Sunday, June 2, 2024

ALLAH AND MUSLIMS DO NOT UNDERSTAND SCIENCE ABOUT THE SUN


Dear reader:


Some Muslims claim that the Quran contains scientific truths about the movements of the sun, moon, (and sometimes planets). I would like to examine this issue, and we will explore various aspects before drawing a conclusion. However, the fundamental point is: unless a Muslim interprets these verses metaphorically, these verses do not confirm or prove the scientific accuracy of the Quran.


Surah 36:37-40 states, “And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are plunged in darkness; 38 And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it; that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing. 39 And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. 40 It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law).” (Yusuf Ali’s translation, first edition) [Words in brackets are in the brackets in the translation.]


Some Muslims say that “the sun runs its course for a period determined” and the word “orbit” is placed at the end. However, we cannot say much about the “orbit” of the sun because Yusuf Ali’s translation has a reference (note 17) at the bottom of the page related to this word saying “course, path.” Also, Yusuf Ali's revised edition says “resting place” instead of “period.”


### How Some Muslims Interpret the Quran Freely?


The Sufi website http://www.sufi.co.za/modern_science_and_islam.htm goes to the extent of saying:


"All these objects, the earth, the moon, and all the planets at all times move in their orbits (or axes) in floating" (Ansari).


It adds the words "(all these are planets)" and "(or their axes)" in brackets, because they are not in the Arabic text. Let’s leave this as a misinterpretation and ask, "What does Surah 36:37-40 really teach?" It could be one of these three things:


1. **Orbits of the Sun and Moon**: The Quran teaches that the sun and moon travel continuously on their orbits around the earth for a fixed period.

2. **Swimming to a Resting Place**: The sun swims through the clouds during the day, heads to its resting place at night, and returns to its place where it was the previous morning. Similarly, the moon swims on its path.

3. **Metaphors**: Like the previous part, but this is meant as a description of how things appear, not how they actually are.


### Let’s Go Back to the Arabic


**Orbit/Path**: Yusuf Ali explains the Arabic word in question in reference 3983 at the bottom of page 1326. He says, “Mustaqarr may mean: (1) a period determined or a term appointed, as in vi. 67, or (2) a resting place or a place of repose; or (3) a dwelling place, as in ii. 36. I think the first meaning is the best here; but other commentators prefer the second. In that case, the comparison would be to the sun running a race while it appears to us, and resting during the night to prepare for the renewal of the race the next day. Its resting together with the other side of the world appears to us as a period of rest.”


**Moving/Swimming/Orbiting**: yasbahuna can mean to hasten, although its more direct meaning is to swim.


**Swim/Orbit**: Renowned Islamic commentator Ibn Taymiyyah (died in 1328 AD) wrote, “The sun, stars, and planets are round (istidaaratul-aflaak) – as is the statement of the astronomers and mathematicians (ahlul-hay’ah wal-hisab)..... [The word] falak [in Arabic] means something round” (Majmu’ul-Fatawa volume 6, pp. 566-567).


### It’s Not a “Scientific Miracle” That the Sun and Moon Are “Falak” Because


a) The word for ‘the earth revolving around the sun’ in Arabic is not falak but mahrek.

b) The word falak did not originate in the Quran; it was a borrowed word from a foreign language.


One person contributed the following: “The origin [of Arabic -- falaka] … from an ancient Semitic root we find [Akkadian -- pilakku]; [Hebrew -- pelek]; [Arabic -- falkatun], all meaning a rapidly moving circle, and another different origin [of Arabic -- falakun]; [Ethiopian -- falaka] meaning the other half of the sky. Therefore, etymologists have traditionally sought to relate [the Arabic word -- falkun] to this root, thinking that it was called so due to its circular shape.”


