Transcript of the documentary film: Book of Signs (1986)
The following material is a transcript of the documentary film: Book of Signs (1986); a production of Syed Kechik Film Production, Malaysia, in association with Naas Ltd., London. The reason behind including this material in my semi-anthological work is based on Bucaille’s participation in writing the original script, with Shahrom MD. Dom. So it becomes complementary to his other contributions listed in this book. He also appears as himself commenting on the film’s approach to its purpose.
But seeking permission to publish this narrative content, with due credits to all participants of course, wasn’t an easy task after all. To make a long trip short, I had to go ahead and print when it became obvious that the two production companies are stricken off the commercial record in both countries.
But in a world of connecting and sharing a pleasant surprise sprang from out of the blue! As it happened Dr. Shahrom MD. Dom, Book of the Signs co-writer and director, while surfing the net he came across the trailer of my latest production, which happened to be the last installment of the Bucaille Film Trilogy entitled: Power of the Signs; His Word for the Future. In an instant he sent a message on my Facebook connection commending my previous film work on Bucaille. And finally I could obtain his kind permission to go ahead and publish the transcript.
The final commentary, written by Christopher Mould and Peter Neal, is based upon two books by Bucaille: The Bible, the Qur’an and Science and The Origin of Man.
The film is directed by Shahrom MD. and produced by Tunko Abdul Rahman Putra Al – Haj.
We shall show them Our signs on furthest horizons
and within themselves
until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.
Qur’an, verse 53, chapter 41, The Lucidly Distinct, (Fussilat)
Then God turned to heaven when it was smoke.
Qur’an, verse 11, chapter 41, The Lucidly Distinct, (Fussilat)
Don’t the unbelievers see that the heavens and earth
were joined together
and then We spilt them apart.
Qur’an, verse 30, chapter 21, The Prophets, (Al-Anbiya)
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds.
Qur’an, verse 2, chapter 1, The Opening, (Al-Fatiha)
(Computer generated sequence showing the Big Bang and the creation of the universe)
You have just seen a visual interpretation of the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe widely accepted by scientists today. The words you listened to were from the Qur’an that is the holy book of Islam recorded over 1400 years ago.
The Qur’an is the heart and soul of Islam. Muslims believe it to be the wisdom of God revealed for all mankind through His Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It would seem to make no sense to look for scientific factual information in a book that offers spiritual and social guidance through revelation. Yet within the Qur’an, many verses contain descriptions of the physical world that are remarkably similar to those of modern science. These verses span a wide range of subjects from the vast workings of the universe to the minute affairs of life on Earth.
And We created every living thing out of water.
Qur’an, verse 30, chapter 21, The Prophets, (Al-Anbiya)
It is in the way Qur’an approaches knowledge that it differs so much from modern science. The scientific approach is to isolate and analyze the specific, whereas, the Qur’anic revelation always refers to specifics in relation to and as a part of the whole pattern of creation.
Today science can explain many of the complex interactions which maintain the cycle of life on our planet. It is well understood that how insects, animals and wind carry pollens from stamen of one plant to the ovules of another. This process of fertilization in plants nearly always depends upon the existence of definite sexual characteristics: male stamen and female ovules. It is common knowledge today but at the time of Qur’anic revelation such detailed information was not known. Yet in the Qur’an we read:
…and of all fruits (God) placed (on the earth) two of a pair.
Qur’an, part of verse 3, chapter 13, The Thunder, (Ar-Ra‘d)
God is the One Who sent water down from the sky
and thereby brought forth pairs of plants
each separate from another.
Qur’an, verse 53, chapter 20, (Taha)
The Qur’an describes this particular aspect in order to further man’s understanding of the unity of all things and his place within the creation. In the light of this approach we should perhaps expect to discover that any detailed observation made in the Qur’an should accord with modern science.
It was the discovery of a relationship within his own field that led Dr. Maurice Bucaille to make a scientific study of the Qur’an.
Dr. Maurice Bucaille: “As a medical doctor and particularly attracted to physiology and natural sciences, I must confess that in 1972, when I read the Quran in the original text for the first time, the data concerning man were those which impressed me the most. As in view of knowledge in days of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Quran, which are connected with science, could have been the work of any man”.
This film is based on the research made by Dr. Bucaille and published in two books The Bible, The Quran and Science and What is the Origin of Man. Dr. Bucaille’s initial interest developed into a general study of all the scientific references in the Qur’an. He realized that he had to develop a grasp of many specialized scientific disciplines to fully understand these references. As his study progressed he found that every description of the material world in the Qur’an correlated with established scientific facts.
