17:49 They said,
"After we turn into bones and fragments, do we ( really) get resurrected anew?!"
Say, "Even if you turn into rocks or iron.
17:51 " Or any
creation which , in your minds, appears even more difficult." They will then say,
"Who will bring us back?" Say, "The One who created you in the first
place." They will then shake their heads and say, "When will that be?" Say,
"it may be closer than you think."
In 17:49 disbelievers, in effect, deny the
resurrection. From experience, they have seen and they observe all around them that all
bodies and all things turn into dust and fragments and so they think that is the end of
all things, there will be no further changes and certainly no resurrection. In 17:50,51
God answers the disbelievers and of course confirms the resurrection. In addition,
apparently as further proof to future generations, He combines it with a scientific fact
not known until 20th century.
As you note the two verses are, essentially, stated
in hypothetical form and two distinct ideas are expressed in them; one implicitly and one
explicitly. It is clear from the verse that rocks and iron and not just bones, dust and
fragments (as disbelievers thought) are the ultimate end of things and it is explicit that
although iron would be the end, this state will not be reached ( : even if you turn
The use of this example has been puzzling to
students of Quran, because it seems to be out of place in this passage. Many explanations
have been given such as: iron is very useful metal, it is very heavy and hard metal etc.
These are all true but do not resolve the dilemma as to why it has been cited in this
The developments in Quantum Mechanics and our
understanding of quantum tunneling effects beginning in the 1920's , I think, has put a
new light on this passage and proved once more the magnificence of the Quranic statement.
We can summarize these developments by stating that
matter continues to seek its lowest energy level, most stable form ( it achieves it
through decay and subatomic particle exchange). We know that iron is the most stable
element in the Universe, According to the rules of Quantum Mechanics , given enough time ,
all matter ( stars, trees, planets, humans, etc.,) will eventually turn into iron. In fact
some scientists have done speculative calculations showing that in about 10^1435 years
essentially all that is left will turn into " purest iron, the element possessing the
most stable nucleus. " Then over even a longer span, in about 10 ^10^76 years, more
transformation will take place and all that is left according to these calculations will
be: "wandering bits of iron, few stray photons and black holes, " : even if you
turn into rocks or iron..... or any creation which, in your minds , appears even more
difficult , you will be resurrected......"
According to recent calculations, based on Quranic
data, the world will apparently end in 2280, long before any of these can possibly takes
place. In addition, there may be some other theoretical considerations that may prevent
this eventuality. So we can now see why God has used the example of iron , to refute
erroneous understanding of disbelievers regarding the end of matter, why He has used, the
conditional form, something that may be theoretically possible but will not take place, to
show that these verses, like every other verse of Quran is indeed from God.
Do the disbelievers still insist that this Quran is
from other than God?
All praise belongs to God
- Hossein Kowsari