Also, the word falak was used by the Arabs before Muhammad’s birth to mean the floating of the sun, stars, and planets on the “round celestial dome.” People living before and during Muhammad's time believed that the universe followed an Aristotelian/Ptolemaic model where the earth was at the center surrounded by seven circular domes (spheres). The sun, stars, and planets were believed to move in these circles, or the circles themselves were thought to move in a single path. Since the Quran mentions that there are seven heavens, it shows Muhammad’s view of the “astronomical system” resembled the Ptolemaic and Aristotelian model, which was believed to be true in that historical period.


### My Opinion (For Now): 


Although the Arabic word is not completely clear, these words do not describe anything that people before Muhammad’s birth had not already said. 


However, if we assume that Muhammad and his early followers did not understand the Quran (a safe assumption), and that the scientific views of the Quran are accurate, we have two ways to reach an appropriate conclusion. First, what did the early Muslims say about this, and second, what does the rest of the Quran say?


### What Did Muhammad and Early Muslims Say About the Sun?


Where would you go to find the correct meaning of the Quran? Zamakhshari? al-Tabari? Baidawi? If you were an early Muslim, you could go to Muhammad himself! Hear how Muhammad explained, according to Bukhari and al-Tabari.


**"Abu Dhar reported: The Prophet asked me at sunset, 'Do you know where the sun goes (at sunset)?' I replied, 'Allah and His Apostle know best.' He said, 'It goes (i.e., travels) till it prostrates itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (the time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted...' "** Bukhari volume 4 book 54 chapter 4 number 441 page 283.


Another translation of the same Bukhari passage says: **"Abu Dharr Ghifari (ra) narrated: Once Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asked me, 'Abu Dharr do you know where the sun sets after setting?' I replied, 'I don't know, only Allah and His Prophet can tell better.' Then Prophet (SA) replied, 'After setting, the sun remains prostrated under the Aro’sh (Allah's throne) and waits for Allah's order to rise again in the east. The day will come when the sun will not be allowed to rise again and Qiyamah (the Day of Judgment) will come upon the earth.'"


**Al-Tabari volume 1 page 231 states, "I asked the Messenger of God [Muhammad] 'Where does [the sun] set?' He replied: 'It sets in the heaven and then rises from heaven to heaven until it rises from the highest heaven, the seventh heaven. Finally, when it is beneath the Throne, it falls prostrate and the angels in charge of it prostrate with it. Then the sun says, My Lord, where do you command me to rise, where I set or where I rose? He continued. This is (meant by) the word of God: 'And the sun runs on to a resting place for him [this is] the decree of [Him] the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing' while it is held under the Throne - 'that is the decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing' - the Lord of his Kingdom, the Lord who 'knows' His creatures. He continued, Gabriel brings a garment from the Throne’s light to the sun according to the measure of hours and days. It is longer in summer and shorter in winter and of medium length in spring and fall. [The styles of spring, fall, and winter!] He continued, the sun wears this garment, as one of you wears his garment. Then it is free to circulate in the firmament of heaven until it rises from its rising place. ... The same way is followed by the moon during its rising ... But Gabriel brings the garment from the light of the feet. This is the meaning of the word of God, 'He made the sun a shining light and the moon a light.'"


**The sun and the moon are Allah's signs.** Abu Dawud volume 1 book 2 number 1173 page 304; Sunan Nasa’i volume 2 number 


1462, 1464 page 272; volume 2 number 1465, 1466 page 273; volume 2 number 1475 page 278; volume 2 number 1477 page 280; volume 2 number 1481 page 283; volume 2 number 1485-1486 page 286-287; volume 2 number 1488-1489 page 287, 289; volume 2 number 1500 page 297; volume 2 number 1502 page 299; volume 2 number 1505 page 300; volume 2 number 1506 page 301.


**Dhu al-Qarnaiyn [Zul Qarnain] "saw the sun setting in a spring of muddy water."** al-Tabari volume 5 pages 173-174 (See Surah 18:82-97).


**Al-Tabari volume 1 page 234 also states that the sun sets in a spring of mud. The phrase "muddy spring" is hami’ah, meaning dark mud, but hamiyah is a similar word meaning hot.** (See reference 442 below page 234).


