9) wasiʿaHe has encompassed
(40:7:15) wasiʿ'taYou encompass
(2:247:23) saʿatanabundance
(4:100:11) wasaʿatanand abundance
(4:130:7) saʿatihiHis abundance
(24:22:6) wal-saʿatiand the amplitude of means
(65:7:3) saʿatin(of) ample means
(65:7:5) saʿatihihis ample means
(2:233:21) wus'ʿahāits capacity
(2:286:6) wus'ʿahāits capacity
(6:152:20) wus'ʿahā(to) its capacity
(7:42:9) wus'ʿahā(to) its capacity
(23:62:5) wus'ʿahā(to) its capacity
Active participle
(2:115:11) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(2:247:42) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(2:261:23) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(2:268:12) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(3:73:31) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(4:130:10) wāsiʿanAll-Encompassing
(5:54:36) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(24:32:16) wāsiʿun(is) All-Encompassing
(53:32:10) wāsiʿu(is) vast
Active participle(1) Noun
(4:97:20) wāsiʿatanspacious (enough)
(29:56:6) wāsiʿatun(is) spacious
(39:10:15) wāsiʿatun(is) spacious
(2) Adjective
(6:147:7) wāsiʿatinVast
Active participle (form IV)
(2:236:16) l-mūsiʿithe wealthy
(51:47:5) lamūsiʿūna(are) surely (its) Expanders
So - even those who are so keen to show that 51:47 refers to the expansion of the universe can find no  example of the root having this meaning other than this one verse. In every single one of the other 32 occasions that this root is used in the Qur'an it means simply VAST or BIG or EXTENDS.

Can any Muslim please explain how and why they believe the word lamūsiʿūna refers to expansion uniquely in 51:47? Where is the "hint of expansion", Farrukh, other than in your head and in the heads of all the other miracle seekers desperate to find proof of scientific miracles.

What really annoys me (as always!) is that this supposed miracle is used by the twits at iERA to persuade the gullible and vulnerable to convert to Islam.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Regrettably I have had to introduce approval even for recent posts because of the huge increase in spam comments (advertising everything from on-line bingo to support pants)
      I will approve ALL comments as long as they are not spam or overtly offensive (to can be as rude as you like to me. I'm a big boy and won't get upset.)

  2. From all the other usages of the word wasi', I guess 51:47 actually means "we make it wide". That is, it was God who make the heavens wide. Isaiah is actually clearer on the expansion of the universe.

  3. Well done Spinoza, you should also challenge all the on-line translators on the web to change the meaning of لَمُوسِعُونَ because you cant fathom how it could mean ‘Stretcher/expander/extender’. It is a noun, where Allah is expressing his quality of being the expander in active participle tense or whatever you call it in English grammar. It very clearly gives a hint of expansion or stretching of the universe, as against the universe being contracted or being held static / constantly fixed.

    I am not desperate for proving anything, it was just that after reading one of your blogs i wanted to show you a way of salvation. But it is becoming clearer to me that you are not interested and neither looking for one. You have chosen to criticize the most logical and straight forward religion in the world. Whereas there are numerous other religions preaching worship of stone carved idols, worshipping cows, snakes, rats, fire, sun, moon and what not, which you ignore.

    We muslims hold the converts to Islam in the highest respect. For we were born in islam, but these are the people who having been born and brought up in different cultures and religions, used their intellect and wisdom to arrive at the ultimate truth. May Allah raise their stature even further and bless them with paradise. Ameen

    1. Hi Farrukh,
      Good to see you back. Thank you for trying to "save" me - I appreciate it (that sounds ironic but it's not - I appreciate my friends attempts as well!)
      I'm afraid I have to take issue with your definition of Islam as "the most logical and straight forward religion in the world".
      We're talking about a religion which demands, inter alia, that its adherents believe that they will be rewarded by a heaven full of 90ft magically rejuvenating hairless virgins with see-though legs and that the devil resides in their nostrils whilst they are asleep. Logical? Straight forward?
      Come on, Farrukh. You may claim many things for Islam but those two epithets are certainly pushing it a bit, aren't they?

    2. "It is a noun, where Allah is expressing his quality of being the expander in active participle tense or whatever you call it in English grammar. It very clearly gives a hint of expansion or stretching of the universe, as against the universe being contracted or being held static / constantly fixed."

