Dr. Sultan b. Abdul Rahman al-Umayri has written a 1,200 page book titled (ظاهرة نقد الدين في الفكر الغربي الحديث) – ‘The phenomenon of criticism of religion in modern Western thought’. Below is a translation of 52 pages from the book pertaining to criticisms against Islam in terms of its alleged conflict with science. The translation is not entirely word by word and leave has been taken in many places in order to suit it to the English language.
Does the Qur’an contradict the fact that the earth is spherical?
Does the Qur’an err regarding the earth’s revolution and rotation?
Does the Qur’an say that the sun moves?
How do we understand the Hadith of the sun’s prostration beneath the Throne?
Does the Qur’an paint a false picture about the universe?
Does Islam contradict facts pertaining to the sky?
Did the Qur’an get the information about the stars wrong?
Creation of the heavens and the earth in six days
Does the Qur’an miscalculate the numbers of the suns and the moons?
Is the Qur’an unscientific regarding the moon and its position?
Does the Qur’an err when it mentions seven earths?
Does the Qur’an contradict scientific facts regarding thunder?
The allegations of those who claim that Islam is against astronomy are scattered and these are as follows:
Many opponents of the Qur’an say that as per the Qur’an, the earth is not spherical but in fact just flat. For this claim, they cite the saying of the Almighty: [And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers] (Q.13:3), and this verse as well where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And the earth I have spread out, and excellent is the preparer] (Q.51:48).
They claim that many Muslim scholars took these verses as evidence that Allah (ﷻ) made the earth flat, which means that it is not spherical. However, this is definitely incorrect and based on apparently incorrect understanding of the Qur’anic text and its meanings.
There are many other verses which say that the earth is spherical, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [He created the heavens and earth in truth. He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night] (Q.39:5). Several scholars take this verse as evidence of the earth being spherical. Ibn Hazm says:
The evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah state that the earth is spherical as the Qur’an states: ‘He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night’; it is very obvious from this that the earth wraps over itself.
In accordance with these Qur’anic evidences, we know that the belief of the spherical earth was very common and was acceptable opinion to the Muslim scholars since the past many centuries.
Here is a statement of a famous historian al-Mas’udi:
The earth is divided into two parts; the equator in the middle, which is between the east and the west, and this is the length of the earth, because it is the biggest longitude on the earth.
Imam al-Ghazali says in the context of talking about balance of the sense and the mind:
How did the mind and the sense know that the sun is multiple times bigger than the earth’s sphere?
He quoted a statement of the philosophers who do not contradict religion on this:
The earth is spherical, and the sky surrounds it from each side.
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi quoted from Ibn Aqeel:
I have read in geometry books that the scientists in the field state that the earth is spherical.
Al-Razi also said:
The earth is spherical; thus we can find people experience morning at a time, while others experience noon, yet others experience the time of sunrise, and others experience night all at the same time.
Many scholars quoted the consensus of the Muslim scholars on this issue. Ibn Hazm says:
No one from the Muslim scholars, who really deserve this honor of being a scholar, has denied that the earth is spherical.
Ibn al-Munadi quotes from Ibn Taymiyyah:
They were unanimously agreed that the earth, with all that it contains of land and sea, is like a ball.
Having said that, we don’t deny that some of the scholars understood the Qur’anic texts to mean that the earth is not spherical, among which is al-Qurtubi, who quoted verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers] (Q.13:3) and explained it as follows:
This verse is a refutation of those who claim that the earth is spherical.
His understanding is definitely not correct. The verses mentioning the earth to be flat do not state that it is not spherical and the fact of the matter is that Allah (ﷻ) mentions it in terms of what the people see and feel from their perspective on earth.
Even before the scientific era, many scholars have alerted on this point; here al-Razi says:
If they say that spreading out of the earth is against it being sphere, we would answer that this is not true since the earth is extremely big, and if the sphere was massive, one would call each small part as a flat part which does not imply that the whole body is flat.
While explaining this verse, [(He), who made for you the earth a bed (spread out)] (Q.2:22), al-Baydawi says:
‘…which means a comfortable place for living and sleeping on and not that it is flat’.
Ibn Hayaan also quoted from Abu Abdullah al-Razi that he said that the earth is spherical.
All of this means that the understanding of al-Qurtubi and opponents of Islam is not correct.
Addition from the Translator:
Some examples of other classical Muslims who held that the earth is spherical are:
– Abul Qasim ibn Khordadbeh (d. 280 A.H.) in his book al-Masalik wal-Mamalik
– Abu Bakr al-Shibli al-Baghdadi (d. 334 A.H.) as cited by Ahmad ibn Khallikan (d. 681 A.H.) in his book Wafaa’ al-‘Ayaan wa-Anbaa’ Abnaa’ az-Zamaan
– Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Maqdisi (d. 380 A.H.) in his book Ahsan al-Taqaseem fi Ma’rifat al-Aqaaleem
– Muhammad al-Idrisi (d. 560 A.H.) as cited by Shihab al-Umari (d. 749 A.H.) in his book Masalik al-Absaar fi Mamalik al-Amsaar
Some opponents of Islam argue that Qur’an goes against modern science when it comes to the matter of the alteration of the night and the day; they claim that the Qur’an says that the earth is non-moving, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided] (Q.16:15) and also says: [And I placed within the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with them, and I made therein [mountain] passes [as] roads that they might be guided] (Q.21:31) and so on.
This is one of the most common objections raised by the opponents of Islam, whether they are Christians, atheists or deists. To clarify this point, and to answer them, we need to take a deeper look at the evidences from the Qur’an and the Sunnah pertaining to it.
If we take a look at the opinions of Muslim scholars on this, we find that they are divided into three main opinions and studying these opinions is the best way to get a clear understanding.
First opinion: the Qur’an says that the earth is not moving
The scholars who are of this opinion cite around 40 evidences from Qur’an and Sunnah, the most important of which are:
The first evidence: Allah (ﷻ) says [It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling] (Q.40:64); He also says: [Have I not made the earth a resting place?] (Q.78:6).
Taking these verses as evidence that the earth is non-moving is not correct since they do not negate the motion at all. On the contrary, the meaning is that it (the earth) is appropriate for living without disturbance or trembling; thus it is appropriate for living and pursuit of sustenance.
This meaning has been approved by many Tafsir scholars; Ibn Kathir says while explaining the first verse (Q.40:64):
The actual meaning is that we made the earth a calm place without shaking or trembling because if it was so, it would not be an appropriate place to live, but Allah (ﷻ), by His Grace and Mercy, made it a dwelling place without instability or trembling.
This meaning does not negate the earth’s movement. Sometimes we say about the plane when it takes off or ascends into the sky – we say that ‘it is static or stable’, which means that it is not trembling or shaking; however, it is, in fact, flying in the air where it moves at a fast speed. The same thing is with the ships in the seas – they sail in the rough seas yet such wording is appropriate for people to use. This is the same with the earth as well.
The second evidence: the statement that Allah (ﷻ) has set thereon mountains immovable for the earth, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided] (Q.16:15), and similar verses related to the same context
Taking these verses as evidence that the earth is non-moving is not correct since the meaning of ‘lest it shift with you‘ relates to the shaking that would cease to make the earth a suitable place to live. Al-Raghib al-Isfahani says:
The meaning of shift here refers the disorder of the earth.
Also al-Tahir b. Ashur says:
(‘lest it shift with you’) is just a kind of purpose of the firm mountains – why are there mountains? Lest the earth should shake with you.
Therefore, the meaning of the verses is that Allah (ﷻ) has made the earth a suitable and stable place for living.
The third evidence: some verses state that Allah (ﷻ) sustains the earth, lest they cease, like in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Indeed, Allah holds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease. And if they should cease, no one could hold them [in place] after Him. Indeed, He is Forbearing and Forgiving] (Q.35:41); therefore, if the earth was moving, it would cease to be out of its place, and this contradicts the verse.
This is not true since the meaning is not the negation of absolute moving, but of the shakiness that makes it inappropriate for living. The verse does not say that Allah (ﷻ) makes it absolutely static or without any movement but that Allah (ﷻ) sustains it lest they shake or be in disorder and that has been mentioned by many Tafsir scholars.
Many scholars have related the meaning of the aforementioned verse and this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [He restrains the sky from falling upon the earth, unless by His permission. Indeed Allah, to the people, is Kind and Merciful]. (Q.22:65) along with this verse [Then, do they not look at what is before them and what is behind them of the heaven and earth? If I should will, I could cause the earth to swallow them or [could] let fall upon them fragments from the sky. Indeed in that is a sign for every servant turning back [to Allah]]. (Q.34:9) and in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [And of His signs is that the heaven and earth remain by His command. Then when He calls you with a [single] call from the earth, immediately you will come forth] (Q.30:25).
All of these verses have the same meaning which is that Allah (ﷻ) manages and controls the earth and the skies and He is the only One supposed to do so; none of them relate to the real motion of the earth.
The fourth evidence: The Prophet (ﷺ) said (Al-Bayt al-Ma’mur, in the heavens, is a place called ‘Al Duraah’ and it is the same as, and above, the Kaaba; if it falls it would fall upon the Kaaba), which means that if the earth was moving, the Kaaba’s position would change and if the Bayt al-Ma’mur falls it would not fall upon the Kaaba.
This Hadith is not a strong evidence of the earth being static because the Hadith is weak (i.e. the evidence of it being from the Prophet (ﷺ) is not strong). Moreover, even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the Hadith is reliable, the earth’s motion does not contradict the point that al-Bayt al-Ma`mur is at the same place above the Kaaba, because the earth is very tiny compared to the sky and very far away.
The fifth evidence: there is consensus (or agreement) of the Muslim scholars, specifically al Qurtubi’s saying:
Majority of the Muslims and the people of the Book agree that the earth is static and stable, and the only motion on the earth is related to the shaking.
Moreover, al-Alusi says:
There is no doubt among Muslim scholars that the earth is non-moving.
However, al-Qurtubi is not explicit as to what exactly he means the consensus is on. He does not mean the absolute movement but meant the shaking and the movement that is related to trembling and earthquakes. Moreover, even if we assume that he meant the absolute motion of the earth, his claim of consensus is not true because it contradicts the opinions of many other scholars who believe the earth to be spherical in shape as mentioned earlier.
Taking al-Qurtubi’s words as evidence would be similar to al-Dahrayah’s words who said:
The earth is continuously falling down.
