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Dr. Shabir Ally, from Let The Quran Speak, addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, so the first question that we have is the Quran says that Allah created the universe in six days. How is that possible when we know that the universe is billions of years old.
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, the word in that is translated “days” in the Quran is “yawm”, which commonly means day. But like the Hebrew “yawn”, it could mean a period.
And in Dr. Maurice Bucaille, in his book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, says that it actually should mean a period when we talk about the six days of creation. Because we do know from science that creation took actually a very long time.
We know that the universe actually is now 13.8 billion years old. And the stars, planets, and galaxies evolve over time. So, the creation could not be said to be just six times 24 hours, but six long periods of time.
And however long, God knows best.
Aisha Khaja: So, we don’t know exactly then how, what six days means in our time?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, The Quran shows that from God’s perspective a day could be much longer than what we think to be a day. For example, there’s a verse of the Quran that says that a day in the sight of God is like a thousand years of your counting.
And then another verse of The Quran speaks of a day, meaning the Day of Judgment, that will be the measure of fifty thousand years of our reckoning. So, there are different perspectives here and different measures of time that we are alerted to.
The question of the length of time of creation has become a controversial matter and religious discussions in our recent centuries. Because some people insist that it must be six days like the days of our week.
And that insistence comes largely from a literal reading of The Bible. Because the book of Genesis in the Bible says, God created this on the first day, the second day, the third day, and then the sixth, God created human beings, and then on the seventh day God rested.
And then the rest on the Sabbath is tied to this original act of creation, meaning that just as God rested on the seventh day that justifies and that gives the reason for resting on the seventh day. So, we rest as God rested.
But by that reading of the book of Genesis in such a literal manner it seems to be at odds with the idea of the creation of the universe in over such a long period of time. And so, most would tend to not gravitate towards that literal reading.
But here’s where the controversy arises from as for the Quranic way of depicting it. It doesn’t say day one day, two day, three. [Allah] just says these six days. And moreover, it doesn’t say that God rested.
Rather the contrary in the fiftieth chapter of the Quran. For example, it says that God created the heavens and the earth and whatever is in it in six days and no weariness touched Him. So, we don’t have this kind of seven-day scheme in which God rests. And so, we rest as well.
In fact, the Friday, which is the day of our prayers, our mass gathering, is not necessarily a day of rest. It seems to be presumed that people who go to work, they will leave work come and pray. And then they can go back and work if they want to.
Aisha Khaja: So, Dr. Shabir, the underlying concept of this question is is there conflict between religion and science.
Dr. Shabir Ally: My answer to that is that there does not need to be a conflict between religion and science. Often the conflict appears either because science is misunderstood. Or sometimes a theory that is unfounded or unproven is advanced this way as fact.
Or, on the other hand, sometimes people aim for a literalist reading of scripture, which is unnecessary. Because scripture can be interpreted by intelligent modern minds.
I hope this helps answer your question. You can also check out more from Let The Quran Speak at the link here.
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