Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "The Qur'an and The Shape of The Earth"

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

 

Sam Shamoun's article could be located here.

 

The main purpose of this article is to show that it cannot be proven that the Qur'an or authentic hadeeth teach anything contrary to science.

 

Sure, it is possible that some early Muslims [either be companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) or scholars] might have believed in things contrary to science, but that does not pose a threat to Islam if the Qur'an and authentic Sunnah do not agree with them.

 

To prove Islam false by simply appealing to scholars or early Muslims is just as wrong as appealing to some early Christians who believed that the earth was flat (see here)

 

The official and orthodox Islamic position is that the earth is round and spherical:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth#Islamic_World

 

http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vbe/showpost.php?p=10586&postcount=5

 

http://www.55a.net/eng/24.htm

 

http://www.fatwa-online.com/fataawa/miscellaneous/miscellaneous/0040819.htm

 

http://www.elnaggarzr.com/en/main.php?id=32

 

http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/scientific_15.html

 

http://quranicteachings.co.uk/earth-shape.htm

 

http://islamicvoice.com/April2007/QuestionHour-DrZakirNaik/?PHPSESSID=731e6ee239994da62538bd0725

 

http://www.ummah.com/ifsa/pages/section3/astronomy/astro6c.htm

 

 

There could have been early Muslims that believed to the contrary, but as I said this is irrelevant.

 

We are going to look at each of Shamoun's points and I will show that it is possible to reasonably interpret the verse in a way in which it doesn't necessarily show that it is teaching a flat Earth.

 

I will not necessarily be going through Shamoun's points in the exact order that he has put them in his article for there are some verses that could be clubbed together and be given one response.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 2:22

WHO made the earth a bed for you, and the heaven a roof, and caused water to come down from the clouds and therewith brought forth fruits for your sustenance; so do not set up equals to ALLAH, while you know. Sher Ali

Commentary:

... who has made the earth AS FLAT and comfortable as a bed and placed upon it mountains standing firm... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Part 1), Surah Al-Fatihah Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1998 second edition], pp. 79-80)

The online version reads:

... He made the earth a resting place for them, just like the bed, STABLE with the firm mountains ...

meaning, 'a ceiling' ... (Source)

Q. 20:53

[since he is the One] Who has laid out the earth as a carpet for you and has traced highways on it for you, and sent down water from the sky, We have brought forth every sort of plant with it, of various types. T.B. Irving

 

My Response:

 

Zakir Naik answers this:

 

The surface of the earth i.e. earth's crust is less than 30 miles in thickness and is very thin as compared to the radius of the earth which is about 3750 miles. The deeper layers of the earth are very hot, fluid and hostile to any form of life. The earth's crust is a solidified shell on which we can live. The Qur'an rightly refers to it like a carpet spread out, so that we can travel along its roads and paths.


2. Carpet can also be spread on other than an absolute flat surface

Not a single verse of the Qur'an says that the earth is flat. The Qur'an only compares the earth's crust with a carpet. Some people seem to think that carpet can only be put on an absolute flat surface. It is possible to spread a carpet on a large sphere such as the earth. It can easily be demonstrated by taking a huge model of the earth's globe covering it with a carpet.


Carpet is generally put on a surface, which is not very comfortable to walk on. The Qur'an describes the earth crust as a carpet, without which human beings would not be able to survive because of the hot, fluid and hostile environment beneath it. The Qur'an is thus not only logical; it is mentioning a scientific fact that was discovered by geologists centuries later.
(Source)

 

Tafsir Jalalayn agrees with Zakir Naik:

 

He Who assigned to you, created [for you], the earth for a couch, like a carpet that is laid out, neither extremely hard, nor extremely soft so as to make it impossible to stand firm upon it; and heaven for an edifice, like a roof; and sent down from the heaven water, wherewith He brought forth, all types of, fruits for your provision; so set not up compeers to God, that is partners in worship, while you know that He is the Creator, that you create not and that only One that creates can be God. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 2:22, Source)

 

 

Thus, we see that Allah uses the term "carpet" to emphasize the fact that the earth is suitable for us to walk upon it. It is not to emphasize the fact that the earth is flat.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 13:3

And He it is who hath outstretched the earth, and placed on it the firm mountains, and rivers: and of every fruit He hath placed on it two kinds: He causeth the night to enshroud the day. Verily in this are signs for those who reflect. Rodwell

Commentary:

Allah mentions His perfect ability and infinite authority, since it is He Who has raised the heavens without pillars by His permission and order. He, by His leave, order and power, has elevated the heavens high above the earth, distant and far away from reach. The heaven nearest to the present world encompasses the earth from all directions, and is also high above it from every direction. The distance between the first heaven and the earth is five hundred years from every direction, and its thickness is also five hundred years. The second heaven surrounds the first heaven from every direction, encompassing everything that the latter carries, with a thickness also of five hundred years and a distance between them of five hundred years. The same is also true about the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh heavens...

<... without any pillars that you can see.> meaning, 'there are pillars, but you cannot see them,' according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, and several other scholars. Iyas bin Mu`awiyah said, "The heaven is like a dome over the earth," meaning, without pillars... (Source)

 

Q. 15:19

And the earth have WE spread out, and set therein firm mountains and cause every thing to grow therein in proper proportion. Sher Ali

We are told in the Tafsir al-Jalalayn that:

And the earth We have stretched it out, SPREAD IT FLAT, and cast therein firm mountains, lest it should sway beneath its inhabitants, and caused to grow therein every kind of balanced thing, [every kind of thing] known and determined. (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Q. 51:48

And the earth WE have spread out, and how excellently do WE spread it out! Sher Ali

Q. 55:10

It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures: Pickthall

Q. 88:20

Nor even how the earth has been FLATTENED out? Irving

The earth, how it was made FLAT? N.J. Dawood

Commentary:

meaning, how they have been erected. For indeed they are firmly affixed so that the earth does not sway with its dwellers. And He made them with the benefits and minerals they contain ...