As Abdel Kaher al-Baghdadi says:
The scholars agree that the earth is static and non-moving and its motion is only because of the shaking and the earthquakes; this contradicts al-Dahryah’s saying that the earth continuously falls down, and if it was so, we would not be able to catch a falling stone, because light things cannot out speed things are heavier.
The second opinion: the verses and Hadiths prove that the earth revolves and rotates.
Scholars who hold this opinion have taken the following sayings as evidences:
The first evidence: Allah (ﷻ) says: [And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming] (Q.21:33).
This verse proves that every celestial body is spinning and this includes every planet, not just the mentioned planets.
However, taking this as an evidence for the earth’s rotation would not be entirely accurate since the meaning is that the earth is swimming along in the space, orbiting as the other planets whereas spinning on its own axis is different.
The second evidence: Allah (ﷻ) says: [And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do] (Q.27:88).
Many scholars have said that the meaning of this verse is related to what happens to the earth in present life before the last day while the people on the last day would not think that the earth is firm and they would have already seen it crushed to powder. However, Allah (ﷻ) says: [[It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things] and this is not appropriate in the context of talking about what will happen on the last day since the system of this world would have been destroyed by that day; the appropriate context here pertains to the present life and the perfection in making it. Moreover, Allah (ﷻ) speaks to the Prophet (ﷺ) using the present tense as if he already sees it and hence, if the context was the last day then it had to be in a future form.
This verse has been controversial among many contemporary Muslim scholars and there have been many opinions surrounding it. As stated, it is not exactly the best evidence of the earth’s rotation and this is for many reasons:
This contradicts the context because the context speaks about the terrible events of the last day and before that verse Allah (ﷻ) says: [And [warn of] the Day the Horn will be blown, and whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth will be terrified except whom Allah wills. And all will come to Him humbled] (Q.27:87). Then Allah (ﷻ) said [And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do] (Q.27:88), which means that the intended meaning is what will happen on the Day of Judgment.
It is common in the Qur’an that the motion of the mountains comes in the context of the last day, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [On the Day the heaven will sway with circular motion and the mountains will pass on, departing] (Q.52:9-10); also in this verse: [And [warn of] the Day when I will remove the mountains and you will see the earth prominent, and I will gather them and not leave behind from them anyone] (Q.18:47), and in this verse: [And they ask you about the mountains, so say, “My Lord will blow them away with a blast] (Q.20:105), and many other verses discussing the mountains in context of the last day.
Even if this verse refers to present life, it still does not speak of the rotation of earth on its own axis; it would only be a proof that the earth is moving along with the other planets, and proving the general motion does not imply the specific one. In this case, it is the same as Allah (ﷻ)’s saying [And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming] (Q.21:33).
The third evidence: Allah (ﷻ)’s saying: [And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you] (Q.16:15).
This verse confirms that Allah (ﷻ) set the mountains lest the earth trembles or shakes and if the earth is non-moving, then what is the point of setting them on earth? This verse is not a strong evidence to claim that the earth is static, for many reasons:
First: Lest the earth shakes proves that the earth is suitable for living and suitable for the humans; therefore, it is not about the motion.
Second: If we assume that it speaks of the motion of the earth, it does not imply its rotation on its own axis. On the contrary, it would only be speaking about the earth orbiting like the other planets.
Third: Allah (ﷻ) says: [He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night] (Q.39:5). We can take this from the verse: Allah (ﷻ) has mentioned about the overlapping which implies that there has to be some sort of motion to the earth.
Using this verse as evidence does not imply that the earth is rotating on its own axis. Even though the verse speaks of the succession of the night and the day, it does not talk about any reason of this succession. We assume and know it is due to revolution but the Qur’an remains silent on it. The Qur’an states it implicitly and not explicitly.
The third opinion: the Qur’an neither contradicts the earth spinning on its own axis nor affirms it.
From those who agree with this opinion is Mahmud Shukri al-Alusi; when he mentioned the different opinions about the earth’s motion, he said:
The Qur’an is silent about this case, and this is one of the miracles of the Qur’an.
Muhammad b. al-Uthaymeen says about this matter:
As a summary of our opinion about the earth’s motion, it is one of the matters that has neither been contradicted nor proven either in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah; additionally, this verse: [He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with you] (Q.31:10), is not explicit about the earth’s rotation. even though, some scholars took it as an evidence of the earth’s rotation because Allah (ﷻ) says lest it should shift with you and without the mountains it would shake and tremble; moreover, the statement of Allah (ﷻ) [It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling] (Q.40:64) is also not explicit in contradicting the earth’s rotation.
To conclude, this is the correct position; since the arguments around this case are not very convincing and whether the earth’s motion is a scientific fact or not, there is no relation between it and the Qur’an at all. Therefore, to claim that the Qur’an goes against science regarding the earth’s motion is completely inaccurate.
The opponents say: since the Qur’an says that the earth is stable and static, thus the sun is what is moving and there are many verses that state that the night and the day are because of the sun orbiting around the earth, not because of the earth going around the sun. In many verses the Qur’an describes the sun as if rises and sets, goes and comes and describes its appearance, like in this verse: [And [had you been present], you would see the sun when it rose, inclining away from their cave on the right, and when it set, passing away from them on the left, while they were [laying] within an open space thereof] (Q.18:17); also in this verse [So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting] (Q.20:130), as well as this verse [He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed], and similar verses in addition to the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ):
The sun hasn’t been blocked on any human except Yusha’a when he was walking to Jerusalem.
When we look at the opinions of the tafsir scholars, we see (as the opponents claim) that they take the apparent meaning; we find that they say: ‘apparently Qur’an proves that the sun moves and the light and night are because of the motion of the sun and not the rotation of the earth’.
The opponents also mention some other opinions such as the saying of Sheikh Hussein al-Jisr:
There is no clear evidence about the earth’s motion (in the Qur’an), but apparently, since there are other evidences about the sun’s motion and the planets, then we could say that the earth is static and the daily motion are the planets’ and the sun’s motions and not the earths’.
Sheikh Ibn al-Uthaymeen also says:
Allah (ﷻ) says [when it rose, inclining away from their cave on the right, and when it set, passing away from them on the left]’ this is an evidence that the sun moves and according to its motion, it sets and rises; however, this contradicts what the people say today that the earth is what rotates while the sun is static or non-moving. We have to take the apparent meaning except if there were other clear evidences to the contrary. Hence, if there is clear evidence that the earth’s rotation is the cause of day and night, then we have to re-explain the verses according to this fact and if there is no such evidence, then we have to say that the sun’s movement is the cause of day and night.
One of the opponents said: this means that the Muslim scholars understood that the Qur’an proves that the day and the night are because of the sun and not the earth’s rotation and they were wrong since many centuries and thus contradicted modern science. Such argumentation is not wise for the following reasons:
There is no doubt that the Qur’an speaks about the sun as if it moves as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And the sun runs [on course] toward its stopping point. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing] (Q.36:38). Also the Almighty says: [And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming] (Q.21:33); thus, the motion of the sun in the Qur’an is very clear but the Qur’an does not speak much about the manner of this motion nor its nature and the absolute motion of the sun is not contradictory to modern science at all since all scholars agree that the sun moves somehow.
We agree that some scholars say that the Qur’an’s relation between the sun and its characteristics is an evidence of the movement of the sun. However, their opinion is indecisive because all of their evidences only relate to the characteristics ‘like the rising and the setting’ of the sun; they do not state the reasons and the causes and whether it was because of the earth’s rotation, the sun’s rotation, or both, or rotation of another planet.
Therefore, relating these characteristics to the sun does not imply that it moves and rotates. Thus, sun setting, rising, appearing, and hiding are just some aspects of the motion and not the motion itself. Attributing setting and rising to the sun is only because of the people’s point of view; they watch the sun rise and set, thus, the Qur’an talks about what they see and know and it does not speak the actual fact of the matter.
Many people in the present era – the scientific era – still relate sunrise and sunset to the sun while not believing that the sun actually rises or sets; they do believe that sunrise and sunset are because of the rotation of the earth and these include scientists as well who may say let’s meet at the time of sunset or wake up at sunrise.
Similarly, Allah (ﷻ) says in the Qur’an: [Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, “O Dhul Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness].
Many tafsir scholars say that the sun does not actually set but that it is related to the people and what their eyes see. The same thing is with the characteristics of the sun – this is how it appears to the people. Read more on this here.
To add as evidence that these characteristics relate to what appears to the people is the fact that the Qur’an relates the night and day to a diverse set of things; sometimes to the sky as in this verse [And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness] (Q.79:29), and sometimes to the sun itself: [By the sun and its brightness] (Q.91:1). This diversity of meanings is just a diversity of expressions and not necessarily the facts.
According to this, our opinion is that we do not believe that the Qur’an apparently proves that the sun moves but we say that what is apparent in the Qur’an are the characteristics resulting from the motion of the sun; the Qur’an does not mention the type of this motion. Thus, from these two different opinions, we know that it is the scholars who say so and to say the Qur’an says that the sun moves is not a correct opinion.
Point to note: the Qur’an is not a physics, mathematics, or a history book but is a guide for all mankind; it guides them to Allah (ﷻ)’s miracles in the universe and what brings them close to him, and clarifies about the Almighty, His Majesty. What is grasped by the people with their eyes and through pondering is sufficient to understand the verses.
Some could argue that this would mean that the Qur’an speaks to people according to their wrong perceptions of the universe like their perception of the sun being the cause of night and day. We say that this is incorrect. We don’t say that the Qur’an speaks to people on incorrect basis rather we say that it does not discuss the facts at all (in this case); it talks to them about what they know and are familiar with all the time. The Qur’an does not speak of universal facts in either contradiction or affirmation because it is not a physics or an astronomy book.
One of the things that is controversial is this case is as follows:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said to Abu Dhar (رضي الله عنه) when the sun set: “Do you know where it goes?” I said: Allah (ﷻ) and His Messenger (ﷺ) know best. He said: “It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it asks for permission (to rise) and permission is given to it. Soon it will prostrate, but it will not be accepted from it, and it will ask for permission (to rise) but permission will not be given to it; it will be said to it: “Go back to where you came from.’ So it will rise from its place of setting, and that is what Allah (ﷻ), may He be glorified, refers to in the verse (interpretation of the meaning): [And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the Decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing] [Q.36:38].
The opponents claims that this saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) proves that the sun is what moves and sets, then it hides from the whole earth, and that the sun prostrates beneath the Throne, and waits for permission to come back again to rise which means that it stops moving at a point when it goes beneath the Throne which contradicts what has been proven by modern science that the sun is still and rotates on its own self.
