On The Length of God's Days
The allegation is as follows:
Does Allah's day equal to 1,000 human years (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)?
Verses in question:
22:47 Yet they ask thee to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Period with thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.
This verse states that Allah has already decreed the coming of the punishment. And a period in the sight of Allah is like a thousand years of our reckoning.
We should also mention that in this first verse when it speaks of the length of a period with God, this does not mean that God experiences time as we do, simply on a larger scale. Rather, it refers to the measure of a specific period, for God is eternal and does not experience time. Otherwise, one would claim that a million years feels like a thousand years to God, which is obviously not true. This is just a mention of the length of a period that God has determined the universe to operate in. Alternatively, it may be a reference to the slow passing of time near God, relative to the rest of the universe.
32:5 He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: then will (all affairs) ascend to Him, in a Period, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning.
This verse mentions that the affairs/commands of God descend to earth and return to Him, this period being one thousand years of our reckoning again. This period could mean that the interval of time for God to send commands to earth is 1000 years. Alternatively, it may refer to the laws of science, which govern the universe and the period it takes for them to return.
70:4 The angels and the spirit ascend unto him in a Period the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years
This verse states that the angels and the Ruh (spirit/Angel Gabriel) ascends to Him in a period of fifty thousand years.
Concerning the allegation, we shall offer multiple explanations for these verses, each being sufficient to refute the allegation on its own.
1. It can clearly be seen that the verses are not discussing the same thing. The first verses talks about a day in God's sight, the second talks about the time for affairs/orders to return to God, and the last one speaks of the period when angels will ascend to Him. Also, notice how verse 70:4 never mentions human years/reckoning. The arabic phrase mimaa ta'udoon is absent, which leaves human beings to ponder over it. Seeing as none of these verses refer to the same thing, it cannot possibly be considered a contradiction.
One objection is that all verses refer to a day in God's sight. On what basis do they conclude that? The verses simply state the length's of periods and only the first one refers to a period in God's sight.
Another objection is that the commands are brought by Angels, therefore 70:4 and 32:5 are referring to the same thing. This is only an assumption. Verse 70:4 does not necessarily state the period of time it takes for the angels to ascend, but it states that they ascend during a period of 50 000 years. The commands may be totally independent of the angels in these verses, as was the case with the interpretation of the affairs as the laws of science. In addition, even if we agree that the affairs are taken by angels, there is no way of knowing if the angels referred to in 70:4 are the same that transport the affairs. Based on these reasons, the objection is dismissed.
2. The earliest muslim scholars responded to this question as well. It was reported by Ibn Abi Haatim via Sammaak from ?Ikrimah from Ibn ?Abbaas:
the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Hajj (22) is one of the six days in which Allaah created the heavens and the earth; the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Sajdah (32) is the length of time it takes for a matter to go up to Allaah; and the day of fifty thousand years is the Day of Resurrection.
The angels do not need to take 50 000 years to ascend to God. They may do so in the twinkling of an eye. In this manner, verse 70:4 may be taken as referring to a future event (the Day of resurrection). As stated before, 70:4 does not necessarily mean that the angels will take 50 000 years to ascend to God, but they may ascend to God during a period that is 50 000 years in length.
One may point out that if 22:47 is taken as a day of creation, then the total period of creation would be only 6000 years, contradicting scientific research. This is not necessarily true as the verses says a Day INDA your Lord, meaning near your Lord. As we know from the General Theory of Relativity, time passes at a slower rate near more massive objects (those with a stronger gravitational field), and therefore time passes slower at God's throne than on Earth.
3. Another interpretation is that what is meant by the verses the Day of Resurrection, and the difference in the time span depends on whether a person is a believer or a disbeliever. This is indicated by the verse:
74:9-10 Truly that Day will be a Hard Day, far from easy for the disbelievers. This suggestion was mentioned by As-Suyootee, the author of al-Itqaan, along with the previous explanation.
4. If one insists that these verses refer to the same thing, we can take a scientific explanation. Is it possible that one day can be equal to 1000 years, and another can be equal to 50,000 years because time is relative, and it depends on the speed of moving objects relative to each other. The faster the object the larger the time difference. Which means that the angels and the spirit are faster than the affairs/orders in their ascensions.
5. The following site also analyzes these very same Qur'anic verses with some interesting findings:
According to this article, verse 32:5 relates the velocity of the angels who carry the command, while verse 70:4 relates the specific time period. When we analyze these verses with the appropriate mathematical formulae, we are able to calculate the speed of the angels (who are made of light), which is almost identical to the speed of light!
Verse 32:5 has been translated as:
(Allah) Rules the cosmic affair from the heavens to the Earth. Then this affair travels to Him a distance in one day, at a measure of one thousand years of what you count
And verse 70:4 has been translated as:
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day, the measure of which is fifty thousand years.
And both translations are acceptable and accurate.
We have now provided the reader with 5 different explanations for these verses. They may choose whichever one they wish.
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