Quran predicted Facebook, internet says Egyptian preacher
A popular Egyptian Islamic preacher has said that the Quran predicted the advent of social media and the internet over 14 centuries ago, stirring controversy and criticism.
Dr. Mabrook Atiyah, a professor at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, said in a livestream on Facebook on Sunday: "Did anyone tell you that the internet and Facebook are mentioned in the Quran?"
He said that the modern-day phenomena were predicted in verse 83 of Surah 4 of the Quran, which is entitled "Women".
"I swear to God that the internet and Facebook are in verse 83," he said.
The verse reads: "And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger [the Prophet Muhammad] or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favour of God upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few."
"Isn't this [talking about] the internet, you people who love to broadcast and spread news?" Atiyah asked.
The Islamic preacher has over 20 books to his name and his loud and humorous style of presenting has earned him huge popularity among some circles, with over 1.3 million people following his Facebook page.
Atiyah chided people who spread news without verifying it, calling them "sick at heart".
"Don't spread secrets or say what you've got hidden in the closet… we have to govern relationships and leave people to their own business," he warned, saying good Muslims don't spread good or bad news without making sure it's true.
However, Atiyah's remarks stirred confusion and criticism with another Islamic studies professor at Al-Azhar, Amna Nosseir, saying that his remarks were "contrived" and a "deviation" from the meaning of the Quran.
He later clarified his remarks in a television programme broadcast by the Al-Nahar TV station.
"In the Quran things are either mentioned by name or by their context," he said.
"Verse 83 mentioned the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and all forms of media, when it said 'and when there comes to them information about security or fear, they spread it around'. How are they going to spread it around?
"You adhere to God's meaning, and He knows what he means best, when someone who spreads news verifies information he is spreading," Atiyah said.
The Quran is believed by Muslims to be the word of God, as revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad over 14 centuries ago.
In recent years, some Muslim scholars have said that the Quran predicts modern-day scientific findings and social phenomena but these assertions have met with controversy.