There exists a substantial group among Muslim men who hunger for simple answers. These men suffer from an acute inferiority complex regarding their religion and are perpetually engaged in proving the superiority of Islam over all other religions, ideologies and worldviews. They are devoted to a special type of popular literature known as ijaz, or ‘scientific miracles of the Qur’an’.
The tendency to read science in the Qur’an has a long history, dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. However, it received a boost with Maurice Bucaille’s The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, which was published in 1970, translated into numerous languages, and exists in several editions. Many simple-minded readers see Bucaille’s assertion that the Qur’an is full of scientific facts as a positive proof of its Divine origin. The ijaz movement was institutionalised when the Saudis established the well-funded Commission on Scientific Signs of the Qur’an and Sunnah, which went on to hold numerous international conferences. Despite the fact that ‘considerable mental gymnastics and distortion is required to read scientific facts or theories in these verses’, as Ziauddin Sardar notes, ‘this height of folly has become a global craze in Muslim societies’.