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Oct 21, 2007

The rotation of the earth between science and religion- by Hairan

The rotation of the earth between science and religion
The original Arabic text could be found at The Forum of Arab Areligionists*
The Author of the original text is: Hayran
Quranic verse translation is adopted from Yousef Ali's Quran meanings and from the translators understanding of Arabic language as a mother tongue.
Translated By: Areo
* Areligionists is the translators attempt to translate the Arabic word Ladeeni which describes those who don't believe in a religion, such broad classification is not found in the English literature as far as my knowledge, the classification expands to include Atheist, Agnostics, Deists, while it might seem that an Agnostic is a similar description, the fact is Agnostics (especially from the Arabs perspective) could have a neutral stance towards religion, while Areligionists are quite sure on their stance towards religion as being from a human source. Additionally such broader description allowed for inclusion of other walks of thought including atheism and deism, which in my opinion is needed at the start of an Arab movement against religion.

To start with and before I delve into translating the article I shall feed you back on some of the ideas and different meanings of the Arabic Verse (Ayah) under consideration
In An-Naml (The Ant) Surah (which is somewhat similar to the bibles chapter) we find the ayah (verse) number 82
The literal pronunciation goes as follows:
Wa Tara AlGibal Tahsaboha Gamedah Wa hiya Tamor Mar Alsahab
Hereby is the Arabic meaning as per my understanding:
Wa : and
Tara : you see ( the verb see in present (sometimes the Arabic language could use present verbs to indicate future tense)
Algibal : Al = The & Gibal = Mountains ie: the mountains
Tahsaboha : the verb tahsab could have various meanings as per context, while the literal translation I found in the dictionary is to investigate, the meaning here is more of the verb Tazonaha which actually revolves around the meaning "to think of it, to belive about it, to take as, to regard etc.."
While the addition ha means the feminine gender (earth)
So I shall translate tahsaboha as think of it as
Gamedah : Solid, hard, stiff, inflexible, rigid are literal translations, but the meaning is more like "still", from the context
Wa : again means and
Heay : it in the female gender
Tamor : passes by
Mar : the passage of
Alsahab : al = The & Sahab = Clouds
Accordingly my understanding which is quite acceptable from an Arabic speaker's point of view is:
And you see the mountains and think it still while it passes by as the passage of clouds.
While the following translation is what Yousuf Ali presented in his "The meanings of Quran"
88. Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away:
Note the "shall" here, which indicates his understanding of the verse to be figuratively speaking of the future. While this is not the case of the actual text, but he does have a valid point that we shall see in the original article, which made him transfer the act of movement to the future.
Having said that let us return to Hairan's article
The rotation of earth around the sun and around its axis is a modern scientific fact, that is undoubted by any scientist – as far as I know- I think that the idea has long left the territory of a theory and reached the pillar of an established fact, with advances in cosmology, astronomy and technological science, and the increase of humans capabilities, we have achieved shifting our frame of reference, by moving our equipment to outer space, and actually photographing the earth, now scientists build quite a lot on their futuristic knowledge of the exact location of the earth on a certain date, etc…

In the near and distant past, man thought-according to Ptolemy – that the earth was both stationary and the center of the universe, all celestial bodies in the sky rotated round it.. This was the common belief, but it wasn't the only belief, for Pythagoras said of the rotation of the earth around the sun, and Aristarchus (310-230 B.C) said of the rotation of the earth and the stillness of the starts, and that our observations of stars movement are but a reflection of the earth's movement.
Copernicus in turn proposed the rotation of the earth around the sun, and that the sun is the center of the universe.
And then Galileo and Kepler between them, proved scientifically the case of earth rotation around the sun and around its axis, Galileo famous persecution by the Catholic Church is well known and needless to mention, for he was accused of blasphemy and heresy for claiming earth rotation.
Enter the age of information revolution in the 20th century; there is no doubt now that the rotation of the earth is a fact. The rise of the age of science was accompanied by an evolvement in the Muslims community, with such claims as : hey this was mentioned in our book since 1400 years, read the Quran Surat An Naml 88 " Wa Tara AlGibal Tahsabha Gamedah Wa hiya Tamor Mar Alsahab"
"And you see the mountains and think it still while it passes by as the passages of clouds."
Translators note: Here I used my translation, as Yousuf Ali's translation, is by no means indicative of such claims.
Strangely enough is that this fact mentioned in the Muslims book since 1400 years, never gained the attention of the Muslims scientists or theologians throughout the centuries, until it became an established fact by the West and its scientists.
But is this really what the Quran says?
Personally I don't think so… on the contrary, I think that the Quran supports the theory of the stillness of the earth, and rejects its rotation.
So let us study the verses together may Allah enlighten us both.