Dr. Maurice Bucaille: “It is therefore perfectly legitimate to not only regard the Quran as the expression of revelation but also to award it a very special place on account of guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of reflections which when studied today appear as a challenge to human explanation”.
How is it possible for a book recorded in the 7th century to preempt so much of today’s hard earned scientific information? To understand this we need to look into the nature of the Qur’anic revelation and examine its authenticity.
Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula is the center of Muslims. Mecca has always been a holy place. It was a center of pilgrimage long before the period of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was here that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born and grew up to be a highly respectable member of the community and a successful merchant trader. It was his habit to retreat to nearby mountains for a period of meditation and contemplation. In the cave of Hira’ he received his first revelation at the age of forty on the 6th of August in the year 610 AD.
Read! In the name of your Lord Who created.
Who created man from something which clings.
Read! Your Lord is the most Noble,
Who taught by the pen.
Who taught man what he did not know.
Qur’an, verses 1- 5, chapter 1, The Clinging Thing, (Al-‘Alaq)
The revelation continued for a period of 23 years up to the death of the Prophet (pbuh) in the year 632. The Prophet (pbuh) being unable to read or write called upon his literate companions and dictated to them. So he supervised the transcription and proper recording of the revelations. These recordings were later assembled as the Quran. Altogether they are 114 Souras or Chapters composed of more than 6000 verses. Within 15 years of the Prophet’s death a final Qur’an had been compiled and authenticated by the Prophet’s companions who had been present throughout the revelations. This was achieved during the Caliphate of Ottoman of the town of Medina where the Prophet(pbuh) is buried.
When Muhammad (pbuh) brought his message to Mecca many of its people turned against him and he was forced to flee with his followers. He was given refuge in Medina and it was here that first Muslim community was founded and Islam developed its social form. From that time the Qur’an never changed. The same Qur’an word for word and in its original language Arabic is used today across the Muslim world from Morocco to Malaysia.
The Muslims believe that Qur’an is the book of wisdom which guides every aspect of man’s existence. It deals not only with the individual’s inner spiritual development but also his outward behavior and social life in the community. The form which governs all Islamic life is apparent in both the complex urban society, like a city of Lahore in Pakistan, and in the traditional village community. The foundation stone of any community, no matter how large or small, is the individual. It is the behavior of the individual which determines the social pattern and its strength or weakness. There are many verses in the Qur’an which guide the individual’s behavior and which deals with his responsibility towards others. In any Muslim community, whether urban or rural, this is learned and understood from a very early age. The Qur’an describes this individual responsibility as a trust that God has given to man. Implicit in this trust is a three-fold responsibility that is to oneself, to others and to the natural world. In this way the individual sees himself as belonging as a part of whole rather than separate.
Through the reading of the Qur’an, even the most routine aspects of daily life are given meaning. The Qur’an was revealed 600 years before the Muslim scientist Ibn An-Nafees discovered the circulation of blood and William Harvey brought this understanding to Western science after 1000 years of revelation of the Qur’an. Yet the process of digestion and distribution of nutrients to different organs and glands through blood is described in this verse.
Truly, in the cattle there is a lesson for yon.
We give you to drink
from what is inside their bodies,
coming from a conjunction
between the digested contents (of the intestines)
and the blood,
milk pure and pleasant for those who drink it. Qur’an, verse 66, chapter 16, The Bees, (An-Nahl)
The individual becomes strong by accepting the responsibility for life. From his sense of identity and belonging grows the strength of the village community and from this the strength of larger community of the world. The Qur’an is of course far more than a guide to social and moral behavior. The acceptance of the revelation essentially means believing in God, The Creator. It also means believing in his prophets. The Qur’an is quite literally regarded as the word of God. It is well known that a Muslim prays five times a day but less often understood that his prayer should not end as he leaves the mosque. But it should be carried with him coloring the awareness with which he undertakes all of his daily activities. In this way he attempts to maintain a prospective on his mortality and to live the world but not be of it.
Today there are more than one billion Muslims in the world living in many different countries and divided by language, culture and politics, but joined together through their common belief in God and teachings of the Qur’an. And this in an age when many people, particularly in the West, feel that scientific progress has cast irrefutable doubt on the value of spiritual teachings, Islam itself never considered that there is any real contradiction between science and religion. The late professor Ismail Faruqi was a highly respected authority on Islamic studies.
Dr. Ismail Faruqi: “To be a Muslim is to be a scientist because you can’t be a Muslim if you don’t fulfill the terms of Khilāfa (Man’s trusteeship and stewardship on Earth). The terms of Khilāfa are that you deal with nature and you transform the nature within you and the nature in other human beings and nature outside like the trees, the mountains, the rivers and everything, the whole of creation. So you have to study nature in order to know its laws and its secrets to deal with it and transform it. Another reason is that nature is the creation of Allah (God) and He has planted His patterns in it. Therefore, to discover patterns of nature is to discover patterns of Allah and therefore to glorify Him. So there are these two reasons why every Muslim must be a scientist. That is why Muslims have done wonders in science. Therefore, Muslims study nature not because nature is an enemy, like for instance the Greeks did. Muslims study nature not because there is a jinni in nature which is trying to master or subdue. Not at all, Muslims study nature because it is a gift from Allah which Allah has made subservient to man so man may live and may fulfill the commandments of Allah.
By observing nature man has always learned to adapt it to his needs. Ancient agricultural systems are perfect examples of man’s turning observation into practical knowledge. It is necessary to have scientific understanding of nature to develop such basic technology”.
In Europe, it was not until the 16th century that Bernard Palissy presented the first coherent description of the water cycle. He described how water evaporates from the oceans and cools to form clouds. The clouds move inland where they rise, condense and fall as rain. The rain gathers in lakes and streams and flow back to the ocean in a continuous cycle. This picture is familiar to us today. But the ideas prevalent at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), added to myths and speculations than to observed facts. In the seventh century before Christ, Thales of Mellitus believed that surface spray from the ocean was picked by the wind and carried inland to fall as rain. It was thought that water returned to ocean through a great abyss which Plato called the Tartarus. Whereas, Aristotle imagined that the water vapor from the soil was condensed in cooled mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. The Quran, far from reflecting the common misconceptions of the time, is in close agreement with facts of modern hydrology.
Have you not seen that God makes the clouds move gently,
and then joins them together,
then makes them a heap
and you see rain drops issuing from within them.
Quran, verse 43, chapter 24, The Light, (An-Noor)
It is God who sends the winds
and they raise the clouds
and then He spreads them in the sky as He wills,
breaking them into fragments,
until you see rain drops falling from within them,
then when He has made them to reach those of His servants as He wills,
see how they rejoice even though before they received the rain,
they were dumb with despair.
Qur’an, verses 48 – 49, chapter 30, The Byzantines, (Ar-Roum)
While science is the study of the material world and the way in which nature works, religious teachings, as in the Qur’anic revelation, present an overview.
Have you not seen that Allah sent rain down from the sky
and caused it to penetrate the ground
and come forth as springs,
then He caused crops of different colors to grow…
Qur’an, verse 21, chapter 39, The Groups, (Az-Zumar)
And among His signs He shows you the lightning,
by the way of both of fear and hope,
and He sent down rain from the sky
and with it gives life to earth after it is dead ,
truly in that are sings for those who are wise.
Qur’an, verse 24, chapter 30, The Byzantines, (Ar-Roum)
The Qur’an asks man to look for the science within him and on the horizons. To attain understanding man must use his eyes, his mind and his heart. Any part of knowledge demands an act of faith but not, as it is commonly misunderstood, blind faith. True seekers of knowledge expect their ideas and their faith in those ideas to be continually tested.
In the short history of modern science many ideas and concepts have been presented only to be discarded as new evidence points to a different truth. Nevertheless, there are many scientific discoveries that can be said to be undisputed facts. This fact is commonly known and widely accepted today that the Sun is a direct source of light and the moon, having no light of its own, is merely a reflective body. Such specific details were not commonly known 1400 years ago. Yet in the Qur’an moon light is described as “munir”, a word which means “reflected light”. The Sun is compared to a blazing lamp (Wahhaj in Arabic) or a torch (Seraj), a precise and accurate description of the difference between Sun light and moon light.
Blessed is the One Who placed the constellation in heaven
and placed therein a lamp and a moon giving light.
Qur’an, verse 61, chapter 25, The Criterion, (Al-Furqan)
For a long time, European philosophers and scientists believed that Earth stood still in the center of the universe and every other planetary body, including the Sun, moved around it. In the West, this theory of geocentricism went unchallenged from the time of Ptolemy, in the 2nd century before Christ, right through the 16th century AD when Copernicus asserted that it is Earth which moves around the Sun. In 1609, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler published the Astronomia Nova in which he concluded that not only the planets move in orbits around the Sun but they also rotate upon their axis at irregular speeds. With this knowledge it became possible for European scientists to explain correctly many of mechanisms of our Solar System including the process of night and day.
In explaining the sequence of night and day the Qur’an used the Arabic verb (kawwara) to describe the way the night ‘winds’ or ‘coils’ itself around the day and the day around the night. It fits perfectly with the cycle of night and day produced by the spinning of Earth upon its axis.
