According to the Qur’ān, the creation of this universe took place in
six days. The verse you have pointed out also says so, and I’ll try to
explain how it does so. However, before I begin this explanation, I would
like to point out two things:
Firstly, in these set of verses, the real objective is not to actually
describe the process of creation. Rather the actual objective is to point
out the fact that the Almighty has created this universe and all what it
contains with great interest, vigour and thoroughness. This painstaking
manner in which He carried out the task shows that He has definite plans
about it. The whole exercise is not meant to entertain Him as some of the
addressees of the Qur’ān were alleging at that time. He could have created
this world in the flash of an eye, but He created it in stages much like how
a house is built with work going in simultaneously at its various areas.
This shows that He has some great purpose in mind. In other verses of the
Qur’ān, we come to know that this purpose is to call man to give an account
of his deeds he does with his own free will. He would be asked about the
attitude he adopted after being blessed with so many favours from the
Almighty. So if this perspective is kept in mind, one can easily grasp the
fact that the description of this process as stated in the Qur’ān is very
literary – in a manner that directs one’s emotions and feelings to what
transpired at the beginning of time. The style adopted is to affectionately
remind and prod man of this great event and what it entails. The description
is not a mere mathematical enumeration of the days of creation.
The second thing which needs to be realized is that the word ‘days’ in this
description does not refer to the twenty-four hour day which we are used to.
Rather, as other places of the Qur’ān clarify, the length of God’s days is
one thousand ‘human’ years (see: 22:47).
I will now try to explain how these verse also say that the total time
period of creation is six days. Let us first take a look at these verses:
Is it that you deny Him Who created the earth in two days. And do you join
equals with Him. He is Lord of all the worlds. He set on it [-- the earth –]
mountains standing firm, high above and bestowed blessings on the earth and
measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion in
four days in accordance with the needs of those who seek [sustenance]. Then
He directed His attention to the sky which [at that time] was in the form of
smoke. He said to it and to the earth: ‘Obey Our directive’, willingly or
unwillingly. They said: ‘We shall do as you say in willing obedience’. So He
gave the directive that they be made as seven skies in two days and He
assigned to each sky its duty. (41:9-12)
A deep deliberation on the above verses leads to the following conclusions:
1. The earth was created in two days and then it was given completion in
four days. This brings the total to six
2. The sky was also created in these two days. Initially, it was in the form
of smoke. However, the ‘original’ sky was converted into seven skies in two
more days which completed the process regarding the skies. This brings the
total to four.
3. The four days of creation of the skies were within the six days of the
creation of the earth.
4. Hence the total time period of creation was six days. As the verses seem
to suggest more time was consumed in the completion of the earth since it
was to harbour human beings and as such needed to be made ready to suit
their needs. The sky on the other hand, it seems, did not require as many
5. As pointed out earlier, the completion work on both the skies and the
earth was a simultaneous process. Therefore the two days mentioned in the
completion of the skies are not to be added to the six overall days. Rather
they lie within this period.