**" [Muhammad] continued. When the sun rises, it rises on a chariot (drawn by horses) from one of those springs accompanied by 360 angels .... When God wishes to test the sun and moon, to show His servants a sign and thereby command them to stop disobeying Him and start obeying Him, the sun suddenly collapses from its chariot and falls into the depth of the sea, which is circular. When God wishes to increase the significance of the sign to terrify His servants more, the entire sun falls, and none of it remains in its chariot. This is a complete solar eclipse, during which the day turns to night and stars appear." al-Tabari volume 1 page 236.


### What Do Muhammad and Early Muslims Tell Us About the Heavens?


**The Prophet [Muhammad] said: ‘Ali, there are five stars: Jupiter (al-birjis), Saturn (zuhal), Mercury (utarid), Mars (Bahram), and Venus (al-zuhrah). These five stars rise and run like the sun and moon and compete with them. All other stars are suspended from the heavens like lamps hung in mosques..."** al-Tabari volume 1 pages 235-236.


**"God created a sea three fasrakh (18 kilometers) from the heavens. The waves are controlled, standing in the air by God's command. Not a single drop spills. All seas do not move, but the sea runs with the speed of an arrow. It is left to travel in the air in equilibrium, as if it were a rope pulled in a region between east and west. The sun, moon, and stars revolve in the depth of the waves of the sea. This is what the word of God means: ‘Each one swims in a circle.’ ‘Circle’ is the course of the chariot drawn by horses in the depth of the sea."** al-Tabari volume 1 page 235.


### Opinions of Early Muslims: 


The sun actually goes to a resting place at night, and the sun and moon "swim" actually in the sea of water in the sky.


### What Do Other Parts of the Quran Say?


Understand that verse numbers vary in different editions of the Quran. The following verse numbers are from (the revised edition of) Yusuf ‘Ali. I have corrected the use of capital letters.


**Surah 20:53** “He Who has made for you the earth like a carpet spread out”


**Surah 50:7** “And the earth - We have spread it out4946, and set thereon mountains standing firm …”


Yusuf Ali's note 4946 at the bottom of the page says, "Compare xiii. 3; and xv. 19 and note 1955. The earth is round, but it looks flat like a vast expanse of land, like a carpet held firmly by the weight of the mountains." So whether you believe that this verse claims the earth is flat or not, Yusuf Ali says this verse states that the earth appears as a flat carpet.


**Surah 67:15** “It is He who has made the earth manageable5571 for you...” Other translations use the word "smooth." Yusuf Ali's note 5571 at the bottom of the page says, "Zalul is used in ii.71 for a trained and manageable animal: here it is used to describe the earth, and I have translated it as ‘manageable’….”


**Surah 71:15** “‘Do you not see how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another ‘And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun a lamp.’” Even if taken as metaphorical, there is nothing here suggesting modern astronomical teachings.


**Surah 71:19** “‘And Allah has made the earth for you like a carpet (spread out),5718…” Yusuf Ali’s note 5718 at the bottom of the page says, "compare xx 53.


**Surah 78:6-7** “Have We [Allah] not made the earth as a wide expanse5890, and the mountains as pegs?” Yusuf Ali’s note 5890 at the bottom of the page says, "See note 2038 to xvi. 15. Compare also xiii. 3 and xv. 19. A wide expanse like a carpet, on which mountains are placed as pegs …."


### Zul-Karnain in Surah 18 and Astronomy


**Surah 18:85-86** "He [Zul-Qarnain] followed a path, until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water: near it he found a people: We [Allah] said: 'O Zul-Qarnain! (thou hast authority) either to punish them or to treat them with kindness.'" The word "murky" is also translated as "black water" and "muddy." The phrase "spring of ... water" is also translated as "spring." M. H. Shakir translates it as "black sea."


**Surah 18:89-90** "Then he [Zul-Qarnain] followed another path, until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no shelter from the sun."


