· The Universe is created, not eternal:

Astronomical surveys show that the universe contains spots of extreme density and temperature as the star's core, and others of low density and temperature as the interstellar matter. This diversity is an evidence that the universe is not eternal but created. Had it been eternal it would have been equal all over in terms of density and temperature due to thermal and pressure equilibrium.

Another proof is the existence of radioactive materials such as radium and uranium, in spite of their limited half-life time. Also, the recession of galaxies which was discovered only in the first half of the twentieth century is another proof. This latter evidence also underlines the existence of a beginning of the universal expansion. Scientists maintain that the universe emerged after a "big bang' , a formidable explosion- a hypothesis supported by the discoveries during the 1960s of the cosmic background radiation, the temperature of which amounts to 3 kelvin degrees only.

· Theories of the origin and evolution of the universe:

Modern books on cosmology abound with ideas, theories, proposals and researches related to the efforts made to develop a theory explaining the origin and the evolution of the great universe. The most important of these can be summed up in the following points:

1) Two thousand years ago, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) held that the earth was a fixed center of the universe round which the moon, the sun, planets, and stars revolve in circular orbits.

2) In the second century A.D., Ptolemy- who lived in Egypt- introduced minor amendments to Aristotle's model but still upheld the earth-centered view of the universe.

3) This belief prevailed in the world until the emergence of Islam. A few years after the foundations of the Islam State were firmly established, the Muslims began to study several branches of knowledge and founded a great civilization world-wide. They readjusted the Ptolemic model and introduced a new model in which planets revolve round the sun. This model was borrowed by the Polish scientist Copernicus when he moved to Italy (between 1496 and 1503 A.D.) where he studied Islamic astronomy.

4) In the first half of the twentieth century, Alexander Friedmann applied the general theory of relativity to the universe and created models and solutions that all agree on the point that the cosmos is expanding at present.

5) Hubble could support Friedmann's conclusions by his (Hubble's) scientific discoveries. His measurements proved that distance between galaxies are increasing steadily at velocities that are directly proportional to distance.

6) Friedmann's models entail three possible kinds or forms of the universe:

a) The "Closed Universe" model: the potential energy is more than kinetic energy, which leads to the suspension of the present expansion of the universe, and afterwards to its contraction.

b) The "Open Universe" model: the kinetic energy is more than the potential energy and the universe continues to expand.

c) The "Steady-State Universe" model: the potential and kinetic energies are equal. Therefore, expansion of the universe decreases gradually, but never reaches a zero point in infinity.

7) The American physicist George Gamow (1868-1904), who comes from a Russian origin, suggested that there was a beginning of the universe between 10 and 20 billion years ago in the form of a 'Big Bang' in the 1960s, the radiation or the glow of the cosmos' beginning was discovered, as Gamow had predicted in the form of microwaves.

8) In 1970s, Hawking and Penrose proved that the universe must, per necessity, have a beginning, known in mathematics as the point of singularity, where density takes the value of infinity . Nevertheless, science has not been able to reveal what the first moment of the life of the universe was like. The popular model now assumes that immediately after the emergence of the universe, it was a fireball of an extreme density and temperature. Then the fireball began to expand, while its temperature dropped rapidly forming what is known as "radiation soup".

9) About 100,000 years after the emergence of the universe, matter was separated from radiation. For the first time the universe appeared transparent. When the age of the universe reached about 300,000 years, the hydrogen and helium atoms started to be formed.

10) After about 500 million years, galaxies and their systems were formed in a way that has not be scientifically explained so far, in spite of the variety of the proposed models.

· The popular model: an overview:

In the beginning - about 10-20 billion years ago – the universe was a handful of high-density hot photons congested in a very small space. Then the handful burst forth and began to expand. Therefore, its density and temperature began to decrease.

In the early fractions of the first moment, the universe was so hot that the temperature reached millions of billions of degrees. It consisted of a mixture of matter and radiation where photons collided, forming elementary particles such as protons and neutrons. These particles neutralized each other, transforming into energy in about 3 minutes and 46 seconds the temperature dropped to about 900 million degrees. So, protons and neutrons began to intermingle forming simple stable atoms (such as heavy hydrogen). In the following hundreds of thousands of years, the matter of the universe became hot and opaque like the star core. After 700,000 years the temperature dropped to 3000 degrees and electrons and protons were fused, forming stable helium atoms. There were no longer electrons where photons diffused. The universe became permeable to photons. Matter and energy were no longer interfused. Rather, they developed independent of one another.

