A Fortress of Iron or a Castle of Sand?
The Qur'an Miracle of "Iron Sent Down"
People who have read my previous rebuttals to the assertions of the Turkish Islamic scholar Harun Yahya about the scientific miracles of the Qur’an are most likely aware of the great number of allegations on Yahya’s website (*) and how good he is at concocting new miracles. Although it is definitely possible to refute all of Yahya’s claims, it is better to be selective in this respect since many of the scientific miracles that Yahya asserts to have been encoded in the Qur’an are presented with few vague sentences and explained through misleading generalizations, being unworthy of a serious examination and refutation.
My previous rebuttals had the purpose to highlight, by way of example, various methods of perversion used by Harun Yahya in the invention of the so-called miracles of the Qur’an. This enables one to figure out the source of any particular scientific miracle made up by Yahya as all his theories are derived from certain strategies that help him to skillfully distort the Qur’an and conceal the truth from the reader. This is why I think it will be better and more useful to select those of Yahya’s assertions that demand more attention and are easily distinguished from the rest of the allegations for a few significant reasons.
Accordingly, I am selecting the article entitled “The Miracle of Iron” as this particular argument excellently displays how Yahya makes use of different strategies of perversion while endeavoring to produce a theory alien to the Qur’an by simply inserting his personal commentary and wishful thinking into the original text. The fake miracle of iron is definitely a product of Harun Yahya’s deliberate misinterpretations that are attached to the Qur’an through his play on the sense of a certain verb (send down), concealment of the original verse from the reader (by using incomplete and misleading quotation), and unsubstantiated hasty generalizations. In addition, Yahya’s peculiar attempt to embellish his fake miracle with the help of a mere numerical coincidence, which is unsurprisingly presented as a “mathematical code” proving the miraculous nature of the Islamic scripture, makes this specific “scientific miracle” regarding the origin of iron more interesting and attractive.
Yahya and the supposed miracle of Iron in the Qur’an
On his specific page with the title “The Miracle of Iron” Harun Yahya talks at length of iron and binds it to the allegedly miraculous and divine origin of the Islamic scripture on the basis of a single verse:1
Iron is one of the elements highlighted in the Qur'an. In Surat al-Hadid, meaning Iron, we are informed: And We also sent down iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind… (Qur'an, 57:25)
Before proceeding to quote Harun Yahya’s remarks that formulate his basic allegation concerning iron, it is necessary to highlight the fact that the introductory sentence of the above quotation is misleading as it, from the start, forces the reader to presume that the Qur’an defines iron as an element and attaches more significance to it than all the other elements for a particular reason. Yahya will later construct his second theory on this misleading presumption, pretending to have substantiated one claim of his with another.
Literal versus Figurative
After quoting the above verse, Yahya explains the source of his theory and tells the reader why he thinks the particular verse about iron pertains to a newly discovered scientific miracle of the Qur’an:
The word "anzalna," translated as "sent down" and used for iron in the verse, could be thought of having a metaphorical meaning to explain that iron has been given to benefit people. But, when we take into consideration the literal meaning of the word, which is, "being physically sent down from the sky," as in the case of rain and Sun rays, we realize that this verse implies a very significant scientific miracle. Because, modern astronomical findings have disclosed that the iron found in our world has come from giant stars in outer space.
Apparently, Harun Yahya’s allegation concerns the distinction between the literal and figurative meaning of the verb “send down”. At first, Yahya sounds rather honest and scholarly since he introduces his claim through modals denoting possibility (“could be” thought of…) and admits that the verb “send down” is sometimes used with its figurative meaning in the Qur’an. However, he feels impatient to conclude with certainty that in the verse quoted by him the literal meaning of the verb is used and that the physical descent of iron is implied. In order to strengthen his argument that the physical descent of iron is in view, Yahya finally draws a false parallelism between the descent of sunrays and rain and that of iron in the Qur’an. This is a false parallelism because of two reasons: first, the Islamic scripture does nowhere teach that the sun rays are sent down; second, the literal descent of rain in the Qur’an is not identical with what is meant by the physical descent of iron as pointed out in the astronomical findings highlighted by Yahya.
