The heavens and the earth were joined together before We clove them asunder.1
A scholar untainted by the study of philosophy would explain the words joined together like this: while the skies were shining and cloudless, and the earth dry and without life and incapable of giving birth, the skies were opened up with rain and the earth with vegetation, and all living beings were created through a sort of marriage and impregnation. To do this was the work of One so Powerful and Glorious that the face of the earth is merely a small garden of His, while the clouds veiling the face of the skies, sponges for watering it. The scholar understands this and prostrates before the tremendousness of His power.
A searching philosopher would explain the same words in this way: while at the start of creation the heavens and earth were a formless mass, each consisting of matter like wet dough without benefit, offspring, or creatures, the All-Wise Creator both rolled them out and expanded them into a beautiful, beneficial form, and made them the source of adorned and numerous creatures. The philosopher would stand in wonder before the breadth of His wisdom.
A modern philosopher would explain the words thus: at first, our globe and the other planets which form the solar system were fused together in the form of an undifferentiated dough. Then the All-Powerful and Self-Subsistent One rolled out the dough, and placed each of the planets in its position; leaving the sun where it was and bringing the earth here, He spread earth over the globe of the earth and sprinkled it with rain from the skies, scattered light over it from the sun, and inhabited it placing us on it. The philosopher would pull his head out of the swamp of nature, and declare: “I believe in God, the One, the Unique!”
And another example:
And the sun runs its course to a place appointed.2
The Lam, translated here as ‘to’, expresses also the meaning of ‘in’. Thus, ordinary believers see it as meaning ‘to’ and understand that the sun, which is a mobile lamp providing light and heat for them, will certainly conclude its journeying and reach its place of rest, then take on a form which will no longer be beneficial. And pondering over the great bounties the All-Glorious Creator has attached to the sun, they declare: “Glory be to God! All praise and thanks be to God!”
A learned scholar would also show the Lam as meaning ‘to’, but he would think of it not only as a lamp, but also as a shuttle weaving the