Difference between the Quran and Bible Teaching about the shape of the Earth
Answering the allegation that the Holy Quran claimed that earth is flat
A brief introduction
Some people think that the Holy Quran promoted the idea that earth is flat and refused that it is a sphere which –according to them- represents a contradiction between science and religion. Nowadays, the spheroid shape of earth is an indisputable scientific fact that is strongly linked to many other phenomena like the fact that sunrise exact time differs from one place to another and similarly the difference in the length of day and night from one location on earth to another…etc.
Our target here is not to prove that earth is a sphere as this is now an indisputable scientific fact, but our target is to discuss how the Holy Quran addressed the issue of earth’s shape and whether it is true that the Holy Quran empathized that earth is flat, or this is just a lie and a false accusation?
Before we start, we must explain a very important fact as written by Dr. Mostafa Mahmoud in his book (A Dialogue with my friend the Atheist) where he wrote:
(The Quran did not tackle these subjects in the detailed approach of a specialized scientific text. It was primarily revealed as a book of creed, way of life, and legislation. Had it dealt elaborately and expressly with such topics, it would have shocked the Arabs of its time with things they could not comprehend.
It resorted, therefore, to suggestions, hints, and intimations leaving them to be explained hundreds of years later by the sciences and discoveries of the future and to manifest their real nature one generation after the other as miracles and signs which prove that the Quran is indeed from the True God. God says in His Book:
((We will show them Our signs in all the regions of the earth and in their own selves, until they clearly see that this is the truth.)) – Surah Fussilat Quran (41:53)
Second: Reason for the allegation
The reason why some people claim that the Holy Quran denied the spherical shape of earth and ensured that it is flat is either one of two reasons either the misunderstanding of some verses in the Holy Quran –which we will explain thoroughly later –
Due to the weak understanding of the Arabic language accompanied by lack of precision and honesty in researching the explanation of the biggest Islamic scholars who specialized in explaining the Holy Quran and only regarding the typical meaning of the words after cutting them out of their original context.
The second possible cause of this claim originates from the bad intentions and the desire to raise suspicions about religion so as to drive people away from it, which is, unfortunately, a target for some people nowadays however God says in the Holy Quran:
((They want to extinguish God’s light with their mouths, but God refuses except to complete His light, even though the disbelievers dislike it.)) – Surah Al-Tawba verse 32 From these misunderstood verses are:
- God says: ((And at the earth—how it is spread out?)) – Surah AlGhashiya verse 20
- God says: ((And the earth, how We spread it out, and set on it mountains, and grew in it all kinds of delightful pairs?)) – Surah Qaf verse 7
- God says: ((We spread the earth, and placed stabilizers in it, and in it We grew all things in proper measure.)) – Surah Al-Hijr verse 19
- God says: ((And it is He who spread the earth and placed in it mountains and rivers. And He placed in it two kinds of every fruit. He causes the night to overlap the day. In that are signs for people who reflect.)) – Surah Ar-Ra’d verse 3
- God says: ((And the earth after that He spread.)) – Surah An-Nazi’at verse 30
- God says: ((And God made the earth a spread for you.)) – Surah Nouh verse 19
- God says: ((And the earth—We spread it out—How well We prepared it!)) – Surah adh-Dhariyat verse 48
At the same time, some people exerted so much effort in a tireless research to find the strange opinions that are far from the consensus of Islamic scholars and philosophers who claimed that earth is flat and they deliberately ignored the consensus of Islamic scholars as well as the different schools of Islamic doctrine that are well-known and accepted by all Muslims who consented that earth is spherical and we will give a thorough answer to this later.
The Islamic Response:
Do the Quran and Bible Teach That the Earth Is Flat?
Do the Qur’an and the Bible support the flat earth theory, or the science on the subject of a round earth? Where is the belief coming from that they do?
Though the concept of a spherical earth was developed in ancient Greece around the seventh century BCE, starting with Pythagoras, the issue of spherical shape of the earth remained rather unsettled until the sixteenth century. Aristotle had hinted at the spherical shape of the earth some 330 years before Christ.
There is some evidence that the concept of a spherical earth was widely held by scientific community as far back as the early church period, but many lay people still believed in a flat earth model until a few centuries ago. (Some still do! Check out the” International Flat Earth Research Society “).
