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Bucailleism is named after the French surgeon Dr. Maurice Bucaille.

Bucailleism is a term used for the movement to relate modern science with religion, principally Islam.[1] Named after the French surgeon Maurice Bucaille, author of The Bible, the Quran and Science, Bucaillists have promoted the idea that the Quran is of divine origin, arguing that it contains scientifically correct facts,[2][3] and that "one of the main convincing evidences" that lead many to convert to Islam "is the large number of scientific facts in the Quran."[4]

Some of its claims include that "the Qur'an prophesied the Big Bang theory, space travel and other contemporary scientific breakthroughs," and that "there are more than 1200 verses (Ayat) which can be interpreted in the light of modern science."[5] It has been called "a fast-growing branch of Islamic fundamentalism."

According to The Wall Street Journal, Bucailleism is "in some ways the Muslim counterpart to Christian creationism" and although "while creationism rejects much of modern science, Bucailleism embraces it."[6]

The doctrine is "widely taught" in Islamic secondary schools, promoted on at least one popular weekly television program in the Arab world[7] and is advanced by "a well-funded campaign" led by the Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah, based in Saudi Arabia and founded by Sheikh Abdul Majeed Zindani, a leading militant Islamist and "Specially Designated Global Terrorist".[8] Although Bucailleism is said to be "disdained by most mainstream scholars", it has been valuable in fostering "pride in Muslim heritage", and reconciling conflicts that Muslim "students may feel between their religious beliefs and secular careers in engineering or computers."[6]


In 1976 the book The Quran, the Bible, and Science, by Dr. Maurice Bucaille was published. It purports to prove that the Qur'an, in contrast to the Bible, has always been in agreement with modern scientific discoveries. It was immensely popular "across the Muslim world" where it "sold millions of copies" and was "translated into several languages." [9]

While "dozens of conferences" have been held on theme of scientific truths revealed by the Qur'an,[9] the highest profile have been the International Conferences on the Scientific Signs in the Qur'an and Sunnah. As of 2006 there have been eight International Conferences on the Scientific Signs in the Qur'an and Sunnah, the first held in Islamabad in 1987, attended by "200 Muslim delegates from all over the world" and funded "by the Pakistani state to the tune of a couple of million dollars." [9] At the seventh conference in Dubai, "more than 150 scientists and researchers" attended.[10]

One of the highlights at the Eighth International Conference in Kuwait was the announcement of a possible cure for AIDS based on "a herbal extract that was prescribed in the Prophetic Sunnah for the treatment of other ailments."[11]

The debut of a 14-volume Encyclopedia on the Scientific Signs in the Qur'an and Sunnah has also been announced by the International Commission on the Scientific Signs in the Qur'an and Sunnah. the encyclopedia has been "partially translated into English", with hopes for translation into "18 other languages."[12]

Misquoted scientists endorsing science in the Quran

Videos are widely circulated from some of the early conferences organised by Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani in the 1980s. He approached the Saudi Government and founded the 'Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah'. Non-Muslim scientists were invited to attend conferences, all expenses paid. The scientists were provided with translations of verses from the Qur'an, supposedly relevant to each scientist's field of expertise, and asked to comment on them. Videos were produced called "This is the Truth", and clips from them are widely circulated even today on youtube and elsewhere, of these scientists, apparently, vouching for scientific accuracy of the Qur'an that was ahead of its time.

In 2011, a series of interviews took place with four of these scientists. See the youtube channel This is the truth uncut (also mirrored on other channels). In these interviews, the scientists Tom Armstrong, William Hay, Alfred Kroner, and Allison (Pete) Palmer, who all appear in the popular video clips, explain that they were tricked, misquoted, and misrepresented by Zindani and the conference organisers, and they do not believe the Qur'an to be scientifically accurate.



Gamal Soltan, a political scientist at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies protests that the approach of starting with a conclusion from the Qur'an or Sunna (e.g. the Qur’an says the body has 360 joints) and then work toward proving that conclusion, corrupts the scientific method. In the case of the belief in the body having 360 joints, it has meant counting "things that some orthopedists might not call a joint."[13]

Other critics protest against claims by Bucailleists such as that the body has 360 joints[14] or that the earth has seven layers:[15]

Islamic scientists tend to use each other as sources, creating an illusion that the work has been validated by research. The existence of 360 joints, in fact, is not accepted in medical communities; rather, the number varies from person to person, with an average of 307. These days most geologists divide Earth’s crust into 15 [not 7] major zones, or tectonic plates.[13]

Theoretical physicist Parvez Hoodbhoy of Pakistan identifies:

