Six Days of Creation

Verses 9-12 of Quran’s Chapter Fussilet talk about the creation of heavens and earth. Because of the ordering of events in the verses, most people (even the experts) misinterpret them. Even worse, these verses are used by some to attack the Quran. Below I give these verses:

Chapter Fussilet/Verses 9-12 (Pickthall)
041.009 Say (O Muhammad, unto the idolaters): Disbelieve ye verily in Him Who created the earth in two Days, and ascribe ye unto Him rivals ? He (and none else) is the Lord of the Worlds.
041.010 He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask;
041.011 Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient.
041.012 Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower.

The attackers simply sum up the given days (in order) and conclude that Quran is talking about an “Eight Days of Creation” in these verses, so it is contradicting its other verses talking about a “Six Days of Creation”.

In fact, the problem stems from the translations, not Quran. The Arabic word translated as “measured” is قدر (kadera or Al-Qadar). I will not speculate the real meaning of this arabic word. Instead, I will let “the authority of Internet (Wikipedia)” speak: “Taqdir (Arabic: تقدير‎), literally to measure, refers to the doctrine of fate or predestination, qadar (Arabic: قدر‎), one of the aspects of aqeeda. The words are used throughout the collections of Hadith to mean predestination. Though qadr and taqdir both refer to predestination, they are of differing grammatical orders and thus not considered interchangeable.”. ... "Qadar is the Arabic word for Destiny. Qada' is the Arabic word for Decree. They may or may not be used interchangeably depending on the context." ... "In Islam, "predestination" is the usual English language rendering of a belief that Muslims call al-qada wa al-qadar in Arabic. The phrase means "the divine decree and the predestination"; al-qadar derives from a root that means to measure out." (For more information, please see Taqdir or Predestination in Islam)

So, the correct translation of that part of the original arabic verse (kaddera fıha akvateha in Latin) is “predestined therein its sustanance in four days, alike for all (who) ask”, not “measured therein its sustanance …”.

Confusing? No, it is not! Let’s form some other but similar sentences:

“and predestined therein life, before creating it (earth)”.
“and predestined stages for the moon, before creating it (moon)”.

There is nothing wrong (logically) in the above sentences. Simply put, the events narrated in verse 10 are not in chronological order and the last event (predestination of sustanances in 4 days) precedes the others and even the creation of earth! (Look at the following verse, verse 11). In verse 11, (after the predestination of sustanances, as indicated by the word "then" -usual translation of arabic word "thumma"-), the heaven and earth are commanded to "come into (being)" together. Obviously, that heaven is our solar system.

Without much ado, we can say that Quran gives a period of six days as the age of heavens (universe) and (the last) two days as the age of earth. This information coincides perfectly with the current cosmological data. Cosmological calculations indicates that our universe is 13.5 billion years of old and earth is 4.5 billions years of old. The division of these two numbers is the same as 2 / 6. All sacred texts of Abrahamic religions talk about six days of creation, but only Quran places the creation of earth into last two days.

By the way, Quran also talks about the "relativity of time":
Chapter Mearic/Verse 4
"The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years."

Some might find verse 10 of Quran's chapter Fussilet strange because of the unusual ordering of events. But this is a rhetorical device known as "flashback" and Quran is very rich in terms of such rhetorical devices. Flashback (also called Analepsis, plural Analepses) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. For more information, see Flashback