      Actually, no. The 'muusi3uun' there is more plausibly alluding to Allah being 'rich' (see 2:236:16) instead of expanding the 'sky', besides, it doesn't say 'la-musi3uuna-haa' (surely it's Expander).

      Even if you prefer this litteralism, then you'd still have problems:
      1. Muusi3uun is the plural active participle of Awsa3a which means to widen. Wasi3a itself means wide or spacious (wasi3a kursiyyuhu l-samaawati wa l-ard: The width of his Kursiy is that of heaven and earth). The form Af3ala being causative then it's 'make smth. wide'. So even if you insist on associating it with heaven, then it merely says 'Allah is the one who made the sky wide'. Classical scholars support this even Ibn KAthir.

      2. Equating samaa' (heaven) with universe itself is modern muslim wishful-thinking. In Classical Arabic, the word samaa'is the concept of a solid roof high above; quite like the idea of a Firmament or Vault of Heaven. Check Lane's Lexicon of Arabic, the trilitteral root s-m-w refers to something high above, and that the word samaa' used to also commonly denote the ceiling or roof of a house.

    3. Thank you for your knowledgeable contribution, Studens. It's always good to have Arabic speakers who are not forced by their faith into one interpretation add their opinions on these issues.

    4. The declaration of faith in Islam is very straightforward :

      There is none worthy of worship except Allah , Muhammad is the Prophet PBUH of Allah.

      It entails the following essential beliefs :
      I believe in Allah, His Angels, His (revealed) Books, His Prophets, the Day of Judgment and (I believe that) good or bad destiny is from Allah and (I believe that) there will be resurrection after death. I solemnly declare my belief in Allah as He is with all His names and attributes, and I have accepted (to obey) all His commands by pledging with my tongue and testifying them with my heart.

      No where do you find that “its adherents have to believe that they will be rewarded by a heaven full of 90ft magically rejuvenating hairless virgins with see-though legs and that the devil resides in their nostrils whilst they are asleep”.

    5. So you disbelieve the Hadith of Bukhari do you, Farrukh?

    6. which specific hadiths are you referring to?

    7. The Prophet said, 'In Paradise they will not urinate, relieve nature, spit, or have any nasal secretions. Everyone will have two virgins who will be so beautiful and transparent the bones of their legs will be seen through their flesh.'"

      Muslim vol. I,no. 462 concerning Satan living in one's nose
      Found in Hadeeth: Book 2, Number 0462: Abu Huraira reported: The Apostle of Allah said. When any one of you awakes up from sleep and performs ablution, he must clean his nose three times, for the devil spends the night in the interior of his nose.

  4. Here we go again. I used to be Hindu, I used to worship idols, the Hindu sun-god, and what not. That was when I was a child. But I grew up, and put away childish things. The sun was no god, it was just one star among quintillions. It needed not my adoration to shine. I gave up all of it because it made no sense. But now I realize that simple nature worship makes more sense than worshiping a praise-needy deity who will torture you in ways which will make Hitler look saintly, if you don't adore him. Not that I'm going back to my original faith.

  5. @ Studens Olei
    Actually, NOT AT ALL. I prefer literalism, and i have no problem:
    1. As you said, “Muusi3uun is the plural active participle of Awsa3a which means to widen. The form Af3ala being causative then it's 'make smth. wide' ”.
    So when it is associated with heaven, then it unequivocally says :
    السَّمَاء And the heaven
    بَنَيْنَاهَا We constructed it
    بِأَيْدٍ with strength
    وَإِنَّا and indeed, We
    لَمُوسِعُونَ making it wide.

    2. So the Universe is expanding? What is it expanding into?? Modern science has yet to answer it and what EXACTLY is expanding, is also unanswered. Without going into classical Arabic, the samaa' (heaven) as per the Quran, whatever is above the earth, a roof high above; quite like the idea of a Firmament or Vault of Heaven (as you say) is expanding. Thank you, very much.

  6. The notion of the heavens being stretched by God is much older than the Qur'an. The Tanakh mentions this around 12 times. Even the verse "Allah's throne extends over the heavens and the earth" is similar to Isaiah 66:1-
    "Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool."
    I think the writer(s) of the Qur'an were familiar with Isaiah.