What did the Qur’an say on this subject?
Far from a unique concept at the time, the Qur’an however does refer to the spherical shape of the earth.
O company of Jinn and men, if you have power to penetrate (all) regions of the heavens and the earth; then penetrate (them)! You will never penetrate them save with (Our) sanction. Quran (55:33)
You may very appropriately ask the question: Where does this verse say that the earth is spherical?
Good question indeed. It does not say it outright. But let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s ponder a little more, like the Qur’an repeatedly asks us to do.
The Arabic word used for “regions” in this verse is Aqtaar. It is a plural of the word Qutr or “diameter” and is frequently used in Arabic geometry texts. Thus, Yuksel has translated the verse as follows:
O Tribes of Jinn and humans, if you can penetrate the diameters of heavens and earth …
A diameter is obviously a measure for a spherical object. If earth were flat, it would not have a diameter.
This verse points out that the earth is spherical, in an indirect way—not an uncommon approach by the Qur’an, leaving the reader to do the pondering.
Moreover, there are several passages in the Qur’an that refer to the day and night merging into each other gradually.
See you not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges day into night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do? Quran (31:29)
Once again one might take the meaning literally-days gradually turning into night. We all know that. There is really no new information there.
However, the merging of day and night gradually would indicate a rotating round earth, and thus can only mean that the earth is not flat, otherwise the night and day will not merge but change suddenly.
Bible, “Four Corners of the Earth” and the Flat Earth Theory
The flat earth theory has taken momentum in recent times among (some) Christians, aided by the ease of spreading the message on social media. It is also claimed that the Catholic Church was preaching the flat earth theory until about 500 years ago. There are at least three references to the “four corners of earth” in the Bible.
And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Revelation 7:1
But the Christian scholars also point out that the “four corners” of the earth does not indicate a flat earth. The argument is put forth that, as is the case with numerous other passages, this is used metaphorically, or as an idiom, to mean ‘from all over the earth’.
Dr. Danny Faulkner, a physicist and astronomer, and editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly argues in an article titled Does the Bible Teach That the Earth Is Flat? on Answers in Genesis, that the medieval church actually never taught the flat earth theory and further argues my point about the ‘four corner of the earth” being used as an idiom
The Celestial Bodies Moving in Orbits
For many centuries, the concept of a geocentric universe was prevalent among European scientists, whereby the earth stood still in the center and everything else, including the sun, moved around the earth. In 1543 CE, Copernicus published his theory of a heliocentric system, whereby the earth moved around a stationary sun, something Galileo championed and was sentenced by the Catholic Church for heresy in 1633 CE.
The Quran described that the sun and other celestial bodies move in orbits:
It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course. 21:33 (Translation by Yousuf Ali), or “And He it is Who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all (orbs) travel along swiftly in their celestial spheres.” (Translation by Shakir)
In another verse, the concept of the sun and the moon moving in their respective orbits is once again mentioned as follows:
Neither is it allowable to the sun that it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day, and all float on in a sphere. 36:40 (Shakir), OR “It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.” (Pickthall)
These verses indicate that the celestial bodies not only move in an orbit but also imply that each has their own distinct orbit, as they cannot “overtake” each other.
The sun and the moon will circle for an “appointed term”.
There is consensus in the scientific community that our sun will continue to burn its hydrogen and helium and it will eventually die when all the fuel is consumed.
But this concept of a finite life for stars (including our own sun and the moon) only came to be known in the last few centuries.
See you not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do? Quran 31:29
The Qur’an may not have told us something “groundbreaking” per se. At the very least, it is consistent with modern knowledge, and it invites us to ponder on the world and the universe around us.
You may argue the meaning of the verses is “stretched” to fit into modern knowledge. If that is indeed the case, what then is the idea or the purpose of mentioning all this in the Qur’an? What is the alternative meaning for these (and numerous other) passages?
As we have mentioned in our prior posts, the Qur’an is NOT a book of science. It does not teach us science. But it clearly invites us to ponder on science and God’s signs around us. The underlying message is clear: the “science” and “religion” are not mutually exclusive.
Bible On the Collapse of The Universe as A Scroll
Long before we knew that our solar system has finite life, the Bible mentions the end of the universe, not just the solar system.