Unfortunately, Harun Yahya fails to prove his basic claims with the help of Qur’an verses. He most likely avoids using Islamic scriptural references because he knows that it is not possible to find the word “sunray” in the entire Qur’an. Similarly, Yahya is reluctant to quote the verses talking of the descent of rain probably because he can predict that those very verses will weaken his allegations and undermine his theory. First, in some verses of the Qur’an, the literal meaning of the verb “send down” is made clear through prepositional phrases indicating where the rain is sent down from. For instance:
Who made the earth a resting place for you and the heaven a canopy and (Who) sends down rain from the cloud then brings forth with it subsistence for you of the fruits; therefore do not set up rivals to Allah while you know. (Sura 2:22 Shakir)(*)
Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy; and causeth water to pour down from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you. And do not set up rivals to Allah when ye know (better). (Sura 2:22 Pickthall)(*)
Who has made the earth your couch, And the heavens your canopy; And sent down rain from the heavens; And brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; Then set not up rivals unto God When ye know (the truth). (Sura 2:22 Yusuf Ali)(*)
However, the only Qur’an verse that supposedly refers to the physical descent of iron lacks the prepositional phrase, which shows that Yahya made a hasty and biased conclusion when he interpreted the verb “send down” in that verse literally rather than figuratively.
Second, Yahya’s contention that the literal meaning of the verb “send down” is applicable to the verse referring to the “descent of iron” because rain is literally descended from the sky is obviously fallacious. Claiming that iron was literally sent down from the sky just like rain was makes no sense unless an open parallelism is drawn between iron and rain on the basis of the verb “send down” in a Qur’an verse. In other words, it is Yahya’s duty to quote a single verse where such a linguistic or thematic association is manifested. This is out of possibility since the current Qur’an will never allow that sort of an association.
Third, Yahya’s hastiness and eagerness to suggest that the sense of the verb “send down” is identical when used with the word “rain” and “iron” undermines his theory since scientific facts will force him to admit that the way rain is physically sent down from the sky is different than the way iron is physically descended.2 This is because when the Qur’an says that “Allah descends rain from the sky”, it does not mean that rain is sent down to our planet from the giant stars in outer space. The teaching of the Qur’an associates rain with the clouds formed in our world. For example:
Do you not see that Allah drives along the clouds, then gathers them together, then piles them up, so that you see the rain coming forth from their midst? And He sends down of the clouds that are (like) mountains wherein is hail, afflicting therewith whom He pleases and turning it away from whom He pleases; the flash of His lightning almost takes away the sight. (Surah 24:43 Shakir)
Hast thou not seen how Allah wafteth the clouds, then gathereth them, then maketh them layers, and thou seest the rain come forth from between them; He sendeth down from the heaven mountains wherein is hail, and smiteth therewith whom He will, and averteth it from whom He will. The flashing of His lightning all but snatcheth away the sight. (Surah 24:43 Pickthall)
Seest thou not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap?--then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases, the vivid flash of His lightning well-nigh blinds the sight. (Surah 24:43 Yusuf Ali)
The astronomical findings about the source of iron, on the other hand, show that the literal descent of iron from the sky to our world cannot be the same as the physical descent of rain from the clouds. Since science never teaches that rain is formed outside our world or in the giant stars in outer space, the following scientific information presented by Yahya ironically refutes his theory about the “miracle of iron” in the Qur’an:
Not only the iron on earth, but also the iron in the entire Solar System, comes from outer space, since the temperature in the Sun is inadequate for the formation of iron. The sun has a surface temperature of 6,000 degrees Celsius, and a core temperature of approximately 20 million degrees. Iron can only be produced in much larger stars than the Sun, where the temperature reaches a few hundred million degrees. When the amount of iron exceeds a certain level in a star, the star can no longer accommodate it, and it eventually explodes in what is called a "nova" or a "supernova." These explosions make it possible for iron to be given off into space.
