Qur'anic Claim of Everything Created in Pairs

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Organisms like the Bdelloid rotifers can reproduce asexually without males, contrary to the Qur'an's claim that everything is created in pairs.

This article analyzes the apologetic claim that Allah created all creatures in pairs, male and female.

Apologetic Claim


One of the most recent of all scientific discoveries is that everything in the universe exists in pairs such as male and female among living things. Now we find that rock crystals also have pairs.

The Qur'an says: And of everything We have created pairs: That ye may receive Instruction.

Surah Zariyat, 51: 49 A. Yusuf All in note 5025 item (3) says " All things are in twos: sex in plants and animals, by which one individual is complementary to another; in the subtle forces of nature. Day and Night, positive and negative electricity, forces of attraction and repulsion: and numerous other opposites, each fulfilling its purpose, and contributing to the working of God's Universe; and in the moral and spiritual world. Love and Aversion, Mercy and Justice, Striving and Rest, and so on;-all fulfilling their functions according to the Artistry and wonderful Purpose of God. Everything has its counterpart, or pair, or complement. God alone is One, with none like Him, or needed to complement Him. These are noble things to contemplate. And they lead us to a true understanding of God's Purpose and Message."
Qur'an and Science: all things in pairs
Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
…we find in the following verse more generalizations where Allah Says; (And of everything we have created pairs, that ye may receive instruction). The word “thing we together with the people who preceded us have understood it to be inclusive to contain humans, plants and animals. Since the Quran has included them all in this verse and told us that all creatures were made up of males and females.
Matter and the mate of matter
Dr. Yahyah Al-Mihjari, Science leads to Islam

Previously humans did not know that plants too have male and female gender distinctions. Botany states that every plant has a male and female gender. Even the plants that are unisexual have distinct elements of both male and female. “‘And has sent Down water from the sky.’ With it have We produced Diverse pairs of plants Each separate from the others.” [Al- Qur’aan 20:53]


“And fruit Of every kind He made In pairs, two and two.” [Al-Qur’aan 13:3] Fruit is the end product of reproduction of the superior plants. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). Once pollen has been carried to the flower, they bear fruit, which in turn matures and frees its seed. All fruits therefore imply the existence of male and female organs; a fact that is mentioned in the Qur’aan. In certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit) e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, vine, etc. They also have definite sexual characteristics.


“And of everything We have created pairs.” [Al-Qur’aan 51:49] This refers to things other than humans, animals, plants and fruits. It may also be referring to a phenomenon like electricity in which the atoms consist of negatively – and positively – charged electrons and protons.

“Glory to Allah, Who created In pairs all things that The earth produces, as well as Their own (human) kind And (other) things of which They have no knowledge.” [Al-Qur’aan 36:36]

The Qur’aan here says that everything is created in pairs, including things that the humans do not know at present and may discover later.
The Qur’aan and Modern Science: Compatible or Incompatible?
Dr. Zakir Naik, Islamic Research Foundation

Some also claim the mere existence of antimatter complements to matter, without regard to their relative abundance (matter dominates in our universe after the first second post the Big Bang) proves the validity of the ‘creation in pairs’ Qur'anic verses, particularly 43:12, 51:49, and especially 36:36 (as in “pairs of things unknown to them”). The ‘things unknown to them’ part supposedly refers to our modern understanding of particle physics.

The British physicist Paul Dirac, who discovered that matter was created in pairs, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933. This finding, known as "parity," revealed the duality known as matter and antimatter. Antimatter bears the opposite characteristics to matter. For instance, contrary to matter, antimatter electrons are positive and protons negative.

Relevant Qur'anic Ayahs

And He it is Who spread out the earth and placed therein firm hills and flowing streams, and of all fruits He placed therein two spouses (male and female). He covereth the night with the day. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who take thought.
Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth groweth, and of themselves, and of that which they know not!
He Who created all the pairs, and appointed for you ships and cattle whereupon ye ride.
And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect.

Some may try to argue that not all of these verses convey the message that ‘all creatures’ are created in pairs, taking the literal or metaphorical sense whichever and whenever suits them best.

For example, they may claim that verse 13:3 refers only to fruits, or that verse 36:36 refers only to things grown from the Earth (i.e. plants, though that should also include fungii such as Schizophyllum commune mentioned below). However verses 43:12 and 51:49 make it absolutely clear that Allah created all creatures in pairs. There is no ambiguity.

Recognizing the possibility of relevance solely to humans, the following verses will be ignored. Further, their inclusion would not detract from the analysis:

That He did create in pairs,- male and female,
And of him He made two sexes, male and female.
By (the mystery of) the creation of male and female;


The case against the apologists' claim is very simple. All one has to do is to show that not all creatures are ‘created’ in pairs.