He coils the night upon the day
and the day upon the night.
Qur’an, verse 5, chapter 39, The Groups, (Az-Zumar)
It is He Who created the night and day,
the sun and the moon,
all the celestial bodies traveling in an orbit each with its own motion.
Qur’an, verse 33, chapter 21, The Prophets, (Al- Anbiya)
Revelation goes much further than science in its unified vision of creation. Yet those aspects of it which particularly describe the material world agree with well-established scientific facts. Also there is no observation in the Qur’an which is contradicted by scientific facts.
This is no genuine quarrel between the religion’s search for wisdom and the scientific search for truth. It is dogmatism which creates this illusion. Religious dogmatism leads to denial of much genuine scientific discoveries. Scientific dogmatism often arises through an inability to distinguish between fact and theory. Nowhere does this become more apparent than in the controversy surrounding the theory of evolution.
For most of us the concept of evolution conjoins up the name of Charles Darwin.
(A teacher showing the statue of Charles Darwin to his students in a museum)
Teacher: Now here is Charles Darwin and we want to remember him because he was the first to think of a convincing mechanism to explain how the evolution might have occurred. He called this mechanism natural selection and he described it in his book. Does anybody remember the name of his book?
Student: He wrote the book On the Origin of Species.
Teacher: Right. He sailed in ocean to a group of islands, called the Galapagos Islands, in his ship. Does anybody remember the name of his ship?
Teacher: Right. HMS Beagle
On the Galapagos Islands, Darwin found living proofs of an evolutionary process at work. He found, for instance, that there were considerable variations in the beaks of Finches, each having evolved to exploit the different ecological niche. But all these variations occurred within the same species. Darwin was unable to find any evidence to support his theory that one species could evolve into another. He expressed his misgivings in a letter written to Thomas Thompson in 1861.
“But I believe in natural selection not because I can prove in any single case that it has changed one species into another but because it groups and explains well, as it seems to me, a host of facts in classification embryology, morphology, rudimentary organs, geological succession and distribution.”
Despite his misgivings Darwin’s work had such a powerful impact that it has colored most of the scientific research on this subject. Since the popular image of evolution, that mankind evolved from apes, has been so widely embraced that it is now taught to us as being a fact rather than a theory. More than a century of scientific research has failed to prove this theory.
For a long time the major line of research was Paleontology, the study of fossils. Here very limited and random evidences were given unlimited amount of speculation. In 1971 Professor Grasse, who held the chair of evolutionary studies at Sorbonne University in Paris for thirty years, wrote:
“In the history of the primates we must be careful not to take the face value of the reconstructions of our ancestors based on few skeleton vestiges that were put forward in all seriousness by highly imaginative paleontologists.”
This explains why genealogical trees of man are quickly devised and just as quickly discarded. The most recent work on this subject appears to be fairly mediocre. Even though they concern new and interesting discoveries, the researchers engaged in these studies have neither the knowledge nor the good sense to interpret the discoveries correctly.
The fossil evidence has shown that there had been several stages in the development of mankind. But a link to join any of these hominid forms to any other animal lineage has never been found. Speculations like the famous Piltdown man demonstrate the single-mindedness of paleontologists in seeking this speculative missing link.
The oldest near complete fossil of a hominid form is Lucy who is thought to be nearly 3.5 million years old. The bone structure showed that Lucy walked upright on two legs like us and not like an ape. Lucy and her kind, the Australopithecines, died out some time during the first ice age.
He created you in stages.
Qur’an, verse 14, chapter 24, The Light, (Al-Noor)
Fossils found in Africa, Asia and Europe showed that there was another wave of hominids which was closer to our size with a brain capacity similar to modern man. This wave, the Homo erectus, seems to have disappeared between 500.000 years and 150.000 years ago.
We created man according to the best organizational plan.
Qur’an, verse 4, chapter 95, The Fig, (At-Teen)
The next wave, the Neanderthal man, was even closer to us in structure and probably also in appearance. They died out between 100.000 years to 40.000 years ago.
If God wills He destroys you
and in your place appoints who He wills as successor
just as he brought you forth from the descendants of other people.
Qur’an, verse 133, chapter 3, The Cattle, (Al-Anaam)
Neanderthal man was succeeded by the fourth wave, Cro-Magnon man who is the direct ancestor of modern man. No clear link has been found between any of these different stages.
Verily We created them and strengthened all of them
and when We willed We replaced them completely
by people who were of the same kind.
Qur’an, verse 28, chapter 76, Man, (Al-Insaan)
Once again the overview of the Qur’an and the facts discovered by research seem to match. But here the similarity stops. The Qur’an does not agree with the theories and the speculations of the paleontologists.
