Are there "Scientific Miracles" in the Quran?

A Response to Hamza Tzortzis’s article on

"Scientific Miracles" in the Quran

Mr. Tzortzis has taken the lead lately in the field of debating atheists from an Islamic perspective. Recently, he published an article in which he essentially concedes that the popular topic of “scientific miracles” in the Quran is “incoherent.” He follows by proposing a tighter definition for what could be defined as a true scientific miracle, and then admits that few, if any, statements in the Quran would satisfy his proposed new definition.

While Mr. Tzortzis's article raises many excellent points, the following points add an important extra dimension to the topic:
1- Most of the time, when people ask for a “miracle proof” they want to see something that is as clear as day. They want to see something that is instantly obvious to everyone. For example, they want to witness a table of food descend from the sky on command, a stone turn into a camel, or a mountain suddenly turn into gold. For a “scientific miracle” of this sort to exist, it would have to be the equivalent of declaring the precise speed of light thousands of years before humanity acquired the technology to measure it. Unfortunately, some Muslim thinkers have been extremely enthusiastic in trying to identify “scientific miracles” of this sort in the Quran as a way to prove its divine authorship.  

The Quran itself does not make the claim that it contains any scientific miracles, nor does it use such a statement as proof of its divine authorship. In fact, the opposite is true. In the Quran, God explicitly refuses to offer a clear and definitive miracle when it is requested. (1)

There are a few reasons for this given in the Quran including: God has decreed that if He performs a clear miracle and people still refuse to submit, they will be destroyed.(2) The Quran details stories of past incidents where God did perform such miracles, and people still refused to submit. So those people were destroyed for their crime against God. Generally,  if people  are so arrogant and obstinate that they demand custom miracles, they will refuse to submit even if it is done for them. Out of God’s mercy, He no longer performs miracles of this sort for people.

The Quran states that God is not in the business of coercing submission, even though He could.(3) God is also not in the circus business, performing tricks, and begging for people to believe. To claim that God put a definitive “scientific miracle” that we could only unlock with modern science is to claim that God put a self destruct riddle in the Quran. The riddle can only be unlocked when humanity reaches a certain level of scientific knowledge. Once the riddle is unlocked, everyone must believe or face imminent destruction. This entire idea is rejected by the Quran. Those who build their faith on the discovery of “scientific miracles” of this sort do not understand the foundation of faith that was sufficient for millions, if not billions, of Muslims who had no trouble believing in Islam before the solution to the alleged riddle was discovered.

2- There is another way that people use the term “miracle”. Some look at a baby, or a sunset, or a waterfall, and are so touched by the experience that they describe what they see as a “miracle.” In this sense, the word is used to identify an experience with the divine. It is much like understanding on a deep level that something is beautiful. However, a “miracle”, in this sense, is more than experiencing beauty. It is to describe the experience of perceiving a reflection of the divine will.

This experience is not universal. Two people can look at the same thing, and perceive two completely different experiences. One person can be very touched by the beauty of nature, and the next person can feel nothing from it. Similarly, the Quran explicitly states that it is designed to guide certain people closer to God and turn others further away from God.(4) This purpose is repeated in the design of the universe, and all human events that God allows to happen.

So according to the Quran, the existence around us is something like a fractal design. The majority of the fractal design is clear and beautiful, and a small segment of it is fuzzy.(5) If you zoom in, the pattern repeats itself in spectacular and unexpected ways indefinitely. Those who choose to focus on the fuzzy area can zoom in on it and get nothing but more fuzziness for the rest of their lives. Those who step back and see the big picture, see its beauty at every level.

The Quran does direct us to understand God by studying creation.(6) The scientific method is definitely a powerful tool in the toolbox of understanding creation. Yet the end of that journey is not the assembly of some kind of sensor that allows scientists to detect God. The Quran states that we cannot guide ourselves to belief, so scientists will never succeed in constructing a tool to “see” God.(7) Constructing such a tool would be like breaking the very purpose of the universe. The purpose of the universe is to convince people that they are not equipped with the tools to guide themselves to God.(8) Once they reach that conclusion, they must surrender to the realization that unless the Creator guides them, they will be lost. Only then does God guide their hearts and minds to see what they didn’t see before. (9)

In summary:
While the Quran does contain scientifically accurate descriptions of natural events, it contains no “scientific miracles” as the term is commonly understood. There is no secret scientific code in the Quran that modern science has unlocked, proving to everyone that the book is definitively from God.  However, the Quran does point to and describe natural events as “signs”.(10) Those who are humble and submissive to God will be directed by the signs in one direction. Those who are not will be directed in the other direction. Those who follow the first path see every sign as a miracle guiding them closer to God. Those who follow the second path see nothing but chance and confusion. In this sense, every verse is a miracle to those following the right path, but they should not describe it as such to those who are demanding a definitive “scientific miracle” as a precondition for their belief.