The Qur'an leaves out asexual organisms

Asexual reproduction is found in the majority of living organisms, including most plants, protists (e.g. bacteria, protozoans, and unicellular algae and fungi), and many lower invertebrates such as tapeworms.[1]

Other examples of asexual reproductive organisms are hydrae and many lower plants (e.g. ferns). Some organisms are also capable of regeneration, a specialized form of asexual reproduction, for example starfish, polyps, zebrafish, flatworms, newts, and salamanders. Many plants are capable of total regeneration. Among animals, the lower the form, the more capable it is of total regeneration; no vertebrates have this power (except artificially in the lab). Regeneration is closely allied to vegetative reproduction, the formation of a new individual by various parts of the organism not specialized for reproduction. The highest animals that exhibit vegetative reproduction are the colonial tunicates (e.g. sea squirts), which, much like plants, send out runners in the form of stolons, small parts of which form buds that develop into new individuals.

(Note that hydra and jellyfish and many primarily asexual organisms are also capable of sexual reproduction – however many simple organisms like bacterial, yeasts and Fungi Imperfecti are totally asexual).

The Qur'an leaves out hermaphrodites

Some creatures, including plants, are totally hermaphrodites. For example, sponges, snails, the slug-like sea hare, and some kinds of deep-sea arrow worms are hermaphrodites, that is, they have both sexes in one body.[2]

Some creatures also change their sex during their life-cycles: Quahogs (hard-shell clams) are born and grow up male, but later half of them turn female. Slipper shells and cup and saucer shells do this too; they commence every season as males, but nearly all of them later pass through a phase of ambisexuality and turn into adult females. Some species change sex depending on their environment, such as the marine worm Ophryotrocha, if the portly young females are later underfed they revert back into males again. Some fish can also change sex spontaneously, for example some groupers and guppies.

Some apologists may try to claim that hermaphrodites are actually a male-female pair as both sexes are included in the one organism. It may be that in a population some hermaphrodites act as males while others act as females. This claim, of course, would be totally wrong as a hermaphrodite, by definition, is both male and female at once, even if performing one of its sexual functions at the one time.

The Qur'an leaves out parthenogenetic organisms

Parthenogenesis is a form of reproduction in which the ovum develops into a new individual without fertilization. Natural parthenogenesis has been observed in many lower animals (it is characteristic of the rotifers), especially insects, e.g., the aphid. In many social insects, such as the honeybee and the ant, the unfertilized eggs give rise to the male drones and the fertilized eggs to the female workers and queens.

Note that the aphids, bees and ants are not true parthenogenetic organisms as they are also capable of sexual reproduction.

However, Muhammad apparently did not know about the 15 species of whiptail lizard (genus Cnemidophorus) that are wholly parthenogenetic, for example Cnemidophorus tigris (Western whiptail) and C. neomexicanus, nor did he know about the Ambystomids, the unisexual hybrid salamanders.[3]

He also did not know about the Island or Brahminy Blind Snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus, the only parthenogenetic snake in the world which happens to originate from the Pacific Islands (lands unknown to Arabs in Muhammad’s time).

The Qur'an leaves out Schizophyllum commune

Schizophyllum commune is the world's most widely distributed fungus, occurring on every continent except Antarctica. It is known to have more than 28,000 distinct sexes.[4]

As long as two parental strains are of different mating types they are able to mate and form fertile offspring. The enormous number of sexes is meant to encourage non-sibling mating and non-relative mating, which ensures genetic diversity in the population.

This species, along with other such fungi is a good counter-example to verse 36:36 as they are things that the Earth grows, yet are not made in pairs.

Glory to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge.

khalaqa (who created) alazwaja (the pairs) kullaha (all it) mimma (from what) tunbitu (grows) alardu (the Earth)

The 'it' suffix in kullaha is feminine singular, refering to the Earth (al ardu).

Note that some translations interpret the Arabic differently, making the verse refer to all the pairs that the Earth produces (thereby leaving room for non-pairs to be produced too), which seems inaccurate looking at the Arabic. Such an interpretation would also clash somewhat with 13:3 and 51:49 (see quotes of relevant ayats above).

The Chinese Yin-Yang duality concept

Some apologists claim the Qur'an’s ‘creation in pairs’ verses, especially 36:36 refers to our modern understanding of matter antimatter complements. Some critics respond[5] by highlighting the relative paucity of antimatter compared to matter, particularly as most antimatter was destroyed in the first second after the Big Bang.

Some might also claim that the mere fact that antimatter exists proves the Qur'anic ‘creation in pairs’ verses to be miraculous as how could a person living in the seventh century know about matter/antimatter?

