Is The Quran Outdated?

11 June, 2017
Q As-salamu alaykum. Scholars say that the Quran is for all people and for all times, but there is something unclear to me, there are verses in the Quran that are out-dated. For example, mentioning that God has created horses, mules, and donkeys to ride and use for show; and stating that He has created other things “of which mankind has no knowledge.” These days, no person needs horses or donkeys for transport, today there are cars, planes, trains, etc. There are many other verses in the Quran that are out-of-date.


Salam Friend,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam. 

That the Quran is a message for all generations and all nations is a fact verified by the history of Islam and by sound consideration of the Quranic text.

Since it is the sealing message of all divine messages, its content is so phrased as to be comprehensible, convincing, motivating, and fit for any level of intellect and human knowledge.

To this end, the Quran repeatedly refers to natural phenomena for numerous purposes, among which are:

  • Drawing the attention to the majesty and enormity of the creation and creatures of Allah
  • Proof that this Book (Quran) is far beyond the knowledge of the Messenger or any other human source to formulate.

The verse referred to says what means:

{And horses and mules and asses for you to ride, and as an adornment; and He creates what you do not.} (An-Nahl 16:8)

Reference here is to the bounties of Allah in creating horses, mules, and asses that were the backbone of transportation, in war and peace, since the dawn of civilization.

It was natural to explicitly mention those creatures known to “all” generations.

It would have been both fruitless and perplexing to mention other creatures or innovations before their coming into existence and that would carry no meaning to the recipients over the ages.

Yet, the verse refers collectively to everything else by “what you do not know.”

Such a statement is to prepare and motivate the minds of future generations to explore, accept, and adapt to all sorts of innovations. Even what you consider now as modern will be obsolete or out of date one day. 

To some readers, your query could carry the false notion that the Quran, revealed 14 centuries ago, mentions the “simpler more primitive” means of transportation, rather than the “modern more advanced” cars, trains, airplanes, and so on.

Such a notion, apart from being a manifestation of self-conceit in our limited human knowledge, a remnant of atheist philosophy, and a product of misleading media, reflects ignorance of the essence and findings of modern science itself. 

With the parallel advance of technology on the one hand and biology and physics on the other hand, we are in a much better position to compare and evaluate.

Close examination of the natural (Allah’s) biological and physical systems, compared to technological (man-made) systems, reveals the enormous contrast: the former being much more advanced in structure, function, and origin, much more complex and intricate, and absolutely inimitable.

Compare for example the human brain to computers; the nervous system to the most complex communication network; camels to any means of modern transportation. 

A camel, which a modern layman can look at haughtily as something akin to the primitive Bedouins living in the desert wilderness, is a masterpiece, demonstrating the majesty of creation:

{Will they not then look at the camels, how they have been created?!} (Al-Ghashiyah 88:17)

Some of the exotic features of the camel’s anatomy and physiology are:

  • It can live without food (fuel) for two consecutive months, and without water for two weeks (it can store one-third its weight in water). 
  • It has an intricate control system of water storage and distribution to maintain precisely all physiological operations for long periods of time. 
  • It can adapt to extreme heat or cold because the body temperature can be controlled in such a way as to keep the blood within a wide, acceptable range. 
  • It can withstand extreme ground heat (being raised on long thin legs), as well as that of direct sunshine (having massive fatty insulation in the hump). 
  • It has hard, thick skin to resist hot, dusty winds and stinging insects. 
  • It has lips that are designed to eat thorny desert vegetation safely, and the long neck on top of its tall body enables the camel to reach leaves high up on rare desert trees. 
  • It’s belly and knees are cushioned with thick flexible layers, to enable resting on hard, hot, rough ground. 
  • It has a wonderful lash system to protect the eyes, the nose, and the ears, whenever sandstorms arise. 
  • It has broad feet, cushioned with fatty, flexible pads, that are fit for walking on soft sand or on hard, hot rocks.

Could any man-made desert vehicle match such a splendid natural creation? 

No self-respecting scientist could claim or imagine that even the most advanced technology could ever be able to create, emulate, or even match the creation of a single biological cell, or a single organ, or any of the wonderful biological systems of life.

Neither could modern technology initiate life in a dead cell or return life to the dead, but otherwise sound, corpse. Advanced knowledge of the structure and functions is something, and the ability to design and create is something totally different. 

The Quran challenges human knowledge (technology), past, present, and future to create even such a minute creature as a fly:

{O you mankind, a similitude is struck: so listen to it. Surely the ones whom you invoke apart from Allah will never create a fly, even if they gathered together for (the purpose); and in case a fly would rob them of anything, they would not be able to rescue it from him. Weak (indeed) are the seeker and the sought.} (Al-Hajj 22:73)

Glory to Him who holds and maintains all such amazingly wonderful systems of creation to function and persist, the way He wills. Nobody else can interfere to change any of the basic structures, functions, or fate of His creation:

{Surely Allah holds the heavens and the earth (so) that they do not cease to exist; and indeed in case they cease to exist, decidedly no one would hold them both after Him.} (Fatir 35:41)

Thank you and please stay in touch. 


This response is from About Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Quran in Focus (Special Folder)