ASTRONOMY

THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE

"Then He turned to the heavens when it was smoke..." (The Quran - Fussilat 41:11)

Allah, Almighty, revealed in the Quran some 1400 years ago what modern astronomy, observational and theoretical indicates that, at one point in time, the whole universe was nothing but a cloud of 'smoke' i.e. an opaque highly dense and hot gaseous composition (The First Three Minutes,a Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, Weinberg, pp. 94-105).

"Have not those who disbelieved known that the heavens and the earth were one connected entity, then We separated them?" (The Quran - Al-Anbiya 21:30)

Today, science suggests that the Earth and the heavens (i.e. galaxies, stars, planets etc.) were one connected entity. Then they formed and seperated from each other.

THE SUN AND THE MOON

The Sun is a massive thermonuclear reactor with a core temperature of 10 million degrees and generates light and heat. The Moon, on the other hand, is a small inert body, which merely reflects the light of the Sun.

This is very common and basic knowledge today. However, in the seventh century, the fine distinction between the Sun and the Moon was unknown. It would have appeared that the Sun is the greater light and lights up the day and the Moon is a lesser light and lights up the night. And this indeed is how the Sun and the Moon were perceived in previous books.

The Quran describes the Sun as a torch (siraj) or a blazing lamp (wahhaj) and the Moon as a light (nur). By using this simple terminology the Quran conveyed to men at the time of revelation that the Sun and the Moon are not completely identical lights.

"Blessed is the One Who placed the constellations in heaven and put a blazing lamp and a shining moon among them." (The Quran - Al-Furqan 25:61)

Heavenly bodies are known to move in defined orbits with their own self-propelled motion using a combination of factors such as gravitational forces, mass and velocity of movement.

Today, we know that the moon is a satellite of the Earth, around which it orbits. At one time it was thought that the Sun was stationary, but now modern science has shown that the Sun also has an orbit. The Solar System, with the Sun at its centre, is part of about 100,000 million stars, which form a flattened spiral system, called the Galaxy.

In 1917, the astronomer Shapley, estimated that the distance between the Sun and the centre of our galaxy was 2 x 10(to the power 17) miles.

We know today that the Sun revolves around the centre of the galaxy taking 225 million years to complete one circular orbit of the galaxy. The Quran also mentions the orbits of the Sun and Moon, travelling with their own motion.

The Moon is a small inert body, which merely reflects the light of the Sun.

"It is not for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day. Each one is swimming in a sphere." (The Quran - Ya-Sin 36:40)

There is nothing in the above Quranic texts that contradicts our modern knowledge of these two celestial bodies. The Quran revealed these facts over 1400 years ago, yet the type of technology required to discover these details was not invented until many centuries later. The most widely held view at the time was that the Earth must be flat and that the Sun made its daily journey once a day around the centre of the universe, the Earth.

The mistaken concept of the Earth at the centre of the universe, with the Sun making a daily journey around it, existed for many centuries and was finally abandoned in 1543 with the publication of Nicholas Copernicus's (1473-1543) book 'De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium'.

AN APPOINTED TERM FOR THE HEAVENS

"God subjected the sun and the moon: each running for a specified term." (The Quran - Al-Ra'd 13:2)

In this verse the Quran gives us the notion that the Sun and Moon have a limited existence. By observing other stars, scientists predict that the Sun's hydrogen will start to become exhausted after 5 billion years. Then the Sun's external layers will expand to fifty times their size and the core temperature will increase dramatically, as the Sun passes through what is termed the 'red giant' stage.

When all the nuclear energy is exhausted it will collapse into a small dense star of the type known as a 'white dwarf'. In the final stage, the Sun will become a 'black dwarf' radiating no light or heat. The main point to be noted from the above description is not the time factors involved but of the limited existence of the Sun and the Solar System.

In addition to the above verse, the Quran also reveals that the Sun is running to a settled place:

"The sun runs to its resting place. This is the decree of the Almighty, the All-knowing." (The Quran - Ya-Sin 36:38)

This verse shows that modern data on astronomy is in absolute agreement with the Quran. Science has discovered that the Solar System is actually travelling in space at a speed of 12 miles per second towards a point situated in the Constellation of Hercules (alpha lyrae).

THE ROTATION OF THE DAY AND THE NIGHT

"Do you not see that Allah makes the night merge into day and the day into the night." (The Quran - Luqman 31:29)

The Quran does not mention that the Earth was the centre of the universe and that the Sun moved around it. Nor does the Quran refer to the Sun's movement when discussing the sequence of the night and day.

The Sun permanently lights up the half of the Earth's surface that is facing it, while the other half remains in total darkness.

The Quran deals with this subject as follows:

"...He wraps the night around the day and wraps the day around the night." (The Quran - Al Zumar 39:5)

The way the Quran expresses this process of perpetual coiling, including the merging of one sector by another, also agrees with the concept of the Earth's roundness.

The Quran is not a book of science but a book of 'signs', i.e. verses. There are more than six thousand 'signs' in the Quran of which more than a thousand deal with science. If the Quran is so accurate about matters of science that we can now measure, and this before man's ability to do so, does it not stand to reason that it must be from a source possessing knowledge far beyond that of our own?