meaning, how it has been spread out, extended and made smooth. Thus, He directs the bedouin to consider what he himself witnesses. His camel that he rides upon, the sky that is above his head, the mountain that faces him, and the earth that is under him, all of this is proof of the power of the Creator and Maker of these things. These things should lead him to see that He is the Lord, the Most Great, the Creator, the Owner, and the Controller of everything. Therefore, He is the God other than Whom none deserves to be worshipped. (Source)

The two Jalals say:

And the earth, how it was laid out flat?, and thus infer from this the power of God, exalted be He, and His Oneness? The commencing with the [mention of] camels is because they are closer in contact with it [the earth] than any other [animal]. As for His words sutihat, 'laid out flat', this on a literal reading suggests THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT, WHICH IS THE OPINION OF MOST OF THE SCHOLARS of the [revealed] Law, and not a sphere as astronomers (ahl al-hay'a) have it, even if this [latter] does not contradict any of the pillars of the Law. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Q. 91:5-6

By the heaven and That which built it and by the earth and That which extended it! Arberry

Commentary:

Mujahid said, "Tahaha means He spread it out." Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said ...

"This means what He created in it." `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas that he said, "Tahaha means that He proportioned it." Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, As-Suddi, Ath-Thawri, Abu Salih and Ibn Zayd all said that...

means, He spread it out ... (Source)

Tafsir al-Jalalayn states:

and [by] the earth and the One Who spread it, LAID OUT FLAT. (Source; capital emphasis ours)

It should be obvious from the above verses that the author of the Quran erroneously believed in a flat earth kept stable by mountains. The author further erroneously thought that the sun and moon traveled throughout the heavens whereas the earth remained in a fixed position, motionless. Muslims cannot accuse us of misreading or misunderstanding the above passages. We presented the views of Ibn Kathir who provided citations from the early Muslims concurring with our interpretation.

Q. 79:27-30

What, are you stronger in constitution or the heaven He built? He lifted up its vault, and levelled it, and darkened its night, and brought forth its forenoon; and the earth - after that He spread it out, Arberry

The commentators Jalalayn write:

and after that He spread out the earth: HE MADE IT FLAT, for it had been created before the heaven, but without having been spread out; (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; capital emphasis ours)

My Response:

 

I see nothing wrong with these verses. It is saying that the Earth has been stretched for us. This does not imply that the Earth itself is flat, but its surface.

 

Shaykh Ibn Baaz states:

 

For this reason, Allaah said:

{And (do they not look) at the Earth, how it was made FLAT (Sutihat)}, [Soorah al-Ghaashiyyah, Aayah 20]

Therefore, it (the Earth) has been made flat for us in regards to its surface, so that people can live on it and so that people can be comfortable upon it. The fact that it is round does not prevent that its surface has been made flat. This is because something that is round and very large, if it is made flat (its surface), then its surface will become very vast or broad (i.e. having a flat appearance). Yes." (Source)

 

Also, Tafsir Jalalayn is wrong when it says that it was the consensus of Islamic scholars that the Earth is not spherical:

 

Shaykh Ibn Baaz states:

 

According to the people knowledge (scholars of Islaam) the earth is round, for indeed Ibn Hazm and a group of other scholars mentioned that there is a consensus (unanimous agreement, Ijmaa') among the people of knowledge that it is round. This means that all of it is connected together thus making the form of the entire planet like a ball. However, Allaah has spread out surface for us and He has placed firm mountains upon it and placed the animals and the seas upon it as a mercy for us. (Source)

 

An unknown Muslim author states:

 

Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H / 1328 CE), may Allah be merciful with him, in his
famous treatise, ar-Risalah al-'Arshiyah, refutes the position of the neo-Platonic
philosophers who identified Allah's Throne with the ninth celestial sphere

(Majmu'ul-Fatawa, Vol. 6, pp. 546-ff). In the course of his response,

Ibn Taymiyah discusses the question of the earth is it round or flat? He writes:
[That] celestial bodies are round (istidaaratul-aflaak) - as it is the statement
of astronomers and mathematicians (ahlul-hay'ah wal-hisab) - it is [likewise]
the statement of the scholars of the Muslims; as Abul-Hasan ibn al-Manaadi,

Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm, Abul-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi and others have quoted:

that the Muslim scholars are in agreement [that all celestial bodies are

round].

 

Indeed Allah - taala - has said: And He (i.e., Allah) it is Who created the night

and the day, the sun and the moon. They float, each in a falak. Ibn Abbas says:

A falaka like that of a spinning wheel.

Ibn Taymiyah continues: The [word] falak [in the Arabic language] means that

which is round. From which is the statement [of the Arabs]: <> (Vol. 6, pp.566-567)

In an earlier passage (Vol. 6, pp. 565-566), Ibn Taymiyah discusses why those

on the other side of the earth are not below us, just like we are not below them.

He writes:

As for the other side of the earth it is surrounded by water.

[Note: Admittedly, Ibn Taymiyah - as all Muslim scholars of his day- were not

aware of the Americas and believed that the Old World was encompassed by

an ocean.] There are no human beings or anything like that [on that side]. Even

if we were to imagine that people were on that side of the earth, such individuals

would still be on the face of the earth.


Those on that side of the earth are not below those who are on this side; just like

those on this side are not below those on that side. For as all spherical bodies

surround a center point (markaz), no one side of a spherical body is under the

other, nor is the north pole under the south [Note: Unlike Western maps, Muslim

cartographers (map-makers) would draw the world with the south-side up.] or

vice versa.

In another passage (Vol. 5, p. 150) Ibn Taymiyah clearly states the earth is
spherical.

Significantly Abu Ya'la in his work Tabaqatal-Hanabilah (Biographical Entries of
the Hanabali Scholars)
quotes the unanimous consensus (ijma) of all Muslim
scholars that the earth is round.


This consensus was mentioned by the scholars of the second generation (the
students of the Prophet's Companions) and was based upon Ibn Abbas' explanation

to 21:33 (previously cited) and other evidences.

