Eliminating a misunderstanding about the duration in which the earth was created

Eliminating a misunderstanding about the duration in which the earth was created



Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

people ask me this question: It says multiple times in the Quran that the Earth was created in 6 days, but in 41:9-12 it adds up to 8; I listen to Dr. Zakir Naik (A famous caller to Islam, studied under the famous Ahmed Deetat) said that the ثم in verse 11 means while, and then, so that makes the equation equal 6, but I opened the Arabic dictionary and the only thing that popped up to the word ثم is the word “then.” So I was wondering if that is truly the explanation to that question brought by Christian missionaries?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.

We have highlighted in Fatwa 81374 that the verses of Chapter Fussilat [Quran 41] state that the creation of the earth was two days, and then that the creation of the mountains and blessed sustenance was four days. These four days include the two days mentioned first. Then, Allah created the heaven in two days; for a total of six days as indicated by other verses, and not eight days.

The well-versed scholar Muhammad Al-Ameen Ash-Shinqeeti may Allah be pleased with him  said: “The apparent meaning of the words here ‘in four days’ is ‘in a total of four days,’ because Allah, The Almighty, says: (what means): {Say, “Do you indeed disbelieve in He Who created the earth in two days…} [Quran 41:9]

Then, He stated that He blessed it, and measured therein its sustenance and provisions (for its dwellers) in four days; this is a total of four days. Then, Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and determined therein its [creatures’] sustenance in four days without distinction – for [the information] of those who ask.} [Quran 41:10]

These two days are added to the previous four for a total of six days during which Allah created the heavens and the earth and what is between them. This is the correct interpretation; and other interpretations are not correct under any circumstances, because Allah stated in different verses of the Quran that He has created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days.” [Adhwaa’ Al-Bayaan]

As for the preposition “Thumm”, it mostly comes to underline the chronological order, but it sometimes comes for the purpose of merely making mention of something after the other regardless of their chronological order (i.e. in this verse, it came just to make mention of the created beings regardless of the chronological order of their creation).

Some scholars underlined that the spreading of the earth has been delayed until after the creation of the heaven, as evidenced by the verses that read (what means): {Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it. * He raised its ceiling and proportioned it * And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness. * And after that He spread the earth. * He extracted from it its water and its pasture…}[Quran 79:27-31]

Therefore, what you have attributed to that preacher – that the spreading of the earth, causing the rivers to flow, and creating the firm mountains took place after the creation of the heaven – is correct. This is also supported by the following report: Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr may Allah be pleased with him  reported that a man came to Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah have be pleased with him, saying, “I find some things in the Quran which confuse me.”

 Ibn ‘Abbaas may Allah be pleased with him said, “Tell me what is confusing you.” The man said, “Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it.* He raised its ceiling and proportioned it* And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness.*

And after that He spread the earth. * He extracted from it its water and its pasture…} [Quran 79:27-31] So, Allah, mentioned the creation of the heavens before the earth. Then, in other verses He says (what means): {Say, “Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days …} [Quran 41:9] He made mention of the creation of the earth before the creation of the heavens. Ibn ‘Abbas may Allah be pleased with him  may Allah be pleased with him  replied,

 “Allah created the earth in two days, then He created the heaven, and it was like smoke; He gave it its shape in two days after the creation of the earth. Then, He spread the earth, bringing therefrom its waters, rivers, trees, and seas. This proves that the creation took place in two phases; in the first phase, Allah created the earth, and then, He created therein the mountains and rivers.”

Ibn Kathir may Allah be pleased with him wrote, “This proves that the spreading of the earth took place after the creation of the heaven. As for the creation of the earth, it is evidenced by religious text that the earth was created before the creation of the heavens. The response of Ibn ‘Abbas may Allah be pleased with him was in the same effect as cited in Saheeh Al-Bukhari about the interpretation of this verse.”

Ibn ‘Aashoor may Allah be pleased with him wrote, “The earth was created first, and then the heavens; then, the earth was spread. This is the opinion of the geologists who explained that the earth was extremely hot and by the passage of time it started to cool until it formed a rigid crust.

The earth’s crust then cracked and was broken up into what are called tectonic plates; parts of the earth become more elevated than the others due to high pressure. They estimated that this formation process took a very long duration. Verily, by the unlimited power and ability of Allah, such changes can materialize in no time.” [At-Tahreer wa At-Tanweer]

Allah Knows best.