From "The Origin of Man"
By: Dr. Maurice Bucaille
Dr. Maurice Bucaille is an eminent French surgeon, scientist, scholar and author of "THE BIBLE, THE QUR'AN AND SCIENCE" which contains the result of his research into the Judeo-Christian Revelation and the Qur'an. It is a unique contribution in the field of religion andscience.
Being an outstanding Scientist, he was selected to treat the mummy of Merneptah (Pharaoh) which he did. During his visit to Saudi Arabia he was shown the verses of the Holy Qur'an in which Allah says that the dead body of the Pharaoh will be preserved as a "Sign" for posterity. An impartial scientist like Dr. Bucaille, who (being also a Christian) was conversant with the Biblical version of Pharaoh's story as being drowned in pursuit of Prophet Moses. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that unknown to the world till only of late, the Holy Qur'an made definite prediction about the preservation of the body of that same Pharaoh of Moses' time. This led Dr. Bucaille to study the Holy Qur'an thoroughly after learning the Arabic language. The final conclusion of his comparative study of Qur'an and the Bible is that the statements about scientific phenomena in the Holy Qur'an are perfectly in conformity with the modern sciences whereas the Biblical narration's on the same subjects are scientifically entirely unacceptable.
FROM THE ORIGIN OF MAN
As most people in the West have been brought up on misconceptions concerning Islam and the Qur'an; for a large part of my life, I myself was one such person. Let me cite one or two specific examples to indicate the kind of inaccurate ideas generally current.
As I grew up, I was always taught that 'Mahomet' was the author of the Qur'an; I remember seeing French translations bearing this information. I was invariably told that the 'author' of the Qur'an simply compiled, in a slightly different form, stories of sacred history taken from the Bible; the 'author' was said to have added or removed certain passages, while setting forth the principles and rules of the religion he himself had founded. There are moreover Islamic scholars today in France whose duties include teaching and who express exactly these views, although perhaps in a more subtle form.
This description of the origins of the Qur'anic text, which is so out of touch with reality, might lead one immediately to assume that if there are scientific errors in the Bible, there must also be errors of this kind in the Qur'an! This is the natural conclusion to be drawn in such circumstances, but it is based on a misconception. We are well aware that at the time of Muhammad - the Qur'anic Revelation took place between 610 and 632 A.D - scientific obscurantism prevailed, both in the Orient as well as in the West.
In France, for example, this period corresponded roughly to the reign of King Dagobert, the last of the Mrovingians. This approach to what was supposedly the Qur'anic text may on first sight seem logical, but when one examines the text with an informed and impartial eye, it becomes clear that this approach is not at all in keeping with reality. We shall see in a moment the truth of this statement, which is obvious from the texts.
Whenever there is textual proof of the existence in the Qur'an of statements that are in agreement with modern knowledge, but which in the Bible are related in a manner that is scientifically unacceptable, the stock response is that, during the period separating the two Scriptures, Arab scientists made discoveries in various disciplines which enabled them to arrive at these supposed adaptations. This approach takes no account whatsoever of the history of the sciences. The latter indicates that the great period of Islamic civilisations, during which, as we know, science made considerable progress, came several centuries after the communication of the Qur'an to the communication of the Qur'an to man.
Furthermore, scientific history informs us that, as far as the subjects dealt with in this present book are concerned, no discoveries were made during, the period separating the Bible from the Qur'an.
When this aspect of the Qur'an is mentioned in the West, however, we are likely to hear it said that while this may indeed be so, nowhere is this fact referred to in the translations of the Qur'an which we possess today, or in the prefaces and commentaries that accompany them.
This is a very judicious remark. Muslim - and indeed non-Muslim - translators who have produced a French version of the Qur'an are basically men of letters. More often than not, they mistranslate a passage because they do not possess the scientific knowledge required to understand its true meaning. The fact is, however, that in order to translate correctly, one must first understand what one is reading. A further point is that translators - especially those mentioned above - - may have been influenced by notes provided by ancient commentators often came to be regarded as highly authoritative, even though they had no scientific knowledge - nor indeed had anybody else at that time. They were incapable of imagining that the texts might contain allusions to secular knowledge, and thus they could not devote attention to a specific passage by comparing it to other verses in the Qur'an dealing with the same subject - a process that often provides the key to the meaning of a word or expression. From this results the fact that any passage in the Qur'an that gives rise to a comparison with modern secular knowledge is likely to be unreliably translated.
Very often, the translations are peppered with inaccurate - if not totally nonsensical - statements. The only way to avoid such errors is to possess a scientific background and to study the Qur'anic text in the original language.
On the subject of man, as well as the other topics mentioned earlier, it is not possible to find any corresponding data in the Bible. Furthermore the scientific errors contained in the Bible - such as those describing man's first appearance on earth, which, as we have seen, may be deduced from the Genealogies that figure in Genesis are not to be found in the Qur'an. It is crucial to understand that such errors could not have been 'edited out' of the Qur'an since the time they first became apparent: well over a thousand years have elapsed since the most ancient manuscripts and today's texts of the Qur'an, but these texts are still absolutely identical. Thus, if Muhammad were the author of the Qur'an (a theory upheld by some people), it is difficult to see how he could have spotted the scientific errors in the Bible dealing with such a wide variety of subjects and have proceeded to eliminate every single one of them when he came to compose his own text on the same themes. Let us state once again, that no new scientific facts had been discovered since the time the Bible was written that might have helped eliminate such errors.
In view of the above, it is imperative to know the history of the texts, just as it is essential to our understanding of certain aspects of the Bible for us to be aware, of the conditions in which it was written.
As we have noted earlier, experts in Biblical exegesis consider the books of Old and New Testaments to be divinely inspired works. Let us now examine, however, the teachings of Muslim exegetes, who present the Qur'an in quite a different fashion.
When Muhammad was roughly forty years old, it was his custom to retire to a retreat just outside Mecca in order to meditate. It was here that he received a first message from God via the Angel Gabriel, at a date that corresponds to 610 A.D. After a long period of silence, this first message was followed by successive revelations spread over some twenty years. During the Prophet's lifetime, they were both written down and recited by heart among his first followers. Similarly, the revelations were divided into suras(chapters) and collected together after the Prophet' death (in 632 A.D.) in a book: the Qur'an. The Book contains the Word of God, to the exclusion of any human additions. Manuscripts dating from the first century of Islam authenticate today's text, the other form of authentication being the recitation by heart of the Qur'an, a practice that has continued unbroken from the time of the Prophet down to the present day. [source]