The later belief of Muslim scholars, like as-Suyuti (died 911 AH / 1505 CE)

that the earth is flat represents a deviation from this earlier opinion. (Source)

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 16:15

And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest IT [the earth] should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves; Y. Ali

Commentary:

... Then Allah mentions the earth and how He placed in it mountains standing firm, which make it stable and keep it from shaking in such a manner that the creatures dwelling on it would not be able to live. Hence Allah says ...

(79: 32). (Source)

Q. 31:10

He created the heavens without any pillars THAT YE CAN SEE; He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds. We send down rain from the sky, and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature, in pairs. Pickthall

Commentary:

means, the mountains which stabilize and lend weight to the earth, lest it should shake with its water... (Source)

This statement makes it clear that the shaking is not at all about earthquakes as Muslims often claim.

Q. 78:6-7

Have WE not made the earth AS A BED, And the mountains AS PEGS? Sher Ali

Commentary:

meaning, an established, firm and peaceful resting place that is subservient to them ...

meaning, He made them AS PEGS for the earth TO HOLD IT IN PLACE, MAKE IT STABLE AND FIRM. This is so that it may be suitable for dwelling AND NOT QUAKE with those who are in it ... (Source)

Here is one from al-Tirmidhi:

Narrated Anas ibn Malik
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "When Allah created the Earth it began to oscillate, so He created the mountains, ordered them onto it, and it became steady. The angels marvelled at the strength of the mountains and asked their Lord whether there was anything in His creation stronger than the mountains, to which He replied that iron was stronger. They asked if anything in His creation was stronger than iron, and He replied that fire was. They asked if anything in His creation was stronger than fire and He replied that water was. They asked if anything in His creation was stronger than water and He replied that wind was. They asked if anything in His creation was stronger than wind and He replied, "Yes, the son of Adam who gives sadaqah with his right hand which concealing it from his left." Tirmidhi transmitted it, saying this is a gharib tradition. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 602; taken from the ALIM CD-ROM Version)

 

My Response:

 

Regarding the Qur'an and function of mountains please refer to the following links:

 

http://www.elnaggarzr.com/en/main.php?id=3

http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/scientific_25.html

http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/215/

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 22:65

Do you not see that Allah has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the earth and the ships running in the sea by His command? And He withholds the heaven FROM FALLING ON THE EARTH except with His permission; most surely Allah is Compassionate, Merciful to men. Shakir

Commentary:

If He willed, He could give the sky permission to fall on the earth, and whoever is in it would be killed, but by His kindness, mercy and power, He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth, except by His leave ... (Source)

Note: Certainly it is God, the Creator who put everything in place to function well. And He is also the sustainer who upholds the continuing existence of the world. However, the above formulation presupposes that the sky above us is something heavy and hard which could cause serious damage, even kill people, if it were to fall down. That certainly is scientific nonsense!

Q. 30:25

Among His signs are [the fact] that the sky and earth HOLD FIRM at His command. Then whenever He calls you forth out of the earth once and for all, you will (all) come forth! Irving

Commentary:

This is like the Ayat ...

(22: 65)...

(35:41). Whenever `Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, swore an emphatic oath, he would say, "No, by the One by Whose command the heaven and the earth stand," i.e., THEY STAND FIRM by His command to them and His subjugation of them. Then, when the Day of Resurrection comes, the Day when the earth will be exchanged with another earth and the dead will come forth from their graves, brought back to life by His command and His call to them... (Source)

Q. 71:15-20

Have you not regarded how God created seven heavens one upon another, and set the moon therein for a light and the sun for a lamp? And God caused you to grow out of the earth, then He shall return you into it, and bring you forth. And God has laid the earth for you as a carpet, that thereof you may thread ways, ravines. Arberry

The only way for there to be heavens piled on top of each other is if the author of the Quran erroneously assumed that the heavens were actual physical objects much like a metallic dome. This explains why the author of the Quran could talk about cracks in the heavens.

Ibn Kathir, in his comments on S. 2:29, reiterates this very point by likening the creation of the heavens and earth to a building:

These Ayat indicate that Allah started creation by creating earth, then He made heaven into seven heavens. This is how building usually starts, with the lower floors first and then the top floors, as the scholars of Tafsir reiterated, as we will come to know, Allah willing... (Source)

Hence, Allah first created the earth, since it functioned much like the ground floor of a house, and then piled the heavens on top of each other in a similar manner to the way a bulider constructs several floors on top of one another!

Here, now, are Ibn Kathir's comments to Q. 71:15-20:

meaning, He made a distinction between them (the sun and moon) in reference to their lighting. He made each one of them in a set manner with a distinct quality so that the night and day may be known. They (the night and day) are known by the rising and setting of the sun. He also determined fixed stations and positions for the moon, and He made its light vary so that sometimes it increases until it reaches a maximum, then it begins to decrease until it is completely veiled. This shows the passing of months and years ... (Source)

My Response:

 

Shamoun said:

 

However, the above formulation presupposes that the sky above us is something heavy and hard which could cause serious damage, even kill people, if it were to fall down. That certainly is scientific nonsense!

 

The only one speaking nonsense here is Shamoun who happens to be ignorant of the fact that the sky does have weight!

 

One website states:

 

Although the weight of the atmosphere is only about one millionth the weight of the earth, it does exert a force or pressure on the surface of the earth. (Flight Environment: The Atmosphere, Pressure and Forces, All Star Network, Source)

 

The student edition of Encyclopedia Britannica states:

 

The total mass of the atmosphere is estimated to be some 5.5 quadrillion (55 followed by 14 zeros) tons (4.99 quadrillion metric tons). This mass is equal to about one millionth of the mass of the Earth. Air is heaviest at sea level because the air molecules are compressed by the weight of overlying air. (Atmosphere, Encyclopedia Britannica Student Edition, Source)

 

 

Since the sun, stars, moon, etc. are in the sky and it is Allah's power and control that ensures that they don't fall upon us then there seems to be nothing wrong with what the verse is saying. When the Qur'an says that the sky won't fall on us it could well be referring to what is in the sky. It can't be read so literally. For instance, the Qur'an says:

 

Surah 12:82

 

"'Ask at the town where we have been and the caravan in which we returned, and (you will find) we are indeed telling the truth.'"