    1. Thats one view, that people copied from each other. The other is that all religions were revealed by the same God.

  7. That may be true, some degree of convergence and similarity exists between the Torah, Bible and the Quran, since they all originate from the same holy Source. Allah Almighty says 5:48

    ‘And unto thee (Mohammed) have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher (criterion) over it.’

    This confirms the divine origins of the Quran, Torah (corrupted overtime) and Bible (corrupted overtime) since without the help of telescopes, satellites and space shuttles this could not have been known to mankind.

  8. Actually, the idea of heaven being stretched out is older than even the Tanakh. In the Enuma Elish, the god Marduk splits the body of the primeval goddess Tiamat and one half of her body is "stretched out" to form the heavens. The EE uses the same terms as Isaiah and the Qur'an. So I guess there is nothing miraculous about he Tanakh and Qur'an mentioning this. The Enuma Elish, the Tanakh and the Qur'an are all works of fallible humans.

  9. You are confusing the two concepts where the heavens have been stretched out and static (ancient) and the heavens that are being expanded (Scientifically determined by Hubble in 1929, though alluded to in the Quran 1400 years ago).

    The Quran, challenges mankind in the following verses:

    And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a Surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah , if you should be truthful. But if you can not - and you will never be able to - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers [Al-Quran 2:23-24]

  10. Isaiah 51:13 (Young's Literal Translation):

    And thou dost forget Jehovah thy Maker, Who IS STRETCHING out the heavens and founding earth. And thou dost fear continually all the day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as he hath prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor?

  11. could you explain as to how stretching of heavens is related to founding of earth. is he referring to the birth of the Earth ? Who is this oppressor. I have read the whole chapter Isaiah 51 and its hard to make any sense of it.

    1. As for the oppressor, my guess is that this was most likely the Assyrian or the Babylonian empire.

  12. The "foundation" of the "erets" (cognate to Arabic "ard"; earth/land/ground) is the seafloor or the bedrock. See Psalm 18:15 and 104:5-6. I suppose that since the seafloor and bedrock are constantly forming, the earth is still being founded. But before we call this a scientific miracle, let us remember that ancient people were aware of volcanic activity, and were even aware of volcanoes in the sea. The Santorini volcanic eruption of circa 1400 BC is an example.

  13. My attempts at replying to this article regarding the expansion of the universe in the word (لموسعون) "Lamoosi'un".

    Part #1
    First, a few basic rules of Arabic grammer:
    1.A word in arabic can hold multiple meanings if the meanings are not contradictory.
    2.Every single word in Arabic is composed of a 3-letter root word.
    3.The grammatical weight of the word denotes it's function(n., v., adj., etc...) and tense(past, present, future, command, etc...). weight is determined by taking the 3-letter origin word and using the word (فعل) "fi'il" "action" as the weight, and from there, the extra letters that have been added on to the root word can be determined.

    ك-ت-ب, يكتب, يكتبون,كاتب

    ف-ع-ل, يفعل, يفعلون, فاعل

    Writer, | ,writes, |
    they write wrote

    this is used to determine the function and tense of the word in Arabic.
    Now, the root word of (لموسعون) is (و-س-ع), and in "Lisan Al-Arab", a well known Arabic lexicon, it says that (وسع) "wasa'a" means the opposite of (ضيق)"dhayyiq" "narrow/constricted".
    lets break down our word لموسعون "lamusi'oon" a bit:
    1.موسع "musi'"-->weight of مفعل"muf'il", meaning "the doer of action" = doing وسع"wasa'" = the act of making something expand, i.e. expanding.

    2. واسع"wasi'" is not a break down of the word لموسعون"lamusi'oon", therefore it has a completely different meaning, because it carries a different weight.
    واسع"wasi'"--> is an adjective, equivelant to the meaning of vast, a static state of vastness.