The latest support for the theory of evolution of species comes through molecular biology particularly from the studies of chromosomes and the genetic code. In multi cellular organisms the complete genetic code is contained within the nucleus of each and every cell of the body. An individual inherits the exact copies of genes from the parents; so passing on information from one generation to another. The only way a gene can change is through mutation during the duplication process. Geneticists have shown how this process of mutation can account for major physical changes within a short time span but this is far from proving that one species can evolve into another. It is even further from providing an explanation for myriad life forms on this planet. For Multi-cellular organs to change their nature and functions, many different features have to evolve together. This needs fantastically genetic co-ordination and to tribute such coordination to random or chance mutation is a severe stretch of the imagination. Francis Crick, who dominated the field of genetic research from the very beginning, acknowledges the severe limitations of the molecular approach. In one way you can say that all the genetic molecular biological work of the last sixty years could be considered as a long interlude. Now that program has been completed. We have come full circle back to the problems left behind unsolved. How a wounded organ regenerates to exactly the same structure it had before? How does the egg form the organism? Almost nothing is known of the way the genes communicate, cooperate and organize themselves to develop a complex organism like man. An attempt of explaining life solely in terms of random molecular mechanisms is too simplistic. It fails to deal with fundamental questions behind the process of creation.
We created you and thereupon We fashioned you
and thereupon We told the angels to bow down to Adam.
Qur’an, verse 11, chapter 7, The Heights, (Al-Araaf)
The spiritual concept behind the creation of man from clay or earth is well known. Science has also shown that there is also a physical reality in it. The chemical components which form the human body are present to a greater or lesser quantity in the ground.
God is the One Who created you
and then fashioned you harmoniously
and in due proportion into whatever form He willed.
He made you out of components.
Qur’an, verses 7- 8, chapter 82, The Splitting, (Al-Infitar)
The creation of mankind as a species can be seen in microcosm with the creation of each individual human being. The Qur’anic verses, dealing with the fertilization and development of human embryo, are stunning in their clarity and precision.
(Footage pertaining to conception and human development inside the womb)
What you are watching is the actual journey of male sperm to the egg, photographed for the first time inside a female body.
God fashioned the two of a pair,
the male and female,
from a small quantity of sperm when it is poured out.
Qur’an, verses 45 – 46, chapter 53, The Star, (Al-Najam)
Then We placed man as a small quantity of sperm
in a safe lodging firmly established.
Qur’an, verse 13, chapter 23, The Believers, (Al-Mu’minoon)
Once fertilized, the egg moves to the womb where it clings to the wall of uterus to draw nourishment.
Read in the name of your Lord Who fashioned.
Who fashioned man from something which clings.
Qur’an, verses 1-2, chapter 1, The Clinging Thing, (Al-Alaq)
We fashioned the thing which clings
into a chewed lump of flesh
and We fashioned the chewed flesh into bones
and We clothed the bones with intact flesh.
Qur’an, verse 14, chapter 23, The Believers, (Al-Mu’minoon)
As embryo grows, it passes through stages where many of its parts are out of proportion.
We fashioned (humans) into something which clings,
then into a lump of flesh in proportion
and out of proportion.
Qur’an, verse 5, chapter The Pilgrimage, (Al-Hajj)
…and (God) gave you ears, eyes and hearts.
Qur’an, verse 9, chapter 32, The Prostration, (As-Sajdah)
Today we are born into an age of great scientific accomplishment. We have learned many of nature’s infinitely complex mechanisms. When we think about the remarkable organization presiding over the birth and maintenance of life, it becomes less and less possible to consider it as a result of chance. As the scientists delve deeper into the cellular and sub atomic worlds and outwards in the mysteries of the universe, they reach new and baffling frontiers of knowledge. The classical mechanistic view of life ceases to work and the scientists are confronted with questions which have traditionally been seen as belonging to the room of spiritual and religious beliefs.
It is certain that science, being a relative form of knowledge, would never be able to answer these questions.
O assembly of Jinns and men,
if you can penetrate the regions of the heavens and the earth,
then penetrate them!
You will not penetrate them except with authority.
Qur’an, verse 33, chapter 55, The Compassionate, (Ar-Rahmaan)
The realization of life could only and truly be understood in terms of its interrelatedness and interdependences which is the starting point of all religious and spiritual knowledge. The Qur’anic revelation is the most recent in the long tradition of revealed wisdom. It presents an overview within which all other ways of seeking knowledge, including science, can be guided towards a fuller and more complete understanding. The world is already seeing and suffering from the consequences of its lack of this unified vision.