 

 

Now obviously if one takes this literally then he would reach the absurd conclusion that the Qur'an is ordering one to talk to a town and caravan. However, we know that the Qur'an is referring to the people in the town and caravan.

 

Thus, similarly the Qur'an could very well be referring to the objects in the sky and not the actual sky itself, which is not a physical object.

 

Similarly, 30:25 could be speaking about Allah holding firm the objects in the sky. It is emphasizing that the sky is obedient to Allah in that it remains the way it is above us.

 

In regards to Surah 71, I don't see why it is necessary that the author of the Qur'an had to assume that the heavens are physical. Non-physical objects could also be on top of one another.  

 

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 27:61

Is not He (better than your gods) Who has made the earth as A FIXED ABODE, and has placed rivers in its midst, and has placed firm mountains therein, and has set a barrier between the two seas (of salt and sweet water). Is there any ilah (god) with Allah? Nay, but most of them know not. Hilali-Khan

Note here these two other translations:

Is not He (best) Who made the earth A FIXED ABODE ... Pickthall

He who made the earth A FIXED PLACE... A.J. Arberry

Commentary:

meaning, STABLE AND STATIONARY, SO THAT IT DOES NOT MOVE OR CONVULSE, because if it were to do so, it would not be a good place for people to live on. But by His grace and mercy, He has made it smooth and calm, and it is not shaken or moved ... (Source)

Q. 35:41

Verily! Allah grasps the heavens and the earth LEST THEY MOVE away from their places, and if they were TO MOVE away from their places, there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Truly, He is Ever Most Forbearing, Oft Forgiving. Hilali-Khan

Commentary:

means, LEST THEY SHOULD SHIFT FROM WHERE THEY ARE. This is like the Ayat ...

(22:65), and ...

(30:25) ...

means, no one can make them stay and preserve them except Him ... (Source)

One Muslim website candidly admits that the heavens and earth are in fact stationary according to the Quran:

Question:
ASSALAM-O-ALAIKUM, WHAT IS THE RULING OF SHARIA ON THE MOVEMENT OF EARTH.
GIVE EXPLANATION.

Answer:
According to the teaching of Quran and Hadith, the sky and earth ARE STATIONARY and planets rotate. It is the sun that moves around the earth WHILE THE EARTH DOES NOT MOVE AROUND THE SUN.

There are many verses of the Holy Quran that clearly show the rotation of the moon and the sun, which are given as under:

1) "And made the sun and the moon subservient. Each runs to a turns stated" (Al-Quran, part 13, Sura Al-Ra'ad (The Thunder)-13, verse 2)
2) "And He made the sun and the moon subservient for you which are constantly moving" (Al-Quran, part 13, Sura Ibraheem -14, verse 23)
3) And each (The moon the sun) is floating in an orbit." (Al-Quran, part 23, Sura Yaseen -36, verse 140)

It is thus quiet [sic] clear that the sun moves and it is obligatory upon every muslim [sic] to believe it. Because it is what Allah Almighty ordains us to believe. In the light of the Holy Quran and Hadith the theory of the rotation of the earth IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG. Allah Almighty says: "Undoubtedly, Allah has withheld the heavens and the earth least they move." (AL-Quran)

In the book "Fiq-hus- Sahaba Baad-Al- Khulfa-e-Alarba" there has been recorded a statement/saying of k'ab in the presense [sic] of syedna Abdullah bin Masood, the man who keeps the secrets of messenger of Allah (pbuh) and syedna Huzaifa bin Alyaman (r.a.). This statement of K'ab is "The heaven revolves". However, both Syedna Abdullah bin Masood (r.a.) and syedna Huzaifa bin Alyaman (r.a.) said agreeably that "K'ab said incorrect, and undoubtedly Allah has withheld the heaven and the earth least they move. And Abdullah Bin Masood (r.a.) supporting this statement added that Allah's commandment is enough for us, and they (Heavens & Earth) do not move. This statement has been narrated by Saeed bin Mansoor (r.a.) and Abd bin Hameed son of Jareer, son of Almanzer (r.a.) and they narrated it with reference of Hafiz bin Abd ibne Hameed (r.a.).

(Source: Muslim discussion board posting by PrinceZD; bold, and bold capital emphasis ours. The above is his transcribed/edited text of the answer given by the Imam of the site www.dawateislami.net, section "Ask the Imam". The original article is found here.)

 

My Response:

 

What is the problem? Yes, the earth has been made stable for us so that it won't wiggle and shake as we walk on it.

 

Tafsir Jalalayn has it:

 

Or He Who made the earth an abode [of stability], that does not [constantly] shake beneath [the feet of] its inhabitants, and made rivers [to flow] throughout it and set firm mountains for it, with which He fixed the earth [in place], and set an isthmus between the two seas, between the sweet one and the salty one, the one not mixing with the other. Is there a god with God? Nay, but most of them have no knowledge, of His Oneness. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 27:61, Source)

 

Imam Tabari states:

 

 

The one who made the earth stable for you in order that you may settle on it and that it doesn't wiggle or shake with you. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 27:61, Source)  

 

 

It does not mean that the earth is literally still and does not move. It is staying that it is stable so that it won't shake with you. See how in Surah 31:10 Allah said that the purpose of the mountains is to stabilize the Earth so that it won't shake with us. Similarly, Allah is trying to communicate the same thing in this verse when He tells us that the Earth is stable.

 

Also, Surah 35:41 can be interpreted in different ways.