1- See for example: (13:27) …We would believe if only he brought a miracle... (6:25) even if they are shown every miracle they wouldn’t believe… (6:7-8) … They say we would believe if only an angel was sent with him…
2- See for example: (6:8), and (5:115)
3- (2:256)…there is no compulsion in religion
4- (2:26) …with it [the Quran] I guide many and misguide many…(3:7)
5- This pattern is also in the Quran. Verse 3:7 states that the main message of the Quran is clear. However, there are verses in the Quran that are intentionally vague. People who have a problem in their heart gravitate to the vague verses which cause them to go astray.
6- According to the Quran, seeing and understanding the true purpose of creation is the fruit of continuous contemplation, studying the world, and prayer (3:190-191, 2:164)
7- You cannot guide yourself, or anybody else. (26:78, 3:8, 6:161, 2:272)
8- In (6:77), Abraham rhetorically jumps between a few false gods to reach the conclusion that there are too many possibilities. No one has the ability to study and evaluate every aspect of every possible religion. So if we try to guide ourselves to the truth, we will walk forever in the wilderness. The only path to the Truth is to submit to, and humbly pray for guidance from the Creator of the Universe.
9- God only guides those who turn to Him in humble submission. (2:2, 5:16)
10- See for example: (2:164)

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Disclaimer: The focus of this site is to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of the Quran's message, and do so in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the average reader.  Every translation involves compromises, and the content on this site is no different. However, every effort was made to capture as much of the spirit and message of the Quran as possible, relying on the most respected and accepted classical scholarly texts in the field. God willing, the material on this site can be relied upon as a solid beginning on the journey towards understanding the Quran as it was revealed in its classical Arabic. If you have a question as to why a certain verse was translated a certain way, the answer can usually be found in: Fath Al-Qadeer by Imam Al-Shawkani, or feel free to E-mail us your questions.
1- The Opening / Al-Fatihah

2-The Cow - Part 1
2-The Cow - Part 2
2-The Cow - Part 3
2-The Cow - Part 4
2-The Cow - Part 5
2-The Cow - Part 6
2-The Cow - Part 7
18-The Cave / Al-Kahf
19-Mary Mother of Jesus / Maryam
24-The Light 35-40
29-The Spider
67-God's Kingdom / Al-Mulk
68-The Pen / Al-Qalam

69-Day of Accountability / Al-Haqqah
70-The Levels / Al-Ma'arij:
71- Noah / Nuh
72- The Jinn / Al-Jinn
73-Wrapped with Responsibility / Al-Muzzammil

74-Get out of Bed / Al-Muddaththir

75-Day of Resurrection / Al-Qiyamah

76-Humanity / Al-Insan

77-What I send / Mursalat

78-The News / An-Naba

79-The Angels Who Pull Out Your Souls / An-Naziat

80-He Frowned / Abasa

81-When the Sun Collapses and Dies / At-Takwir

82-The Tearing / Al-Infitar

83-The Cheaters / Al-Mutaffifin

84-Ripped Open / Al-Inshiqaq
85-The Constellations / Al-Buruj

86-The Brilliant Stars / At-Tariq
87-The Most High / Al-A'la
88-The Overhelming Day / Al-Ghashiyah
89-The Dawn / Al-Fajr
90-The Sacred Land of Makkah / Al-Balad
91-The Sun / Ash-Shams
92-The Night / Al-Lail
93-Morning / Ad-Duha
94-Insight and Understanding / Ash-Sharh
95-The Fig / At-Teen
96-The Clot / Al-Alaq
97-The Night of Destiny / Al-Qadr
98-Clear Evidence / Al-Bayyinah

99-The Earthquake / Al-Zalzalah
100-Running Horses /Al-Adiyat
101-Terrifying / Al-Qariah
102-Collecting Things / Al-Takathur
103-Time / Asr
104-Backbiting / Al-Humazah
105-The Elephant / Al-Feel
106-The Tribe of Quraish / Quraish
107-Small Assistance / Al-Ma'un
108-A River in Paradise Called Kauthar / Al-Kauthar
109-Those Who Reject the Truth
110-My Support / Al-Nasr
111-Twisted Braided Rope / Al-Masad
112-Pure Intention / Al-Ikhlas
113-Daybreak / Al-Falaq
114-People / Al-Nas