Despite the overt contrast between the scientific description of the physical descent of iron and that of rain, Harun Yahya once more refutes himself by maintaining that his fallacious parallelism between “iron” and “rain” in terms of their descent to our world prove the alleged divine origin of the Islamic scripture:
All this shows that iron did not form on the Earth, but was carried from Supernovas, and was "sent down," as stated in the verse. It is clear that this fact could not have been known in the 7th century, when the Qur'an was revealed. Nevertheless, this fact is related in the Qur'an, the Word of Allah, Who encompasses all things in His infinite knowledge.
Apparently, Harun Yahya’s basic assertion entitled “The Miracle of Iron” comes to a tragic end since neither is the physical descent of rain identical with the physical descent of iron nor is there a Qur’an verse that authorizes Yahya’s literal interpretation of the verb “send down” with regard to iron in Surah 57. Thus, at a very early stage of this debate, Yahya’s foundational theory collapses altogether as he fails to convince the objective reader that in the verse quoted by him the verb “send down” must be taken literally.
As an interesting note, some Islamic commentators’ reluctance to interpret the descent of iron literally in Surah 57 is reflected in their peculiar translations. For instance, Shakir’s translation does not have the verb “descend” or “send down” since he concludes that the Arabic verb in the verse actually refers to the formation of iron by Allah:
… and We have made the iron, wherein is great violence and advantages to men… (Surah 57:25)
Pickthall suggests that the verb used in this verse points to the revelation of iron to mankind:
…and He revealed iron, wherein is mighty power and (many) uses for mankind… (Surah 57:25)
Yusuf Ali’s translation, on the other hand, is closest in form to the one provided by Harun Yahya as it presents the words “send down” as the English equivalent of the Arabic word “anzalna”, but this does not mean that Yusuf Ali’s peculiar translation endorses the literal interpretation of the verb “anzalna” in the 25th verse of Surah 57. It is crucial to compare the following Qur’an verses to see that Ali’s English translation of the Arabic word “anzalna” remains the same in different cases:
… We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind… (waanzalna alhadeeda feehi ba/sun shadeedun wamanafiAAu lilnnasi) (Surah 57:25)
He created you (all) from a single person: then created, of like nature, his mate; and he sent down for you eight head of cattle in pairs… (Khalaqakum min nafsin wahidatin thumma jaAAala minha zawjaha waanzala lakum mina al-anAAami thamaniyata azwajin) (Surah 39:6)
According to the Qur’an, Allah, who supposedly sent down iron (Surah 57:25), also sent down cattle for mankind! The literal interpretation of the same verb occurring in this verse will give birth to a theory that some animals were not created in this world, but came down from outer space. We do not know if Harun Yahya is willing to insist that the descent of certain animals be construed literally for the sake of their adaptation to certain scientific facts. It is not difficult to guess that Yahya will most likely reject the literal interpretation of the verb “send down” in Surah 39:6 since there has been no scientific discovery that ascribes the existence of some animals on earth to their fall from giant stars. Consequently, Yahya’s theory entitled “the miracle of iron” is a hoax derived from the adaptation of a Qur’an verse to a scientific discovery through the arbitrary and inconsistent literal interpretation of a particular verb.
It is worth noting that the Qur’an does not connect the two words “iron” and “star(s)” anywhere and in any way. Specifically, it does not say that “iron was formed in stars” or “iron originated from the stars”.3 In final analysis, Yahya’s claims are merely the result of his fertile imagination and deceptive manipulation of the text.