If you follow the writings of the opponents, you will find that they jump with joy on this; a lot of them mention it and don’t get bored by repeating it continuously, and they find it as one of the strongest statements against Islam.
Before clarifying this case, we first have to know that this has been a controversial topic among Muslim scholars before the scientific era; many scholars have spoken of it and tried to explain it and clarify its meanings to address the doubts surrounding it. They were not blind to this Hadith and it was a very interesting topic for them.
To make it clear, we would separate the objection and divide it into four main points:
- The Hadith mentions that the sun sets while facts are contrary to it; the sun neither sets nor moves to any place and the earth’s rotation causes the sunset. This contradiction is not correct since the Hadith only mentions the sunset without mentioning the cause; it is the same as the verses mentioned earlier which speak of what the people see.
- The Hadith mentions that the sun prostrates beneath the Throne which implies that the sun stops moving and this contradicts modern science. Before commenting on this matter, we have to clarify that the mentioned prostrating is a special prostrating and is not the absolute physical movement to Allah (ﷻ); thus the Hadith states a special prostration related only to the sun. Moreover, saying that the prostration implies a stop is inaccurate. Since the base of the claim is faulty, that the sun prostrates like humans do, the argument itself is faulty as well. The fact is that the sun’s prostration and asking for permission is unknown to us. We do not know about it nor how it happens. Read a specially dedicated piece on this argument here.
The same is true for the prostration of the trees and stones and their glorification of Allah (ﷻ); if they are close to us and around us yet we do not know the manner in which they prostrate, then how can we understand the sun’s prostration?
Allah (ﷻ) says about their prostration: [The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving] (Q.17:44).
If the manner of the sun’s prostration is unknown to us, we cannot claim that it contradicts science as applied science does not recognize unknowns and only deals with what is applicable to the experiment. If science hasn’t experimented on a case, we cannot negate that case by saying that since science does not know yet, it does not exist and if it does not exist now, it has never existed. Such logic would be rejected by science and to do the same with Islam would be incorrect.
It is clear that the opponents of the sun’s prostration claiming it to be against science don’t have clear evidence to prove it a contradiction, and they have said it themselves that if it is unknown to science, it does not exist.
Moreover, prostration of the sun does not contradict the human mind because proving the opposite of something is invalid except if we know it for a fact and understand its nature. The sun’s prostration is unknown to us and we don’t know its manner, then how can we judge it and say that it contradicts our mind?!
We do not deny that what the Hadith states is unfamiliar to the human mind; however, there is a big difference between what the mind does not understand and what the mind cannot comprehend. Sometimes what the prophets inform people are topics which the mind does not understand but they do not tell the people about that which is impossible and that which the mind cannot comprehend. We have mentioned earlier that many opponents confuse between these two matters; sometimes they say that if it is unknown to the mind, it is impossible after which, for them, Islam contradicts science and mind.
Therefore, if the sun’s prostration is an unknown thing, it is not correct to contradict it and say that it implies that sun stops because it is not correct to state something’s specifications except if we already know its facts.
Many scholars have discussed this subject. Al-Khattabi says:
And it’s prostrating every night is not contradictory to its movement in its orbit.
There’s nothing contradictory in its prostration beneath the Throne and its orbiting and purpose for what it has been created for.
There are authentic Hadiths about the sun and its condition being unknown to the people such as this Hadith from Saheeh Muslim:
And it returns and emerges out from its rising place and it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything.
This means that nobody understands its prostration or seeking permission. Thus they do not discern anything.
Somebody may argue that the Hadith says that the sun is still until it is said to it: Rise up and return to the place whence you came. They may argue that this implies that the sun has to stop moving. We answer that it is not like that; it means that it is still under prostration until permission from Allah (ﷻ) to rise again is received, thus the permission is related to the prostration and not the motion. We have already said that the prostration does not imply motion except if it was a familiar prostration to the humans; however, this is about the sun and we don’t know how its prostration looks like.
- The Hadith mentions that the sun goes under the Throne and prostrates there but the fact is that the sun does not change its path or its orbit, then how can it go and come back?!
This alleged contradiction is inaccurate for two reasons:
- The sun’s going is not known; thus it is the same as the prostration discussed above. The prostration of the sun, the manner of which we don’t know, is the same as its movement here and there. Al-Khattabi states:
It is unknown. We won’t deny it and we don’t ask or say how it is; moreover, our mind and science cannot understand or know anything about it.
- The word for going in the Arabic language does not only mean the transformation from some place to another but may also mean the alignment; thus it would mean that the sun just aligns with/under the Throne, and what makes it more clear is that the Throne is much bigger than the sun and the skies and the whole earth. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
‘The seven heavens in relation to the Kursi are like a ring thrown into a waterless desert. And the superiority of the ‘Arsh over the Kursi is like the superiority of the desert over that ring.’
Ibn Kathir says about the Hadith:
This does not mean that it goes to the skies, but that it just sets out of our eyes even though it is still in its orbit.
Al-Khattabi comments on this Hadith as follows:
The sun prostrating beneath the Throne is not a denial of the fact that it aligns with the Throne while it orbits.
This style is known in the Arabic language; we say, for the one who went to pray, that he went to meet his God but the meaning here is not that he went above the heavens to meet Allah (ﷻ) there.
Similarly, here’s a verse about Ibrahim (عليه السلام) where Allah (ﷻ) says: [I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me!] (Q.37:99). This does not mean that he was going to meet Allah (ﷻ) above the seven heavens but that he was going to the place on earth where Allah (ﷻ) was being worshiped.
It is correct to say: the man has gone to the desert to meet the moon and to lie down below it; the meaning is not that he is going to the moon in its orbit to meet it there.
- The Hadith has specified the time of prostration, which is at the sunset, and mentioned that it does not prostrate at the time of sunrise; it is known that the sunrise and sunset are rational matters, since the sun is already rising and setting at the same time in different places, then it would be impossible to think that the sun prostrates and not prostrates all the time and having a single sunset at some moment on the whole earth contradicts applied science.
This matter is not right for two reasons:
- The sun’s prostration is unknown as we have already mentioned and we cannot specify the criteria of/for unknown things. Thus, saying that it is mandatory that the sun prostrates all the time is based on our wrong understanding of the prostration, which is unknown to us.
For this, we find a similar matter elsewhere in Islamic texts and that is coming down of Allah (ﷻ) every night to the first sky in the last third of the night. Some have criticized this coming down claiming that there is always a last third at some point of the earth and hence this would mean that Allah (ﷻ) would be coming down all the time, every time.
This alleged contradiction is based on an incorrect idea that Allah (ﷻ)’s coming down is the same as the humans which is totally false. The same thing is with the sun, we do not know how the prostration looks like and hence, we cannot relate it to our understanding of the human prostration.
- It might be correct that the sun has some point in its orbit where it will be typically adjacent to the Throne and this point is at the time of the sunset on the Arabian Peninsula where the Prophet (ﷺ) spoke the Hadith.
This would mean that the Hadith does not state that the sun, at the time of sunset, prostrates beneath the Throne, neither does it say that the sun prostrates every time the sun sets. Accordingly, the Hadith does not mention that the prostration takes place only at the time of sunset. The Prophet (ﷺ) did not say that (the sun was setting beneath the Throne) but he was speaking to those present at that time and at that time, the sun had set and prostrated and asked for permission from Allah (ﷻ). Therefore, this would mean that the Hadith is related to that point and that specific time.
Many scholars have spoken along similar lines. Al-Khattabi says:
This is not denying that it is adjacent to the Throne while it orbits.
Ibn Hajar says:
Actually his saying “beneath the Throne” means adjacent to it, and this does not contradict Allah (ﷻ)’s statement: [when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud]; thus, the meaning is that it pertains to those who look at it, but the prostration is after the sunset.
These opinions imply that the scholars did not understand that the sun prostrates when it has some sort of partial setting; thus, it does not prostrate all the time but just once when it is adjacent the Throne and that is when it sets from the Arabian Peninsula.
According to this, many of the opponents are now in trouble because they did not understand the actual meaning of the sayings and built a faulty understanding and wrong consequences and mixed up between the unknown and the impossible matters.
Many opponents of Islam claim that the Qur’an only speaks about the earth and the sky, and does not mention much about what is in between and this is manipulation of truth as we have discovered that there are many other planets, much bigger and many times more enormous than the earth. Since the earth is nothing compared to those planets, why did the Qur’an not talk about them?
The Qur’an, while mentioning the heavens, always speaks of the heavens and the earth and their large capacity as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous] (Q.3:133).
It is known that the earth is nothing compared to the sky which is numerous times bigger than the earth; why does the Qur’an not talk about it instead of speaking of only the earth?! And these questions mean that Qur’an is not from the Lord who created the universe and is from Muhammad (ﷺ) based on the basic perceptions that the people knew in that era. However, this allegation is not correct as it is based on wrong premises and wrong conclusions and that is for the following reasons:
This example is based on a faulty understanding of Islam’s primary purpose. The purpose is not to explain the astronomical cases and discuss the details of its components; rather, Islam is the religion that guides people to the worship of Allah (ﷻ), telling them about His greatness and His Might. It is not one of Qur’an’s goals to tell everything about the universe; its main goal is to guide them to the apparent significances that they can see with their eyes and feel. This is why the Qur’an only speaks of the apparent significances like the sky, earth, mountains, sun, moon, clouds and so on.
It is not a defect or shortage that the Qur’an does not mention these events since it’s not from the main purposes and goals of the Qur’an. Moreover, this not only pertains to astronomical cases but relates to the whole universe whether it be scientific, geographical, historical, or medical, The Qur’an simply discusses these but not as the primary purpose or the main goal. The Qur’an speaks about these to further contribute in guiding the people to the religion and to the right path but not as the main goal of clarification of each of these fields.
Moreover, there were plenty of false perceptions and opinions in the Prophet (ﷺ)’s era related to these matters but the Qur’an does not mention any of them as facts. Thus, if the Qur’an talked about these scientific matters, it would be a big historical, medical, and scientific book and this contradicts the main purpose of the revelation which is the guidance to worship Allah (ﷻ).
The verses and Hadiths guide people to the right path to search and learn about the matters pertaining to the universe; hence, if the people follow these verses and Hadiths, they would reach at the correct conclusions.