    3.continuing on point 1, موسع+ون --> موسعون, weight of مفعلون, which is used for the english equivelant of present continuos. "موسعون" "musi'oon" = present continuos state of making something expanding.
    "ون-" "-oon" indicates plurality, a grammatical attachment, because earlier in the ayah "إنا" "inna" "We are" is used.
    the benefit of using "ون-" "-oon" over "ين-" "-een" which are the same exact in meaning, except that when used, they refer to different words in the sentence. this is called " نصب" "nassb" and "رفع" " rafi' ". the use of "ون-" "-oon" drops the need to add on "ها-" "-ha" to the word because it is grammatically linked to "بنيناها" "banaynaha" which is mentioned earlier in the ayah.
    the grammaticality of the word "musi'oon" describes the action that is being done by the one who is doing "banaynaha"
    4. {لـ} in the word "لموسعون" "lamusi'oon"--> used for emphasis on the rest of the word that it is attached to.

    the word "موسعون" "musi'oon" is the same weight as "مسلمون" "muslimoon", which means being in a continuos state of submission.
    continued in part #2

  14. Part #2
    Present continuos: موسعون "musi'oon", English equivelant: I am writing, I am drawing a line.
    order/command: أوسع "awsi'", denotes action to be done by someone else.
    أوسع في المجلس
    make an expansion in the seating arrangement, i.e., make more seating room.
    Past: وسعناها "wasa'naha", denotes a static state of vastness that was done in the past.
    why didn't the quran use "موسعونها" with "ها" at the end of the word to refer to the sky, which is femnine?
    because of the grammaticality of the word. موسعين, موسعون are both the same words with different grammatical attachments. the function of these attachments is to know what the word is referring to. adding on "ها" to "موسعون" would be a case of extra-grammaticality.
    An English example would be:
    The girl gave me the bookses.
    the extra "-es" on the end of the word books is an extra-grammatical error. the word "books" alread refers to a plurality, and adding "-es" to refer to a plural is therefore unnecessary and grammatically incorrect.

    "لموسعون" does not linguistically contradict the scientific discovery of the expansion of the universe.

  15. This is a link of reference about shape of universe from NASA (

    The more we read what is said in Quran to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) , the more we understand that the verses are indeed from the Divine Creator.

    Almighty God said He is the One that controls the expansive universe. That's why if we search for facts on the end of such expansion (or End of Days@Big Crunch). We can't find any possibilities of it to happen in near time. Thus the argument of Universe expanding-forever remains true for human as human will never know when it will end.

    But , Almighty God said,

    "And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it."
    (The Qur'an, 51:47)

    "Verily, the Hour is surely coming. But I will to keep it hidden, that every soul may be rewarded for that which it strives (to achieve)." [The Qur'an 20:15]

    Almighty God explanation on end of days about what will happen to our flat universe.

    The Day when We will fold the heaven like the folding of a [written] sheet for the records. As We began the first creation, We will repeat it. [That is] a promise binding upon Us. Indeed, We will do it. (The Qur'an, 21:104)

    Indeed , this is a great verse from the Divine Creator reminding us to always prepare before the coming of Judgement Day.

  16. Well I think the word expand is a modern inclusion to make it compatible with the contemporary scientific discoveries.

  17. As a popular Muslim apologist like Hamza Tzortzis admits.... "Regrettably, the scientific miracles narrative has become an intellectual embarrassment for Muslim apologists, including myself" ... And I suggest from an ex Muslim to a Muslim, save yourself from the stupidity and embarrassment of the scientific miracles narrative...and find a "new approach" in the words of tzortzis

    ...even hamza has stopped peddling the scientific miracles of the Qur'an, and in a final attempt to salvage the Qur'an from being obsolete and stationed forever as what it had always been a 7th century primitive backward Bedouin Arab book - has now resorted to the very bizarre, irrational and subjective
    ... " oh like the vast majority of Muslims in history- I'm not fluent in Ancient Arabic that just like the Qur'an is obsolete and has been superseded by MSA but... still the Qur'an is so beautiful because I heard it uses devices like onomatopoeia and gibberish.... And I heard it's a literary miracle.... So because I heard it from some one else it must be a literary miracle"

    LOL �� is that the best Muslims have got... But then again as a former Muslim (now agnostic) who's been liberated from the totalitarian dictator Allah...i think I can see the literary miracle of the Qur'an... The use of gibberish in the Qur'an is indeed miraculous...LOL ��.... No poor, Bedouin, primitive, illiterate, gullible, credulous, superstitious, and an unhealthy excessive obsession with religion could exploit devices like gibberish in the Qur'an... It must be from Allah lol

    1. Well as a former Muslim (now atheist) to a former Muslim ( now agnostic), I say welcome to complete freedom. To be honest, I cannot believe I used to believe all the "scientific miracles" which are left far too ambiguous and are only discovered after they are proven by science.