And all the hosts of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves from a grapevine, or shriveled figs from a fig tree. Isaiah 34:4
I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind. The sky was rolled up like a scroll, and all of the mountains and islands were moved from their places. Revelation 6:12-14
Third: Answering the allegations from other angles:
Now to answer these allegations we have firstly to explain the previous verses:
- God says: ((And at the earth—how it is spread out?)) – Surah Al-Ghashiya verse 20
From ALKHALEEJ website – The spherical shape of earth in the Holy Quran by Prof. Dr. Hameed Majoul ALNaemi
Dr. Hameed wrote: (We should not regard the verb ((spread out)) without Gods’ words ((Do they not look)) or we will drift away from the real meaning behind the words and hence we will not be able to conclude the actual explanation of the verse.
“God says in the Holy Quran in Surah Al-Ghashiya: ((Do they not look at the camels—how they are created? And at the sky—how it is raised? And at the mountains—how they are installed? And at the earth—how it is spread out? So, remind. You are only a reminder.)) – Surah Al-Ghashiya verses from 17 to 21
So, Gods’ words ((Do they not look)) that the writer means are the ones mentioned at the beginning of the above verses and these words are covering the verses from 17 to 20″
((Look at)): means looking at him attentively but ((looking at)) a subject, problem, or situation, you think about it or study it, so that you know all about it (Collins Dictionary)
((Looking at)) is understandable in (the creation of camels), (raising the sky) and (installing the mountains). The idea of (Looking) is important when explaining (earth spreading out) since the vision span is very limited compared to the huge size of earth therefore it’s curvature cannot be noticed by the beholder.
And this (spreading out) is due to God’s wisdom to hide this curvature from plain sight and what becomes clearly visible is the earth’s (spreading out) until we reach outer space and manage to see the real shape of earth with our own eyes.
In the explanation of Ibn Kathir for the verse: ((and at the earth—how it is spread out)) means how it was spread out and paved for life so the verse alerts the simple Bedouin to deduce from what he sees – his camel on which he is riding, the sky above his head, the mountains around him and the earth underneath him – the tremendous power of the only God, the creator of all these blessings, the great God who is the only owner and manager of the whole world…the only one worthy of being worshiped.
- God says: ((And the earth, how We spread it out, and set on it mountains, and grew in it all kinds of delightful pairs?)) – Surah Qaf verse 7 And says: ((We spread the earth, and placed stabilizers in it, and in it We grew all things in proper measure.)) – Surah Al-Hijr verse 19 And says: ((And it is He who spread the earth and placed in it mountains and rivers. And He placed in it two kinds of every fruit. He causes the night to overlap the day. In that are signs for people who reflect.)) – Surah Ar-Ra’d verse 3
All these verses used the word ((spread out)
The famous Islamic scholar Sheikh Shaarawy said in explanation of these verses:
“The above verse is a good example of how misinterpretation has led skeptics to assume the existence of discrepancy between scientific evidence and the facts of the Quran; they contended that the above verse meant that the earth was flat. This contention reveals their failure to understand its true meaning and its accuracy of expression.
The word ((spread out)) is synonymous with ‘extend’; an expression which we often use in our daily speech to describe our actual perception. If we misunderstood the verse to mean earth had been flattened, then we will accuse whoever says earth is spherical of being a disbeliever, but nowadays we used spaceships and artificial satellites to SEE the earth and we can clearly SEE that it is a giant sphere revolving around itself.
The meaning ((spread out)) combines linguistic and scientific miracles as it gives us a hint about the actual shape of earth which was totally unknown at the time the verses were revealed as well as the visual shape of earth at the same time.
When God said: ((And the earth, how We spread it out)) He did not specify a particular location on earth, meaning that whether you are in the North pole, America, Europe, Africa, or Asia you will see earth spread out…this can never happen in ANY geometric shape except the sphere.
If it were square, triangular or any other flat shape it would be possible to reach its edge where you will see the outer space –not earth- spread out. The only geometric shape that can be ((spread out)) at any point you go to is a giant sphere. So, if you stand at one point on earth and start walking in a long journey till you reach the same point once again, throughout your journey you will see earth as ((spread out)).