Mr. Zaghlool Elnajar says:
This Holy verse of Suart An Naml indicates the rotation of the earth around its axis while facing the sun, as the mountains are part of the earth so if it moves as the clouds this is an implied indication to the rotation of the earth around its axis, it is customary of the Quran to indicate cosmic facts implicitly, such that the generations of different eras shall understand a certain meaning according to their acquired knowledge, the meaning of the verses remains wide enough to embrace any variation in the human knowledge pool, in an integration that never sees a contradiction. And as such this is one of the most powerful signs of the scientific miracle of Allah's Book. In the past times translators and commentators understood the verse as an indication of what will happen to the mountains on the day of doom or time of the end (Youm Al Kiamah) , but we know from the Quran that on that time the mountains will be fully blasted, and this implication found in the verse number 88 of Surat An Namel precedes all human knowledge in indicating the rotation of the earth. (Thanks to Zaghlool Alnajar)
Here Mr. Elnajar and those who followed his steps have committed a dire error, for he jumps on the wordings at the expense of context, to achieve his goal regardless of the facts, I shall assume for the sake of debate ( which is a false assumption as we shall later on see) that the verses are not actually referring to dooms day scenes but are referring to an every day occasion , do mountains really pass as clouds do?
To answer such question let us first examine what really is the passage of clouds.
Earth with all that it encompasses on its surface, in the deepness of its seas, and in its atmosphere are all obeying the same moving effect, clouds are no exception, all yield to earth in its movement around the sun, accordingly the clouds movement observed by humans from earth is but a relative movement attributed to the wind's effect which pushes the clouds, That is to say that the movement of the clouds is of two components, the former being due to the movement of earth itself and the later the relative movement to earth which is what we observe, as we are also moving with earth around the sun
So is the Quranic expression an accurate one in light of this?
On the contrary.. I see it as a grave scientific mistake, for the movement-that the callers of scientific miracles (thereafter named miracleists) claim- of the mountains which resembles the clouds movement is impossible, as the mountains do not move relative to earth.
Had the verse declared , you see the earth still while it actually moves like the clouds that would have been a little on the side of rationality and accuracy, but to use the mountains to indicate earth, is unacceptable as mountains are part of earth and the part do not compensate for the whole.
Translators note: take the following example to see what the author means:
The clouds moves does not imply that the earth is moving
Also my arm is moving does not imply that I am moving. While the other way round is true.
End of note
Additionally the comparison between the earth movement (the whole) and the movement of the clouds (a part) is acceptable to indicate the difference in the types of movement , while to compare two parts (the mountains and the clouds) we have to refer them to the same frame of reference (the whole) which in our case is earth.
Some might object on the basis of the wording used "tahsaboha" (which means think or belief as previously explained), and argue that the word indicates relativity , but the verse states that the movement of the mountains is exactly similar to the movement of the clouds "Tamor mar alsahb" (moves as the clouds) and it is unacceptable to change the wording form "Tamor mar alsahb" (moves as the clouds) to "Tamor ka mar alsahb" (moves as if like the clouds) as it is well known that the meanings of the Quran is very sensitive to adding alphabets which changes the meaning (The author is indicating that had this been the intention of the author of the Quran he could have simply added the Ka alphabet: The translator)
Also the word "tahsaboha" (think that it) is clearly referring to the stillness of the mountains, as it is to the addressee (the human) which agrees with his frame of reference, that is to say that if we accept the wording "tahsaboha" to be referring to the relative movement then the movement should be relative to the addressee (Translators note: who is of course in our days still standing on earth and even if we change his frame of reference then the analogy to cloud movement will be false, as now he is seeing the clouds compound movement and the tahsaboha loses its meaning, for he no longer see it as stationary)
So the movement referred to in the Quran must have another meaning, different to the rotation of the earth, for as far as I know the Himalaya and other mountains have not been in the habit of moving recently.
But are the Holy verses really referring to a natural observation or are they referring to a metaphysical incident, which will occur on dooms day?
I would like you to all note Zaglool Najars interpretation and his argument based upon the blasting idea that makes him deduce that this verse is not referring to dooms day.
But let us recall the verses from Surat An Naml (as per Yousuf Ali's interpretation only verse 88 is followed by the translator as Ali's translation is evidently not in favor of Zaglool's interpretation):
87. And the Day that the Trumpet will be sounded - then will be smitten with terror those who are in the heavens, and those who are on earth, except such as Allah will please (to exempt): and all shall come to His (Presence) as beings conscious of their lowliness.
88. Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of Allah, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for he is well acquainted with all that ye do.
88.And you see the mountains and think it still while it passes by as the passage of clouds…………………….
89. If any do good, good will (accrue) to them therefrom; and they will be secure from terror that Day.
90. And if any do evil, their faces will be thrown headlong into the Fire: "Do ye receive a reward other than that which ye have earned by your deeds?"
