Dr. Peter Riddell delivered a lecture on Creation in the Qur’an and Hadith during a CIU course. Here, Riddell presents the theme of Creation found within Islam, particularly in the Qur’anic and Hadith traditions.


  Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Dr. Peter Riddell’s Lecture: Creation in the Qur’an and Hadith: 


Welcome back to understanding the Quran. We’re going to turn our attention now onto a new topic, the, topic of creation. I do hope you’re following the Moodle page as you go through this course. I’ve uploaded links and, documents to the Moodle page for each one of these topics, and they provide, important background to to add to what we’re dealing with in the slides. Under the topic of creation, on the middle page, you have 3 readings there at present.


One reading by Beidawi, the classical commentator, one reading by Sa’d Khutb, modern commentator, and an interesting reading by a Christian writer, Sam Shamoun, from the answering islam.org website in which he considers the days of creation in the Quran and responds from a Christian perspective. These readings will be supplemented as time goes on, but I do encourage you to follow the Moodle page and its developments. So we’re dealing with creation in the Quran and the Hadith. I want you to consider the verses that we’re about to encounter referring to Allah’s act of creation and to identify points of convergence and divergence with Christian belief. You will also need to read more widely.


In Shamoon’s article, you have a very good listing there of verses within the Quran that refer to creation, though there are many more. So if you use those as a jumping off point to add to what we’re discussing in these slides. In surah 13 verse 2, we’re told that god is the one who raised the heavens without pillars that you can see then assumed all authority. He committed the sun and the moon each run running in its orbit for a predetermined period. He controls all things and explains the revelations that you may attain certainty about meeting meeting your lord.


We constantly have this refrain emphasized of God’s sovereignty. God is the one who raised the heavens without pillars, assumed all authority. He committed the sun and the moon. You see, there’s this constant emphasis on the sovereignty of god, god’s overarching authority and sovereignty. In surah 24 verse 3045, we have reference to god creating every animal out of water.


1 of them is a category which walks upon its belly, another which walks upon 2 legs, and a third walks upon 4. Allah creates what he wills. Allah is able to do everything. Again, there’s that statement at the end, isn’t there? Allah is able to do everything.


Allah creates what he wills, the overarching sovereignty of Allah. More verses available here from Surah 32 verses 7 to 9. Allah is he who has perfected everything he created, and he began the creation of the human being out of clay or mud. So says the translator. He adds that bit in brackets.


Verse 8. Then he made his offspring from a quintessence of despised water coming out of parents as the translator. Then he shaped him in due proportions and breathed in him of his spirit and made for you hearing sight and hearts, little thanks you give. Further references to creation come from Surah 50 Surah 15 verse 26, where Allah speaking in the first person plural form we says we created the human being from stinking smooth and wet clay. And that theme is reiterated in Surah 55 verse 14 where he created man of stinking clay, wet and smooth like the one used in making pottery.


The question of image occurs in Surah 82 verse 8. In whatever form he willed, he puts you together. Again, we have this emphasis on God’s sovereignty. He does what he wills. Surah 7 verse 11 refers to the idea of rank, and we created you then fashioned you, then said to the angels, prostrate to Adam.


And they prostrated all except Iblis, who was not of those who made prostration. So in the act of creation, Adam was elevated above the angels in rank. And eventual, later resurrection is seen as a form of new creation in surah 17 verse 49. And they say, when we are bones and dust, are we going to be resurrected as a new new creation? The following verse says, say, yes, you will be resurrected even if you are stones or iron.


Now the whole question of creation, which is a key theme in the Quran, it’s key because it points to god’s all powerful and all sovereign nature. This theme of creation is picked up by the comment commentators, of course, and Zamakshari, our great classical commentator of the Mu’tazili school who died in 1144. He expounds on the matter of Iblis refusing to bow to Adam. Did Iblis have a point? Was it’s somewhat understandable in this account in Islam of an angel refusing refusing to bow to a man.


How would you respond to that discussion as a Christian? The Quran also refers to Allah breathing into man. Is that significant? How would you respond to that account as a Christian? The great classical commentator Tabari refers to Allah as follows.


He is their creator and the creator of their fathers and their forefathers before them and the creator of their idols, graven images, and gods. I’d like you to be thinking about all of this from a Christian perspective. You may wish to make reference to Isaiah 45:7 in the process. Moving into the modern day with the commentaries, we reach the Pakistani commentator, Muldudi, the Islamist activist who we encountered in an earlier discussion. He comments on Surah 2 verse 21 and urges Muslims to serve their creator so that you are saved from false beliefs and unrighteous conduct in this life and from the punishment of god in the next.


Think about Muldudi’s comment. How would you respond to that as a Christian? On the website, on the Moodle page, I’ve uploaded this reading from the classical commentator, Al Baydawi, a reading on surah 3 verses 180 7 to 191, which refers to creation and associated with the theme of revelation, which we will reach in our next, lecture. Do the reading. Read that read that passage and ask yourself those three questions as you read it.


Also, do be reminding yourself about the importance of sensing the difference in commentary style between some of the more philosophical commentators such as Baidawi and some of the more hadith based commentators such as Tabari or the more literalist commentators such as Mawdudi. I’d like to conclude by considering Sayed Khotb again, the great 20th century radical commentator who is really a an icon of Islamic radicalism. He certainly has his opponents. And in on this slide, I’ve given you an excerpt from a web page that I encountered where, he is is being criticized by an anti Waha’abi writer who who writes. Kot’s new fandangled way of understanding Islam is evident in his attempt to write a tafsir of the Quran called Quran in the shade of the Quran.


That’s the title of, commentary. The writer continues, was not interested in following the traditional approach Quran, which is to firstly refer to the Quran itself for other verses which clarify the meaning, then the hadiths of the prophet which deal with the meanings of specific verses, or if this does not exist, to refer to the explanations of his companions. Hence, it cannot be referred to as a tafsir in the conventional sense. This writer has taken to task because has actually been quite innovative in his formatting of his commentary, moving away from the traditional approach of taking a few words of the Quran and putting a comment, followed by a few words of and putting a comment, followed by more words of and putting a comment. That was the standard chain approach to commentary writing for centuries.


Saeed Khutb moved away from that, as you can see in the excerpt uploaded to the Moodle page. In that excerpt, writes, the very nature of this universe rules out any possibility of its formation by chance, for no chance could result in such perfect and absolute harmony on such an immeasurable scale. So we talked earlier about natural disasters. How do they fit the view of perfect and absolute harmony? How would you address that in your discussions with Muslims?