Thus, in one simple phrase the Quran has revealed to mankind a scientific fact about the earth which was only discovered by scientists many centuries after its initial revelation to humans. Therefore, in this context there is no contradiction between what the Quran portrays and what is visually observable.
Those who understood its right will say that the Holy Quran is the first book in the world to say that earth is a sphere…this fact alone can make people believe in God, but unfortunately, they did not.)
- God says: ((And the earth after that He spread.)) – Surah An-Nazi’at verse 30 In an explanation of the word ((spread)) Ibn Kathir said: the explanation of the word ((spread)) comes in the verse that follows by saying ((And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture)) same thing was said by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abbas.
The Arabs say: (spread) to mean extend
Ibn Hayan says: ((spread out)) means extend and pave to be suitable for living and settlement and this paving is by bringing out water and pasture and fixing mountains firmly.
In the Jalaleen Quran explanation, may God have mercy on them, ((spread out)) means extended and paved it to be suitable for life and by paving it God brought out its water (by making springs gush forth) and pasture (what cattle graze, of trees and herbage, and what humans consume of foods and fruits) notice that the use of maraa (pasture) to express this [of the earth] is figurative.
By accurately inspecting the sayings of Islamic scholars we can easily see that they all agree that ((spread out)) means pave it to make life easier on its surface and so God mentioned the basic requirements to achieve this is by bringing out water and pasture, fixing mountains firmly which is compatible with the verses:
((Did We not make the earth a cradle? And the mountains pegs?)) – Surah An-Naba verses 6 and 7, and the verse: ((It is He who made the earth manageable for you, so travel its regions, and eat of His provisions.
To Him is the Resurgence.)) – Surah AL-Mulk verse 15
All these verses are explaining how the earth was prepared and paved to be suitable for life and has nothing to do with its shape whether flat or spherical.
- God says: ((And God made the earth a spread for you.)) – Surah Noah verse 19
In an explanation of the verse Ibn Kathir said: (meaning, He spread it out, leveled it, settled it, and stabilized it with firm and lofty mountains.)
In Tabari explanation of the verse he says: (God says narrating the story of Prophet Noah with his people and reminding them of God blessings to them saying: ((And God made the earth a spread for you.)) meaning to settle in it and pave it and his words ((That you may travel its diverse roads.))
He says: to pave difficult roads. From this we conclude that spreading out earth does not mean making it flat, but rather to make it paved and ready to be useful and adapted to its function.
There is no contradiction between the spherical shape of earth and its being spread out as in reality when we consider its vast size it is truly spherical but for any beholders’ eyes it is ((spread out)) and this spreading out is for the benefit of all creations living on its surface.
Assadi said: (Earth has been hugely spread out and paved to facilitate the existence of creatures on it and to enable people to cultivate, plant it and hence be able to settle on it and pave roads in it.)
He also said in explanation of surah AL-Ghashiya verse 20: (It should be understood that the fact that the earth has been spread out does not contradict the fact that it is round. It is surrounded by stars and heavenly bodies in all directions, as is indicated by the texts, reason, physical faculties, and observation, as is well known to most people, especially nowadays, when people have discovered most of it with what Allah has bestowed upon them as means of transportation.
The idea that describing something as spread out means that it cannot be round is only applicable in the case of a very small body that, if it is spread out, can no longer be round. As for the earth, which is an extremely big body, it may be round and spread out at the same time; the two matters are not mutually exclusive, as is well known to experts.)
- God says: ((And the earth—We spread it out—How well We prepared it)) – Surah Adh-Dariyat verse 48
In explanation of the above verse Seikh Sharaawy said: (((And the earth—We spread it out—How well We prepared it)) means that God has prepared earth to be the most comfortable to its inhabitants like we prepare the baby’s cradle so that he is completely comfortable.
((How well We prepared it)) the word ((prepared)) is the English translation of the Arabic word ((Mahedoun)) which is derived from the word (Mahd) which means the baby’s cradle which is characterized by being as comfortable as possible. This cradle is always being changed and cleaned and so is the earth always changing.
In explanation of the above verse Imam Qurtubi said: ((And the earth—We spread it out)) means God has spread out earth like a bed of water ((How well We prepared it)) means God prepared the earth very well. The plural in ((We)) is for glorifying and (spreading out a bed) means prepared and arranged. When we say (preparing a situation) means arranging or fixing.
