Did Allah Literally Create the World in 6 Days?

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: What is the meaning of the verse of Allah creating the world in 6 days?  Was it really 6 days, or is it a metaphor for something? What is the time scale with Allah (I heard one day was like 50,000 years)?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate,

Wa alaikum as-salam,

Thank you for your interesting question.  It shows that you are pondering the meanings of the Qur’an, which is praiseworthy.

In seven places in the Qur’an, Allah Most High says, “Indeed, it was your Lord who created the heavens and the earth in 6 days…” [al-Quran, 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:5,50:38, 57:4]

According to the scholars of Qur’anic exegesis, there were different opinions about what a “day” here means.  Some said it was the time equivalent from sunrise to sunset, even though the sun hadn’t been created to measure an actual day.  Ibn al-Jawzi calls this “far-fetched”. [Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Maseer]

Others said it meant “days of the Hereafter”, periods of time much longer than a normal day, such as a “1000 years each for day” [or perhaps more].  There are no authentic reports to confirm the length, but Ibn Ashur felt strongly that this was the correct opinion. 

In the Arabic language, “yaum” commonly means a day, but also any period of time, no matter how long.  Thus, it is in Allah’s knowledge how long each stage was.  [al-Asfahani, Mufradat al-Qu’ran]

Of course, the All-Powerful Creator does not even need an instant to create the universe.  He is not subject to time, since it is His creation: 1 second and 1,000,000 years are the same for Him.  “And going too deeply into this issue is missing the point that the Quran is making.” [Ibn Ashur, Tahrir wa Tanwir] 

The purpose of mentioning creation over various stages was: a) to show that the world was created by a Creator with purpose, intelligent design, and wisdom, and not a matter of chance, b) to repeat what Allah said in the Torah to remind people about its common source, and c) to teach patience and deliberation in all matters, and that Allah Ta’ala can “take His time” in punishing or revealing wisdom. [al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb]

Wasalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra  

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani