Verses from Surah al-Mu’minun (78 – 90)

[78] It is He who produced for you (the faculties of) hearing,92 sights93 and hearts;94 little do you give thanks.95


92. Everywhere in the Qur’an, hearing comes in singular form while other faculties come in plural. Alusi thinks that perhaps it is because “sam`” is masdar and hence can be brought in singular form alone. Another modern explanation is that it is because one can only hear and make sense of sound one at a time, whereas the eye can see a lot of things at one time (Au.).

93. The following should be an interesting reading on the eye:

The Eye

In construction, the eye is one of the most complicated and marvelous organs of the body. Although the actual process of seeing is performed by the brain rather than by the eye, the function of the eye is to translate the electromagnetic vibrations of light into patterns of nerve impulses to transmit to the brain for further processing. Without the eye in place, the brain can see nothing. But of course, we might also remind ourselves that it is neither the brain which sees nor the eye. Both are nothing but cells and cells cannot see. It is another reality that sees.

Outwardly, the eye consists of an eyelid and an eyeball. But hidden behind is a huge complexity. The eyeball consists of a lens covered at top and bottom with Iris diaphragm and both covered with a transparent liquid. The batting of the eyelids replaces the liquid. The liquid helps catch any dust that could damage the lens. The Iris diaphragm closes in bright light, decreasing the lens exposure, or opens in dim light, increasing the exposure. In other words it serves the function of constantly varying the aperture.

Six muscles move the eyeball upward, downward, to the left, to the right, and obliquely. It is estimated that the eyes can focus on no less than 100,000 distinct points in the visual field. The muscles of the two eyes, working together, also serve the important function of converging the sight on any point being observed, so that the images of the two eyes coincide.

The whole of the eyeball is not the lens. It is only a thin convex layer in the front. The rest of the eyeball is transparent jelly. The light, (which is nothing but packets of photons) released by a shining body, is sent through the lens, where the image is inverted, through the whole of the eyeball (transparent jelly) and hits the inner spherical screen known as the retina.

The retina has several layers. At the surface are wire-like fibers that pass through a single hole (known as the blind spot) to become what are known as the optical nerves, and which end up at the brain. The rest of the retina consists of several layers of material. It is the first layer which acts as the electronic interface to the brain. The incoming photons of light pass through it, and through other layers performing several functions to reach what are known as the Photocells. These are very special cells, in the shape of rods as against the roughly spherical cells of others parts of the body. The rod has a round head in front, a thin neck followed by the rod shaped body: placed vertical to the retina (horizontal to the body) and closely packed like match sticks in a box. There are about 125 million rod cells in each retina. The round head of the Photocell has in front a ball shaped nucleus which, like every one of the 100 trillion body cells, carries the DNA). Behind the head is the neck after which are the mitochondria. Known as power houses, the mitochondria are found in every single cell in thousands. Their function is to release energy for cellular operations while processing some 700 different kinds of chemicals. Behind this layer of mitochondria lies a layer of folded material meant for catching photons. The layered and folded form helps catch every photon that ever enters into the eye. Otherwise, the photons are small enough to pass through a single layer and emerge on the other side unscathed. This area then, which lies at the back of the retina, and at the back of the horizontally placed cells, actually is the light gathering structure that traps the photons, to send back information to the front portion for processing and then forwarding the message to the brain through the nerve cells placed at the outer face of the retina. Thus, light first goes all the way to the end, where it is processed, then it is forwarded back to the frontally placed Electronic interface layer, to be finally sent to the brain through nerves: a very complicated arrangement but extremely efficient.

The whole of the back layer of the retina however is not lined up with rod shaped photocells. Somewhere in the centre is a small area, known as the fovea which has cone-shaped photocells which are less sensitive than the rest of the rod area. Thus the visual field of the eye is composed of a small central area of great sharpness (the fovea) somewhere at the center of the retina, surrounded by a larger area of lesser sharpness. In the latter area the sensitivity to light is great. As a result, dim objects can be seen at night on the peripheral part of the retina when they are invisible to the central part.

(The largest eye ever recorded is a colossal 370 mm in diameter belonging to a giant squid with 10 meter-tentacles. The size is intriguing because a 20 mm eye can perform the same functions as efficiently, and even an elephant has an eye ten times smaller).