As I see the preceding and following verses to the verse under consideration are clearly referring to dooms day, the
day the trumpet is blown, the day of fright, the day faces are smothered in fire……. So are miracleists still insistent on removing the verse out of its normal context, in order to align it with their unfortunately fanciful thoughts?
Some might see that the verse carries a double meaning, but could one verse have two contradicting meanings at the same time?
I see this as strange, for either the verse is referring to regular every day observation or to dooms day scenery, and as per the context it is referring to dooms day, but as per miracleists it is referring to regular natural phenomenon claiming that the verse of blasting proves that this is not a dooms day occurrence.
Clearly this is a feeble argument to anyone who has somewhat read the Quran. To know why it is so we need but only search for the word Al-gibal (mountains) in the Quran, to know that the moving of the mountains, along with blasting, crumbling and alteration to fluffy wool, is part of dooms day scenery, likewise stillness, stabilization and anchoring are the every day regular life style, so are they passing or are they stationary? Two contradictory meanings that are not solved except after accepting that they are describing two separate incidents or scenes, one the every day and other the dooms day
Such interpretation neither agrees nor contradicts science, as we are discussing supernatural metaphysical incident that has yet to occur, so there is no evidence that they are either true or false.
(Translators note: in spite of this Muslims will not let it be, they have to have this anchor for their faith the scientifically miraculous claim is kind of proof for them that they are following the correct religion, and they seem to be in a desperate need for such proof)
The deduction of earth stillness through examination of Quran
I am aware that the coming part is subject to much controversy between disagreeing parties, as it is built on certain interpretations of various Quranic verses, for there is no such verse that openly states that the earth is still, or that it doesn’t move. Additionally even these verses that could be considered as bearing such meaning could be easily considered by theologians as motashabehat (***unclear see translators footnote at end of article for a description of unclear or motahsabehat verses) and never settle or agree on these verses status, but our opinion is built on several evidence that we consider (or others consider) solid, additionally we are basing our conclusion on the agreement of Islamic theologians , interpreters, and the prophet's close companions and followers from the very first days of the rise of Islam on the subject of the earth stillness , for these are the people that the Quran descended in their language and the language of their era.
While the claim by miracleists that the Quran intentionally refrained from shocking them by stating facts far from their acceptance and understanding is quite a silly far fetched claim , for all religions without exception were founded on demolition of established facts and dogmas and exposure of false but accepted beliefs, so really did Mohammed know about these cosmological facts but refrained from mentioning them to his followers in fear of raising turmoil.
Didn't Allah inform him in the Quran " O Messenger. proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guideth not those who reject Faith." So did Mohammed know what the miracileists claim today or did he not?
If he did, then he did not proclaim the message, and if not then such claims are false as even the apostle of Islam knew nothing about.
Regardless let us identify Islamic evidence that earth is still and non-rotational.
Evidence # 1 the earth is fixed by means of the mountains
6. Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, 7. And the mountains as pegs? Suarat An Nabaa , Yusuf Ali
6. Have we not made the earth leveled (smooth) and the mountains stakes "Translator"
A Watad (peg or stake) is a wooden piece driven into a wall or the earth and the plural is Awtad (pegs or stakes); Allah almighty says and the pharaoh the lord of stakes (Awtad) which was interpreted as: He had ropes and stakes for entertainment and also that this was referring to his armies whom secured his dominion and kingdom ship (adapted from Lisan Alarab)
32. And the mountains hath He firmly fixed;- Suarat An Nazeaat - Yusuf Ali
32. And settled the mountains: "Translator"
Settle something (Arsa Alshaiee) : fixed it, Settled the peg :pushed it into ground (Alwagiz Lexicon (dictionary))
So Mountains are pegs that were pushed into the ground….for what purpose?
He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; - Lukman 10 and Annahl 15 *
31. And We have set on the earth mountains** standing firm, lest it should shake with them,*
* The word that Yousuf Ali translated shake is Tamid which we shall see later
** The ayah did not state mountains but things that settle (settlers or anchors) which is interpreted as mountains from other verses
Accordingly mountains are as pegs to stop the earth from doing something called Almaid so what is Tamid verb and what is Almaid state?
*Mad is past tense of the verb Tamid (feminine) or Yamid (masculine)
Mad Yamid Maidan : moved , deviated(swerve) The Mohit Alfairozi Abadi Dictionary
Mad Alsarab (mirage) : Go hazy , Mad Maidan : Stager and swing, Mad Yamid : if he moves in strutting and prancing (maybe like a happy drunk the translator), Madat Alagsan (Branches): swayed
From Lisan Alarab
Kad Mad Fahowa Maed (He Mad then he is a Madder Abou Elhaitham:
Al Maeed (Someone who is under the verb mad) is someone who is riding the sea and is nauseated from the stank of the waters, gets dizzy and nearly passes out then it is said the sea maded with him Also Abu Alabass said referring to the verse lest it tamid with you i.e.: move and shake violently Alfaraa said I Heard the Arabs mentioning : Almaida Those whom are sea sick.