While explaining why the particular reference to iron came in the Medinan period of the Qur’an rather than in its early era, Ibn Kathir, a famous Islamic commentator, states that Allah “brought forth” iron. Ibn Kathir’s commentary has nothing to support Harun Yahya’s theory and interpretation:
(And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power,) meaning, ‘We made iron a deterrent for those who refuse the truth and oppose it after the proof has been established against them.’ Allah's Messenger remained in Makkah for thirteen years. During that time, the revelation continued being sent to him, containing arguments against the idolators and explaining Tawhid with detail and proofs. When the evidence was established against those who defied the Messenger, Allah decreed the Hijrah. Then He ordered the believers to fight the disbelievers using swords, using them to strike the necks and foreheads of those who opposed, rejected and denied the Qur'an. (Source)
In other words, “brought forth iron” is a metaphorical expression employed to indicate the beginning of fighting with swords between the believers and the unbelievers.
Also the Iron? Is iron one of several “sent down” elements?
Although Harun Yahya is unable to substantiate his fundamental theory, which is based on the peculiar and literal interpretation of the verb “send down” in Surah 57:25, he tries to derive another so-called scientific miracle from his unproven assertion. This he does by focusing on the word “also” appearing in some English translations of the verse in question. In the light of the scientific discoveries that highlight the significance of “iron” among some other elements similarly descended to our world from outer space, Yahya contends that the structure of the sentence in Surah 57:25 implies not only the addition of iron into the general category of all the “sent down” elements, but also the outstanding and distinct features of iron:
Astronomy has also revealed that other elements also formed outside the Earth. In the expression "We also sent down iron" in the verse, the word "also" may well be referring to that idea. However, the fact that the verse specifically mentions iron is quite astounding, considering that these discoveries were made at the end of the 20th century. In his book Nature's Destiny, the well-known microbiologist Michael Denton emphasizes the importance of iron:
Of all the metals there is none more essential to life than iron. It is the accumulation of iron in the center of a star which triggers a supernova explosion and the subsequent scattering of the vital atoms of life throughout the cosmos. It was the drawing by gravity of iron atoms to the center of the primeval earth that generated the heat which caused the initial chemical differentiation of the earth, the outgassing of the early atmosphere, and ultimately the formation of the hydrosphere. It is molten iron in the center of the earth which, acting like a gigantic dynamo, generates the earth's magnetic field, which in turn creates the Van Allen radiation belts that shield the earth's surface from destructive high-energy-penetrating cosmic radiation and preserve the crucial ozone layer from cosmic ray destruction… Without the iron atom, there would be no carbon-based life in the cosmos; no supernovae, no heating of the primitive earth, no atmosphere or hydrosphere. There would be no protective magnetic field, no Van Allen radiation belts, no ozone layer, no metal to make hemoglobin [in human blood], no metal to tame the reactivity of oxygen, and no oxidative metabolism. The intriguing and intimate relationship between life and iron, between the red color of blood and the dying of some distant star, not only indicates the relevance of metals to biology but also the biocentricity of the cosmos…
This account clearly indicates the importance of the iron atom. The fact that particular attention is drawn to iron in the Qur'an also emphasises the importance of the element.
As we said before, the second part of Yahya’s theory makes sense only if the Qur’an defines iron as an element. However, this is not the case since the Qur’an does not have the word “element” or “metal”. The lack of a reference to the category of elements in the entire Islamic scripture instantly destroys the parallelism that Yahya is eager to draw between iron and the other indefinite elements through the use of the word “also” with regard to the descent of iron in Surah 57. What then does the word “also”4 in that particular verse refer to if not to the inclusion of iron into the category of elements fallen from the sky? In order to solve this mystery and rebut Yahya’s assertion about the highlighted features of iron among the other elements in the Qur’an, we have to quote the 25th verse of Surah 57 in its entirety:
Certainly We sent Our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with equity; and We have made the iron, wherein is great violence and advantages to men, and that Allah may know who helps Him and His apostles in the secret; surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. (Shakir)
We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may observe right measure; and He revealed iron, wherein is mighty power and (many) uses for mankind, and that Allah may know him who helpeth Him and His messengers, though unseen. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. (Pickthall)
We sent aforetime our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His apostles: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will). (Yusuf Ali)
It is clear like daylight that Harun Yahya chose to omit some parts of the 25th verse of Surah 57 because he knew that the full citation of the verse would not allow him to put forward his theories about the prediction of a scientific teaching concerning the descent of iron in the Qur’an. We can understand from the citations above that iron is specifically added into the group of the two other “sent down” things (namely the Book and the Balance) rather than to the group of the other descended elements as suggested by Yahya.