Even though the Qur’an does not contradict any of the correct astronomical theories, it has always been instructing the people to ponder and look around them and find out about this great universe, as Allah (ﷻ) says [Travel through the land and observe how He began creation. Then Allah will produce the final creation. Indeed Allah, over all things, is competent] (Q.29:20); it is obvious that the verse tells the people to travel and find out about this universe and its creatures.
Moreover, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
The seven heavens are in relation to the Kursi like a ring thrown into a waterless desert. And the superiority of the ‘Arsh over the Kursi is like the superiority of the desert over that ring.
This saying by the Prophet (ﷺ) is evidence that the universe is vast and great.
Further proofs that the Qur’an does not contradict the universe’s greatness and astronomical theories is that many Muslim scholars have been researching the universe as per the scientific approach and they have reached many conclusions such as the fact that the sun is massive compared to the earth and the moon and the planets have several different shapes; in addition, they did not find any contradiction between those experiments and the Qur’an.
The Qur’an’s comparison between or relating together the sky and the earth does not imply that the earth is close to the sky in terms of size; it is only related in an understandable context in the language of the Arabs. This is what many scholars have mentioned in the past as well. Al-Qurtubi says:
Some say: the context is familiar to the Arabs’ tongue; additionally, the Jannah has been equaled to the sky and the earth’s breadth and you may call it as the sea and for somebody who is bigger than an animal that this is a mountain. Therefore, the verse just means that the meaning of the breadth that has been known to us.
Some claim that the Qur’an says that the sky is a canopy that has doors and has decorations which are the stars and it can be seen by the human eye without microscopes.
Allah (ﷻ) says: [Have they not looked at the heaven above them – how I structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?] (Q.50:6). He also says: [It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see] (Q.13:2). He also says: [[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?] (Q.67:3) and says: [Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers] (Q.71:15). Modern science has reached far in space and has not found this canopy that could be noticed easily that has decorations and does not have any cracks or faults. This would mean that the Qur’an talks about a very poor perception which the people had at that time and it has been proven recently that these perceptions are faulty.
This allegation is not correct because it is based on a faulty understanding of the Qur’an’s way of clarification and explanation, and this contradiction is wrong for the following reasons:
The word sky has been mentioned many times in the Qur’an and in many contexts. It has been mentioned as a singular and plural more than three hundred times; many scholars have mentioned that the word sky in the Qur’an has many meanings, like the creation that has been done in two days as Allah (ﷻ) says [Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, “Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion.” They said, “We have come willingly“. And He completed them as seven heavens within two days and inspired in each heaven its command. And I adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing]. (Q.41:11-12). This could also carry the meaning of elevation as Allah (ﷻ) says: [Do they not see the birds controlled in the atmosphere of the sky? None holds them up except Allah. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe] (Q.16:79).
It could also mean the clouds: [And I send the fertilizing winds and send down water from the sky and given you drink from it. And you are not its retainers] (Q.15:22), as well as the rains [He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers] (Q.71:11).
Ibn Taymiyyah says:
The word ‘sky’ means everything high and it contains the skies, and the Throne and what is above; the word sky could mean the clouds, the space, and all of what is above.
Each of these meaning is according to the context of the verse; it is wrong to treat the word ‘sky’ as carrying one meaning in all of contexts and if one says that it is only an additional meaning in the context of the creation in two days, then how would this verse be understood? [He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers] (Q.71:11).
In most instances, the word appears as singular; the plural means the space that surrounds the earth that can be observed by the people, thus the Qur’an talks about this space as a cover or a canopy for it and it is filled with plenty of great signs.
Allah (ﷻ) says: [By the sky containing great stars] (Q.85:1). Many scholars differed in explaining the word (البروج) – ‘zodiacal signs’ or ‘great stars’ but generally they say that the meaning here is the sky that has stars, sun, and the moon. Ibn Jarir says regarding this:
I think that more accurate opinion is that the sky has towers or very high places for the sun and the moon; similarly Allah (ﷻ) says: [even if you should be within towers of lofty construction] (Q.4:78) which means very high places in the sky, which is like twelve towers.
This means that the meaning of the sky here is the space where the people see those towers. As an evidence to this point there is a verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [He who has placed in the sky great stars] (Q.25:61) which is the sky or its towers.
Allah (ﷻ) also says: [Then I opened the gates of the heaven with rain pouring down] (Q.54:11); it is known that the water falls from the skies and not from the creation that Allah (ﷻ) has built in two days. Allah (ﷻ) also says: [And I made the sky a protected ceiling, but they, from its signs, are turning away] (Q.21:32), and this verse means that the sky’s miracles could be seen but the disbelievers deny it; this is why the tafsir scholars mention that the meaning of the verses here is the sun, moon, stars, and so on.
This additionally implies that the meaning is the astronomical space that covers the earth. Ibn Kathir mentions that this verse is similar to another verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And how many a sign within the heavens and earth do they pass over while they, therefrom, are turning away] (Q.12:105) and another similar verse: [And how many a sign within the heavens and earth do they pass over while they, therefrom, are turning away] (Q.12:105).
In some of these verses, the Qur’an has used the word skies while speaking of miracles that could be watched as they are obvious for the people; if the meaning of the sky here was the creation that the Almighty did in two days then it would not have been possible to see its miraculous nature; on the contrary, the text states that it is very far away of us.
Evidence suggests that the world’s sky or skies could mean the astronomical cover that surrounds the earth that people could see and ponder over; supporting this meaning is the verse where Allah (ﷻ) says [Have they not looked at the heaven above them – how I structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?] (Q.50:6).
There are many more similar verses related to something that could be seen and could be pondered over and if the meaning was the creation that Allah (ﷻ) did in two days, then it is impossible to be seen using the human eye without advanced equipment.
Some may doubt the last statement because of this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?] (Q.67:3). Allah (ﷻ) instructs us to look at the sky which is impossible since it is invisible.
We would answer that this is not a problem. The scholars state that the instruction of looking at the sky is not just for the sky but also for every single creature that is visible and could be pondered over. Accordingly, it pertains to the visible creatures of Allah (ﷻ) and this is just an invitation to mankind to do their best and ponder and understand this great universe to comprehend whether it has any errors or faults.
According to many scholars, the meaning of sky in this verse is the visible space and not the big and the great heavens that we learn from the Sunnah and the Qur’an; the scholars said that the verse urges us to watch in the sky and ponder which would have been impossible if the instruction was about the things not visible to us as the skies/heavens are not visible and cannot be watched. This explanation is not against the apparent meaning since the word sky and skies in the Qur’an have many meanings.
The Qur’an sometimes speaks of the sky as the space that surrounds the earth and at other times, the sky refers to the creation that was completed in two days; Allah (ﷻ) says [Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days] (Q.10:3).
The Almighty also said [It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things] (Q.2:29) and said: [And He completed them as seven heavens within two days and inspired in each heaven its command. And I adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing] (Q.41:12).
The Almighty also says: [It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. [His] command descends among them] (Q.65:12). The authentic Sunnah details this matter of the seven skies and other related matters. These seven skies are from the matters of the unseen; we do not have an evidence on our own whether they exist or not and we accept the Prophet (ﷺ)’s words regarding it; if he had not told us about it, we would not have known about it.
It has also been mentioned in the religious texts that Allah (ﷻ) created it in just two days referring to the seven skies each above the other, and each one is separate from the other; it is very wide and each one has its inhabitants from the angels and each one has many characteristics.
Some could doubt Allah (ﷻ)’s statement: [Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers?] (Q.71:15) and say that the apparent meaning is that Nuh (عليه السلام)’s people could see those seven skies, then how come it is unknown and unseen by the human eye?
And we would answer by saying that it is not a problem since the probable meaning could be seven orbits because Allah (ﷻ) has mentioned the sun and the moon which means that it is in the context of the space and the orbits.
And some may say that the meaning of the verse here is the knowing vision not the optical vision; some scholars refer to this meaning and explain likewise, such as al-Qurtubi when he said:
In this verse Nuh (عليه السلام) is telling them about another evidence of Allah (ﷻ) being worthy of worship; the actual meaning here is not about the seeing of the eyes but it is like when you say to someone, ‘didn’t you see what happened’? This is like the knowing and not the actual seeing and is also similar to asking ‘didn’t you know what happened?
Ibn Adil explained this verse in this manner:
Did not you know this great Creator, who has to be worshiped?
Using the verb ‘see’ to mean ‘know’ is very common in the Qur’an as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills] (Q.22:18); this bowing down is not visible to us; moreover, Allah (ﷻ) has informed us that we don’t know how they do so.
In regards to the verse about the people of Nuh (عليه السلام), if they believed in a literal viewing, they would have contradicted him saying that they could not see; their acceptance to it means that they were familiar with it.
Another evidence is that Allah (ﷻ) speaks of the disbelieving Arabs as if they knew the seven heavens and the Throne, as in this verse where He Almighty says: [Say, “Who is Lord of the seven heavens and Lord of the Great Throne?” They will say, “[They belong] to Allah.” Say, “Then will you not fear Him?”] (Q.23:86-87).
And they did not know that with their minds but by the earlier evidences from their fathers and the prophets. Therefore, according to this explanation, we cannot say that this verse means that the seven skies could be seen by the human eye. We also cannot deny that it does not exist because modern science has not reached at everything and does not know everything around us yet. If there is no evidence that something exists, it is not an evidence against its existence. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
The existence of the seven skies is not contradictory to the mind as well and is not impossible either; in fact, it is very much possible. Therefore, those who believe in God have to believe in it since it is possible for God to do as He Wills and make possible what He Wills.
As for those who don’t believe in God, they should not be spoken to of the seven skies in such words or in direct terms because they do not even believe in the origin of these heavens and the Creator of the universe; what we must first discuss with them is the Creator of this universe and proofs that Allah (ﷻ) is the Creator of everything, then later on we could come to this particular issue.
We know that many scholars explained the seven skies as the seven orbits, and they said that the skies are visible and could be felt; Ibn Taymiyyah says about them:
Some of them say: does the meaning of the skies refer to the orbits or not? The answer is that there are two sayings known to the people, but those who say that they are the same thing have taken this verse as evidence [Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers and made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp?] (Q.71:15-16). They said: Allah (ﷻ) says that the moon is in the sky and He Almighty also said: [And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming] (Q.21:33); He also said: [It is not allowable for the sun to reach the moon, nor does the night overtake the day, but each, in an orbit, is swimming] (Q.36:40). He said in two verses that the moon is in the sky and orbits, and Allah (ﷻ) told us that we see the sky, as in this verse: [[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued] (Q.67:3-4). He also said: [Have they not looked at the heaven above them – how I structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?] (Q.50:6) and many similar statements which say that the sky is visible.