Islamic commentators differ on who exactly Zul-Qarnain (the man with two horns) was. Some think he was Alexander the Great, others think he was Cyrus the Persian, and still others think he was a Yemeni king. However, it does not matter. Whatever the case, Zul-Qarnain was able to go to the actual place where the sun sets. This fact confirms the Quranic view that the earth has a flat shape. More importantly, he went to the place where the sun sets and found it setting in a muddy, murky spring.


If you ask astronomers if the sun sets in a muddy spring, they will tell you "no."


### Conclusion: The Quran teaches the following:


1. The earth is flat, spread out like a carpet, and held down flat by pegs that are mountains.

2. The earth has its own orbit set for a period during the day, then sets in a muddy, murky spring at night and goes to Allah’s throne.

3. The sun later rises from a particular place.

4. Except for the five retrograde planets, stars are hung like lamps.

5. Muhammad taught the early Muslims this as literal truth, not as a metaphor or analogy.


### The Purpose of Stars and Meteors


**"The lowest heaven is adorned with lamps [stars], and 'We have made such lamps as missiles to drive away the evil ones, and have prepared for them the punishment of the blazing Fire.'”** Surah 67:5.


**"The creation of these stars is for three purposes, namely, to adorn the sky, as missiles to hit the devils, and as signs to guide travelers. Therefore, if anyone tries to seek any other interpretation, he is mistaken and is wasting his efforts..."** Bukhari volume 4 book 54 chapter 3 before number 421 page 282.


Sometimes meteors are thrown at devils who try to listen to heavenly secrets. Sahih Muslim volume 1 book 4 number 902 and note 674 below page 243.


Meteors should strike the bad angels before they can spread what they heard. Ibn-i-Majah volume 1 book 1 number 194 page 110.


Meteors attack jinn (genies) Sahih Muslim volume 4 book 24 number 5538 page 1210.


Stars guard against the devil. al-Tabari volume 1, page 223.


### Muhammad Splits the Moon in Two


**"The pagans requested the Prophet to show them a miracle, so he showed them the moon split into two halves."** Bukhari volume 4 book 56 chapter 26 and number 831, page 533.


**"Ibn 'Abbas reported: The moon was split into two halves during the lifetime of the Prophet."** Bukhari volume 4 book 56 chapter 26 and number 832, page 534.


The splitting of the moon. Bukhari volume 6 book 60 chapter 225 and number 290, page 273 and note 1 below page 273; volume 6 book 60 chapter 287 and number 387-391, pages 365-366; volume 6 book 60 chapter 261 and number 345, 349, page 331; Bukh


ari volume 6 book 60 chapter 265 and number 368-370, pages 331, 336.


**"The splitting of the moon Sahih Muslim volume 4 book 37 number 6721, 6724-6730, pages 1467-1468."**


**Surah 54:1 states, "The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder."** (revised edition of Yusuf ‘Ali).


Note that the splitting into two means the moon was split in half, and the verb used here is in the past tense. We have no records of any other people in the world, including their neighbors in Egypt, Syria, or Persia, who saw the moon split in two. The Quran and hadith do not explain how the moon could return to one piece again.


Yusuf ‘Ali, in reference note 5128 at the bottom of the page, says, "Three explanations are offered in the Mufradat, and perhaps all three are applicable here: (1) that the moon appeared cleft asunder in the valley of Mecca in the presence of the Prophet, his Companions, and some Unbelievers; (2) that the past tense in Prophetic vision indicates the future, the cleaving asunder of the moon being a Sign of the coming Judgment; and (3) that the phrase is metaphorical, meaning that the matter has become plainly clear as the moon. The first cleaving was witnessed by the Unbelievers, as is evident from verse 2. The second cleaving will be the breaking up of the solar system at the New Creation: Compare lxxv. 8-9."

### Contradictory Examples in the Quran?


Let's leave the previous verses and look at other verses in the Quran that some Muslims believe support modern astronomical principles. To be fair, here are the verses they use, along with their responses.


**Surah 7:54** "...He brings the night as a covering over the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession..."

Response: It is true that night and day follow each other, but this does not say anything about science or astronomy that the ancients did not already know.