More to the point, the inclusion of iron by the authors of this chapter into the same category as the Book and Balance through the use of the same verb “send down” reveals the parallelism drawn between iron and the other two things (the Book and the Balance) with regard to their descent. In other words, the structure of the verse is meant to imply that iron was sent down in precisely the same way as the Book and the Balance were. This is why Yahya has no liberty to interpret the verb “send down” differently with regard to iron since the occurrence of the same verb determines one and the same type of descent for the Book, the Balance, and iron. Consequently, Harun Yahya has got two options: he will either conclude that not only iron, but also the Book and Balance literally came to our world from the giant stars in outer space – or admit his fallacious interpretation and apologize, saying that through the verb “send down” in Surah 57:25 the Qur’an by no means refers to the physical descent of iron, but only uses figurative language to express the idea that Allah created iron and gave it to mankind.
For the sake of honesty, we must confess that a third option arises from the commentaries of some Islamic scholars on Surah 57:25. In his project named “A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur’an”, E.M. Wherry quotes from Sale, who says “Some think that a balance was actually brought down from heaven by the Angel Gabriel to Noah, the use of which he was ordered to introduce among his people”. Sale’s remark illustrates that some scholars were in favor of the literal interpretation of the verb “send down” in the 25th verse of Surah 57. As for the use of this verb with regard to iron, Sale makes a reference to Zamakhshari, who first construes it figuratively, saying: “That is, we taught them how to dig the same from mines”, but later adds: “Adam is said to have brought down with him from Paradise five things made of iron, viz., an anvil, a pair of tongs, two hammers, a greater and a lesser, and a needle” (*). Obviously, even the traditional belief that iron was literally sent down to mankind is not compatible with Harun Yahya’s allegations since Adam’s taking with him some iron objects while departing from Paradise has nothing to do with the scientific “fall” of iron from the giant stars in outer space.
From the closer examination of the Qur’anic statement below arise two more problems that consolidate the absurdity of Yahya’s literal interpretation:
We sent aforetime our apostles with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice… (Surah 57:25 Yusuf Ali)
First, the sentence reads “sent down WITH THEM”, which sounds like the book, the balance, and the apostles were all sent down together. The adaptation of this teaching to Yahya’s peculiar interpretation would mean that Allah’s apostles literally fell from the sky along with the book and the balance.
Second, the same statement gives an implicit answer to the question WHEN the apostles, the book, and the balance were all sent down as it continues and gives the reason for their existence: “that mankind may stand forth in justice”, which shows that they were clearly sent at a time when there already was “mankind”, i.e. when human beings lived on this earth. Similarly, the iron is also sent down to benefit mankind. If we take the parallel formulation into account, this seems to say that iron was also sent at a time when mankind was around – in stark contradiction to what the scientific theories say.
Mathematical codes in the verse about Iron?
After asserting that iron is one of the several elements that descended to our planet from outer space and making this assertion plausible by concealing the context of the verse with the help of incomplete and misleading citation, Harun Yahya ventures into a different realm and seeks ways of mystifying his theory. The principle of coincidence, which begets many numerological “miracles”, runs to Yahya’s aid and enables him to contend that the number of the chapter in which iron is said to have been sent down contains two mathematical codes. Unsurprisingly, Yahya once again binds these codes to the allegedly highlighted significance of iron in the Qur’an:
In addition, there is another hidden truth in the Qur'an which draws attention to the importance of iron: Surat al-Hadid 25, which refers to iron, contains two rather interesting mathematical codes. "Al- Hadid" is the 57th sura in the Qur'an. The abjad of the word "Al-Hadid" in Arabic, when the numerological values of its letters are added up, is also 57. (For abjad calculations see the section on Numerological Calculations (Abjad) in the Qur'an.) The numerological value of the word "hadid" alone is 26. And 26 is the atomic number of iron.