In explanation of the above verse Tabari said: ((And the earth—We spread it out)) God says that He has made earth like a bed for his creations ((How well We prepared it)) means God says that He is the best to prepare it (earth) for them.
And in the explanation of Ibn Kathir he says: ((And the earth—We spread it out)) We have made it a resting place for the created, ((How well We prepared it)) meaning (God says) We spread it for its inhabitants.
From all the above explanations it is clear that the verse means to say that earth has been prepared to be valid to live in by all Gods’ creations on it just like the child’s bed is prepared to give him comfort and has nothing to do with the actual shape of earth or with the strange idea that earth is flat…
This is the consensus of all most famous Islamic scholars – contemporary or non-contemporary -who specialized in Quran explanation so how can anyone accuse the Quran of saying that earth Is flat?
When God says ((Did We not make the earth a cradle?)) or says: ((And at the earth—how it is spread out?)) and all similar verses does not contradict the fact that earth has a spherical shape as these verses explain not the shape of earth but rather God’s blessing to His creation in making it paved and perfectly prepared to perform its function which is to have Gods’ creatures living on it.
These preparations are to make it spread out to act as a settling place as well as being paved to facilitate cultivating, planting, having buildings built on its surface and hence all creatures can settle on it and be buried in it when they die. So, all the (spreading out) and (paving) and all similar actions are to make earth perfectly ready to live in by bringing out water and pasture from inside it, running rivers and paving roads…etc.
And hence the noble verses are proof that God has prepared earth to receive His creations and make life as easy as can be for them…This is a blessing from God to all His creations and it does not mean –by consensus of the most famous Islamic scholars – that earth is flat.
Honestly, I do not understand from where some people got their strange allegation that the Quran says earth is flat and on what proof they based this silly idea…I can only attribute this to lying and dishonesty, but I also blame those who blindly believed this allegation without the slightest proof of its validity and without the simplest attempt to research what they hear to try to get to the truth.
Fourth: Proof of the spherical shape of earth in the Holy Quran
The Holy Quran hinted at the spherical shape of earth in many ways such as:
1. Sheikh Shaarawy, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “If you say earth is flat then it must occupy a specific area, so when you reach the edge of this area you will be at the border -after which there is only space- but God Almighty says:
((We spread the earth)) which means that wherever you go on earth’s surface you will see earth spread out before you, so if you go to the south pole, you will see it spread out, if you go to the equator you will see it spread out and so on and this can never happen except if earth has a spherical shape.
Consequently, when God says: ((We spread the earth)) this is a proof that earth is spherical in shape, so whoever explains this verse as a proof that earth is flat and considered the flat shape of earth as a fact ensured by the Holy Quran is totally mistaken so when science proves that earth is spherical, he had the illusion that there is a contradiction between science and religion.
In this case the role of ignorance becomes apparent when some people start to attack the Holy Quran, but if they would only dig a little bit deeper, they would definitely realize that the spherical shape of earth and its rotation were already mentioned in the Holy Quran.”
2. Sheikh Sharaawy, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “let’s consider verse 5 in surah Az-Zumar where God Almighty says: ((He created the heavens and the earth with reason. He wraps the night around the day, and He wraps the day around the night. And He regulates the sun and the moon, each running along a specific course. He is indeed the Almighty, the Forgiver.)) – Surah Az-Zumar verse 5
Why did God Almighty use the word ((wraps…around))? We know that Gods’ words must be perfectly precise so why would God use the word ((wraps…around)) and did not say spread out the night and day as long as earth is spread out or for example exchange day and night or any other similar expression?
If you (wrap) something around a sphere you would say that it is wrapped around the sphere which means you made it look like wrapped sphere and if you want a human to make something that looks like a sphere you would tell him to wrap it as a sphere, so he makes it look like a sphere and hence when God Almighty says:
((wraps the night around the day, and He wraps the day around the night)) means to make them surround earth at all times which is considered as a Quranic miracle. God Almighty did not say ((wraps the night around the day)) and then ((wraps the day around the night)).
