Qur’anic Perspective of the Universe
According to Islam, the universe resembles a book written by God, a palace built by Him to make Himself known to conscious beings—primarily us. The universe essentially exists in God’s Knowledge in meaning. Creation means that through His Will, He specifies or gives a distinct character and form to that meaning as species, races, families, or individuals. Then, through His Power, He clothes each in matter so that it can exist in this time-and-space constrained material realm. After a thing ceases to exist, it continues to live in God’s Knowledge and in the memories of those who saw it and through its offspring (if any). For example, a dead flower continues to exist in God’s Knowledge, in the memories of those who saw it, and in its seeds.
Everything has five stages or degrees of existence. First, and essentially, it exists in the Creator’s Knowledge as meaning. Even if God Almighty did not create it (in the material realm), it would exist in His Knowledge as meaning, for meaning constitutes the essential existence of everything. Then, it exists in the Divine Will as a form or a plan; as a material object in the material realm; as a memory and through its offspring (if any); and, finally, its eternal existence in the other world. God Almighty will use the debris of this world to construct the other one. There, animals will continue their existence, each species through a representative of its own species, while each human being will find the eternal life designed for him or her according to how he or she lived while in this world.
The universe, which science studies, manifests God’s Names and therefore has some sort of sanctity. Everything in it is a letter from God Almighty inviting us to study it and acquire knowledge of Him. Thus, the universe is the collection of those letters or, as Muslim sages call it, the Divine Book of Creation issuing primarily from the Divine Attributes of Will and Power. The Qur’an, which issues from the Divine Will of Speech, is the universe’s counterpart in written form. Just as there can be no conflict between a palace and the paper describing it, there can be no conflict between the universe and the Qur’an, for they are two different expressions of the same truth.
Similarly, humanity is a Divine book corresponding to the Qur’an and the universe. This is why the term used to signify a Qur’anic verse also means events occurring within human souls and phenomena occurring in nature.
By Ali Unal