To begin with the first so-called mathematical code, Yahya seems totally ignorant of the fact that Surah “al-Hadid” was made the 57th chapter of the Qur’an not by Allah, but by “men” during the compilation of the Islamic scripture. Since the form of today’s Qur’an is not based on the chronological order of the chapters, arguing that the particular verse about the descent of iron appears in Surah 57 leads us nowhere. According to the chronological order of the Qur’an the 57th Surah is entitled “Luqman” whilst Surah “Al-Hadid” has the 94th place (*). Yahya’s first supposed mathematical code is thus easily demolished.
However, there are other ways of exposing the erroneous nature of Harun Yahya’s reasoning. First, not a single verse within the Qur’an stipulates that the 57th chapter be named after iron. Relevantly, the numerological values of the Arabic word “Al-Hadid” may really add up to 57, but this fails to constitute a mathematical code as the naming process of the Qur’an chapters was rather arbitrary, not being based on divine guidance or a system. Second, the Arabic word for iron does not appear only in the currently 57th Surah of the Islamic scripture nor can one claim that this word occurs in this particular chapter for the first time. Some chapters of the Qur’an contain the word “iron” although they belong to an earlier period than the Surah named “Al-Hadid” (Iron):5
Say: "(Nay!) be ye stones or iron. (Surah 17:50)
In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. (Surah 22:21)
In another Surah of the Meccan period, it is written that King David used iron which manifested God’s grace towards him:
We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: "O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds (also)! And We made the iron soft for him. (Surah 34:10)
Finally, the 18th chapter teaches that Zul-qarnain made use of iron while filling up the space between two mountains as a precaution against the attack of the enemy:
"Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides, He said, "Blow (with your bellows)" Then, when he had made it (red) as fire, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead." (Surah 18:96)
The occurrence of the word “iron” in the chapters prior to the Medinan period proves that the writers of the Qur’an did not intend to make any affiliation between the numerological values of the Arabic word and the numbers or names of the chapters. Strikingly, the word “iron” never appears in the Surah named “Luqman”, which is the 57th chapter according to the chronological order of the Qur’an.
The second so-called mathematical code regarding the significance of iron in the Qur’an and discovered by Harun Yahya is again related to the numerological value of the Arabic word after its definite article is dropped. We cannot stop wondering what instigates Yahya to calculate the value of the Arabic word “hadid” without its definite article since the word is used with the definite article in this verse. The most important question that awaits an urgent answer from Yahya is why he rejoices and exults after facing the fact that the atomic number of iron is equal to the numerological value of the Arabic word “hadid” although neither the system of assigning numerical values to letters and words in Arabic nor the atomic number of elements is in any way associated with the Qur’an! If what Yahya points at is truly a mathematical code, this code exists independently of Islam and disregards religious affiliation because what makes the two numbers in view equal is apparently not the Qur’an.
It is worthy of note that Harun Yahya’s flirting with numerology concerns the comparison of the numerological value of the Arabic word for “iron” with the atomic number of iron and the number of the Surah in which the descent of iron is talked of, but ignores the number of the verse on which he bases all of his theories under the title “Miracle of Iron”. Isn’t this weird? What prevents Yahya from reconciling numerology with the number of the verse about iron in Surah 57? The problem is that the number of this particular verse is 25, which betrays Yahya’s efforts by objecting to reconciliation with both the numerological value of the word “hadid” and the atomic number of iron. We are sure that Harun Yahya is terribly upset and disappointed because of the number of the verse containing the word “iron” in Surah 57. This is why he simply ignores the number of this verse, which falls short by one of forming another mathematical code directly linked to the Islamic scripture, and consequently feels obliged to look for a mathematical code outside the Qur’an. The fact that the verse of iron in Surah 57 has the number 25 instead of 26 should teach Yahya not to trust numerology and not to mistake coincidences for divinely inspired or revealed mathematical codes.