**Surah 13:2a and Surah 31:10** say that Allah raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see."

Response: Although not all ancient people believed the heavens were held up by pillars, this simply states that God did not use any visible pillars.


**Surah 13:2b** "...And subjected the sun and the moon! Each one runs (its course) for a period appointed"

Response: That the sun and moon have regular courses was known even to ancient people.


**Surah 21:30** "Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation) before We [Allah] clove them asunder?" Some Muslims see this as a foreshadowing of the Big Bang theory of creation.

Response: The ancient Egyptians, Aryan Hindus, and others believed the heavens and the earth were joined together before being separated. Simply saying that the heavens and the earth were together (as halves) is akin to ancient myths and not the Big Bang theory of creation.


**Surah 21:33** "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." Yusuf Ali's note 2695 at the bottom of the page says, "I have indicated, contrary to many Commentators, the metaphor of swimming implied in the original words..."

Response: The word for orbit in Arabic is not used here, and "swimming" does not necessarily suggest modern astronomical principles. The Quran mentions the sun and moon, not planets and stars, so it's incorrect to put (the sun, moon, stars, and planets) in brackets in the translation. The Quran does not say that anything moves in its own orbit in space except for the sun, moon, and the five retrograde planets (planets).


**Surah 21:104** "The Day that We roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (completed)." 

Response: It's unclear how this is supposed to foreshadow modern astronomy, but Muhammad’s first wife understood that he heard the gospel from a Christian, and the Bible, in Revelation 6:14 and Isaiah 34:4, contains similar imagery. However, Christians generally do not attempt to align modern scientific principles with Revelation 6:14.


**Surah 22:65** "...He holds back the sky from falling upon the earth except by His leave..." Yusuf Ali's note 2847 at the bottom of the page says the word samaa can mean (1) anything above, (2) the root, roof, (3) sky, heavens, (4) clouds or rain. He prefers the last meaning, though most authorities incline to interpret it as "sky."

Response: Therefore, while most authorities interpret the word to mean "sky," it still aligns with the view of a flat earth. Thus, while we cannot definitively say this verse affirms a flat earth view, the unclear Arabic does not support the claim of modern scientific accuracy.


**Surah 25:61-62** "Blessed is He who placed the constellations in the heavens, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light. And it is He who made the night and the day to follow each other."

Response: Calling the sun a lamp does not confirm modern scientific views. That night and day follow each other was known even to ancient people.


**Surah 27:88** "...the mountains that you see and think are firmly fixed will pass away like clouds..."

Response: The preceding verse mentions the final trumpet, so this context is about end times, not today.


**Surah 29:44** says that the creation of the heavens and the earth is a sign for those who believe.

Response: The creation of the heavens and the earth showing God's majesty is also taught in Psalm 8:1, 3, 5; Psalm 19:1-6. Muhammad knew about the Psalms (zubur) of David, so this is not new.


**Surah 31:29, Surah 35:13, Surah 36:37, and Surah 39:5** all say that Allah merges the night into the day and the day into the night. They also say that the sun and moon each run their courses for a term appointed. Surah 55:5 also says that the sun and moon run on fixed courses.

Response: Nothing here indicates modern astronomical knowledge. These were things even ancient people understood and observed. Simply stating truths already known to people does not confirm a book's scientific accuracy. However, repeating widely known facts does not establish that the Quran predicted modern scientific understanding.


**Surah 51:47,48** "With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of space." (Yusuf Ali). Other translations say "as a canopy."

Response: Simply saying that God spread out the heavens does not confirm the Big Bang theory. This concept is also mentioned in the Bible, Isaiah 42:5. But Christians do not use this to claim the Bible predicted the Big Bang theory.


**Surah 55:33** mentions the bounds of the earth which humans and jinn (genies) cannot pass without permission.

Response: The bounds of the earth do not provide modern geographic knowledge but may reflect mythical barriers or obstacles preventing travel to certain parts of the world. Similarly, the bounds of the heavens do not have much significance, except that Muhammad and Jewish traditions talk about seven heavens.