And if the believers of this opinion mean that the orbit is called a sky in the Qur’an, and the word sky sometimes means the space with its different orbits, then this would be an acceptable opinion as already clarified before. However, if they say that it is just the space and the orbits and there is no other meaning and if they deny the other meanings including the creation done in two days, then their opinion would not be correct because it contradicts the Qur’an.
Some scholars have said that the moon is in the first, Mercury in the second, Venus in third, Sun in fourth, and Mars in fifth and so on. However, this statement is based on interpretation and is not present in the texts and it is not correct to attribute it to Islam.
Some claim that the Qur’an speaks of the stars as if they are small in size and are related to the sky as decorations for it and missiles to drive away the devils and guides for the people but modern science proves that these stars are just enormous suns and galaxies that are very far away from us and that these shooting stars are not related to the devils at all. Thus, if the Qur’an was from Allah (ﷻ), how could such a mistake happen? This would imply that Islam is a man-made religion based on human perceptions.
However, this allegation has the same mistakes that have been made by the other opponents of Islam. Such doubts are not new but were there in the seventh Islamic century as well, and many scholars discussed it; the perception of the criticism is not correct because of the following reasons:
There’s no doubt that the Qur’an mentions that the stars are decorations of the sky and sometimes it calls it as the planets as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Indeed, I have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars] (Q.37:6), and sometimes the Qur’an calls it lamps: [And I have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars and have made [from] them what is thrown at the devils and have prepared for them the punishment of the Blaze] (Q.67:5); and other times calls it as the stars, as in this verse: [And landmarks; and by the stars they are [also] guided] (Q.16:16).
The Qur’an does not mention the characteristics of these planets and lamps and whether they are related to the sky or they orbit in the space or whether they are static or moving or whether they are small or big. This is one of the instances that the Qur’an does not address in excessive detail.
Thus, being a decoration of the sky and not attached to it is acceptable in the language and it is used in the daily used language. Moreover, describing it as a guide for the people along the road means from the perspective of the people at it from earth. There is no doubt that this is true as many people still consider the stars as a decoration for the sky at night. Furthermore, the astronomers as well, so far, believe that the sky’s light is considered a decoration for it and some of them may say some beautiful phrases to describe it.
When the Qur’an speaks of driving away the devils, it only mentions the shooting stars, which is a ball of fire and it does not mention that the stoning occurs by the planets and the stars, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Except one who steals a hearing and is pursued by a clear burning flame]. (Q.15:18). The Almighty also says: [Except one who snatches [some words] by theft, but they are pursued by a burning flame, piercing [in brightness]] (Q.37:10).
Many scholars paid attention to this and said that the stoning and the pursuing do not take place by planets or stars but by shooting stars; then they argued about the relation between the shooting stars and the planets. Some said that it is a part of it and some said that it is not. Ibn Hazm says that the shooting stars are not the planets and that material/matter (of the stars) is different from the planets; he says:
The shooting stars come out of the sky of the earth; if it was from the upper sky then the devils would have reached it (the upper sky) and the shooting star would not have reached the devils because they (shooting stars) already remained in the upper sky while the devils are prevented from going to the upper sky; these are simply shooting stars and meteorites made from fire and they burn and extinguish.
Al-Razi agreed with Ibn Hazm; he said:
If the devils are stoned by the planets, then their numbers would decrease as well from sky’s decoration – those shooting stars are not like the firm planets and regarding Allah (ﷻ)’s saying [And I have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars and have made [from] them what is thrown at the devils] we would say that each bright thing above us would be considered as a lamp for the people of the earth, some of those lamps will be forever and some not such as those shooting stars that Allah (ﷻ) talks about.
And as result of what he was saying: the lamps are of two types; the first: those firm stars that we see in the night; the second: the shooting stars that have been made to stone (as) missiles to drive away the devils. And both are lamps because they light the sky at the night.
Also al-Zamakhshari says that those shooting stars are not the same as the planets; he says:
The meaning of ‘missiles for the devils’ is that the shooting stars are a part of the fire of the planets, but not the planets themselves since they are in the orbit and do not leave it.
Ibn al-Jawzi said:
In the verse [and have made [from] them what is thrown at the devils] the meaning is, I made some parts of it for doing so because the planets are firm and not for driving away the devils; it is the same as one may say: I visited this place when you just visited a part of it.
Ibn Kathir hesitated in regards to the relation between the shooting stars and the planets; he said:
And in this verse, the meaning is the lamps as a kind and not the lamps itself since the planets are not used for doing so; however, shooting stars are a part of it and could be extended from it.
These explanations by the pre-modern scholars show us that they differentiated between the planets, the stars, and the shooting stars that shoot the devils.
The Qur’an does not say that every shooting star is for the purpose of chasing away the devils but it only says that the devils are shot at if they go to the sky; the Qur’an does not mention that it is only for this reason alone which means that what we see in the sky could be for shooting the devils and could be a result of a normal reason not related to the devils.
Some could say: this contradicts Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه)’s Hadith when he reported:
A person from the Ansar who was amongst the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) reported to me: As we were sitting during the night with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), a meteor shot giving a dazzling light. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: What did you say in the pre-Islamic days when there was such a shot (of meteor)? They said: Allah (ﷻ) and His Messenger (ﷺ) know best (the actual position), but we, however, used to say that this very night a great man had been born and a great man had died, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: (These meteors) are shot neither at the death of anyone nor on the birth of anyone. Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, issues Command when He decides to do a thing. Then (the Angels) supporting the Throne sing His glory, then sing the dwellers of heaven who are near to them until this glory of God reaches them who are in the heaven of this world. Then those who are near the supporters of the Throne ask these supporters of the Throne: What your Lord has said? And they accordingly inform them what He says. Then the dwellers of heaven seek information from them until this information reaches the heaven of the world. In this process of transmission (the jinn snatches) what he manages to overhear and he carries it to his friends. And when the Angels see the jinn they attack them with meteors. If they narrate only which they manage to snatch that is correct but they mix it with lies and make additions to it.
We answer this doubt by saying that this Hadith does not collect all the reasons of the shooting; since the Prophet (ﷺ) had been talking about the superstitions that related to the shooting stars, he clarified its purpose and did not say that all of the shooting is for that reason alone.
For the sake of argument, assume that all of the shooting stars are made only for the devils; it still does not contradict the Islamic position since there is a difference between the natural reason and the unknown reason.
There is no contradiction between both the matters; every event could have an obvious matter and another unknown matter, and this is not something our minds cannot comprehend, that the shooting stars are for shooting the devils along with other objectives known by its Creator.
The problem with most of the opponents is that they only believe that there is either a natural reason or an unknown reason, and that if they find out the natural reason, then there is no unknown reason; this is a blunder for many reasons: they do not believe in the soul since they believe that when somebody dies, it is only because the heart stopped beating. Moreover, they believe that the thunder is only because of the friction between the clouds and disbelieve that it is because a sound of an angel.
All these beliefs are incorrect since it is not impossible for our minds to comprehend that something has many reasons, some of which are known to us and others unknown.
The devils’ world is an unknown world and we just believe it using reliable and true sayings. Accordingly, we do not know how the devils go to the sky, nor do we know how they listen to the angels, neither do we know the characteristics of the angels nor where they stand to guard the skies; we neither know how the shooting of the devils occurs nor do we know whether the shooting serves to kill them or only harm them. All these details are not known to us and we cannot argue about them; we cannot relate something to Islam except if there were a very obvious matter.
Some claim that Islam says that the sky and the earth and what is in between were created in just six days while modern science says that the creation of these took millions of years. Moreover, the Quran says that the creation of the earth was before the sky, the sun, and the moon but modern science proves that the sun was created millions of years before the earth.
This contradiction is evidence that Islam is a man-made religion created by Muhammad (ﷺ) according to what was common in his time about the universe and its creation.
Furthermore, the Quran has many contradictions in its verses; sometimes it says that the earth was created before the sky as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Say, “Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds.” And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and determined therein its [creatures’] sustenance in four days without distinction – for [the information] of those who ask. Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, “Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion.” They said, “We have come willingly”] (Q.41:9-11).
In other instances, the Qur’an says that the earth was created after the sky, as in this verse: [Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it. He raised its ceiling and proportioned it. And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness. And after that He spread the earth] (Q.79:27-30).
This is one of the most common contradiction allegation by the opponents of Islam. However, it is also, like many other faulty allegations, filled with plenty of mistakes and deviations; the reasons of its faultiness are as follows:
- There is no doubt that Allah (ﷻ) has mentioned that the earth and the skies were created in six days as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [He who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days and then established Himself above the Throne – the Most Merciful so ask about Him one well informed] (Q.25:59).
The scholars of the past had many opinions about the duration of those six days:
- It is the same as our days
- Those days were like the last day where each day is about thousand or fifty thousand years long
- We don’t know the length of those days.
Ibn Taymiyyah agreed with the third opinion; he wrote:
And creation of the skies and the earth took a period that is different from our days, and they were created in six days, and their motion started after the creation, and the time of the day and the night started after they were created, and the creation period is different than this period of the night and day). He said that there is another time scale different from the scale of the earth and motion of the sun; he said: (Allah (ﷻ) said that He created the world in six days, and at the time of its creation there was a time scale which was not the same as our; it was another time scale that involved the creation of the sun and the moon, and this time scale is different from the time of the night and the day.
Al-Baydawi also agreed with the third opinion; he said:
Allah (ﷻ) says [Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days] means: six times or on the period of six days, and what is known about the day is the time from the sunrise until the sunset and there was no such sun at that time.
Mahmoud Shukri al-Alusi also says:
The meaning of the day here is the absolute time, not the known time, because there was no sun or moon at that time.
The different opinions pertain to the different point of views for this case; since they wanted to get rid of this alleged contradiction between science and Islam. Many scholars agreed with the third opinion and approved it as an answer for the opponents of the Quran.
Therefore, if the length of the mentioned days is unknown, then it is not right to claim that Quran contradicts modern science theories regarding the universe and such a thing is very obvious.
Some could say that this contradicts the Hadith that talks about the period of time of creating the creatures where Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) took hold of my hands and said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and lie caused the animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (عليه السلام) after ‘Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i.e. between afternoon and night.
This means that the days were similar to our days now.