About one billion years after the 'Big Bang', stars and galaxies began to be formed. Matter inside stars grew again and started to radiate due to the occurrence of nuclear reactions which formed the heavier elements. These, in turn, were the source which developed later into the heavenly bodies we are now able to see and observe.

The theory of the evolving universe which conceives of the existence of a 'Big Bang' rests on the observation of galactic recession and the background radiation. By measuring the velocity of external galaxies it was found out that the recession velocity increases with longer distances. So, if speeds were measured backwards, i.e. in the reversed direction, galaxies should be heading to converge in 10-20 billion, which is the approximate age of the universe.

The background radiation is the photons that existed in the universe when its temperature was about 3,000 degrees, i.e. it was radiated by a body whose heat was 3,000 degrees. Since then, the universe has been receding, with the result that rays are shifted in the direction of the longer wave-lengths. Now waves are in the radio area. The peak of radiation was shifted suggesting that it came from a body measuring 3 degrees in temperature, rather than earlier measures (the radioactivity came from a body of 3000 degrees before the end of interfusion of matter and these photons 700 thousand years after the 'Big Bang').

· The Creation of The Universe in The Qur'an:

With this scientific review of the theories and models of the universe's origin, and evolution, let us take a look at one of the ayat (verses) of the Glorious Qur'an (as meaningfully translated):

" Do not the disbelievers see that the heaven and the earth were joined together , before We clove them asunder? (30)" {Surah Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) XXI}.

The ayah (verse) refutes the arguments of the disbelievers who search for theories and creeds to replace the notion of believing in one Omnipotent God (Allah) Who created everything and the universe itself.

On the other hand, the Qur'anic ayah states that the heavens and earth were joined together (the Qur'anic term is "Ratq", in the sense of union). Taking into account the evolution of the universe since its birth, we will find the first event was the separation of matter and radiation when the universe was about 100 thousand years old. At that time, matter was formed of nuclei of hydrogen, helium, and some other elements as well as cluster floating in the 'radiation soup'. In this form of matter during the universe's infancy was the origin of all kinds of materials that exist now in the universe whether on earth, or overhead in the sky.

Radiation, or photons, began to lose temperature gradually as the universe continues to expand. The decline of the temperature reached a point when radiation filled all the universe. Thus the implication of heavens and earth being in union is that matter and radiation were merged together ("Ratq" in Arabic), as the origin of everything in heavens and earth. The "Fatq" (as mentioned in the Arabic text of the Qur'an) cleavage, it is their separation which came later, matter becoming the earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies and other astronomical material, and radiation becoming the regions of the sky and the horizon of the whole universe, just as modern science informs us.

This is one interpretation of the Glorious ayah. But there can be another. The universe has undergone other formidable and immense upheavals over its long lifetime. One of the astronomical enigmas is the disparity of the age of the universe according to the Hubble law and measurements on the one hand, and that age calculated according to the constituents of the universe – galactical and stellar systems and other materials. According to Hubble's law and measurements, the age of the open universe is about 11 billion years. But the age of the closed universe is estimated at about 7.4 billion years, whereas its systems are estimated to be 12-18 billion years old. One way to solve this riddle is the hypothesis that the universe was about to collapse around 8-10 billion years ago, but then was re-opened (re-expand). According to Hubble, the age of the universe is estimated since it was re-opened onwards, the time preceding the re-opening being excluded. This explains the discrepancy between this age and the age of the constituents or matter of the universe.

If it really happened that the position energy or the gravity of the universe's matter surpassed the kinetic energy, the universe ought to have contracted and collapsed a long time age, unless the Creator willed it otherwise and stopped the collapse, affecting a new expansion. Only He who has started creation can re-create it at His will if it hovers on collapse, death or closure (contraction) under its own gravity. If the universe- with its heavens, earth, stars, and galaxies – had neared collapse or closure, who else other than Allah the Omnipotent Creator could have replaced ("Ratq", union; with "Fatq", cleavage, in the Qur'anic terminology), so that heavens, earth and the whole universe would be re-opened (re-expand) again?

This is a testimony that this discourse (The Qur'an) was revealed by Allah to his messenger Muhammad Ben Abdullah (peace be upon him be upon him). It could not have been contrived by a human being more than fourteen centuries ago or even now…!!


Dr. Karem S. Ghoneim

Professor of Faculty of Science, Al-Azhar University

Cairo, EGYPT