Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
9.3 The End of the Universe in the Quran
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Allah stated the facts about the Big Bang and the expansion of the universe. This is simply because He is the Creator of the Big Bang and the Cause of the expansion. These two facts were stated in the Quran in short Ayat.
In any direction they look, astronomers see galaxies moving away from us. It may be assumed that this expansion will continue forever, with galaxies becoming more and more thinly dispersed. However, the theory of relativity and physics of the cosmos derived from it predicts that the end of the universe can follow only three possibilities:
1. The universe may expand to a maximum, before converging again. This is called the Big Crunch.
2. The galaxies may spread apart with the radius of the universe reaching infinity after infinite time.
3. The radius of the universe reaches a certain value (not infinite) and finally stops expanding after infinite time.
An attempt to resolve this mystery is based upon whether or not the universe is surrounded by a huge boundary. Depending upon the location and the properties of this boundary, the universe may reverse to the Big Crunch if the boundary is extremely solid. This is like throwing a ball on a rigid wall. The name for this event, according to cosmologists, is the Big Bounce that will be followed by the Big Crunch. If the boundary of the universe is not strong enough, the impact of the expanding universe will overcome the boundary and the universe will increase its radius forever or reach a certain radius and stop after infinite time. However, there are many problems with this model. Where is this boundary? And what exists on the other side of the boundary?
Prediction of the future of the universe represents fascinating intellectual problems, the answer of which may not be in the realm of human capabilities. However, the summary of our present situation can be stated as follows: "What we really have is local events, based upon limited measurements that are not precise, and we are trying to extrapolate those local events to solve global universal events." The following examples represent some analogies from our daily life of what we are trying to achieve:
From our observations of the weather in a small place on earth during a limited time, we are trying to predict the weather on earth until eternity.
By studying an earthquake in one city on earth that happened at a certain time in the past, we are trying to establish a complete picture of all the future earthquakes in all places at all times.
In the above two examples, it seems that we have all the information that we need to establish an accurate prediction of the weather or earthquakes. We live on earth. We know the rules of movement of cold and warm fronts. We have good foundations in aerodynamics. We can get the properties of the earth. We know how an earthquake starts. And above all, we have a long history of information on weather and earthquakes. So, why can’t we predict weather or earthquakes precisely? The answer is that these two problems are very complicated, and we just do not know how to solve them.
Studying life and death of the stars is a very difficult process, because cosmologists cannot examine the development of stars from life to death. This cycle is estimated to take billions of years. Besides, all information received from a star comes from the surface and not its core. Then we use the information from the surface to predict what happened inside the core. Allah refers to death of stars as follows:
Surah 77, Ayah 8 "Then when the stars become dim."
Surah 81, Ayah 2 "When the stars fall, losing their luster."
The above two Ayat state that all stars, including our sun, will become faint and fade away. What kind of stunning statements are those in the Quran!
As stars and planets have different structures and different birth processes, they also have different ends.
Surah 82, Ayah 2 "When the stars (planets) are scattered."
Surah 99, Ayah 1-3 "When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion, And the earth throws up her burdens (from within), And man cries (distressed): 'What is the matter with her?"
The above Ayat describe the death of planets and the earth by huge earthquakes, accompanied by volcanic eruptions, throwing away enormous boulders and lava from beneath the crust of the earth. They are thrown up as if they were a burden to the earth personified. So in the great and final convulsion, the dead who had been buried and forgotten will rise and will be crying in distress about what is happening.
The end of the universe as a whole is referred to in the Quran in many verses, as follows:
Surah 21, Ayah 104 "The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books. Even as we produced the first creation, so shall we produce a new one."
Surah 75, Ayah 9 "And the sun and moon are joined together."
In the first Ayah, Allah states that before the Day of Judgment, the heavens will be rolled up as the scrolls are rolled up. And in the second Ayah, He stated that the sun and the moon will be joined together. This can be a reference to stopping the expansion of the universe, and collapsing it all. Most likely, this is a reference to the recent theory of the Big Crunch. And Allah knows the best.
Scientists tell us the end of the universe is going to happen after Billions of years. The cosmic model that they are using is missing a great deal of information, the least of which is the mass of the universe. This concept introduces in the human mind that the Day of Judgment is far away, and we have nothing to be concerned about. No one really knows when the end will come. The Creator of all the physical laws can certainly stop these laws, or create another set of laws that fit the Big Crunch. Another possibility is that the existing cosmos has phantom interstellar objects and that the Big Crunch may happen at any time. The Creator of this whole universe said:
Surah 54, Ayah 50 "And Our Command is but a single Word, like the twinkling of an eye."
In this Ayah, Allah tells us that the execution of His Command, any Command, is like the twinkling of an eye, which is the shortest time a simple human can imagine: the closing of the eyelids and their reopening are all almost like a simultaneous act. In Allah’s Command, the word "Be" includes everything, without the intervention of, or the dependence upon any other being or thing whatsoever. An earthquake, a tornado, or any other earthly event can happen at any time and in any place. It seems incomprehensible that we live on this earth, and we have the means to measure, and the theories to predict many of things, and yet we cannot predict accurately one earthly earthquake. And with our theoretical background, our huge and extremely fast computers, and our records of the past earthly events, we fail miserably to save lives if a catastrophe were to happen.
In the above Surah 21, Ayah 104, there is an obvious reference that Allah will end the universe as he started it. This Ayah states that Allah created all these worlds that we know a very small part of them out of nothing by His order "Be." This Ayah may also be a reference to The Big Crunch, since it presents the analogy of expanding and collapsing the universe to the opening and closing scrolls.
As mentioned before, there was smoke at the beginning of the universe, Surah 41, Ayah 11. Then the Quran states that:
Surah 44, Ayah 10 –12 "Then watch thou for the Day that the sky will bring forth a kind of smoke, plainly visible. Enveloping the people: This is a chastisement Grievous. (They will say): Our Lord! Remove the chastisement from us, for we do really believe!"
The significance of the smoke is demonstrated by Surah 44, which has "The Smoke" as its title. As a matter of fact, the smoke is one of the major signs of the imminence of the Day of Judgment, as narrated by the Prophet. Some commentators associate the smoke of Surah 44 with a severe famine in Mecca. However, in the context of using verses of the Quran to explain other verse, if we put Surah 21, Ayah 104, with these verses, it may be that Allah refers to the literal word "smoke" and not to the famine. Accordingly, smoke is one of the signs of starting and ending the universe. And God Knows the Best.