"I am impressed at how remarkably some of the ancient writings[Qur'an & Hadith] seem to correspond to modern and recent Astronomy. I am not a sufficient scholar of human history to project myself completely and reliably into the circumstances that 1400 years ago would have prevailed... there may well have to be something beyond what we understand as ordinary human experience to account for the writings[Qur'an & Hadith] that we have seen." --- Professor Armstrong, works for NASA and he is also Professor of Astronomy, University of Kansas, Lawrence
"I say, I am very much impressed by finding true astronomical facts in the Qur'an, and for us modern astronomers have been studying very small piece of the universeSo by reading the Qur'an and by answering to the questions, I think I can find my future way for investigation of the universe."
--- Professor Yushidi Kusan, Director of Tokyo Observatory, Japan
It was the late Sheikh Mutawwali Sha'arawii, an renown Egyptian scholar and one of the best contemporary interpreters of the Qur'an through the lens of modern science that said, "If Prophet Muhammad had interpreted the entire Qur'an during his life time, the Qur'an would have been frozenBut Allah inspired him to leave it as such so that the book would be interpreted physically and practically through the events, the incidents and the universal phenomena of the future generations.
The June 10th, 2014 edition(just last week) of Science Times, which is a weekly (every Tuesday) supplementary scientific essays of the New York Times[that I read regularly], carried an article dubbed, "Seeing Obstacles-Filled Path to Mars", which laments that: "NASA[National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in America]does not have the strategy or funding to land astronauts on Mars(the nearest planet to the earth)."
Kenneth Chang, who carried the by-line of this article further intimated that, "Since the triumph of the moon landings more than four decades ago, Presidents have made grand pronouncements about the next adventure for NASA astronauts, one that would culminate with humans on Mars. But each time, those ambitions faded, unfulfilledThe Obama administration has proposed robotic mission that would capture a small asteroid and transport it to an orbit high above the moon, where it would also be easier for astronauts to reach and study."
Mr. Chang further stated that, "In a 285 page review of the human spaceflight program, the experts, convened by the National Research Council at the request of congress, found that NASA had not detailed a viable strategy for getting there and that its budgets were too small to succeed..."
Obviously, it was not a mere lack of strategy or ideas, but financial constraint also plays a major role. In an opinion piece, "NASA losing hold of Public Imagination", on "Daily Cardinal" newspaper that I stumbled upon recently, it was stated that, "NASA's annual budget for calendar year 2014 is a mere 0.48 percent of the federal budget, which is less than half a penny on the tax dollar. That small sum pays for the Hubble telescope, the production of the James Webb Space Telescope, the three currently operational Mars rovers, the International Space Station (ISS), the planning of future missions, the immense array of satellites in orbit above us today as well as all of its facilities and personnel.
Under current budget allocations, NASA has stated they will be unable to undertake a manned mission to Mars. That pronouncement is completely unacceptable. When you see the transformation of a country that is the result of putting man on the moon, which is in our cosmic backyard, just imagine the ramifications of putting man on an entirely different planetthe discontinuation of the American space shuttle program didn't simply mean we stopped launching our shuttles into space, it also meant that over 9,000 experienced engineers, physicists, mathematicians and production workers were laid off."
In his editorial piece of one of the 2013 editions of "Astronomy" magazine, the Associate Editor, Bill Andrews stated that, "Unlike climbing the next mountain or sea, exploring the Planet-let alone the next star system will surely take humanity quite awhilein the real world the immensity of space appears unconquerableSince 1972, the closest mankind has gotten to the stars is low Earth orbit."
Well, this deficiency and difficulty is not much of a surprise to us(Muslims), in the sense that, over 1400 years ago, our holy Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him mentioned this as a challenge that Allah has thrown to NASA and other international space explorers, as he stated in Qur'an chapter 55 verse 33 that, : "O Assembly of jinn(demon) and mankind! If it be that you can pass(penetrate or navigate) beyond the zones of heavens and earth[universe], then pass(penetrate or navigate them); you cannot pass them except with some authority(ability from Allah)."