...the problem with such claims to ownership is that they lack an explanation for why quantum mechanics, molecular genetics, etc., had to await discovery elsewhere. Nor is any kind of testable prediction ever made. No reason is offered as to why antibiotics, aspirin, steam engines, electricity, aircraft, or computers were not first invented by Muslims. But even to ask such questions is considered offensive. [9]

The historian, Michael Cook, suggests that proof of divine origin by prediction of scientific fact carries "a certain risk: science may move on, leaving scripture stranded with some latter-day equivalent of the long-discredited phlogiston theory of combustion. Not surprisingly, the more sophisticated [Quranic] commentators do not engage in this activity ..." [16][17]

Others unconvinced of a Qur’an as dispenser of scientific truths, argue some of these scientific facts were known in the Middle East centuries before the revelation of the Qur'an - for example found in passages that they argue are rephrasings of the Hebrew Bible - or were also "predicted" by non-scientists with no claims of divine inspiration. Criticisms are also presented based on the translations and context of the verses presented as scientific facts.[18][19]

Alleged Qur'anic predictions have also been called "vague descriptions of natural phenomena" employing "stretched or arbitrary" interpretations.[20] Alleged Quranic references in particular to the expanding universe, parallel universes, and cosmic structural hierarchies have been called "blatantly wrong."[21] Anti-Bucailleist arguments do not necessarily argue in favor of unbelief, since as one says, "God does not stand or fall depending on whether our scriptures know their physics."[21]


Complaints about the methods of "Bucailleists" include the use of endorsements by Western non-Muslim scientists. One of the Bucailleists most widely circulated works is the book "A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam," which quotes several non-Muslim scientists in praise of the predictive power, divinity, etc. of the Qur'an. However, in a 2002 story[6] in the American newspaper 'Wall Street Journal', several non-Muslim scientists spoke of questionable practices used by Bucailleists to cultivate scientists and coax statements from them, including lavish entertaining, untrue promises to be “completely neutral,” and hard sell interviews by Sheikh Abdul Majeed Zindani.

The commission drew the scientists to its conferences with first-class plane tickets for them and their wives, rooms at the best hotels, $1,000 honoraria, and banquets with Muslim leaders — such as a palace dinner in Islamabad with Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq shortly before he was killed in a plane crash. Ahmed also gave at least one scientist a crystal clock.[6]

Scientists complained of having fallen into a "trap" in interviews, or of "mutual manipulation" by the scientists and fundamentalists. Even the man who had been the Bucailleists most enthusiastic supporter, embryologist Keith L. Moore who had an edition of his textbook financed by Bucailleists and co-written with Sheikh Abdul Majeed Zindani, declined to be interviewed and told the newspaper, “it’s been 10 or 11 years since I was involved in the Quran.” [6]

See Also

External Links


  1. Encyclopaedia of the history of science, technology, and medicine in non-western cultures, ed. Helaine Selin, retrieved 28 March 2011
  2. Explorations in Islamic science Ziauddin Sardar, (1989), retrieved 28 March 2011
  3. An illusion of harmony: science and religion in Islam (2007) Taner Edis, retrieved 28 March 2011
  4. Zaghloul El-Naggar, an Egyptian geologist, quoted in Strange Bedfellows
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Daniel Golden. "Strange Bedfellows: Western Scholars Play Key Role in Touting `Science' of the Quran", January 23, 2002.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "StrBedfel" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Zaghloul El-Naggar, an Egyptian geologist
  8. United States Designates bin Laden Loyalist, United States Department of the Treasury, JS-1190, February 24, 2004
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 When Science Teaching Becomes A Subversive Activity By Pervez Hoodbhoy
  10. Dubai Meet to Highlight Scientific Facts in the Qur’an
  11. Miracle Drug Announced, Scientific Evidence Still Hazy
  12. Miracle Drug Announced, Scientific Evidence Still Hazy
  13. 13.0 13.1 Science and Islam in Conflict Discover magazine, 06.21.2007
  14. Islam's claim about the 360 joints in the human body was proven to be true!
  15. Earth’s Seven Layers
  16. Cook, Michael, The Koran: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, (2000), p.30
  17. see also: Ruthven, Malise, A Fury For God London ; New York : Granta, (2002), p.126
  18. Richard Carrier (2001). Cosmology and the Koran: A Response to Muslim Fundamentalists.
  19. Richard Carrier (2004). Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed.
  20. Turkish physicist and philosopher Taner Edis. "Quran-science": Scientific miracles from the 7th century?
  21. 21.0 21.1 Taner Edis. Ghost in the Universe. Quotes from page 14. Prometheus Books.