**Surah 71:15-16** "Do you not see how Allah created the seven heavens one above another, And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun a lamp?" Some Muslims claim this means the seven layers of Earth's atmosphere (troposphere, stratosphere, etc.) are the seven heavens.

Response: Apart from the similarity to Jewish traditions, calling the moon a light and the sun a lamp does not indicate modern scientific understanding. Additionally, if the seven heavens are the seven layers of the Earth's atmosphere, it would be incorrect to say the sun, moon, and stars are in the heavens.


As an additional thought, although the Bible does not mention seven heavens, several Jewish traditions related to the Bible but not part of the canonical scriptures (Apocrypha) mention seven heavens: 2 Enoch 20:1; Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 7:8; 9:1,6; 10:17; The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs chapter 3.3. And 3 Baruch 11:1 mentions five heavens, though it does not say they are the only ones. So, even if it were a scientific miracle that Muhammad mentioned seven heavens, it would be an even greater miracle that older books also mentioned seven heavens.

**Surah 86:1-3** "By the sky and the Night-Comer; And what will explain to you what the Night-Comer is? It is the star of piercing brightness. (Just as Allah Almighty controls every star in their flock, in the same way) there is a guardian angel over every soul." (Malik)

Some Muslims claim this teaches that the sun is a star.


Response: Notice two things: a) the sun is not mentioned here, and b) all words in parentheses are additions in the English translation; they are not in the original Arabic text!

Yusuf Ali's (revised) translation is more accurate here. "By the sky6067 and the Night-Comer6068 (therein); And what will explain to you what the Night-Comer is? - (


It is) the star of piercing brightness; - There is no soul but has a guardian over it.6069"

Yusuf Ali's note 606 at the bottom of the page says, "…‘The star of piercing brightness’ is understood by some to be the planet Saturn, by others to be Sirius, or Pleids [Pleiades] or meteors. I think it is best to understand ‘Star’ in the general sense, as stars shine every night in the year, and their piercing brightness is more noticeable in a dark night."

### Some Interpretations Are Contrary to This World!

Here are other Islamic interpretations recorded at http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/interprt.htm. This site also has other good information.


"For instance, Muhammad Hanafi al-Banna discovered references to airplanes (Surah 17:1), artificial satellites (Surah 41:53), interplanetary travel (Surah 55:33), and the hydrogen bomb (Surah 74:33-38) (Jansen 1980:48).

Thus, it was not surprising when people like Muhammad Kamil Daww wrote that the miracle of the 'scientific' statements in the Quran was greater than the miracle of inimitable eloquence. This demonstrated the truthfulness of Muhammad and, hence, the correctness of all statements in the Quran.

Today, the most well-known person propagating the scientific interpretation is the French doctor Maurice Bucaille. In his book, "The Bible, The Qur'an and Science," he tried to show how the Bible is unscientific while elevating the Quran using the same criterion."

### But Some Muslims Were More Reasonable

It is worth noting that some Muslims do not believe these interpretations. Some see these verses as merely describing what can be easily observed in the sky.


**Muhammad said: "Refrain from speaking about me except for things that you know. Anyone who deliberately fabricates lies about me should prepare their place in hellfire. And anyone who interprets the Quran according to their own opinion should prepare their place in hellfire."** Tirmiz EE, Tefsir 1, (2951) (contributed).


**"Yes, We cast the truth against falsehood, and it destroys its brain, and behold, falsehood perishes! Ah! Woe to you for the (false) things you ascribe (to Us)."** Surah 21:19.


**If anyone deliberately fabricates lies about Muhammad, their place will be in hellfire.** Abu Dawud volume 3 chapter 1372 book 19 number 3643, page 1036. Also Bukhari volume 2 book 23 chapter 33 number 378, pages 212-213.


**"...And whoever says anything deliberately false against me [Muhammad], certainly their place will be in the (hell) Fire."** Bukhari volume 8 book 73 chapter 109 number 217, pages 139-140.


