Until the mid-20th century, the prevalent view across the world was that the universe was infinite, had existed forever and that it will continue to do so for all time. According to this view, known as the "static universe model," the universe had no end or beginning.
In maintaining that the universe is a collection of fixed, static and unchanging substances, this view has constituted the basis of materialist philosophy and has consequently rejected the existence of a Creator. However, as science and technology progressed during the 20th century, the static universe model has been completely uprooted.
We have now entered the 21st century and a new dawn is upon us. Through numerous experiments, observations and calculation conducted by some of the world's most prominent thinkers, modern physics has proven that the universe did indeed have a beginning, that it came into being from nothing in a single moment in a huge explosion. Furthermore, it has been established that the universe is not fixed and static, as materialists still stubbornly maintain. On the contrary, it is undergoing a constant process of movement, change and expansion. These recently-established facts all act as nails in the coffin of the static universe theory. Today, all these facts are universally accepted by the scientific community.
The origin of the universe is described in the Qur'an in the following verse:
He created the heavens and the Earth from nothing. (Qur'an, 6:101)
This information is in full agreement with the findings of contemporary scientists. As we stated earlier, the conclusion that astrophysics has reached today is that the entire universe, together with the dimensions of matter and time, came into existence as a result of a great explosion that occurred a long time ago. This event, known as "The Big Bang," is the catalyst for the creation of the universe from nothingness. This explosion, all parties in the scientific community agree, emanated from a single point some 15 billion years ago. (See Harun Yahya, The Creation of the Universe, Al-Attique Publishers Inc., Canada, 2000)
The Expanding Universe
In the Qur'an, which was revealed fourteen centuries ago at a time when the science of astronomy was still primitive, the expansion of the universe was described in the following terms:
And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it. (Qur'an, 51:47)
The word "heaven," as stated in the verse above, is used in various places in the Qur'an. It is referring to space and the wider universe. Here again, the word is used with this meaning, stating that the universe "expands." The Arabic word "moosi'oona" in the term "innalamoosi'oona," translated into English as "it is We Who are steadily expanding it," comes from the verb "awsa'a," meaning "to expand." The prefix "la" emphasises the following name or title and adds a sense of "to a great extent." This expression therefore means "We expand the sky or the universe to a great extent." This is the very conclusion that science has reached today.1
Until the dawn of the 20th century, the only view prevailing in the world of science was that "the universe has a constant nature and it has existed since infinite time." However, modern research, observations, and calculations carried out by means of modern technology have revealed that the universe in fact had a beginning and that it constantly "expands."
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann and the Belgian cosmologist Georges Lemaître theoretically calculated that the universe is in constant motion and that it is expanding.
This notion was confirmed by the use of observational data in 1929. While observing the sky with a telescope, Edwin Hubble, the American astronomer, discovered that the stars and galaxies were constantly moving away from each other. This discovery is regarded as one of the greatest in the history of astronomy. During these observations, Hubble established that the stars emit a light that turns redder according to their distance. That is because according to the known laws of physics, light heading towards a point of observation turns violet, and light moving away from that point assumes a more reddish hue. During his observations, Hubble noted a tendency towards the colour red in the light emitted by stars. In short, the stars were moving further and further away, all the time. The stars and galaxies were not only moving away from us, but also from each other. A universe where everything constantly moves away from everything else implied a constantly expanding universe. The observations carried out in the following years verified that the universe is constantly expanding.
In order to gain a clearer understanding of this, let us imagine the universe to be the surface of a balloon being inflated. In the same way that the more the balloon is inflated, the further away the points on its surface move from one another, celestial bodies also move away from one another as the universe expands. This was theoretically discovered by Albert Einstein, regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. However, in order to avoid violating the "static universe model" that was generally accepted at that time, Einstein laid that discovery aside. He would later describe this as the greatest blunder of his life.2
This fact was explained in the Qur'an in a time when telescopes and similar technological advancements were not even close to being invented. This is because the Qur'an is the word of Allah: the Creator and Ruler of the entire universe.
The end of the Universe and the big crunch
As we have stated above, the creation of the universe began with a huge explosion. From this point, the universe has been expanding ever since. Scientists say that when the mass of the universe has reached a sufficient level, this expansion will come to an end because of gravity, causing the universe to collapse in on itself.3
The Big Crunch theory proposes that the universe, that began expanding with the Big Bang, will collapse in on itself with increasing speed. According to the theory, this collapse of the universe will continue until the universe has lost all its mass and turned into a single point of infinite density.
It is also believed that the contracting universe will end in a fierce heat and contraction known as the "Big Crunch." This would lead to the end of all forms of life as we know them. RenataKallosh and Andrei Linde, professors of physics from Stanford University, made the following statements on the subject:
The universe may be doomed to collapse and disappear. Everything we see now, and at a much larger distance that we cannot see, will collapse into a point smaller than a proton. Locally, it will be the same as if you were inside a black hole... We have found that some of the best attempts to describe dark energy predict that it will gradually become negative, which will cause the universe to become unstable, then collapse... Physicists have known that dark energy could become negative and the universe could collapse sometime in the very distant future... but now we see that we might be, not in the beginning, but in the middle of the life cycle of our universe.4
This is how this scientific hypothesis of the Big Crunch is indicated in the Qur'an:
That Day We will fold up heaven like folding up the pages of a book. As We originated the first creation so We will regenerate it. It is a promise binding on Us. That is what We will do. (Qur'an, 21:104)
In another verse, this state of the heavens is described thus:
They do not measure Allah with His true measure. The whole Earth will be a mere handful for Him on the Day of Resurrection the heavens folded up in His right hand. Glory be to Him! He is exalted above the partners they ascribe! (Qur'an, 39:67)
According to the Big Crunch theory, the universe will begin to collapse slowly and will then increasingly pick up speed. At the end of the process the universe will have infinite density and be infinitely hot and small. This scientific theory runs parallel to the Qur'anic explanation of this particular scientific concept. (Allah knows best)
1. S. Waqar Ahmed Husaini, The Quran for Astronomy and Earth Exploration from Space, 3rd ed. (New Delhi: Goodword Press: 1999), 103-108.
2. "Edwin Hubble;" www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/hubble.html
3. Philip Ball, "Black Crunch Jams Universal Cycle," Nature, December 23, 2002; Dr. David Whitehouse, "Universe is 'doomed to collapse'," BBC News Online, October 22, 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2346907.stm; and Mark Schwartz, "Cosmic 'big crunch' could trigger an early demise of our universe," Stanford Report, September 25, 2002.
4. Schwartz, "Cosmic 'big crunch' could trigger an early demise of our universe," Stanford Report, September 25, 2002.