But He says ((wraps the night around the day, and He wraps the day around the night)) which means that both day and night coexist at the same time around the spherical earth…That’s what the Holy Quran said more than fourteen hundred years ago, a fact only lately known to mankind.
3. God says: ((It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.)) – Surah Yassin verses from 36 to 40 The statement ((nor does the night outstrip (precede) the day)) was revealed to rectify a false notion that prevailed among the early Arabs.
It negates something which was not true, although it appeared to be so, and which therefore needed to be rectified. The Arabs used to say that night always preceded day.
Their ‘day’ began with sunset and accordingly the month of Ramadan was confirmed after the sunset of the last day of Sha’ban. But if night preceded day, as the Arabs said, then day could never precede night.
Here we are faced with two statements: the first is that night precedes day, and the second is that day can never precede night. Allah did not refer to the latter statement because it was a fact; but He corrected the former which was indeed a misconception affirming that ((nor does the night outstrip the day)).
With this answer, Allah affirms that day and night are always present, simultaneously, on both hemispheres. At the same time, He has provided the evidence that the earth is a sphere, for the phenomenon of day and night occurring simultaneously could never happen otherwise. Allah used the correction to tell us more about the earth.
If the earth had been created flat the sun would have been facing the upper surface at the time of creation, and consequently day would have occurred first; but if, on the other hand, the sun had been facing the lower surface, then night would have occurred first. But Allah states in the above verse that both day and night have been created at the same time.
His saying that neither one preceded the other proves that the earth was created as a sphere, because this is the only shape which allows such a phenomenon to occur. Thus in a few words Allah has revealed to mankind a scientific fact which had remained a mystery for centuries until He deemed it suitable to make it available to science.
The Miracles of the Quran by: Sheikh Mohamed Metwaly Al-Sharaawy
4. God says: ((And you see the hills you deem solid flying with the flight of clouds: the doing of Allah Who perfects all things)) – Surah al-NamI verse 88.
Mountains are considered to be a kind of stabilizing mass which eliminates the vibration and swaying of the earth.
Their massiveness gives the beholder the impression that the earth is motionless and still. Allah tells us ((you deem)) to dispel such false notions and illuminate our perception, Allah tells us in the above verse that the mountains which may seem to us to be stationary and immobile are in fact moving in the same manner as the clouds sailing above them. But how?
We all know that the wind is the force behind the movement of the clouds. But because the mountains are rooted in the earth they can move only if the earth on which they sit is moving. Nor are the mountains moving slowly; they are ((flying with the flight of clouds.)) Thus in a few words Allah provided science with the established fact that the earth is a sphere which rotates in space.
The word ((solid)) in the above verse needs some explanation for it unfolds a second scientific fact concerning the sensation of motionlessness which one experiences when there is no other body in relation to which it would be possible to estimate the movement of one body. The verse explains our inability to sense the movement of the earth.
The fact that to the beholder, the mountains and the earth are all rotating together, and the absence of a stable background against which he could contrast their movement, make the sensation of immobility quite real. This sensation is felt most acutely when one is flying in an airplane.
If the airplane is flying at a very high altitude beyond all atmospheric disturbances, with all windows sealed, and vibration nonexistent, it becomes difficult to sense the movement or speed of the plane.
This is the sensation implied in the word ((solid)). Allah is giving us the reasons underlying our inability to sense or detect the movement of the earth and the mountains sitting on it simply by watching them; the fact that we are all rotating together, and the absence of a contrasting background that can be observed with the naked eye, make the mountains seem to be solid and still.
Allah, anticipating that the knowledge imparted in the above verse would be perplexing, asks us – in this verse not to wonder at His accomplishments: ((…the doing of Allah Who perfects all things))
Fifth: Opinion of Islamic Scholars in the Issue of earth’s spherical shape
- Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm said in his book (End quote from al-Fasl fi’l-Milal wa’l-Ahwa’ wa’l-Nihal (2/78) :
We are going to discuss some of the arguments against the idea that the earth is round. They said: There is sound evidence that the earth is round, but the common folk say otherwise.
Our response – and Allah is the source of strength – is that none of the leading Muslim scholars who deserve to be called imams or leaders in knowledge, may Allah be pleased with them, denied that the earth is round, and there is no narration from them to deny that. Rather the evidence in the Quran and Sunnah stated that it is round.