We have given the details above to prove the point that the eye happens to be a very difficult organ to explain in evolutionary terms. For, evolutionists believe in gradual selection of slight but useful variations through millions of years before an organ can evolve to perfection. But the eye requires a whole apparatus, consisting of very specialized parts, designed and manufactured for specific functions, before it can start seeing anything. One of those parts could be explained away, somehow – say the Electronic data processing unit. But it has no function if the photocells are not in place. So, why should the body place millions of the processing unit, without the data to process? And so on. Every part fits well in a scheme. But, singly, none of it is of any use. An evolving eye would have been working in several directions, with several parts, in several places, to develop the final machinery, capable of seeing. Darwin, therefore, confessed, ‘To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances, for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of the spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.’???

Recent findings about the variety it takes in design has further weakened the “blind watch-maker” theory. There certainly is a design behind the eye. Lobsters for example, have been discovered, to the embarrassment of the blind followers of Darwin, to have eyes whose facets are perfect squares. Now, curves, oblong shapes, and circles can be explained. But how to explain squares? Writes Michael J Denton, “One of the most striking features of the lobster eye which is obvious even on superficial inspection is that the facets of the eye are perfect squares. It is very unusual to meet with perfect square structures in biology. As one astronomer commented in Science (magazine): ‘The lobster is the most unrectangular animal I’ve ever seen. But under the microscope a lobster’s eye looks like perfect graph paper’” (Nature’s Destiny, The Press Books, 1998, p.354). Surely, the eye seems to be a clear case of, in the words of Denton, “directed evolution,” if there was any.

Looking at the development of the eye from another angle, one can say that it offers us an undeniable proof of a Creator’s Hand. The eye depends on the light to see. But for the eye to see, it must be able to detect a particular type of radiation to be able to form an image. The sun sends out various kinds of energies: the Ultra Violet rays, the X-ray, the Gamma ray, the Light ray, the Infra red, the Radio waves, etc. Of these, it is only the Light rays, which have a convenient wavelength of only 0.5 microns, that are suitable for a clear vision. The UV, X-ray, or Gamma rays are highly destructive. They would destroy the biological lens (the sensitive retina) if allowed into it in large quantities.

Moreover, had the eye had been developed to see the Infra Red or Radio waves, it would have had to be several times the present size. In such an event, it would have lost the clarity of close vision, reducing the field of vision. Hence, Radio telescopes have to be very large to be able to form images. And they cannot spot objects close at hand. A human eye using Radio waves, (which have a wavelength of 100 centimeters), would have had to be of diameter 10 kilometers to perform the same function as the present eye. Even microwaves of 1 cm. wavelength would require an eye of diameter 10 meters to see with the same resolution.

It is only the Light ray which offers an image of high resolution. And the eye is very suitable to see them. Further, if the eyes had developed the capacity to see the UV, X-ray, or Gamma rays, it would have been too small and incapable of functioning. It is another thing that such an idea is entirely hypothetical. An eye capable of seeing these rays would need human cells in far smaller size, such as those that cannot have sub-cellular organisms.

Yet, the eye is capable of seeing what Radio telescopes can. This it has achieved by reducing the size of the photoreceptor cells to a mere 2 microns. (In fact, no vertebrate’s eye is known to have a photoreceptor cell less than 2 microns in size). So that, although the amount of light falling on the retina from a distant star is 1 trillion (1012) less than that from brightly lit snowfield, it can see both. Michael J. Denton writes, “Consideration of the many conflicting criteria which must be satisfied in attempting to optimize resolution of a camera-type eye utilizing light of a wavelength of about 0.5 microns, including minimizing diffraction, maximizing illumination, maximizing field of view, minimizing spherical and chromatic aberration, etc., suggest that all-high resolution optical devices will necessarily be of the same design and dimensions. Each will consist of a small lightproof hollow rounded structure between 1 and 6 centimeter in diameter, containing at the front an aperture or “pupil” through which the light can enter, capable of varying from about 1 to 8 millimeters in diameter, and a lens through which the light can be focused onto a light-sensitive plate. In fact, all high resolution vertebrate eyes and high-quality modern cameras approximate this design” (Nature’s Destiny, The Free Press, 1998, p. 63-64).

However, one need not be armed with the above scientific information, to reach the conclusion that the eye could not have evolved, but could have only been created in one go. From a common man’s point of view there are two simple arguments against the evolutionary explanation with reference to the eye. First, how could the eye evolve without the biological organism knowing that there is something out there to see and that it will need a very complex apparatus to perform that function? Second, how did the biological organisms know that the objects outside were colorful in order to develop an eye capable of seeing colors? Surely, they could have gone on seeing objects in black and white without realizing that the world is colorful.