Yahya’s reliance on numerology and his subsequent impertinence caused by his disappointment most likely arise from the faulty presumption that the 25th verse of Surah 57 has a unique place in the Qur’an and through it Allah aims to draw attention to the significance of iron. This is not the case though, for Surah 57:25 is only one of the ordinary verses referring to iron, being not different from the verses having the word “iron” in the Meccan period of the Qur’an. Even though this is the first and last verse in which the verb “send down” is used with “iron”, the reason for this distinctive usage is explained by Ibn Kathir, who associates the existence of the verse to the use of swords by Muslims in defense of the Islamic faith in the post-migration era:6
(And We brought forth iron wherein is mighty power,) meaning, We made iron a deterrent for those who refuse the truth and oppose it after the proof has been established against them.' Allah's Messenger remained in Makkah for thirteen years. During that time, the revelation continued being sent to him, containing arguments against the idolators and explaining Tawhid with detail and proofs. When the evidence was established against those who defied the Messenger, Allah decreed the Hijrah. Then He ordered the believers to fight the disbelievers using swords, using them to strike the necks and foreheads of those who opposed, rejected and denied the Qur'an. Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud recorded that `Abdullah bin `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, (I was sent with the sword just before the Hour so that Allah be worshipped alone without partners. My provision was placed under the shadow of my spear, and those who defy my order were disgraced and humiliated, and he who imitates a people is one of them.) This is why Allah the Exalted said, (wherein is mighty power,) in reference to weapons, such as swords, spears, daggers, arrows, shields, and so forth…
Ibn Kathir’s commentary with regard to the temporal peculiarity of this verse sounds reasonable because Surah 57:25 seems to have been formed through additions to the verse below, which belongs to Meccan period and appears as the source of the later idea that iron was revealed to mankind:
It is Allah Who has sent down the Book in Truth, and the Balance (by which to weigh conduct). And what will make thee realise that perhaps the Hour is close at hand? (Surah 42:17 Yusuf Ali)
This timing itself is further evidence that this is the meaning of adding the part on the “iron” to the earlier verse. In Mecca Muhammad preached “peacefully” and called to Islam, but in Medina he starts to fight violently against the unbelievers, and therefore the earlier verse is expanded to include this aspect and reflect the actual new strategy of Islam.
Healing Through Iron?
From the realm of numerology Harun Yahya finally jumps into the science of medicine and wants to convince the reader that Surah 57:25 also has a scientific prediction concerning the recent use of iron in the treatment of patients suffering from cancer:
Moreover, iron oxide particles were used in a cancer treatment in recent months and positive developments were observed. A team led by Dr. Andreas Jordan, at the world famous Charité Hospital in Germany, succeeded in destroying cancer cells with this new technique developed for the treatment of cancer-magnetic fluid hyperthermia (high temperature magnetic liquid). As a result of this technique, first performed on the 26-year-old Nikolaus H.,7 no new cancer cells were observed in the patient in the following three months. In this treatment it is only the cancer cells that are affected by the magnetic field, since only they contain the iron oxide particles. The spread of this technique is a major development in the treatment of this potentially lethal disease.
In the treatment of such a widespread disease as cancer, the use of the expression "iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind" (Qur'an, 57:25) in the Qur'an is particularly noteworthy. Indeed, in that verse, the Qur'an may be indicating the benefits of iron for human health. (Allah knows best.)
Yahya’s final and weakest allegation is based on wishful thinking and supported only by the ambiguity of the phrase “many uses for mankind” in the Qur’an verse. Being open to interpretation, it allows the invention of new scientific miracles and unscientific assertions. It is necessary to state that Ibn Kathir’s commentary does not agree with Yahya’s theory:
(As well as many benefits for mankind,) meaning, in their livelihood, such as using it to make coins, hammers, axes, saws chisels, shovels and various tools that people use for tilting the land, sowing, cooking, making dough and manufacturing other objects necessary for their livelihood.