 

The Arabic word tazoola could also mean "vanish". Hence Tafsir Jalalayn states:

 

Truly God sustains the heavens and the earth lest they disappear, in other words, He prevents them from disappearing. And if (wa-la-in: the lām is for oaths) they were to disappear there is none that can sustain them after Him, in other words, other than Him. Truly He is ever Forbearing, Forgiving, in deferring the punishment of the disbelievers. (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 35:41, Source)

 

So here we see that the verse could possibly not even be talking about the Earth moving or not.

 

Ibn Abbass takes the view that it is talking about the Earth not moving:

 

(Lo! Allah graspeth) holds (the heavens and the earth that they deviate not) so that they do not move from their actual place because of the enormity of the claim of the Jews and Christians when they maintained that Ezra and Jesus were the sons of Allah, (and if they were to deviate) and if they were to move from their actual place (there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Lo! He is ever Clement) despite the claim of the Jews and Christians, (Forgiving) He forgives whoever repents of them. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs, Commentary on Surah 35:41, Source

 

However, we see that when the verse states that it stops the Heavens and the Earth from moving it does not mean that it is literally staying still (i.e. Earth not orbiting and Heavens remaining still), it is only saying that they will not move out of their places. See also Tafseer Al Jaza'iri. So just because I say that I will not move something out of its place that does not necessarily imply that it is actually still. For instance, it makes perfect sense for me to say that the fan on the ceiling stays in its place while it is twirling. So me saying that it stays in its place does not necessarily imply that it is staying still. Rather, it means that it is not moving out of its usual or ordinary location. Similarly, Allah is saying in the verse that the Earth and Heavens are in their proper order/place/function etc. and it is God that ensures that they remain that way.   

 

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 40:64

It is God who made for you the earth A FIXED PLACE and heaven for an edifice; And He shaped you, and shaped you well, and provided you with the good things. That then is God, your Lord, so blessed be God, the Lord of all Being. Arberry

Commentary:

means, `He made it STABLE and SPREAD IT OUT for you, so that you might live on it and travel about in it; He strengthened it with the mountains so that it does not shake with you' ...

means, `a ROOF covering and protecting the world.' (Source)

Q. 43:10

(Yea, the same that) has made for you the earth (like a carpet) spread out, and has made for you roads (and channels) therein, in order that ye may find guidance (on the way); Y. Ali

Commentary:

means, smooth, STABLE AND FIRM, so that you can travel about in it, and stand on it and sleep and walk about, even though it is created above water, but He has strengthened it with the mountains, lest it should shake. (Source)

My Response:

 

The same response could be given here just as I have been giving earlier in this article.

 

As for the function of the sky please go here:

 

http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/scientific_20.html

http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/scientific_21.html

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Q. 50:6-7

What, have they not beheld heaven above them, how We have built it, and decked it out fair, AND IT HAS NO CRACKS? And the earth -- We stretched it forth, and cast on it firm mountains, and We caused to grow therein of every joyous kind ... Arberry

Allah built the heavens without any cracks.

Commentary:

i.e., clefts, according to Mujahid. Others said that Furuj means, rifts, or cracks ... (Source)

This presupposes that the heavens are a physical object which has an actual hard surface that can crack.

Q. 67:3-5

Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One's creation; then look again: Canst thou see any RIFTS? Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim. And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame.

Who could ever imagine and which scientist would accept that stars or meteors (i.e. lamps) are used as missiles against spirit beings like the devils?

Commentary:

meaning, look at the sky and pay close attention to it. Do you see any flaw, deficiency, defect or RIFTS in it Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Ath-Thawri and others said concerning Allah's statement ...

that it means CRACKS. As-Suddi said that ...

means any TEARS. (Source)

My Response:

First of all, the word Furuj could also mean rift just as Shamoun pointed out by quoting from Ibn Kathir.

 

Secondly, for something to have a rift it does not necessarily have to be a physical object (e.g. a rift in the clouds).

 

Thirdly, just because Allah is negating "cracking" for the sky that does not presuppose that the sky is a physical object and has the ability to crack. If someone says that God does not go to the toilet that does not necessarily presuppose that He has a penis or anus with the ability to urinate or excrete. Just as I can say that God does not go to the toilet without presupposing that He has an anus or penis, I can also negate "cracking" for the sky without necessarily presupposing that it has a surface that could crack.

 

The verse is mainly emphasizing the fact that there is perfect design in Allah's creation of the sky and that there are no defects and disharmony in that.

 

Fourthly, the sky will be torn on the Day of Judgment (84:1) but that does not mean that it will tear up like a piece of paper. It is emphasizing the fact that what is in the sky will be in disorder and separated from their proper places. (See Tafsir Razi and other commentaries) Thus, maybe the sky is "crack able" in a way that we don't comprehend. Allah uses terms for our own understanding (understanding the meaning of the word) even though we don't comprehend it (understand how).

 

In regards to the stars being used as missiles against the devils, this is a matter of the unseen and Muslims wouldn't and shouldn't expect these kinds of arguments to come from Christians who believe in the unseen. Can Shamoun prove that God does not use the stars as missiles against the devils?

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

It was said that "Nun" refers to A GREAT WHALE that rides on the currents of the waters of the great ocean AND ON ITS BACK IT CARRIES THE SEVEN EARTHS, as was stated by Imam Abu Jafar Ibn Jarir. Narrated by Ibn Bashar, narrated by Yahya, narrated by Sufyan Al-Thuri, narrated by Sulayman Al-Amash, narrated by Abu Thubian, narrated by Ibn Abbas who related, "The first thing that Allah created was the pen and He said to it 'Write'. The pen asked, 'What shall I write?' Allah said, 'Write (the) fate (of everything).' So the pen wrote everything that shall be from that moment until judgment day.

 

Then Allah created the "Nun" and He caused steam to rise out of which the heavens were created AND THE EARTH WAS THEN LAID FLAT ON THE NUN'S BACK. Then the Nun became nervous and (as a result) the earth began to sway, but (Allah) fastened (the earth) with mountains lest the earth should move ...