**False testimony is equal to claiming that Allah has partners.** Ibn-i-Majah volume 3 book 13 number 2372, page 414.


### Opinions of Muslims and Their Responses


1. **The Quran anticipated modern science**: The sun and the moon are in orbits and rotate on their axis (Surah 21:33; 36:27-40). The Quran also teaches the Big Bang theory of creation (Surah 21:30; Surah 51:47,48). The Arabic word falak means "orbit." Astronomers tell us that the sun orbits around the center of our galaxy approximately every 250 million years. The Arabic word yasbahuna (derived from sabaha) means to revolve in its orbit.


1 **Response**: These are wishful interpretations for two reasons.

1) The words are not clear: falak is an Arabic word meaning path, to continue on its course, and yasbahuna can mean to hasten, though its direct meaning is to swim.

2) Muhammad clearly told us what it meant, and it means the sun and moon travel over the earth, riding a chariot in the sky.


Again, there are two sources of what Muhammad said.

**"God created a sea three fasrakh (18 kilometers) from the heavens. The waves are controlled, standing in the air by God's command. Not a single drop spills. All seas do not move, but the sea runs with the speed of an arrow. It is left to travel in the air in equilibrium, as if it were a rope pulled in a region between east and west. The sun, moon, and stars revolve in the depth of the waves of the sea. This is what the word of God means: ‘Each one swims in a circle.’ ‘Circle’ is the course of the chariot drawn by horses in the depth of the sea."** al-Tabari volume 1 page 235.


**Abu Dhar reported: The Prophet asked me at sunset, 'Do you know where the sun goes (at sunset)?' I replied, 'Allah and His Apostle know best.' He said, 'It goes (i.e., travels) till it prostrates itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (the time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted...’”** Bukhari volume 4 book 54 chapter 4 number 441 page 283. Sahih Muslim volume 1 book 1 chapter 73 numbers 297-300 pages 95-96 also provides detailed accounts of Muhammad’s conversation with Abu Dharr.


2. **The Quran describes the orbit of the sun near the center of our galaxy**

2 **Response**: The sun does not have its own orbit in our galaxy. If the Quran was trying to teach modern science, it should have said that the sun, moon, earth, and retrograde stars (planets) revolve together in one orbit.


Again, we know exactly what Muhammad meant because he told us, as recorded in Bukhari volume 4 book 54 chapter 4 number 441 page 283 and al-Tabari volume 1 page 235.


3. **The resting place of the sun means it shines on the other side of the earth**

Again, we know exactly what Muhammad meant because he told us as recorded in Bukhari volume 4 book 54 chapter 4 number 441 page 283 and al-Tabari volume 1 page 235.


4. **The resting place of the sun means the complete destruction of the sun**

4 **Response**: Any ordinary person reading this in any language would think it refers to periodic cycles, not complete destruction.


5. **Metaphorical language**: The sun, moon, and stars are used as signs. These verses were not meant to support or deny modern science but were poetic descriptions, merely saying that Allah was involved with things that people could see.


5 **Response**: This view might be reasonable if it weren’t for the words Bukhari and al-Tabari wrote Muhammad said. If Bukhari and al-Tabari were wrong about this, then what criteria can we use to say they were right about anything?


### Conclusion


Some Muslims (not all) attempt to use these verses to prove the scientific accuracy of the Quran. Unless you can find fault with this analysis, it would be intellectually dishonest to try to claim that this proves the scientific accuracy of the Quran. The truth is that some of these verses contradict what we know through modern science, perhaps unless you interpret them as poetic and metaphorical language. However, Bukhari and al-Tabari show that these verses were understood literally. The sun and moon swim in the sky over the earth.


However, the most important thing in the world is not what you know but Who you know. What matters is not people’s theories but whether you follow what the true God has revealed. Every astronomical view until the nineteenth century had errors. Who is to say that in the future people will not say the same thing about our scientific view? The only way we can know the truth is through what God has revealed to us. We hope that God will reveal to us what we need to know and that He will preserve the meaning of His revelation.


