The Heavens and the Earth were ONE, before we clove them asunder
Regarding Qur’an 21:30, the Big Bang and the concept of a Planck Star
Context of the blog & Planck star
I thought of writing this blog when I was reading this magazine edition about black holes from All About Space Publications. There is this concept in black hole physics, known as the ‘planck star’.
Whenever you encounter the planck in physics, it usually refers to the change in scale. For example, planck length, the smallest length before which classical physics stops to affect and quantum physics defines the rules.
In short, a planck star is supposedly the type of star that is the center of a black hole. In academic consensus, a singularity is something that is at the center of a black hole, a point of infinite density, that cannot be seen by an observer (naked singularity), because it is beyond the event horizon, which is basically the boundary of the seen and unseen in a black hole.
A planck star is the result of further implosion of a neutron star into a black hole, at a point where it can’t implode more, that is, beyond the Planck length.
In theory, the concept of a Planck star can be applied to the origins of the Universe.
The best theory we have for the beginning of the Universe is the Big Bang Theory, which states that everything (material) that is and ever was, started after the Big Bang, that occurred 13.6 billion years ago.
A point with zero dimensions and infinite density exploded and from that were created every fundamental particle in the Standard Model, which then coalesced into clouds of hydrogen and helium, that in turn formed into nebulae, stars, stellar systems, galaxies and so on.
The role of Qur’anic literature in cosmology
Creation of everything from nothing — Quran 2:117.
It can be theorized that this single point of infinite density could in fact be a Planck star.
Let’s test this out from a verse in the Qur’an.
Chapter 21 (Sur’ah al-Anbiya’) Verse 30 states:
اَوَلَمۡ يَرَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡۤا اَنَّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضَ كَانَـتَا رَتۡقًا فَفَتَقۡنٰهُمَا ؕ وَجَعَلۡنَا مِنَ الۡمَآءِ كُلَّ شَىۡءٍ حَىٍّ ؕ اَفَلَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ
Do not the Unbelievers see that the Heavens and the Earth were joined together (as one Unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder? We made from water Every living thing. Will they Not then believe?
Most scholars of Islam (ulema) agree that this verse is defining the first moment of creation of our Universe. This verse also supports the Big Bang Theory argument.
What’s fascinating about this verse is that it is talking to the Unbelievers, detractors of Islam and especially New Atheists.
السَّمٰوٰتِ (as-Samawat), which is Arabic for ‘the Heavens’, is a word used to describe what’s beyond the sky. Since there was no word in Arabic vocabulary for space thousands of years ago, as-Samawat was used to describe the Universe.
This verse explains that Allah created this Universe by ‘cloving asunder’ the one Unit of Creation (رَتۡقًا, ratqan). It is possible that this single entity defined here could be a Planck star.
Why is this important to a Muslim intellectual?
One of the properties of a Planck star is that it can store information in quantized levels, by virtue of concepts in quantum field theory.
Now skeptics ask how the entire volume of the Heavens and the Earth could fit into a point of almost zero dimensions.
Let’s go back 8 years in the past. Carlo Rovelli and Francesca Vidotto, who first proposed the existence of Planck stars, theorized in 2014 that Planck stars form inside black holes as a solution to the black hole firewall and the black hole information paradox. (source: Wikipedia)
For a layman, the black hole information paradox states that when a black hole pops out of existence via trillions of years of Hawking radiation, what happens to the information of matter that fell into it?
It can’t just vanish, thus violating the law of conservation of energy & information.
Enter planck stars. Planck stars can conserve this information by emissions in rebounding black holes.
In a way, one can understand, that all information regarding the physical properties of the Universe and everything within it, is held within this single entity. And get used to the fact that for us three-dimensional beings, visualizing concepts like time and information as physical entities is objectively impossible.
So once Allah declared ‘Be’ and this Planck star was cloven asunder, i.e., exploded to create the Universe that we know of.
The theorized concept of a Planck star will only be validated if we can observe energetic emissions from rebounding black holes, which will give weight to loop quantum gravity.
A similar concept in string theory is that of a fuzzball. But all of these theories must be tested out first and then from a scientific point of view, we can test out the hypotheses and generate results from observations.
Until then, as Muslims, we believe the Qur’an to be the Final and True word of Allah. Whatever it describes, literally or metaphorically, is the verbatim. When it says that everything in the Universe originated from a ratqan, a single entity, we believe that.
When you have the Ultimate Truth in words in front of you, you use that to explore the realities of Nature. We as Muslims should use Qur’anic literature to understand the Universe. And Allah knows Best!