It was narrated by Ibn Jarir, narrated by Ibn Hamid, narrated by Ata'a, narrated by Abu Al-Dahee, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated, "The first thing my Lord created, may He be Exalted and Glorified, was the pen and He said to it, 'Write.' So the pen wrote all that will be until judgment day. Then Allah created the Nun (the whale) above the waters AND HE PRESSED THE EARTH INTO ITS BACK.

 

Al Tabarani narrated the same hadith above (from the prophet Muhammad) who narrated from Abu Habib Zaid Al-Mahdi Al Marouzi, narrated by Sa'id Ibn Yaqub Al-Talqani, narrated by Mu'amal Ibn Ismail, narrated by Hamad Ibn Zaid, narrated by Ata'a Ibn Al Sa'ib, narrated by Abu Al Dahee Muslim Ibn Subaih, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated that the prophet - may peace and blessing be upon him and his family - said, "The first things Allah created were the pen and the whale and He said to the pen 'Write.' The pen asked, 'What shall I write?' Allah replied, 'Everything that shall be until judgment day.' Then He said 'Nun. By the Pen and by what they write.' So Nun is the whale and al-Qalam is the pen" ...

 

Ibn Abu Nujaih stated that Ibrahim Ibn Abu Bakir was informed by Mujahid who said, "It was said that Nun is the great whale WHO IS UNDERNEATH THE SEVEN EARTHS." Furthermore, Al-Baghawy - may Allah rest his soul - and a group of commentators stated that on the back of this whale there is a great rock whose thickness is greater than the width of the heavens and the earth and above this rock is A BULL THAT HAS FORTY THOUSAND HORNS. On the body of this bull are placed the seven earths and all that they contain, and Allah knows best. (Source)


AL-TABARI

 

Here are the traditions which renowned Muslim historian al-Tabari transmitted regarding the meaning of surah 68:1. He basically repeats what Ibn Kathir wrote.

Someone might say: If it is as you have described, namely, that God created the earth before the heaven, then what is the meaning of the statement of Ibn 'Abbas told all of you by Wasil b. 'Abd al-A'la al-Asadi- Muhammad b. Fudayl- al-A'mash- Abu Zabyan- Ibn 'Abbas: The first thing God created is the Pen. God then said to it: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write, my lord! God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued: And the Pen proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and gong to be to the Coming of the Hour. God then lifted up the water vapor and split the heavens off from it. Then God created THE FISH (nun), AND THE EARTH WAS SPREAD OUT UPON ITS BACK. The fish became agitated, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied BY MEANS OF THE MOUNTAINS, for they indeed proudly (tower) over the earth.

 

I was told about the same by Wasil - Waki' - al-A'mash - Abu Zabyan - Ibn 'Abbas.

According to Ibn al-Muthanna - Ibn Abi 'Adi - Shu'bah - Sulayman (al-A'mash') - Abu Zabyan - Ibn 'Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. It proceeded to (write) whatever is going to be. (God) then lifted up the water vapor, and the heavens were created from it. Then He created the fish, and the earth was spread out on its back. The fish moved, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, for the mountains indeed proudly (tower) over the earth. So he said, and he recited: "Nun. By the Pen and what they write."

I was told the same by Tamim b. al-Muntasir - Ishaq (b. Yusuf) - Sharik (b. 'Abdallah al-Nakha'i) - al-A'mash - Abu Zabyan or Mujahid - Ibn 'Abbas, with the exception, however, that he said: And the heavens were split off from it (instead of: were created).

 

According to Ibn Bashshar - Yahya - Sufyan - Sulayman (al-A'mash') - Abu Zabyan - Ibn 'Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. God said: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write? God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued. And (the Pen) proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and going to be from that day on to the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. He lifted up the water vapor, and heaven was split off from it, and the earth was spread out upon the back of the fish. The fish became agitated, and as a result, the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, he continued, for they proudly (tower) over the earth.

According to Ibn Humayd - Jarir (b. 'Abd al-Hamid) - 'Ata' b. al-Sa'ib - Abu al-Duha Muslim b. Subayh - Ibn 'Abbas: The first thing created by God is the Pen. God said to it: Write!, and it wrote whatever is going to be until the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. Then he heaped up the earth upon it.

 

This reportedly IS A SOUND TRADITION AS TRANSMITTED ON THE AUTHORITY OF IBN 'ABBAS and on the authority of others in the sense commented upon and explained and does not contradict anything transmitted by us from him on this subject.

 

Should someone ask: What comment on his authority and that of others proves the soundness of what you have transmitted to us in this sense on his authority? He should be referred to what I have been told by Musa b. Harun al-Hamdani - 'Abdallah b. Mas'ud and some (other) companions of the Messenger of God (commenting on): "He is the One Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He stretched out straight toward the heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens." God's throne was upon the water. He had not created anything except what He created before the water. When He wanted to create the creation, He brought forth smoke from the water. The smoke rose above the water and hovered loftily over it. He therefore called it "heaven." Then He dried out the water, and thus made it one earth. He split it AND MADE IT INTO SEVEN EARTHS on Sunday and Monday. He created the earth UPON A (big) FISH (hut), THAT BEING THE FISH (nun) MENTIONED BY GOD IN THE QUR'AN: "Nun. By the Pen." The fish was in the water. The water was UPON THE BACK OF A (small) ROCK. The rock was UPON THE BACK OF AN ANGEL. The angel was UPON A (big) ROCK. The big rock - THE ONE MENTIONED BY LUQMAN - WAS IN THE WIND, neither in heaven nor on the earth. The fish moved and became agitated. As a result, the earth quacked, whereupon He firmly, anchored the mountains on it, and it was stable. This is stated in God's word that He made for the earth "firmly anchored (mountains), lest it should shake you up."(The History of Al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, 1989], Volume 1, pp. 218-220)

 

Al-Tabari also wrote:

 