### Bibliography: Translations of the Quran


1. Arberry, Arthur J. The Koran Interpreted. Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc. 1955.

2. Dawood, N.J. The Koran. Penguin Books. 1956-1999.

3. Malik, Farooq-i-Azam. English Translation of the Meaning of AL-QUR’AN: The Guidance for Mankind. The Institute of Islamic Knowledge 1997.

4. Pickthall, Mohammed Marmaduke. The Meaning of the Glorious Koran. Dar al-Islamiyya (Kuwait) (date not shown).

5. Rodwell, J.M. The Koran. First Edition. Ivy Books, Published by Ballantine Books. 1993.

6. Shakir, M.H. The Qur’an. Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc. 12th U.S. Edition 2001.

7. Sher Ali, Maulawi. The Holy Qur’an. Islam International Publications Limited (Ahmadiyya) 1997.

8. Yusuf ‘Ali, Abdullah. The Holy Qur-an: English translation of the meanings and Commentary. Revised & Edited by The Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA. King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex. (Al Madina Saudi Arabia) 1410 BH.


### Other References


1. Campbell, Dr. William. The Qur’an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science (2nd edition). Arab World Ministries 2002.

2. The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari Arabic-English Vol


.1 by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. Islamic University, Al-Medina Al-Munawwara AL MAKTABAT AL SALAFIAT AL MADINATO AL MONAWART Date not shown, no copyright.

3. The History of al-Tabari: An Annotated Translation. Ehsan Yar-Shater, General Editor. State University of New York Press, 1989.

4. http://debate.org.uk/topics/history/interprt.htm


### Appendix – Translation of Surah 36:38-40


**"And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it; that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing. (39) And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. (40) It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law)." Translation by M.H. Shakir.**


**Pickthall’s translation has the verses one number behind.**


**"(37) And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (38) And the sun runs its course to a resting place appointed for it. That is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (39) And for the moon We have appointed mansions till it return like an old shriveled palm-leaf. (40) It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float, each in an orbit." (Translation by M.M. Pickthall).**


**"(38) And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (39) And the sun runs its course to a resting place appointed for it. That is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (40) And for the moon We have appointed mansions till it return like an old shriveled palm-leaf. (41) It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float, each in an orbit."** (Translation by Maulawi Sher Ali (Ahmadiyya)).


**"(36:37-40) A sign for them is the night. We remove the light of day from it, and behold! They are in darkness. The sun runs on its course for a term appointed for it by the Almighty, the All-Knowing. For the moon, We have measured out stages till it becomes again like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. The sun is not permitted to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. Each floats in its orbit." Translation by Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik.**


**(37) And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (38) And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it; that is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (39) And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. (40) It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law)."** (Translation by Yusuf Ali (page 1326-1327) Revised and Edited by Presidency of Islamic Researches, IFTA. King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex.)


**(37) And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (38) And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it: that is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (39) And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk." (40) It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law)."** (Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, published by MILLAT Book Centre).


This differs from Yusuf Ali’s earlier (revised) edition on "for a period determined for it" versus "to a resting place for it" and "stations" versus "mansions."


**"And a sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (38) And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it: that is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (39) And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. (40) It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law)." Translation by A.J. Arberry.


**"A sign for them is the night: We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold! They are plunged in darkness. (38) And the sun runs its course for a period determined for it: that is the decree of the Mighty, the Wise. (39) And the moon – We have measured for it mansions (to traverse) till it returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. (40) It is not permitted for the sun to catch up to the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to law)." Translation by J.M. Rodwell.


**"The night is another sign for people. From the night We withdraw the light of day – and behold! They are plunged into darkness. The sun hastens to its resting place; this is the course ordained for it by the Mighty, the All-Knowing. For the moon, We have measured its phases till it becomes again like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk. The sun cannot overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. Each floats in its orbit." Translation by N.J. Dawood of the Quran.**


Max Shimba Ministries Org.


at October 21, 2016 

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