God says: ((He wraps the night around the day, and He wraps the day around the night.)) and this clarifies that night and day are wrapped around one another derived from wrapping around the turban and this shows the spherical shape of earth as well as the rotation of the sun from which the day light shines and the darkness of the night when the sun sets as the Holy Quran says:
((We erased the wonder of the night, and made the wonder of the day revealing)) – Surah Alisraa verse 12
The famous Imam Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi, may God rest his soul, in his book (Mafatih Al-Ghaib – keys of the unknown- vol. 19 page1) said:
In the explanation of the verse: ((And it is He who spread the earth, and placed in it mountains and rivers. And He placed in it two kinds of every fruit. He causes the night to overlap the day. In that are signs for people who reflect.)) – Surah Al-Raad verse 3
AL-Razi said: ((spread)) means limitlessly expanded, when God says: ((And it is He who spread the earth)) indicates that huge size of earth that the normal eyesight cannot reach its end because if earth was smaller in size than its actual size then the benefit from it will not be complete, but if the size is huge then on every location it will appear expanded.
He also said in his book (Mafatih Al-Ghaib – keys of the unknown- vol. 21 page142): It has been proven that earth is a sphere, and the sky is surrounding it.
- Sheikh Assem Al-kariuti said that Sheikh bin baaz, may God rest his soul, confirmed the spherical shape of earth like the rest of Muslim scholars
- Sheikh Ibn Taimeya transmitted the consensus of Islamic scholars on the spherical shape of earth in many books like (Al-Arisha), (Dare Taaroud alnakel wa Alaakl- 6/339) also check his study called (A study of Al-Hilal) and (A collection of Fatwa – 25/195).
- Imam Ibn Katheer transmitted the consensus of Islamic scholars on the spherical shape of earth in his books (Al- Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya) and (Aafak Al-Hedaya 1/173)
From the above we can conclude the following:
1. The Holy Quran confirmed the spherical shape of earth, consequently the verses like: ((And the earth, how We spread it out)) and ((And at the earth—how it is spread out?)) is meant to show how God has blessed his creations by paving earth for them and spreading it out before them to facilitate their life on it.
2. There are verses in the Holy Quran that insinuate the spherical shape of earth like ((He wraps the night around the day, and He wraps the day around the night)). This insinuation can be easily understood by the careful, thorough reader, not the superficial one who does not exert effort in trying to understand the actual meaning behind the words of the Holy Quran.
If the Holy Quran had openly discussed these issues when it was first revealed to our Noble prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, it would have shocked the Arabs with facts that they do not understand, and hence cannot accept, that is why the Holy Quran used insinuation and hinting and left it to be revealed later by future sciences.
3. It is the consensus of Islamic scholars that earth has a spherical shape consequently it is not fair – for the sake of justice and neutralism – to quote some anomalous opinions of some scholars, who deviated from the consensus, and consider these anomalous opinions as a proof that Muslim scholars, in general, refuse to confirm the spherical shape of earth.
4. If we assumed that the Holy Quran refused to confirm the spherical shape of earth this would mean that the Holy Quran is contradicting itself, which will NEVER happen… How can we claim that the Holy Quran refuses the spherical shape of earth when there are other verses in the Holy Quran itself that confirm it?
The Holy Quran is perfectly consistent the problem lies in the incompetent understanding of people as the unanimous explanation of the verses provided by Muslim scholars is crystal clear and proves beyond doubt that the Holy Quran confirms the spherical shape of earth.
Credit: Al Siraj
Reconciling between the view that the Earth is round and the verse “And Allah has made for you the earth widespread (an expanse)” [Noah 71:19]
- The Quran in English
- The Miracles of the Quran by:Sheikh Mohamed Metwally Al-Shaarawy
- Islam Question & Answer – Consensus that the Earth is round.
- Dar Al-Khaleej (Arabic)
- Miracle of the Quran (Arabic)
- Miracles of the Quran & Sunnah Website (Arabic)
- Credit: Al Siraj
- Credit Patheos
Reconciling between the view that the Earth is round and the verse “And Allah has made for you the earth widespread (an expanse)” [Noah 71:19]
Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.
Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan
Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia.
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