Question: Does the Qur'ân teach us that the Earth was created first and then the heavens were created? Would this not contradict with our current scientific knowledge?

Answered by the Scientific Research Committee -

The Qur'ân does not go into detail about the mechanics of the creation of the universe. Its focus is on the fact that Allah created everything and on reminding us of all the blessings that we have in what Allah has created for us.

The verses in question are the following:

"It is He who created for you all that is in the Earth, then turned to the heaven and made them seven heavens. And He has knowledge of all things." [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 29]

"Say: Is it that ye deny Him who created the Earth in two days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of all the Worlds. He set within it mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings upon the Earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four days alike for (all) who ask. Then He turned to the heaven and they had been smoke. He said to it and to the Earth: 'Come willingly or unwillingly.' They said: We come willingly.' So He completed them as seven heavens in two days." [Sûrah Fussilat: 9-12]

It is important to note that the word "thumma" - translated in the above-mentioned verses as "then" - does not always indicate chronology. Al-Razî, in his commentary on verse 29 of Sûrah al-Baqarah, states that in this verse, the word thumma it is not indicative of chronology. He writes:
The word "then" (thumma) is not here for chronological order, but merely to enumerate blessings. It is like when one man says to another: "Did I not give you great benefits, then raised your status, then repelled your opponents?" It may be that some of what he mentioned later took place first. The same can be said here. [Mafâtîh al-Ghayb (2/143)]
Al-Baydâwî writes:
Perhaps the word "then" (thumma) here is to indicate the disproportion between the two creations and the greater merit of the creation of the heavens over the creation of the Earth. This is like when Allah says: "Then (thumma) he had been among those who believed". This is not to indicate its occurring later chronologically. [Tafsîr al-Baydâwî (1/27)]

Keep in mind that these commentators lived a long time ago (roughly 800 years back). They had no reason to worry about the scientific implications that we worry about today, because our current scientific knowledge about the formation of the universe and planets was not around back then. They were only concerned with the linguistic meaning of these verses and were speaking from a purely linguistic perspective.

These verses are simply not discussing the sequential order of the events of creation.

And Allah knows best.





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