More, Ibn Kathir believes that the primary function and benefit of iron was related to the defense of Islam and its prophet against the army of disbelievers:
Allah's statement, (that Allah may test who it is that will help Him (His religion) and His Messengers in the unseen.) meaning, whose intention by carrying weapons is the defense of Allah (His religion) and His Messenger. (Verily, Allah is Powerful, Almighty.) meaning, surely, Allah is Powerful, Almighty, and He gives victory to those who give victory and aid to Him. However, Allah does not need mankind's help, but He ordered Jihad to test people with each other.
Harun Yahya’s attempts to associate Surah 57:25 with the scientific discoveries in the field of medicine should not be taken seriously also because this verse does not talk about health or healing and does not even imply that mankind is unaware of some benefits of iron although Yahya is absolutely unaware of this fact. The Quran talks about the KNOWN uses of iron, the uses that were already appreciated by Muhammad’s audience, not about uses that may be discovered centuries later. The identification of the various benefits of iron for mankind with the particular use of iron in medicine illustrates how recklessly Yahya wants to present his conjecture as facts.
Harun Yahya thinks he can make a strong iron castle for the defense and praise of the Qur’an, but his theories related to the supposed miracle of iron in the Islamic scripture turns out to have been built on sand. No matter how many efforts he makes in order to invent a scientific miracle in the Qur’an and for the Qur’an, all his allegations are rebutted as easily as a huge edifice made of glass can be shattered into pieces beyond repair. Insisting on the literal interpretation of a verb with no scriptural evidence and ignoring its figurative usage in the entire Qur’an, concealing the context of a verse from the reader with the help of an incomplete quotation, seeking help from numerology and presenting coincidences as codes, adapting ambiguous statements of the Qur’an to specific scientific facts and discoveries with no evidence are the things that Yahya employs for the invention of the alleged miracle of the Qur’an regarding iron, but the truth is stronger than Yahya’s imagination as his miracle of iron is pulverized when carefully analyzed and when the techniques he uses in the distortion of the truth are exposed and condemned.
History testifies to the fact that other ancient cultures, e.g. the Egyptians, Sumerians and Hittites witnessed the fall of meteorites and revered them as heavenly gifts/sacred objects:
Throughout the ages, meteorites were venerated as sacred objects by different cultures and ancient civilizations. The spectacular fall of a meteorite, accompanied by light and sound phenomena, such as falling stars, smoke, thunder, and sonic booms, has always kindled the human imagination, evoking fear and awe in everyone who witnesses such an event. For obvious reasons, the remnants of these incidents, the actual meteorites, were often kept as sacred stones or objects of power. They were worshiped, and used in their respective religious ceremonies.8
More to the point, some of these meteorites naturally had iron in them and thus made some tribes aware of iron’s connection with the sky:
Actually, several Native American tribes venerated pieces and fragments of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, a giant iron meteorite that excavated Arizona's famous Meteor Crater upon its impact about 50,000 years ago. Archaeological finds throughout the United States and Mexico, proved that Canyon Diablo fragments had been traded briskly centuries before Columbus reached the shores of the New World.
The discovery of iron in the meteorites did not only make ancient civilizations aware of the fact that iron was “sent down” from the sky, but also taught them that these fallen stones were the best source of iron:
Iron meteorites provided iron for people to use for tools and weapons before the art of smelting was known. Finding such meteorites was rare and the ancients did understand the meteorites connection with sky. This was evidenced in the names given them. The ancient Egyptians called meteorites the "stone of heaven." The oldest Sumerian word for iron meant "sky" and "fire." The Hittites, one of the first to use weapons from smelted terrestrial iron, called the metal "fire from heaven." The Assyrians too, extracted iron from ore and called it "fragment from heaven." (Source)
In the light of this historic evidence, should we conclude that ancient civilizations were surprisingly guided by Allah, who revealed the source of iron to idolaters thousands years before the Qur’an and thus spoiled Harun Yahya’s allegations?