Creatio Ex Nihilo and the Literal Qur’ān

Intellectual Discourse 25 (2) (2017)

Abdulla Galadari
Khalifa University of Science & Technology
In the modern age, the confl ict between science and religion manifests itself in the debate between evolution and creation. If we adopt a creationist’s reading of the Qur’ān, we discover an interesting anomaly. Reading the Qur’ān literally does not necessarily provide the foundation of creationism. Creationists usually have in mind the concept of creatio ex nihilo, or ‘creation out of nothing’. However, in the Qur’ān, one of the words used for creation, khalaqnā, has the root khlq, which means ‘to split’ or ‘to divide’. This root word may even apply to the biological process of cell division. Therefore, from a scientifi c perspective, using the word khlq to describe this physical process is not problematic. In addition, with close textual analysis of the Qur’ān, we realize that the word for creation ‘be’ does not truly describe the moment of creation, but rather that of ‘being’. The Qur’ān separates the notion of creation from being, which poses the question as to what the text constitutes as the ontological nature of the human being and the universe. Therefore, even if we do adopt a literal reading of the Qur’ān, we fi nd that it does not necessarily support a worldview that endorses creatio ex nihilo.
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