Rotation Of Earth, A Scientific Approach In The Quran, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Compiled by: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani

This answers the objection of those non-Muslims who ask why the Quran does not refer to the arts and sciences through which material advancement has been attained by the Western countries? It also removes the misunderstanding of those who try to somehow prove scientific theories or laws from the Quran to cope with these objections. Such an attempt is like looking into a Law Book for a formula to make an atom bomb and an attempt by some other people to extract the theory of atom by distorting the legal phraseology of the book. Obviously, these other people are foolish if they attempt to discover the theory in a Lawbook. Similarly, if someone objects to the absence of scientific and engineering theories. it is foolish to distort the words of the Quran to somehow extract those theories or laws from it.

The correct answer to the objection is that the Quran is neither a book of science or engineering nor material advancement is its theme because a man can find that out through his intellect, wisdom, experiments, and observations. That is why Allah has left it to man to only what cannot be conceived through intellect and reasoning alone, but Divine guidance in the form of Wahy (Revelation) is essential for them. Thus, man has attained heights in the field of Science and Technology through his intellect, thinking, experiments, and observations. But he could not progress in Faith and Belief, purity of heart and soul, the goodness of character and deeds, devotion in worship and preparedness for the Hereafter. These things are not possible without the Wahy from Allah and are, therefore, subjects of the Quran. Man cannot attain them in spite of his excellences of intellect and thinking, nor can they he attained unless guidance from the Quran is sought with sincerity.

There are a few mistakes to be careful in this case:

We do not mean to say it is wrong to deduce a scientific fact from the Quran. We also admit that there is a mention of scientific realities in the Quran as a passing reference. hence, if we find any explicit scientific fact in the Quran, there is nothing wrong in narrating it. But one must avoid the following errors in this connection:

  • 1 : Any scientific reality mentioned in the Quran is only in passing. Its real object is to reflect on the supreme authority of Allah and to strengthen the Faith. Hence, it is totally wrong to consider the Quran as a source of information on science.
  • 2: Where no information of a scientific subject is found it would be wrong to distort the words of the Quran to accommodate scientific facts into it. This is well understood by means of the following example:

When the scientists said that the Earth was stationary and other planets were revolving round it, some people tried to prove this theory from the Quran, and cited the following verse:

امن جعل الارض قرارا

Who made this earth a fixed abode. (An-Naml, 27:61)

Those people pleaded that the word (fixed abode) denoted that the Earth was stationary. However, Quran only recalls the blessing of Allah that man lives on this earth restfully rather than be unstable on it, and has no trouble in sitting or lying down or moving about on it. Obviously, this blessing of Allah has nothing to do with the movement or not of the Earth. But, in fact, the blessing is bestowed on man irrespective of whether the earth is stationary or moving. Hence trying to prove from this verse that the Earth is stationary is uncalled for and an unnecessary introduction of new meaning into it.

Later on, when science advanced the theory of Rotation of Earth as opposed to its being stationary, some people again occupied themselves in finding proof for that in the Quran, and the following verse was presented as an argument:

وتری الجبال تحسبھا جامدۃ وھی تمر مرالسحاب

And you shall see the mountains – you think them firmly fixed – passing away as the passing away of the clouds…. (An-Naml, 27:88)

These people translated the word (تمر) as referring to earth (feminine noun in Arabic) while it refers to mountains (and is the female singular of the plural noun mountains).

On this basis, they advocated that this verse described the movement of the Earth because the movement of mountains in fact means the movement of Earth. The context of the verse shows clearly that it pertains to the happenings of the Last Day. The verse simply means that the seemingly unmoving mountains shall (on the Last Day) be floating in the atmosphere like the clouds.

The fact is that the Quran is silent on the subject of rotation of Earth and there is no mention of it in the entire Quran because this is not part of its theme. We cannot prove or disprove the movement of the earth from the Quran. Hence, whichever view is adopted in the light of scientific arguments, the Quran does not interfere; it poses no danger to Faith and Religion either way.

It should be noted here that often sincere attempts are made to show that the Quran narrates scientific facts and the intention generally is to convince the non-Muslims that the discoveries which they had made after hundreds of years have already been foretold in the Quran. But if this is done by violating the principle of exegesis, it is not being friendly to the Quran. When they were trying to prove through the Quran that Earth is stationary they considered it a great service to the Quran, but if it was universally accepted that the Quran speaks of a stationary Earth, what effect this would have had when science changed its views and said the earth rotates? Hence, only those things about science can be attributed to the Quran which is explicitly proved in it; but those not clearly mentioned in the Quran cannot be attributed to it. It was wrong to do so in the past, and it is wrong even today.

“Doubts and misconceptions about Islam and the present time” Page 67 to 72

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