Reflect on the following words of the Q ur'an:
Glory be to Him who created in pairs all things that the earth produces as well as their own kind (selves); and other things of which they have no knowledge. (Va Sin. 36.36)
a) The verse opens with 'Glory to be to Him' as if to emphasize that God Himself is beyond possessing a pair, a likeness, or an equal. It goes on to draw attention to the inner meaning of the pair-wise existence of created beings. Pair-wise existence indicates opposition simultaneously with complemantarity, the most obvious case of which is male and female. The scientific definition of pair creation also implies complementary opposites. Thus, hot and cold constitute a pair; in other words, two entities may have almost identical properties and yet be opposed to each other in the nature and effect of those properties.
b) The most interesting aspect of the verse is the examples of pairs it provides. Saying 'We created beings in pairs', God gives three examples:
1 'Pairs' that the earth produces,
2 Pairs of selves,
3 Other things created in pairs, of which we have no knowledge.
In order to understand the hidden meaning of this verse, let us first recall the conclusions science has reached in the light of recent research.
The discovery of the positron by the physicist Anderson is regarded by some as a major turning-point in contemporary physics. It was Maurice Dirac who first postulated parity or pair-wise creation, now recognized as a basic principle of modern physics. Every particle in the universe has a certain charge and/or spin. When a particle is formed, its opposite twin or antiparticle is produced together with it, for beings are always created in pairs. The most famous of these are - electron and positron; proton and anti- proton; neutron and anti-neutron, neutrino and anti-neutrino.
It is basic principle of nuclear physics that every particle exists together with its opposite twin - we shall return to this subject in detail below.
Hence, the verse 36 informs us of a basic law of creation in the declaration: 'We created beings in pairs'.
We may turn now to the general meaning of the verse. With the expression 'Glory be to God' in the opening phrase, the verse underlines the fact that God, and God alone, is without equal or likeness. The habit of analogy, of discerning a thing through its opposite, is rooted in our comprehension. But all beings that have opposites or similar partners are mortal or finite. God, on the other hand, is the Glorious: He is without likeness and beyond all. He has, however, created beings in pairs (complementary opposites).
1. Those the earth produces
This part of the verse has been interpreted by some scholars as referring to the plant kingdom. This interpretation is, however, incomplete, for had God wished, He would have specified plants. The meaning certainly includes plants but is not restricted to them.
This first category of pairs delimits the third, It would be wrong, for example, to understand the sentence to mean: 'I have created many more pairs of which you have no knowledge' in relation to, for example, electricity or magnetism: those belongs to the pairs produced by the earth.
Pairs produced by the earth, then, maybe listed as follows:
a) Similar pairs that differ in their physical and chemical characteristics, e.g. metals and non-metals,
b) Biologically complementary pairs: the male and female sexes of plants and animals,
c) Physically opposed pairs: e.g. positively and negatively charged ions, and hence the reversal of electric charge (polarity): the two poles of a magnet referred to as North and South, respectively.
d) Phenomena of analysis and synthesis that alter the structure of life in the soil: the vivification of plants by the action of synthesis by bacteria which fix nitrogen: the destructive and dispersive effects of bacteria that break down organic materials and cause decay, and similar complementarities.
2. Pairs 'of their own kind (selves)'
A range meanings are inherent in this part of the verse:
a) Male and a female (opposite partners).
b) Complementary personality traits (cruel/kind, brave/cowardly, generous/miserly, etc.).
c) Traits which are similar but subject to opposed value judgements, such as recklessness/courage:hypocrisy/ courtesy: simplicity/naivete, etc. Some of these terms denote values which are very near to each other and become negative or positive according to fine judgements about circumstances and/or intentions. For example, hypocrisy is to fake goodness or consideration in order to obtain some favour or advantage unjustly:courtesy may also involve some degree of showing consideration for another individual but in that case with the good intention of winning that person over for a good cause, to become a friend etc.
3. Other pairs 'of which they have no knowledge'
The law of parity covers all concepts of matter and energy, in the sense that quanta and the systems composed of them manifest themselves as paired or complementary opposites.
a) Processes of energy emission and absorption which physics and astrophysics have, recognized only in recent times, are an example. We have yet to fathom the secret of these processes. However, we do know of black holes where energy is drained and annihilated, and of quasars which concentrate unbelievable amounts of energy. These two regions are places which appear as twins, but exert opposing influence with respect to each other.
b) Another example is forces of attraction and repulsion: in particular, gravity counterbalanced by centrifugal force. If the opposition between these forces did not exist, all planets would either fall into their respective suns or be flung into outer space.
Gravitation and rotational motion together support a dazzling system of equilibrium in the universe. We encounter a mind-boggling harmony when we inspect this equilibrium from the standpoint of our earth and the universe. Besides forming the solar system together with the earth, the neighbouring planets also strike a similar rotational balance with their own satellites. These smaller systems then complete a further revolution around the sun. Thus, the nine planets and their many satellites all revolve around the sun in different orbits. These heavenly objects thereby avoid falling into the sun. In return, the sun balances these planets in their orbits, preventing them from escaping into space. But this is not all. A further and larger rotational motion is simultaneously taking place: the Milky Way galaxy to which the solar system belongs rotates on its axis together with our sun. This journey is completed in about 250 million years for each revolution. Our galaxy in turn is on an immense journey around the centre of the cluster of galaxies to which it belongs. Hence our earth, in the effort to sustain the balance between all these pairs of attractive and repulsive forces, rotates in four different orbits that are finally measurable by a billion years.
The Concept Of Parity In The Quran
- By Dr. H. Nurbaki
- Category: Issue 8 (October - December 1994)
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