This is incorrect as this is actually a doubtful Hadith and many Hadith scholars spoke about it; one of those who doubted it was al-Bukhari, Yahya b. Ma’in, Ali b. Al Madini, Abdul Rahman b. Mahdi, Bayhaqi, al-Tabari, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Kathir, Ibn al-Mulaqqin and many others; so we cannot depend on this Hadith.
- Assuming that this is a correct claim and the days are the same is the days of our current world or similar to the last day, even then one cannot claim that it contradicts the Quran since science has not reached on to something specific in this case; there is no absolute right opinion about the universe creation as of now and it is one of the cases that has been controversial among the scholars. Many theories have been presented about the origin of the universe but they are still in the guessing phase; there is not an absolute answer or a proven fact regarding this matter.
When John Gribbin wanted to write a story about the universe, he said that many publications and articles were purely based on assumption and guesswork:
Thus, there will not be just one absolute correct history about the universe but it is all simply some sorts of narratives and diversity of explanations.
He mentioned that his book is considered as one of the theories of the history of the universe and not the only theory of the universe; this is a very fascinating phrase and it means that the one who is writing about the history of the earth does not give an absolute fact about its history; it is just his opinion since science did not reach the level of absolute fact as of yet.
Similarly, when Steven Weinberg proposed his theory of the creation of the universe, he said:
This sample, that we built, is based on uncertainty, even at the beginning of the universe.
He confirms his opinion by saying:
We still have much to do to make sure that we know about the different patterns of the development of the galaxies.
He then continued talking about the first case again and gave caution that it is not an absolute truth; he mentioned that we simply use this sample and this theory just because it’s probably the best for explaining the creation of the universe.
Stephen Hawking has always confirmed this opinion that science has not reached the point that it could call something as an absolute fact, and he says:
Why do we believe that what we know is the best? What do we know about the universe? And how? And where the universe came from? And where it goes? And if it has a beginning, then what happened before that? Is it going to end at some point? The latest ‘physical achievements’ is answering some of the questions that have been asked a long time ago.
Regarding the suggested theory of big bang, he said:
And this picture of the universe that starts very hot and then gets cold and extends by the time does not contradict what we see right now in this day and age and anyway there are still some other questions without answers.
He then continued to talk about these questions. This opinion proves that modern science has not relied on some particular theories as of yet and it is possible that science may find some other theories completely different from others.
He mentioned the same in his other book that he called The universe in a nutshell where he states:
But we have not reached total understanding of the universe as of yet – we have made big achievements and made great advances in understanding the universe, specifically in the recent years but we still don’t have a complete understanding as of yet and this could be very soon – we should try to understand how it began, using scientific methodologies, and it might be a mission that is very tough for us but we have to try and try.
While discussing the scientific theories that explain the creation of the universe, he confirmed that some of them are not based on scientific experiments but we believe in them since they are consistent with other applied theories.
All of the previous opinions prove that mankind has not reached the absolute truth yet and much of it is all about assumptions. Those assumptions are consistent with some other theories and science might forget it at some point and go with other totally different theories.
Therefore, based on all of this, we cannot depend on these theories in contradicting the religion in case of the creation of the universe and how it came into being; since the contradiction has to be based on very clear and proven cases, how do you want the people to forget their opinions and believe in others that might be wrong at some point and without evidences? How come we deny our Prophet (ﷺ)’s news that is from an honest and trustworthy source and believe in other doubtful opinions?
- The Quran did not mention all of the details about the creation of the universe and the creation of the sky and the sun; it just talked about some of it like in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Say, “Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds.” And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and determined therein its [creatures’] sustenance in four days without distinction – for [the information] of those who ask. Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, “Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion.” They said, “We have come willingly”]] (Q.41:9-11).
These verses do not mention that there were no creatures before that time but say that there were many like the Throne, the water, the pen, the tablet and many others. It also does not mention that Allah (ﷻ) did not create anything else except the skies and the earth; there could be other creatures in those six days that we do not know anything of, and it does not say that Allah (ﷻ) did not create any creatures after those six days and Allah (ﷻ)’s creatures do not stop.
Hence, what the verses are talking about is simply that Allah (ﷻ) created the earth in two days, and placed in it its sustenance in other two days, and then created the skies in two days.
These verses do not mention what is between them and we don’t know anything about what is in between as to whether they were created in the first moment of the six days or in between or at the end of the six days.
Accordingly, saying that the Quran claims that the earth has been created before the sun is not correct since the Quran does not discuss the creation time of the sun at all.
- Claiming that the Quran contradicts the order of creation of the skies and the earth is a faulty claim based on misunderstanding the Quran’s verses and its aims and objectives; this has been addressed in the centuries before us. The scholars have three opinions:
- The Earth has been created before the skies and that is what most of the scholars said and they took the apparent meaning in the previous verses in Surah Fussilat (Q.41) as evidence;
- The sky had been created before the earth, and they took the Surah al-Nazi’at (Q.79) verses as evidence;
- Stopped short of a decisive conclusion.
The closest opinion is that the Quran does not explicitly support one opinion in this case; since the apparent sayings speak of creation of the seven skies after the earth, but there’s no evidence about how they have been created.
And assuming the opinion that says that the creation of the earth was before the sky according to most of the scholars is true would not contradict Allah (ﷻ)’s saying: [Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it. He raised its ceiling and proportioned it. And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness. And after that He spread the earth] Q.79:27-30).
Many tafsir scholars have discussed this since the very beginning and they discussed a number of possibilities:
- For the meaning of ‘spreading out the earth is made appropriate for living and use’, Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) was asked and he answered that the earth was created before the sky but its spreading out is after the creation of the sky.
- When Allah (ﷻ) says that He extended the earth, He means with all of that He extended it.
And the correct answer is the first one and many scholars have agreed with it such as Ibn Jarir, Ibn Atiyyah and Ibn Kathir.
Accordingly, to say that the Quran contradicts the order of the earth and the sun’s creation is not true at all and is based on misconceptions and misunderstandings.
One of the objections against Islam in astronomical field is the claim that Quran speaks of only one sun and one moon in the universe, and mentions them in singular; moreover, the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned that both of the moon and the sun will be shaped as a ball in fire whereas science has discovered that there are many other suns and moons.
And like the others, this contradiction is faulty and filled with plenty of misconceptions and this is because of the following matters:
There is no doubt that the Quran does not mention the sun or the moon except in singular terms; however, this does not mean that there are no other suns or moons. The Quran is not required to discuss all of the suns or the moons and other planets since it is not a book of physics nor of astronomy; it is for guiding the people to be close to their lord, the Creator of the universe; it is simply reminding them how great this universe is – thus it does not negate that there are no other suns or moons.
In reality, the Quran speaks of the seen and felt universe from what the people see and feel and not what the whole universe contains. Whether the universe has other suns or moons or not has no relation to the Quran as it is not one of its objectives to address all of the planetary details.
We know that some modern Muslim scholars say that the Quran says that there is just one moon and one sun. However, this opinion is just related to those who say it and neither to Islam at all nor the Muslims as a whole because, additionally, the owners of this opinion do not refer to any apparent evidence or an apparent verse from the Quran.
Moreover, when we refer back to scholarly opinions, we find that there are many who said the opposite and mentioned that there are many other moons and skies, then why don’t the opponents say that this is the only correct opinion and represents Islam correctly? The correct opinion is that the Quran does not talk about this case either by approval or negation and all those who say otherwise do so based on their understanding and their effort.
Many opponents claims that the Quran describes the moon as it is a part of the whole seven heavens and their lighting, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers and made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp?] (Q.71:15-16).
However, modern science says that the moon is very tiny compared to the sun and other planets; how then could the moon light the whole seven heavens? Science has also proven that the space is very dark; how then could one say that it is a light for the skies?
Just like the others, this allegation is faulty and filled with misconceptions and this is because of the following matters:
The Muslim scholars discussed this case much before the modern era. They said that the Quran does not say that the moon is in the whole universe or all the heavens but only in our sky that is the most close to us; they explained this verse to mean that Allah (ﷻ) has made the moon as a light for our sky and this style is well known in the Arabic language and it has been used in many instances such as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [From both of them emerge pearl and coral] (Q.55:22) and it is known that pearls and the corals is just came out of one of them.
In Allah (ﷻ)’s saying: [Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers and made the moon therein a [reflected] light and made the sun a burning lamp?]. Al-Hassan says: means in the lower sky, as you are sating I went to Tamim’s sons and you just went to some of them.
[And made the moon therein a [reflected] light] means: in the lower sky.
Ibn Kisan said:
If it was in one of them, then it is in all of them.
How he said [And made the moon therein a [reflected] light] and the moon is not in all of them but just in the lower sky. To further clarify, the situation is something like this, if you say: the prince is in Iraq; the meaning is not that he is in every place in Iraq but that he is somewhere there – the same is true for the moon.
The Quran says that the moon lights up the lower sky (by its reflected light); it does not light up the whole skies with all of its sides and galaxies. Since it is not correct to say that the lamp lights up the whole house as it only lights up a part of it, it is also not correct to say that the moon lights up the entire earth and it only lights up the corresponding side. Therefore, it is correct to conclude that the moon does not light up all the parts of the sky.
Saying that the moon is in the sky does not imply that it is a part of the sky structure; the meaning is that it is in the direction of the sky and it is correct in the language to say: the plane is in the sky while you mean to say that it is simply in the direction of the sky and is not a part of its structure; the meaning here is of elevation.
Many scholars talked about this meaning; al-Hassan al-Basri said:
The sun, the moon, and the stars in every orbit between the sky and the earth are not attached and if they were, they would not orbit.
Many tafsir scholars said that the moon and the sun spin/move in orbits between the sky and the earth; Sh. Muhammad al-Uthaymeen says:
To say that the sun and the moon are in an orbit between the sky and earth does not contradict that they are in the sky since the sky sometimes means the raising and the elevation.
Ibn Qutaybah said:
All of what is above you is sky means in the direction of the sky.
The word sky means the raising, in the Qur’an, as in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [And I send down blessed rain from the sky and make grow thereby gardens and grain from the harvest] (Q.50:9).
Another claim by the opponents is that the Qur’an says that there are seven earths, each above the other; even Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) says: (seven earths, each earth has a profit like yours) while modern science has advanced considerably and gone deep into the earth and has not found anything like that.
Before continuing, we have to confirm that the words seven earths have been mentioned in many Hadiths but the Quran mentioned it just once in this verse where Allah (ﷻ) says: [It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. [His] command descends among them so you may know that Allah is over all things competent and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge] (Q.65:12).