That there is an external Power acting on us, is brought to light by an amazing phenomenon revealed by modern research. If a special spectacle is placed before the eye, which blinds the eye to the rest of the world, but which has a lens that inverts the images going into the eye, then the person sees an inverted image of everything. He sees, e.g., that the sky is below and the earth above. He has great difficulty moving about or picking up a thing. However, this is for a short period of about 15 days. If the spectacle is worn continuously for more than that period, one fine day the eye inverts the images, so that everything becomes normal for the person, as if the spectacle is not there. And, when the special spectacle worn for several weeks is removed, the eye once again sees everything upside down: the earth above and the sky below. It needs another 15 days or so to once again invert the images to see the earth below and the sky above. Who tells the eye or the brain of the spectacles’ special effect, if they are no more than electronic data processing machinery? (Au.) 

94. Yusuf Ali comments, “As elsewhere, ‘heart’ is to be understood as the seat both of feeling and intelligence. ‘All means by which knowledge can be gathered, judgement formed, and goodness cultivated, are provided for you by Allah. If you are grateful, you would use those in His service, which is expressed in your service to your fellow men. But instead you ignore these gifts, question Allah’s Providence, and blaspheme against Him.’”

Also see note 90 of Surah Al-Hajj.

95. Commenting on “little do you give thanks” Abu Muslim has said that the meaning is not that you thank little, but rather you do not thank at all. It is similar to what is said about an ungrateful, argumentative man, “How little he thanks!” (Razi)


[79] And it is He who scattered you in the earth, and to Him shall you be gathered back.

[80] And, it is He who gives life and deals death, and His is the alternation of the night and day. Will you not then reason?

[81] Nay, but they said the like of what the earlier ones said.

[82] They said, ‘What, when We are dead and have become dust and bones, are we indeed to be raised up again?

[83] Surely, this we were promised, we and our forefathers, earlier (also). This is nothing but tales of the ancients.’

[84] Say, ‘Whose is the earth and whoso thereon, if you know?’

[85] They will surely say, ‘Allah’s.’ Say, ‘Will you not then heed?’96


96. Yusuf Ali tries to clear modern man’s mind, answer a recurring question, and exhorts to belief, “If their argument is that such things about the future life cannot be known or proved, they are referred to the things which are actually before them. The tangible things of the earth – can they postulate their order or government except by a Power or Force or Energy outside them? They will admit that there is such a Power or Force or Energy. We call it Allah. Go a step further. We see a sublime Universe in the heavens above, stretching far beyond our ken. They will admit its existence and its grandeur. We ask them to entertain a feeling of reverence for the Power behind it, and to understand their own feeling and their dependence upon that Power.”

[86] Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and Lord of the Great `Arsh?’97


97. As says a well-known hadith: “The seven heavens and seven earths are no more than a ring thrown into the desert when compared to the Kursiyy. And the Kursiyy is similarly comparable to the `Arsh.” And Dahhak reports Ibn `Abbas as saying that the `Arsh has been so named because of its great height (Ibn Kathir).

[87] They will surely say, ‘Allah.’ Say, ‘Will you not then fear?’98


98. On the same note as the previous one, Yusuf Ali continues, “If this great and glorious Universe inspires you with awe, surely the Power behind is more worthy of your awe, especially if you compare your dependence and its dependence upon Him.”

[88] Say, ‘In whose hand is the sovereignty of all things99 – who protects but is not protected, if you know?’ 


99. The textual “malakut”, (lit. dominion, sovereignty: Au.), has been understood by Mujahid as meaning treasures (Ibn Jarir). (That should explain the Qur’anic answer to the question about malakut as “lillah” [Allah’s] – Au.

[89] They will surely say, ‘Allah’s.’ How then are you bewitched?100


100. “Sahar is not only ‘bewitched’ but also ‘be turned away from his course or way’” (Majid). That is, it is also used in the sense of ‘khad`’ (deception) – Au. And Yusuf Ali once again, “The order and unity of purpose in the Universe argue unity of design and goodness in its Maker. Is it not then sheer madness for you to run after fancies and fail to understand and obey His Will? It is delusion in you to seek other than Allah.”

[90] Nay, but we have conveyed them the Truth and indeed they are liars.101


101. Asad explains the verse and shows the connection with the next, “Lit., ‘they are liars’ – i.e., they deceive themselves by asserting that they believe in God and, at the same time, rejecting the idea of a life after death, which – in view of the fact that many wrongdoers prosper in this world while many righteous lead a life of suffering – is insolubly bound up with the concept of divine justice. Apart from this, a denial of the possibility of resurrection implies a doubt as to God’s unlimited power and, thus, of His Godhead in the true sense of this concept. This latter doubt often finds its expression in the mystic belief in a multiplicity of divine powers: and it is to this erroneous belief that the next verse alludes.”


(To be continued)

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