According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. 'Askar-Isma'il b. 'Abd al-Karim-Wahb, mentioning some of his majesty (as being described as follows): The heavens and the earth and the oceans are in the haykal, and the haykal is in the Footstool. God's feet are upon the Footstool. He carries the Footstool. It became like a sandal on His feet. When Wahb was asked: What is the haykal? He replied: Something on the heavens' extremities that surrounds the earth and the oceans like ropes that are used to fasten a tent. And when Wahb was asked how earths are (constituted), he replied: They are seven earths that are FLAT and islands. Between each two earths, there is an ocean. All that is surrounded by the (surrounding) ocean, and the haykal is behind the ocean. (Ibid., pp. 207-208)


AL-QURTUBI

 

Narrated by Al-Walid Ibn Muslim, narrated by Malik Ibn Ans, narrated by Sumay son of Abu Bakir, narrated by Abu Salih Al-Samaan, narrated by Abu Hurayrah who related that he heard the prophet - peace be upon him - say, "The first thing Allah created was the pen, then He created the 'Nun' which is an inkwell. This is what Allah stated (in sura 68:1) 'Nun and the Pen.' And He said to it, 'Write'. So the pen wrote all that will be until judgment day. Then Allah created the Nun (the whale) above the waters AND HE PRESSED THE EARTH INTO IS BACK. He (Allah) then said to the pen 'Write.' The pen asked 'What shall I write?' Allah replied, 'Write what was and what will be until judgment day; whether deed, reward, consequence and punishment- until judgment day.' Thus the pen wrote what shall be until judgment day. Allah then placed a seal over the pen and it will not talk until judgment day. Then Allah created the mind and said, 'By my Glory, I will establish you in those whom you love and I will take you away from those whom you despise.'"

Mujahid related that 'Nun' is the whale that is underneath the seventh earth. He stated that the 'Pen' is what was used to write 'Al-Thikir' (The Remembrance - Quran). Likewise, it was also narrated by Mukatil, Murrah Al-Hamdani, Ata' Al-Kharasani, Al Suddi and Al-Kalbi who all said, "Nun is the whale upon which all the earths are placed."

Narrated by Abu Thabyan, narrated by Ibn Abbas who said, "The first thing that Allah created was the Pen which wrote all that shall be. Then water vapor began to rise, out of which the heavens were created. Then (Allah) created Nun (the whale) and flattened the earth on its back. When the earth began to lean, it was reinforced with mountains, which are on its surface." Then Ibn Abbas read the verse (Sura 68:1) 'Nun and the Pen.'

 

Al-Kalbi and Mukatil stated that the name (of the whale) is 'Al-Bahmout.' Al-Rajis said, "Why do I see you all silent and the Lord my God created Al-Bahmout?"

 

Abu Yakthan and Al-Waqidi stated that the name (of the whale) is 'Leotha'; Whereas Kab stated that its name is 'Lo-tho-tha' or 'Bil-Ha-motha.' Kab said, "Satan crept up to the whale, on whom the seven earths are placed, and whispered into its heart saying, 'Do you realize what is on your back, Oh Lo-tho-tha of beasts and plants and humans and others? If you are annoyed with them, you can throw them all off your back.' So Lo-tho-tha intended to do what was suggested (by Satan) but Allah sent the whale a reptile that crawled through into its blowhole and reached its brain. The whale then cried to Allah -may He be glorified and honored - and He gave permission for the reptile to exit (the whale)." Kab continued and said, "By Allah, the whale stares at the reptile and the reptile stares at the whale, and if the whale intends to do (what Satan suggested) the reptile would return to the place it was before." (Source)


TAFSIR IBN ABBAS

 

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Nun): '(Nun) He says: Allah swears by the Nun, which is the whale that carries the earths on its back while in Water, and beneath which is the Bull and under the Bull is the Rock and under the Rock is the Dust and none knows what is under the Dust save Allah. The name of the whale is Liwash, and it is said its name is Lutiaya'; the name of the bull is Bahamut, and some say its name is Talhut or Liyona. The whale is in a sea called 'Adwad, and it is like a small bull in a huge sea. The sea is in a hollowed rock whereby there is 4,000 cracks, and from each crack water springs out to the earth. It is also said that Nun is one of the names of the Lord; it stands for the letter Nun in Allah's name al-Rahman (the Beneficent); and it is also said that a Nun is an inkwell. (By the pen) Allah swore by the pen. This pen is made of light and its height is equal to the distance between Heaven and earth. It is with this pen that the Wise Remembrance, i.e. the Guarded Tablet, was written. It is also said that the pen is one of the angels by whom Allah has sworn, (and that which they write (therewith)) and Allah also swore by what the angels write down of the works of the children of Adam, (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

 

My Response:

 

First of all, none of these narrations were uttered by the Prophet (peace be upon him) or found in the Qur'an and that means that they are not binding upon us.

 

Secondly, we know where these narrations came from. They came from the Israeiliyat as Ibn Kathir stated in Al Bidaaya wal Nihaayaa Volume 1, page 15.

 

Thirdly, all of these narrations are either weak or fabricated. Please refer to the following sources and see what the scholars have said regarding the weakness and fabrication of these narrations:

 

Sheikh Albani, Silseelatil Al Ahaadeeth Al Da'eefa, Hadith no. 1253 & 6309

 

Al Dhahabi, Siyar A`laam-in-Nubulaa', Volume 4, page 61 & Volume 10, page 669

 

Ibn Rajab, Rasaail Ibn Rajab, Volume 3, page 138

 

Ibn 'Idi, Tahzheeb Al Tahzheeb, Volume 9, page 506

 

Ibn Hajar, Lisaan Al Meezaan, Volume 7, Hadith no. 572

 

Ibn Al Qaysaraani, Zhakeeratul Hufaaz, Volume 2, Hadith no. 1024

 

Fourthly, notice the strange difference between the narrations, some say that the Nun is a whale while the others are saying the Nun is an ink well. How can we rely on such narrations?

 

Fifthly, even if these narrations were authentic this is just a matter of the unseen that cannot be proven or disproved.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

The preceding Muslim commentators weren't alone in narrating some fantastic interpretations. Hadith compilers like Abu Dawud had a few fabulous ones as well:

Narrated Al-Abbas ibn AbdulMuttalib:
I was sitting in al-Batha with a company among whom the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was sitting, when a cloud passed above them.