It is mentioned in the Sunnah many times, like in this Hadith where Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
Whoever usurps the land of somebody unjustly, his neck will be encircled with it down the seven earths (on the Day of Resurrection.”
To clarify this we will review opinions of some scholars and their understanding for it. Regarding this matter, they were mainly on two stances:
Some denied that there are many earths and said that there is just one earth, and they took as evidence that the Quran’s discusses the one earth all the time while talking about seven skies. Regarding this verse [It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them].
They answered it with two opinions:
- The verse has another meaning which is: Allah (ﷻ) is He Who created seven Firmaments and similarly he created the earth.
- The meaning is the representation of the material and the elements not the number: as you say: I had seven friends and I have another like them; therefore it’s related to the friendship not the number of friends.
But this opinion is very weak; since it contradicts the Sunnah which that proves that the earths are seven.
Some said that the earths are seven and not just one but the believers of this opinion argued about the meaning of the seven earths and there are a number of opinions:
- There are seven earths separated of each other and in each one are people and inhabitants and each of those earths has its own prophets and messengers. They took this saying by Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) as evidence where he said:
Seven earths like yours, in each earth prophets like yours, Adam like Adam, Nuh like Nuh, etc.
However, this saying is doubtful and not related to Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه).
- The meaning is seven different regions separate and different from each other. However, this is not correct as it contradicts the apparent sayings which say that there are seven earths not regions.
- The meaning is seven attached earths with blank in between with life being on the upper earth only. The believers of this opinion took some text as evidence such as the one about the unjust person going down to the seven earths as a punishment from Allah (ﷻ) and this going down would not take place except if they were attached.
After weighing in the evidences, the closest to the correct answer is that we don’t know the meaning of the seven earths nor how they are attached. What we do know is that the matter is as it has been revealed, that there are seven earths, knowing of neither their characteristics nor of how they are like. Therefore, it is one of the unknown things and it also does not contradict the intellect.
According to this opinion, it is incorrect to say that Islam contradicts science because don’t know the scientific details of the matter yet and don’t know what is meant by Allah (ﷻ). Moreover, speaking of the layers, these could be measured according to many standards. We could say that it has five or six or seven layers or more; how then could one specify only a single standard by oneself and then say that Islam contradicts science?
Another thing that opponents claim regarding Islam contradicting science is the status of thunder in the Islam. Thunder in Islam, they say, is like an angel that resurrects the clouds or It is the angel’s sound whereas modern science informs us that thunder is something that occurs due to different pressures in the clouds due to which some explosions take place which makes and enormous sound that we hear on earth.
Even this alleged contradiction is not correct and is based on false premises and the understanding derived from the statements is not correct; this is because of the following matters:
We recognize that many sayings or Hadiths narrated from the Prophet (ﷺ) are factual and one of the most famous is the Hadith of Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) where he says:
The Jews came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Abul Qasim! Inform us about the thunder, what is it?’ He said: ‘An angel among the angels is responsible for the clouds. He has a piece of fire with which he drives the clouds wherever Allah (ﷻ) wills.’ They said: ‘Then what is this noise we hear?’ He said: ‘It is him, striking the clouds when he drives them on, until it goes where it is ordered.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.’ They said: ‘Then inform us about what Isra’il made unlawful for himself.’ He said: ‘He suffered from sciatica, and he could not find anything agreeable due to it (to consume) except for camel meat and its milk. So for that reason he made it unlawful.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.'”
The scholars differed over this Hadith in terms of its ruling and whether it is authentic or not; one thing is clear and that is it does not reach the Prophet (ﷺ) because of Bikeer b. Shihab al-Kufi from Sa’eed b. Jubayr and he is not strong in his grasp.
And Abu Na’im was one of those who paid attention to this issue and talked about it saying:
It is a strange Hadith from Sa’eed b. Jubair, and the only narrator is Bikeer.
Al-Bukhari also mentioned that Bikeer was wrong when he related this Hadith to the Prophet (ﷺ) and the truth that it is related to Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه). 
The scholars argued about the fact of the thunder; most of them said that it is an angel that resurrects the clouds and that has been known by some of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) like Ali b. Abi Talib, Abdullah b. Amr and Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه), and some of them said that it is just some kinds of winds that stir the clouds and make that sound that we hear.
Whether we took at the first or the second opinions, these are only some efforts by some scholars and these cannot represent Islam or the Quran which are free of any kind of mistake.
If we say that the saying is correct and it actually is a sound of an angel, then this does not contradict the friction between the clouds and the pressure between it since there is no a contradiction between the actual and the unknown reason. There could be many reasons for the same thing, and this is not impossible for our minds and for this we have many examples already discussed previously.
Ibn Taymiyyah discussed this before the modern era; after mentioning the Hadith that talks about the thunder he said:
Many opinions have been narrated from many scholars regarding the contradiction between the Hadith and the friction of the clouds or the pressure inside the clouds; they do not contradict each other, and the angles are those that move the clouds from some place to another, and each motion in the upper world or the lower is because of the angels, and the sounds heard by the humans is just because of the friction of the things of the angels such as his lips, teeth, and the throat; when he praises God and propagates virtue and prevents vice, then the thunder is a sound of an angle.
The problem with the opponents is that they always confuse between the natural reason and the unknown reason and eventually claim that science contradicts the religion. With this example, we finish the astronomical examples that the opponents have argued to contradict Islam, and as we have seen, some of them are based on wrong perceptions and others based on doubtful facts while they claim otherwise.
And there are many other cases related to other fields such as what the embryo is made of; is it the man’s water or the woman’s water, the phases of the embryo in its mother’s belly, the position of the mind whether it is in the heart or in the brain, the effects of circumcision on men and women, is it possible to know what is in the wombs except by Allah (ﷻ), whether all of the creatures are couples, and many other cases. These require lots of clarifications and many Muslim researchers have already completed this mission.
Indeed, Allah (ﷻ) knows best.
References and footnotes:
 al-Fasl fi al-milal wal-ahwa’ wal-nihal (349/1), Majmoo’ al-Fatawa of Ibn Taymiyyah (587/6), Majallat al-Manaar of Rasheed Rida (258/7)
 Marooj al-Dhahb (253/1)
 Mi’yaar al-‘Ilm (30), and look in it 293
 Tahafut al-Falasifah (80)
 Al-Muntazam fi tareekh al-muluk wal-umam, Ibn al-Jawzi (130/1)
 Tafsir al-Kabeer (312/4)
 al-Fasl fi al-milal wal-ahwa’ wal-nihal (349/1)
 Majmoo’ al-Fatawa (195/25); also see Al-Muntazam fi tareekh al-muluk wal-umam, Ibn al-Jawzi (184/1)
 Al-Jami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an (280/9), also see Usul al-Deen by Abdul Qahir al-Baghdadi wal-farq bayn al-firaq (330)
 Al-Tafsir al-Kabeer (5/19)
 Anwaar al-Tanzeel (16/1)
 Al-Bahr al-Muheet fi al-Tafsir (80/7)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah ‘ala atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tuwayjari
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah ‘ala atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tuwayjari (24, 27, 28), and hidayatul hayraan fi mas’alatu al-dawaraan, Abdul Kareem al-Hameed/Humayd (73)
 Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem (203/6), also see in the same reference (179/8, 302), and ma’alim al-tanzil, al-Baghawi (607/1)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah ‘ala atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tuwayjari (25), and hidayatul hayraan fi mas’alatu al-dawaraan, Abdul Kareem al-Hameed/Humayd (73)
 Al-Mufradaat (480)
 Al-Tahrir wal-Tanwir (97/13), also see Ahkaam al-Qur’an, al-Qurtubi (90/10), and Ruh al-Ma’ani, al-Alusi (114/14), and al-kashaaf, al-Zamakhshari (559/2), and al-tayseer al-Karim al-Manaan, al-Sa’di (522/1)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah ‘ala atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tuwayjari (23)
 See Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (557/6), Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, al-‘Iz b. Abdul Salam (1208/3), al-Tahrir wa al-Tanweer, Tahir b. Ashur (328/22), and Adwaa’ al-Bayan, al-Shinqiti (296/2)
