Monday 8 January 2024

Responding to lies/misinformation about Islam: Islam says earth is flat

The amount of objections about Isla, Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has both its good and otherwise aspects. For good part, it is heartening to see that many non Muslims are reading Islam, Qur'an and life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. But the bad aspect is that they always deduce the negativities rather than finding good and correlating the same with their own faith. The emphasis always on aspects which have either been misinterpreted or misunderstood are then propagated to downplay Islam and create misinformation.

One of the many aspects that are played around against Islam is the shape of the earth. And it is alleged that Islam says that earth is flat. And to support their argument, a number of verses from Qur'an are referred. I too read these verses, but I could not find any meaning of these verses that convey that earth is flat, for Allah has made all celestial objects including earth as round, otherwise these would not have been floating in circles of semi circles to complete their orbits. 

Secondly, whenever reading the explanation of Qur'anic verses, one must try to read explanation of scholars who keep them abreast with science and other means of knowledge to correctly interpret the verses. In earlier times, that is the time when Islam was taking its roots among the pagans of Arabia, who were mostly illiterate, the earth looked flat to them for as far as they could see, the earth was laid out flat, while the visible celestial objects like sun and moon looked round. And probably for this reason, some of the early interpreters of Qur'an also interpreted these verses and deduced that earth was flat. And it is the explanation of these early scholars of Islam that have been taken out to tell the world the "naivety" of Islam that it did not know the shape of the earth.

Let us also consider the 5th verse of Surah 39 Az Zumar, which states:

خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ بِٱلْحَقِّ يُكَوِّرُ ٱلَّيْلَ عَلَى ٱلنَّهَارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ ٱلنَّهَارَ عَلَى ٱلَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ ٱلشَّمْسَ وَٱلْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِى لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى أَلَا هُوَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْغَفَّـٰرُ
[39:5] He created the heavens and the earth truthfully. He rolls the night over the day, and rolls the day over the night. He committed the sun and the moon, each running for a finite period. Absolutely, He is the Almighty, the Forgiving.

Here, the Arabic for “He rolls” (Yukawwir / يُكَوِّرُ ) is derived from the Arabic word for “ball” (kurah / كرة ). This verse clearly informs us that the earth is round. For unless the earth was geo-spherical (as explained in the video below), it would not have been possible for the night to GRADUALLY merge into day and day in to night. Had the earth been flat, this gradual change over of day into night and night into day would not have been practically possible. Since the Earth is not exactly round, a specific reference to its shape is given in Surah 79, verse 30. The Arabic word used to describe the Earth in this verse is daḥāhā ( دَحَاهَا ), which is typically translated as “egg-shaped” or “spread.”

Now coming to the verse of Qur'an which is both taken objectively and negatively:

 وَالْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ دَحَاهَا (Chapter An-Nazi'at (79), Verse:30)

This verse is generally translated in English as: “And after that, the earth: wide has He spread its expanse”

Now this explanation "spread out" was taken by some interpreters a sign for the earth being flat. And it is this interpretation which is often misquoted to prove the ignorance of Qur'an to believe earth being flat.

Before we give out the explanation it must be understood that “From a linguistic standpoint, it is quite possible for a word, phrase or statement to have more than one layer of meaning, such that one layer would make sense to one audience in one age and another layer of meaning would, without negating the first, be meaningful to another audience in a subsequent age.”

It may be added here that contrary to the majority of Greek philosophers, the ancient Romans had established the view that the Earth was flat. There may have been some Roman philosophers that thought otherwise, however, this was the majority view. Dino Boccaletti has shown that in the Roman world the notion of a spherical Earth was unpopular; later on the Christian Church exacerbated this, by making it more difficult for people in the Roman Empire to accept a spherical Earth. Contrastingly, and as will be explicated below, the majority of Islamic scholarship rejected the predominant Roman understanding that the Earth was flat. This rejection was strongly grounded in the Qur’ān. 

The word “دَحَاهَا” in Arabic also means the egg, thus the verse can also be translated: ”extended in egg shape.” So the translation can be: “And the earth, moreover, hath he extended in egg shape.” But for egg, the Arabic is Baida. Here the word “دَحَا” (dahaa) is derived from word “دحية” (duhyah) wich specifically means ”egg of ostrich” (not just any egg).

Thus unlike the early interpreters of Qur'an, majority of scholars unanimously agree that the earth is round , but to human eyes it appears to be flat, because it is very big and its roundness or curvature cannot be seen at close distances. So the one who stands and looks sees it as flat, but when viewed as a whole, in reality it is round. 

As for it being spread out, famous 13th century Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir said: “That is, He spread it out, prepared it, made it stable and made it firm by means of the mountains.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 8/247)

Ar-Razi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:  “If it is said: Do the words “And the earth We spread out” indicate that it is flat? 

We would respond: Yes, because the earth , even though it is round, is an enormous sphere, and each little part of this enormous sphere, when it is looked at, appears to be flat. As that is the case, this will dispel what they mentioned of confusion. The evidence for that is the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And the mountains as pegs” [an-Naba 78:7]. He called them awtad (pegs) even though these mountains may have large flat surfaces. And the same is true in this case.” (Tafsir ar-Razi, 19/131) 

Some even mock the verse: “Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water” [al-Kahf 18:86] – and say that Islam says the sun dips into murky waters even the evening to disappear. 

The fact is this is as it appears to be in the eye of the beholder, because the sun sets on one country, but remains up in the sky for another, until it rises from the east on the following morning. So the earth looks flat in every region or part of it, because of its immense size. 

This does not contradict its real shape, because we may see a very high mountain, but if we climb it and reach its summit we may find a flat surface there, and find an entire nation living there, and some of the people there may not know anything about the rest of the world, and so on.” (Adwa al-Bayan, 8/428) 

It would be wise for the non Muslims to research well and listen to and read the explanation of the well read Islamic scholars rather than picking up a wrong explanation from very early interpretations or pseudo scholars who spread misinformation because of their nativity.

You may also to listen to eminent Muslim scholar Zakir A Naik on the shape of the earth:
We have given reference from where the above shared information is taken and reference are given below. However, the best explanation of earth being egg shaped and not flat is given in Quran Talk Blog in its post: Earth Egg Shaped
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may read more posts on countering / responding to lies / misinformation and disinformation about Islam: The Rebuttal: Countering disinformation being spread about Islam (Reference Page)

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Resource References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |

Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

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Shape of Earth is GEO Sepherical as Divine Commands confer it

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