Question: The Almighty Allah says in Qur’an:
He is your Lord, who created the heavens and the earth in six days.1
Here what is meant by six days, when at that time day and night did not exist? And besides why Allah did not create them in one stroke?
Answer: This question is based on two parts. First that, what is meant by six days, whereas in the earlier age there were no day and night.
The reply is this that basically the word 'Yawma', synonymous in English to 'a day', which is having special meaning according to the place and situation at different times. Generally this word is used in the sense as a day, which is a proof of night. And in the Holy Qur’an also mostly it is used in the same meaning, but sometimes it comes in the meaning of a period, then on every period the word 'Yawma' is applied. For example, an aged person says:
One day I was a child - one day I was a young man also - but for today I have become old. Although these three periods are connected (linked) with each other like the links of a chain that is why he interprets those three different periods of his life with the word 'day'.
Imam Ali (a.s.) says,
Age is not more than two days. One day it gives you benefit and the next day it is piercing loss on you.
It means that there are two periods in the life of man. One day he is on the highest point of his luck and the next day he is trapped in troubles and problems.
As per the statement of Bahadur Shah Zafar: “We brought four days, by asking increase in life. Two were spent in desires, two went in expectations.”
Without any doubt, by 'day' Zafar also meant 'period' only.
From whatever is stated above six days in which the earth and the heavens were created are six periods. The earth and the heavens before coming to the present states have passed through these six ages. Meaning the present mode of earth and the heavenly bodies is as the result of these continuous changes, which transpired on them, and in the end after passing through all those changes they have acquired the present form. Now it is possible that the duration of one period might have been 10 million years or 10 billion years.
The second part of the question is that why Allah did not create them all at one time and why their creation happened gradually?
The reply is that the world in which we live is a material world. And counting of gradual evolution of material existing things is done in inseparable narratives and material things by nature change from one shape to another with passing of time and in this way pass through different stages. As a result it becomes a perfect phenomenon and the earth and the heavens are not exempted from this law.
You see any materially existing thing; you will find that all of it is going up by the ladder of gradual evolution. Grass and plants after some time, take the shape of flowery bush or fruit bearing tree. As time passes mines and fountains hidden under the earth after a long chain of actions and reactions turn into material mines. Animals and humans until they do not finish a certain period in the womb cannot live their life in this vast world. This law is applicable everywhere and to every material thing of this world.
- 1. Surah Aaraf 7:54