 Tabarani, Mu’jam al-Kabeer (417/11)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah a’la atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tajwayri (33), and hidayatul hayraan fi mas’alatu al-dawaraan, Abdul Kareem al-Hameed (74)
 Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajr (308/6), wa Silsilah al-Saheeha, al-Albani (858/1)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah a’la atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tajwayri (54), and hidayatul hayraan fi mas’alatu al-dawaraan, Abdul Kareem al-Hameed (75)
 Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an (280/9)
 Ruh al-Ma’ani (204/22)
 Al-Farq bayn al-Firaq (330)
 Tawfeeq al-Rahman lil-Tawfeeq bayna ma qaaluhu ‘ulama al-hee’atu wa bayna ma jaa fil Ahadith al-Saheeha wa Ayaat il Qur’an, al-Mut’ani (72)
 Mahaasin al-Ta’wil, al-Qasimi (508/7), and al-Tahrir wal Tanweer, Tahir b. Ashur (47-50/20), Tawfeeq al-Rahman lil-Tawfeeq bayna ma qaalahu ‘ulama al-hay’atu wa bayna ma jaa’a fil Ahadith al-Saheeha wa Ayaat al-Qur’an, al-Mut’ani (165)
 Adwaa’ al-Bayan, al-Shinqiti (144/6)
 Refer back to the previous reference
 Majallat al-Manaar, Rasheed Rida (258/7)
 Ma dalla ‘alayhi al-Qur’an mimma ya’dod al-hay’atu al-jadeedah (65)
 Majmu’ al-fatawa wa rasail al-‘uthaymeen (70-71/1)
 Musnad Ahmad (7964)
 Al-Husoon al-Hameediyah (108)
 Tafsir Surah al-Kahf (32), also see Tafsir Surah al-Baqarah, al-‘Uthaymeen (283/3)
 Tawfeeq al-Rahman lil-Tawfeeq bayna ma qaalahu ‘ulama al-hay’atu wa bayna ma jaa’a fil Ahadith al-Saheeha wa Ayaat al-Qur’an, al-Mut’ani (108)
 Sahih al-Bukhari (3199), and Sahih al-Muslim (250)
 A’lam al-Hadith fi sharh sahih al-Bukhari, al-Khattabi (1893/3), al-bidaya wal-nihaya, Ibn Kathir (33/1) and ‘umda tul Qari, al-‘Aini (119/15), and fath al-bari, Ibn Hajr (299/6)
 A’lam al-Hadith fi sharh sahih al-Bukhari, al-Khattabi (1893/3)
 Al-Asma’ wal-Sifaat (275/2)
 A’lam al-Hadith fi sharh sahih al-Bukhari, al-Khattabi (1893/3); also see sharh al-mishkaat for al-Tibi (3450/11)
 Sahih ibn Hibban (361), Ibn Abi Shayba in Kitab al-Arsh (58), al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wal-Sifaat (862); silsilah al-saheeha for al-Albani (109)
 Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya (33/1)
 A’lam al-Hadith fi sharh sahih al-Bukhari, al-Khattabi (1894/3)
 Tafsir ibn Jarir al-Tabari (71/21), and Tafsir al-Baghawi (46/7)
 Sharh Hadith al-Nuzool, Ibn Taymiyyah (320)
 A’lam al-Hadith fi sharh sahih al-Bukhari, al-Khattabi (1894/3)
 Fath al-Bari (542/8)
 Mafhoom al-Samaa fil Qur’an, Majallat ana ufakir (24/10)
 Mi’yaar al-‘Ilm, al-Ghazali (30/1)
 Al-Ta’reef bi ‘ulema al-fulk al-Muslimeen wa shai min iktishafaatihim: ithaf al-afadil bi asma’ wa tawaleef ba’d ahl al-fulk al-awaail, Fakhr al-Din al-Munazir, Muntada al-Tawhid; see: https://goo.gl/xVxq00
 Al-Jami’ li Ahkaam al-Qur’an (205/4)
 Mafhoom al-Samaa fil Qur’an, Majallat ana ufakir (23-25/10)
 Nazhatul a’ayun al-Nawazir fi ‘ilm al-wujuh wa al-nazair, Ibn al-Jawzi (358), and Qamoos al-Qur’an, al-Hassan b. Muhammad al-Daamghaani (249)
 Majmu’ al-fatawa (109/16)
 Jami’ al-bayan fi Tafsir il Qur’an (261-262/24), also see Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (362/8)
 Jami’ al-bayan fi Tafsir il Qur’an (119/23)
 Fath al-Rahman fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, al-‘Ulaymi al-Hanbali (174/7), and Tawfeeq al-Rahman lil-Tawfeeq bayna ma qaalahu ‘ulama al-hay’a wa bayna ma jaa’ fil Ahadith al-Saheeha wa Ayaat il Qur’an, al-Mut’ani (74)
 Al-Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an (304/18)
 Tafsir al-lubab, Ibn Adil (380/19)
 Majmu’ al-fatawa, Ibn Taymiyyah (592/6)
 Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (233/8)
 Majmu’ al-fatawa wa rasail al-Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen (322/5)
 Tafsir al-Kabir, al-Razi (584/10)
 al-Fasl fi al-milal wal-ahwa’ wal-nihal
 Al-Tafsir al-Kabeer (319/26)
 Al-Kashaaf (581/4), also see shifaa’ al-‘aleel, Ibn al-Qayyim (718/2)
 Al-Tasheel li-‘ulum al-tanzeel (395/2)
 Tafsir il-Qur’an il-Azeem (177/8)
 Sahih al-Muslim, 5538/1
 Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (426)
 Dar’ ta’arud al-aql wal-naql (123/1)
 Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (362/1)
 Anwaar al-tanzil wa asrar al-ta’wil (15/3)
 Ma dalla ‘alayhi al-Qur’an mimma ya’dod al-hay’atu al-jadeedah (66)
 Muslim (6707) and others
 Al-Imam Muslim wa manhajuhu fi al-saheehayn wa atharuhu fi ‘ilm al-Hadith, Mash’hoor b. Hassan al-Salman (567-577/2), and Ahadith al-‘aqeedah al-mauham ishkaaluha fi al-saheehayn, Sulayman al-Dubayikhi (357-362)
 Here is a separate treatment on this Hadith: Meanings and Significance of the Hadith about Creation on Weekdays
 Qissat al-Kawn(11)
 Ibid., (14)
 Al-thalaath daqaiq al-oula min ‘umr al-kawn (16)
 Ibid., (53)
 Ibid., (133)
 Tarikh mawjiz lil-zamaan (24)
 Ibid., (109)
 Al-kawn fi qishrati jawz (32)
 Ibid., (70)
 Ibid., (76)
 Ibid., (98)
 Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah, Ibn Taymiyyah (345/3)
 Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (217/1)
 Al-Muharrar al-wajiz, Ibn Atiyyah (310/15), and tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (218/1)
 Al-Sawa’iq al-Shadeedah ‘ala atbaa’ al-hay’a al-Jadeedah, Hamood al-Tuwayjari (159)
 Mahasin al-ta’wil, al-Qasimi (229/5) and (95/6)
 Ma’alim al-tanzil (231/8)
 Al-Jami’ li-ahkam al-Qur’an (304/18)
 Mafatih al-ghayb (654/30), also see: zad al-maseer, Ibn al-Jawzi (371/8), and Tafsir al-Qur’an, al-Sama’ni (57/3), and madarik al-tanzil wa haqaiq al-ta’wil, al-Nasafi (231/4)
 Al-Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, al-Qurtubi (33/15)
 Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azeem, Ibn Kathir (579/6) and the treatise: ayn al-Qamr?, Hammad al-Ansari – part of the book ‘ilm al-nujoom for al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (99)
 Majmoo’ al-fatawa wa rasail al-Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen (321/5)
 Al-Bukhari (2452)
 See under these statements: al-bidaya wa al-nihaya, Ibn Kathir (38/1), and Muharrar al-Wujayz, Ibn Attiyah (507/14), and al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an, al-Qurtubi (63/21) and hashiat as-sawi ‘ala al-Jalalayn (208/4), and mahasin al-ta’wil, al-Qasimi (129/7)
 Mahasin al-ta’wil, al-Qasimi (129/7)
 Ibn Jarir al-Tabari in his tafsir (77/23), Hakim in his Mustadrak (3822), and al-Bayhaqi in al-asmaa’ wal-sifaat (799)
 Al-muntakhab min ‘ilal al-khallaal (58), al-Bayhaqi in al-asmaa’ wal-sifaat (370/2), kashf al-khafaa’, al-‘Ajlooni (123/1), and al-anwaar al-kashifah, al-Mu’allimi (163)
 Sayruratil kawn, Muhammad Sabil al-Tai (42)
 Al-Tirmizi (3042), Nisai (9072)
 Tahzib al-kamal, al-Mizzi (378/1)
 Huliyatil awliyaa’ (305/4)
 Tarikh al-Kabir (114/2)
 Jami’ al-bayan fi tafsir al-Qur’an, Ibn Jarir (238/1), wa ma’alim al-tanzil, al-Baghawi (70/1), wa tafsir al-Qur’an, al-Sam’aani (83/3), wal-Muharrar al-wajeez, Ibn ‘Attiyah (89/1)
 Let’s say, if someone says that Allah causes rain and another person says that evaporation and the whole procedure related to it causes rain, we cannot say that only one of them is correct; both would be correct in saying so. Allah causes rain and evaporation is the procedure by which it happens. The same is true for the reason why babies cry at birth. Read more here.
 Majmoo’ al-fatawa (264/24)
 See the discussion: sabaq wa ‘ulu ma’ al-mar’at wal-‘ilm al-Hadith, muntada al-tawheed, and the discussion: maa’ al-mar’atu shubha am I’jaaz, muntada al-tawheed
 Mawsu’atu bayan al-Islam, written by several authors (85/5)
 Tanzih al-Qur’an ‘an mata’in al-mubtaleen, munqiz al-saqaar (202)
 Al-Imaan bil-Qadaa’ wal-Qadr, Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Hamd (129)
 Hal haqqan kul al-makhluqaat tatakawanu min zakarin wa untha? Muntada al-tawhid
 This is an additional footnote from me, the translator:
چاند، سورج اور ستاروں کے بیان کئے گیے تو قصداً ایسی عبارت سے جو اس زمانہ کے مسلّماتِ عقلی و فکری سے ٹکراتی نہ تھی، لیکن اتنی لچک رکھتی تھی کہ جب صدیوں کے بعد نظریاتِ فلکی بدل جائیں’ تو الفاظ قرانی کی تفسیر و تشریح جب بھی ذہنوں پر گراں نہ ہو’ زمین کی کرویت اور زمین کی گردش، اور سورج اور چاند کی خلائی گردشیں سب کی سب کھل کر اس زمانے میں بیان نہیں کیں، جبکہ یونان، ہندوستان کے مہندس، عراق و مصر کے منجّم سب کے سب اس کے قائل و معتقد تھے کہ آسمان نام ہے ایک بڑی اور ٹھوس چھت کا، جس میں ستارے’ چاند، جَڑے اور جُڑے ہوے ہیں، اگر بیان کر دیتا تو کون اس کلام کو قبل اعتنا سمجھتا اور کتنی بحثیں عقلی اور دماغی، اصل مقصدِ ہدایت سے بلکل الگ نہ چھڑ جاتیں! لا محالہ حکمتِ خداوندی نے ایسا اعجازی طریقہ کلام اختیار کیا کہ جس سے ظاہری مطلب تو اس زمانے کے مزعومات، مسلّمات اور معتقدات کے مطابق نکل اے لیکن اتنی گنجائش اس میں ہو کہ جب عقلِ انسانی بلوغ کو پہنچ جائے اور علوم و فنون برگ و بار لے آئیں تو وہی کلام ایک مستقل دلیل بن جائے – اور مومنین صادقین کے علاوہ باہر والے بھی بہ قدر اپنے ظرف و نصیب کے اس سے مستفید ہونے لگیں.
When the sun, moon and the stars were mentioned, they were so with the examples that did not contradict the intellectual and mental state of the time but sufficient flexibility was retained such that after centuries, when the astronomical beliefs change, the explanation of the words of the commentary of the Qur’an do not confuse the mind. Roundness of the earth and its rotation and the movements of the sun and the moon – all these had not been mentioned in that time openly. The engineers of Greece and India, astronomers of Iraq and Egypt; all were of the view that the sky is the name of a big and vast roof in which the stars, moon are placed and fixed. If it had been mentioned, then who would have considered this Book worthy of believing and so many arguments, intellectual and mental, would have taken away the real purpose of guidance. The wisdom of Almighty chose such a miraculous way of speech in which the apparent meaning made sense to the people of that time but sufficient flexibility and space was kept so that when the intellect and knowledge of men reach its peak, then that same Book become a permanent evidence, and apart from pure believers and truthful ones, others also get benefit from it [Tafsir Majidi, Introduction 2, pg. 21, 22].