However, the ancient Chinese already believed in the duality of all creation. This duality principle is known as ‘Yin and Yang’, part of the Taoist belief system. The date of origin of the Yin-Yang duality principle is unknown, however all reasonable estimates predate Islam by at least two thousand five hundred years. (Note the Yin-Yang symbol dates back to at least 400BC and was present in ancient Shang Dynasty Bronze but the Yin-Yang principle dated much earlier.)

The Yellow Emperor, legendary Chinese emperor and cultural hero ruling from 2698 BC to 2598 BC and considered to be the ancestor of the Han Chinese, said “The principle of Ying and Yang is the foundation of the entire universe. It underlies everything in creation. It brings about the development of parenthood; it is the root and source of life and death…[6]

These quotes about Yin-Yang show that it may be extended to matter antimatter complements:

Counterparts and conflicting opposites, they complemented each other in the formation of a creative force whose products were heaven and earth with its fruits.[7]
According to the theoretical physics developed in the twentieth century the principle of Yin Yang and the use of paradox persist; when there is matter there must also be antimatter.[8]

Thus, it is hardly miraculous for the Qur'an to claim ‘creation in pairs’ of all things known and unknown when the ancient Chinese already believed in a remarkably similar duality principle at least two thousand years before Islam.

Other religious text

Muslim apologists are not unique among religious polemicists who reinterpret ancient scriptures in the light of modern science. Dr. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a physical scientist, in “VEDIC PHYSICS: Scientific Origin of Hinduism; Golden Egg Publishing”[9] makes such a claim that the Rig Veda already presaged the modern scientific understanding of matter antimatter complements.

Thus the contracting universe is "Martanda", the living universe Vivasvana, the first pair of particle and anti-particle (matter and antimatter) are "Yama" and "Manu", the early part of the universe when the surface tension was the most important force constraining the expansion of the universe the battle between these two forces is the immortalized epic battle of Indra and Vrtra.
Re - Reading the Rig Veda
Dr Ramesh N. Rao, June 25, 1999


Prophet Muhammad did not have access to a microscope or a Level 1 biology textbook. Therefore, he could not have known about asexual organisms, parthenogenetic organisms, hermaphrodites, or Schizophyllum commune.

It was easy for him to observe male and female humans, camels, and dogs. But as he had no idea about micro-organisms and herpetology he was unaware that he was mistaken in his belief that all creatures came in males and females.

Based on the existence of the schizophyllum commune, and asexual, hermaphroditic and parthenogenetic organisms, the Qur'anic verses about Allah creating all creatures in pairs (male and female) are shown to be in error.

The ancient Chinese Yin-Yang duality principle proves that the spurious claim of ‘creation in pairs’ to mean matter-antimatter complements to be unremarkable. Besides, some Hindus make similar claims about the Rig-Veda as the Muslims make about the Qur'an and scriptural allusions to matter and antimatter.

In reality, such claims of scientific foreknowledge can be made for any ancient text, for example the Georgica.

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Science which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also

  • Creation - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Creation
  • Reproduction - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Reproduction

External Links


  1. David Pratt, "Sex and Sexuality (part 1)", Exploring Theosophy, April 2002 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20050228084908%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fourworld.compuserve.com%2Fhomepages%2Fdp5%2Fsex1.htm&date=2013-11-29. 
  2. David Pratt, "Sex and Sexuality (part 2)", Exploring Theosophy, April 2002 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20050212115857%2Fourworld.compuserve.com%2Fhomepages%2Fdp5%2Fsex2.htm&date=2013-11-29. 
  3. Parthenogenesis - Wikipedia, accessed September 7, 2010
  4. Prof. Tom Volk, "Schizophyllum commune, the split gill fungus", University of Wisconsin, February 2000 (archived), http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/feb2000.html. 
  5. Quennel Gale, "Does Science really prove the Quran? Part 2 "A refutation to answering-christianity's 'Earth in Islam'"", Answer Islam, accessed February 14, 2011 (archived), http://www.answer-islam.org/earth_in_islam.htm. 
  6. Ray Wood, "Yin and Yang", Taichido, accessed February 14, 2011 (archived), http://www.taichido.com/chi/taoist/yin.htm. 
  7. J. Dominguez, M.D, "Religions in China", Religion-Cults, September 11, 2004 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20050127092910%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Freligion-cults.com%2FEastern%2FTaoism%2Ftaoism.htm&date=2013-11-29. 
  8. Joan Eckersley, "Ancient Chinese Wisdom", Brisbane Theosophical Society, March 1, 2002 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20050307210023%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fhome.iprimus.com.au%2Fbtheos%2Farticles%2FAncientChineseWisdom-1.htm&date=2013-11-29. 
  9. Ramesh N. Rao, "Review of Books/VEDIC PHYSICS: Scientific Origin of Hinduism", IndiaStar, accessed February 14, 2011 (archived from the original), http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20100808034734%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.indiastar.com%2Fclosepet5.html&date=2013-11-29.