The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) looked at it and said: What do you call this? They said: Sahab.

He said: And muzn? They said: And muzn. He said: And anan? They said: And anan. AbuDawud said: I am not quite confident about the word anan. He asked: Do you know the distance between Heaven and Earth? They replied: We do not know. He then said: The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years. The heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going on till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea, the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there ARE EIGHT MOUNTAIN GOATS the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, is above that. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 40, Number 4705)

My Response:

 

Sheikh Albani declared this hadeeth to be weak in Sunan Abu Dawud, hadith no. 4723.

 

Secondly, again these are matters of the unseen and cannot be proven or disproved.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

 

This next final tradition is taken from Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Kisa'i's book Qisas al-Anbiya (Tales of the Prophets):

Kaab al-Ahbar said: When God wished to create the dry land, He commanded the wind to churn up the waters. When they had become turbulent and foamy, waves swelled and gave off vapor. Then God commanded the foam to solidify, and it became dry. In two days he created the dry land on the face of the waters, as He hath said: Say, do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days? (41:9). Then He commanded these waves to be still, and they formed the mountains, which He used as pegs to hold down the earth, as He hath said: And we placed stable mountains on the earth lest it should move with them (21:31). Were it not for the mountains, the earth would not have been stable enough for its inhabitants. The veins of these mountains are connected with the veins of Mount Qaf, which is the range that surrounds the earth.

Then God created the seven seas. The first is called Baytush and surrounds the earth from behind Mount Qaf. Behind it is a sea called Asamm, behind which is a sea called Qaynas, behind which is a sea called Sakin, behind which is a sea called Mughallib, behind which is a sea called Muannis, behind which is a sea called Baki, which is the last. These are the seven seas, and each of them surrounds the sea before it. The rest of the seas in which are creatures whose number only God knows, are like gulfs to these seven. God created sustenance for all these creatures on the fourth day, as He hath said: And he provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask (41:10).

There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are black and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them.

And the earth was tossed about with its inhabitants like a ship, so God sent down an angel of extreme magnitude and strength and ordered him to slip beneath the earth and bear it up on his shoulders. He stretched forth one of his hands to the East and the other to the West and took hold of the earth from end to end [Note: this again presumes that the earth is flat]. However, there was no foothold for him, so God created from an emerald a square rock, in the middle of which were seven thousand holes. In each hole there was a sea, description of which is known only to God. And He commanded the rock to settle beneath the angel's feet. The rock, whoever, had no support, so God created a great bull with forty thousand heads, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and legs and commanded it to bear the rock on its back and on its horns. The name of the bull is al-Rayyan. As the bull had no place to rest its feet, God created a huge fish, upon which no one may gaze because it is so enormous and had so many eyes. It is even said that if all the seas were placed in one of its gills, they would be like a mustard seed in the desert. This fish God commanded to be a foothold for the bull, and it was done. The name of this fish is Behemoth. Then He made its resting place the waters, beneath which is the air, and beneath the air is the Darkness, which is for all the earths. There, beneath the Darkness, the knowledge of created things ends. (Ibid., translated by Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-10; bold emphasis ours)

 

My Response:

 

Ka'b Al Ahbar said this, not the Prophet (peace be upon him). Plus, it would be useful if we can have a reference for this narration and see whether it has been authentically attributed to Ka'b.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Finally, A Contradiction

As we saw above, the Quran in many places says that the earth has been spread out. In this next passage, the Quran proclaims that on the Day of Judgment the earth will be spread out:

When the heaven bursts asunder, And hearkens unto her Lord - and this is incumbent upon her - And when the earth is SPREAD OUT (muddat) And cast out all that is in her, and appears to become empty S. 84:3-4 Sher Ali

The earth being spread out at the end of time assumes that at the present moment it is not, which contradicts those passages that say it already has been stretched out! Note again the following citation:

And He it is Who spread (madda) the earth and made in it firm mountains and rivers, and of all fruits He has made in it two kinds; He makes the night cover the day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. S. 13:3 Shakir

Lest someone deny that surah 84 is referring to the end of time we present the comments of Ibn Kathir:

Splitting the Heavens asunder and stretching the Earth forth on the Day of Resurrection

Allah says ...

This refers to the Day of Judgement ...

meaning, it listens to its Lord and obeys His command to split apart. This will occur on the Day of Judgement ...

meaning, it is right for it to obey the command of its Lord, because it is great and cannot be rejected, nor overcome. Rather it overpowers everything and everything is submissive to it. Then Allah says ...

meaning, when the earth is expanded, spread out and extended ... (Source)

Hence, not only does the Quran hold to an erroneous view of the cosmos, it even contradicts itself regarding the current state and shape of the earth!

 

My Response:

 

Notice Shamoun's false reasoning. He erroneously assumes that when Surah 84:3 says that the Earth will be stretched then that means it is saying that it will be stretched in the same way that it has already been.

 

When the other verses in the Qur'an state that the Earth has been stretched, it is stating that it has been stretched in a way that makes the Earth's surface comfortable for us to live on (discussed earlier in this article).

 

But when Surah 84:3 states that the Earth will be stretched, it is saying that it will be stretched in a way that will be destructive (just see the verse right after it)

 

Tafsir Jalalayn states:

 

and when the earth is stretched out, [when] its width is increased, just as a piece of leather is stretched, so that no edifice or mountain remains upon it, (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 84:3, Source)

 

 

Ibn Abbass states:

 

(And when the earth is spread out) like the spreading out of a flat plain; and it is also said this means: when the earth is removed from its place and then flattened. (Ibn Abbaas, Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs, Commentary on Surah 84:3, Source

 

 

Therefore, when the Qur'an states that the Earth will stretch it does not contradict the other verses that say that the Earth has already been stretched because both verses are talking about two different kinds of stretches and events.

 

 

 

 

 

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