4.1.5 Quranic Cosmogony

With the modern cosmological theory of the ‘Big Bang’ referring to the starting point of the known Universe, cosmogony has now become a subject for discussion among the scientific community. This paper discusses how modern scientific findings have influenced the interpretation of cosmogonical passages in the Quran specifically 21:30 (on the common origin of earth and sky), 25:59 (on the six days of creation) and 51:47 (on the expansion of the sky) (Kyoto Bulletin of Islamic Area Studies, 2014).


Have the shifts in human understanding on the origins of the universe influenced interpretations of scripture? In this academic paper scholars Haslin Hasan and Ab. Hafiz Mat Tuah of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia compare classical Quranic commentaries and discussions of hadith with modern commentaries published after 1930.

Read: Quranic Cosmogony // Kyoto Bulletin of Islamic Area Studies

Guiding Questions:

  1. Has the approach to Quranic interpretation, especially regarding the natural world, changed over time? If so, how has this exegesis changed recently?
  2. What differences do you note between the classical and modern exegeses? Are any mutually exclusive?
  3. What problems and misunderstandings do the authors identify in their source materials’ knowledge of scientific theories, such as the “Big Bang”? Do you see any modern interpretations based on theories that are no longer agreed upon by the scientific community?
  4. Recall learning material 3.1.4. Do you think the Augustinian view of “allegory” or the Calvinist view of “human error” applies here?
  5. Do you agree with their conclusion on the benefits of scientific exegesis? Do you think scripture should be mined for scientific information, even if scientific consensus changes over time?
  6.  What elements would make this article stronger, or more convincing? For example, do they cite their evidence thoroughly?


Thumbnail: Starry Night at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo Credit: Beau Rogers, 2016. CC BY-NC 2.0.