This includes the ability to send astronauts to Mars and all other planets and stars. But it would interest NASA to know that, Prophet Muhammad was given that "authority" by Allah to go far beyond where NASA is trying to navigate and land. He and Angel Gabriel were able to navigate and reached beyond the seven layers of the heaven and the last part of celestials, where the throne of Allah exists.
According to Dr. Zaglulu Najjar, a contemporary Egyptian earth scientist, "The longest(distance wise) star or planet that astronomers were able to zoomed-in and took pictures of, while on earth is about 36 billion light years away. This means that, it will take them about 36 billion light years to reach this distance, highly impossible! So how much more covering similar distance for each of the remaining six layers, and finally reaching the throne of Allah? But Allah granted the Prophet the "authority and ability" to make this journey and back within one night!"
More so, if NASA prides itself of its ability to land an astronaut, Neil Armstrong on the moon(the closest star to the earth) in 1969, after a journey of three days (losing sight of the "authority" Allah granted them in making this journey), we tell them that, Prophet Muhammad, par excellence! made this journey across the universe, with the power of lightening in a medieval period[over 14 centuries ago]-devoid of all their complex and contemporary cutting-edge technology tools within one night. And he miraculously made this very [NASA landed] moon to split into two parts and came back to its original form.
This highly incredible phenomenon has been confirmed by some scientists at NASA as well, upon close observations and studies of the geological nature of the moon, without knowing about this miracle documented in the Qur'an. No wonder some verses in the Qur'an say, future intellectuals and scientists will come to confirm the authenticity of this extra ordinary book, Al-Qur'an, through their own research findings, which dilate at length on many universal phenomena that they are striving hard to explore, as vindicated by the two scientists quoted before the first paragraph of this piece.
And it is very obvious that, Allah is the only One who grants humanity the "authority" and ability to make possible what is impossible, I know this might sound like a fairy tale to some people. But I am optimistic that, If NASA were to believe in Allah and submit to Him and go the extra mile to seek His "authority" through intensive prayer with the intention[for Him] to make this space mission to Mars and other planets possible for them, He will surely answer their prayers! This is based on the hadithul qudsii or scared wisdom narrated by Abu Hurairah and compiled by Bukhari that says, "Whenever my servant keeps on drawing closer to me, with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties(daily supplications and invocations) I have enjoined upon him, Then I would love him.
When I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his eyesight with which he sees, his hands with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. When he asks[something] from Me, I would surely give to him, and when he asks Me for a refuge, I would surely grant him it to him" And the wisdom of saint Marcarius the great[Homily19] buttresses and paraphrases this hadith when he stated that, "A man must practice good works[supplications and invocations] for a long time, with great effort and determination , and at last, God comes to dwell within him and he in the Lord and the Lord Himself sows His own commandments within him, filling him with spiritual fruit."
I will crown it all with a quote from one of my late grandfather 's 36 books, Sheikh Ahmed BabalWaiz, who wrote in, "Mignadeesil Quloob",[Magnet of the Hearts], a book written in Arabic language that encourages man to get closer to Allah through supplications and good deeds, which I am translating currently: "There are a hundred and sixty thousand gaps[in the spiritual realm] between every man and Allah, and whoever devotes him or herself constantly supplicating and invoking his name in secrecy, would be able to navigate and pierce through all these gaps and gets closer to Him.
It is there and then that, one would see his prayer getting answered instantly." Hence, the above wisdom from the prophet and that of the two saintly men just mentioned imply that, if NASA were to believe that Allah is the only "Superpower" and humble themselves to Him in worship, He will surely grant them the "authority" to make this space exploration to Mars and beyond, which now seems to be impossible due to "funding or strategy" impediment that they themselves confessed facing.
NB: Please readers, look forward to read my article, "The Medicinal Advantages of Fasting" next Friday, June 27th 2014, which might be the eve of the first day of the blessed month of Ramadan. And also remember to be logging on the religion links of Ghanaweb and Modernghana to read a special twice or three times a week series of "Qur'anic Analysis through the lens of Modern Science". This is very significant, because it was in this month that the amazing and awesome Qur'an was revealed.
Husseini Yushau BabalWaiz is the Research & Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, New York, Author of three books[including; "Not good without God"] and Tutor in Arabic and Islamic Studies in New York. [email protected]