Science has been telling us for decades that the Earth is round. Everyone seems to accept this as an obvious fact. If a person is told that the Earth is not round and flat instead, they will mock him. What about the Quran? Does the Quran say anything about the shape of the Earth? In this article on Islam4u, we will dive into the scientific ocean of the Quran and see whether the Quran has anything to say in this matter.
Verses About the Earth
There are many verses in the Quran that apparently speak of the spreading, lengthening, extending, and flattening of the Earth. Here are a few verses:
هُوَ الَّذِي مَدَّ الْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنْهَارًا
It is He who has spread out the earth and set in it firm mountains and streams. (13:3)
وَالْأَرْضَ مَدَدْنَاهَا وَأَلْقَيْنَا فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مَّوْزُونٍ ﴿١٩﴾
And We spread out the earth, and cast in it firm mountains, and We grew in it every kind of balanced thing. (15:19)
وَاللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ بِسَاطًا ﴿١٩﴾
Allah has made the earth a vast expanse for you. (71:19)
وَالْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ دَحَاهَا ﴿٣٠﴾
Thereafter He spread out the earth. (79:30)
وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ ﴿٢٠﴾
And [do they not look] at the earth – how it is surfaced? (88:20)
وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا طَحَاهَا ﴿٦﴾
By the earth and Him who spread it. (91:6)
It appears that these verses are denoting the flatness of the Earth. However, those who believe that the Earth is round and think it is an undeniable scientific fact, interpret these verses differently. They say that the spreading of the Earth means it is expanded and made far-reaching. To them, it does not necessarily mean that the Earth is flat.
Proponents of the flat Earth theory, on the other hand, believe that these many verses are all speaking of the flatness of the Earth and different synonyms have been used to state this fact. Why would Allah use six different words with similar meanings to convey one metaphorical meaning?
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Muslims nowadays are seeking to conform the Quran to science. For example, when the issue of the roundness of the Quran arises, they do their best to make sure the Quran does not contradict it. This is a fallacious approach. The Quran should not be conformed to science. The Quran itself states scientific facts that have been discovered many years after the revelation of the Quran. These facts include areas such as astronomy, geology, and embryology. The opposite must be done. That is, science must conform to the Quran. This is because we believe the Quran is Allah’s revelation, which is the absolute truth. So if the Quran says something and science says the opposite thing, science must be questioned, not the Quran. Yes, there are many instances where the Quran and science are in line with each other. However, we are talking about instances when they do not seem to correlate. In short, science is always changing and many things that are now so-called established facts, are mostly assumptions and theories that could change as science progresses. The flatness or roundness of the earth is one of these instances.
Has Anyone Left the Earth?
Those who believe that the Earth is flat claim that no one has been able to leave the Earth because the Earth is protected by a firmament that does not allow anything to enter or leave it. The Quran speaks of a similar structure known as the roof of the Earth in the following verse:
وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ سَقْفًا مَّحْفُوظًا ۖ وَهُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِهَا مُعْرِضُونَ ﴿٣٢﴾
We made the sky a preserved roof and yet they are disregardful of its signs. (21:32)
What about satellites then? If we look carefully at how satellites actually work, we will see that they are not mounted on rockets and sent into space outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Satellites are launched with hot air balloons. Therefore, they do not leave the Earth’s atmosphere. Of course, they are in a very highly elevated position in the sky that allows them to send and retrieve data.
Then there is the story of the moon landing in the late sixties. Many people do not believe in the moon landings and consider them a hoax to deceive people into believing how incredibly powerful they were that they went to the moon.
Therefore, no one knows what the Earth looks like far, far away, and whether it is round or flat. If it were to be proven that it is round, a camera must have been launched with a rocket to extremely far distances away from the Earth to show the shape of the Earth. No such camera and rocket to this day has been able to do this. All the footage that shows the curvature of the Earth is filmed with fish-eye lenses. There is no denying this. One can easily figure this out with one quick search on the Internet. Additionally, images and videos of the Earth being far away are mostly computer-generated images (CGI’s).
Does the Sun Move Around the Earth?
Verse 258 of Surah al-Baqarah reads:
قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنَ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنَ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ
Abraham said, ‘Indeed Allah brings the sun from the east; now you bring it from the west.’ Thereat the faithless one was dumbfounded. (2:258)
The proponents of the flat Earth theory believe that the sun, first of all, is not that far from us, second, it is not as big as we are told, and third, it circles the earth. The abovementioned verse seems to prove this claim. Prophet Ibrahim said to Nimrod, “Allah brings the sun from the east where it rises; now you bring it from the west where it set.” People generally believe that it is the Earth’s rotation that causes sunrise and sunset. Thus, they say that it appears to us that the sun moves from the east to the west. This idea seems somewhat far-fetched, according to flat earthers, because the verse specifically mentions the sun, not the earth. Prophet Ibrahim could have said, “The Earth rotates from east to west, now you make it rotate from west to east,” or, “The Earth rotates counter-clockwise, now you make it rotate clockwise.” Of course, this is only for the sake of argument, as such notions may not have existed at that time.
The Earth’s Rotation Around Its Axis
The following verse is cited to prove the rotation of the Earth:
خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ يُكَوِّرُ اللَّيْلَ عَلَى النَّهَارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ النَّهَارَ عَلَى اللَّيْلِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۗ أَلَا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ ﴿٥﴾
He created the heavens and the earth with consummate wisdom. He winds the night over the day, and winds the day over the night, and He has disposed the sun and the moon, each moving for a specified term. Indeed, He is the All-mighty, the All-forgiver!
This verse denotes a kind of coiling effect as if one is wearing a turban around one’s head. It is believed that this coiling and winding of the night and the day can be understood as the Earth rotating. However, proponents of the flat Earth model say that when the sun circles the Earth, you would still get the same meaning. That is, the night and day are still winding over one another.
Besides, flat earthers believe that there is a specific ether, meaning particles and other objects above the sky. They are different during the night and the day. They say that it is this ether that is rotating above us and carrying night and day with it.
The shape of the Earth cannot be known with the limitations that we have at present. No satellite has been able to go far enough from the Earth to capture images and videos of the Earth. Many people are now believing that the space agencies are lying to them. Rovers have not been sent to Mars, the moon landing was a hoax, and so on. What they are showing us seems to be computer-generated images (CGI’s). On the other hand, we have verses of the Quran that apparently denote that the Earth is flat. Can these verses be taken literally or metaphorically? It could be either. In the end, we must try not to prove the Quran with science. Instead, we must prove science with the Quran.