Lisan Alarab
Mad Meim Yaa Dal : Something Mad i.e.: moved The branches Madat i.e.; Swayed- Mokhtar Elsehah Dictionary
Accordingly the mountains are the pegs (anchors) that fix the earth in place in order to prevent its movement or sway and rotation… In short to allow the earth to become a settled place or as Yousuf Ali Translates AnNaml 61 " . Or, Who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable;"
While the translator's is" Or, Who has made the earth (karara) tranquil; made rivers in its midst; and provided it with anchors;"
As Karar is what has stabilized and settled down in place, i.e.: fixed a still and tranquil fixation. ( The lexicon of Quran meaning by Al-Asfahani)
Evidence # 2 No indications of earth movement
The earth is mentioned nearly 450 times in the Holy Quran, not once was it attributed with an act that indicates movement, including the act of prostration, which included all creatures except the skies and the earth, while we find for instance that the sun was merely mentioned less than 30 times, but in spite attributed several motional descriptions such as running(coasting), swimming, prostration ..etc.
18. Seest thou not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth,- the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind? But a great number are (also) such as are fit for Punishment: and such as Allah shall disgrace,- None can raise to honour: for Allah carries out all that He wills. – Suart Alhaj
The verse illustrates that all beings prostrates to Allah except earth and heavens, as what is performing the act are the creatures residing in them
Evidence # 3 the summon of earth at the beginning of creation
11. Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience." Suart Fusliat
Earth and the sky were summoned into their current location once since the start of creation, and then settled down in place as an obedience to Allah.
Evidence # 4 the general association of earth and the sky versus the sun and the moon.
For the earth and the sky are still, while the sun and the moon are coasting in their orbits.
Evidence # 5 the earth is a dwelling, a placement, an erection
64. It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place(Karar), and the sky as a canopy, Surat Ghafir
10. It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures:Suarat Alrahman Yousuf Ali
10. And the earth he placed for creatures.-The translator
25. And among His Signs is this, that heaven and earth stand by His Command: then when He calls you, by a single call, from the earth, behold, ye (straightway) come forth.- Al-Rum Yusuf Ali
A dwelling is Karar in Arabic is referring to stillness (we say kar for something meaning that it stopped movement i.e. tranquil), and the earth is placed by the power of Allah and cannot leave its location it is also erect as the sky.
Evidence # 6 the earth is held or gripped
41. It is Allah Who sustains the heavens and the earth, lest they cease Fatir-Yusuf Ali
41 And Allah holds the heavens and the earth least they cease to exist. The translator
So the earth and the heavens are held by Allah's order else they would cease
Allah does not grip any other celestial body, while he does hold the birds throughout their flight (a movement) so as to prevent their fall to earth, but the context is evident that the meaning is to maintain their flight, while the gripping of the sky and earth is to prevent their disappearance and to prevent the sky to fall collapse on earth,
65.He withholds the sky (rain) from failing on the earth except by His leave- Al Haj Yousuf Ali
*Rain is an addition by Yusuf Ali.
Obviously the sky is directly located above the earth and that it is still , and if Allah lets go it shall collapse on earth
Evidence from Sunah (Mohammed's sayings and deeds) and Salaf (Mohammed's companions' narrations, sayings and deeds)
The Muslim nation with its diverse vast 73 parties have never reached a consensus on a certain subject, as theirs on the saying that the earth is the center of the universe, and that all things between it and the sky rotates around it, and that the sky and the earth are stationary.
Ibn Taimaih Says:
The Skies are Round, as per the Muslim Scientist (Muslims uses the term scientist to indicate their theologians), it has been numerously narrated of various Islamic scientist and Imams (Islamic priests) such as Imam Abu Mohammed Ibn Hazm and Abu Elfarag ELJawzey, they reference both the book of Allah and the Sunah references, they simplified the matter by evidences of auditory recurrence (repetitive narrations) but also scientific proof is available, and I know of no Muslim scientist whom denies the fact."
Ibn Al Manawy Says:
The Earth globe is fixed at the center of the sky globe resembling a point in a circle, this is evident from observing celestial bodies which are seen from earth in the same place in the sky which means that earth is in the center of the sky.
Additionally Muslims calculate the distance from earth to heaven as a walked journey that takes up 500 years due to the verse that states:
5. He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning. Alsajdah
***Footnote: The meaning of motashabehat :
The motashabehat is another wonder of the ambiguity of the Quran
The reference is found in Surat Al-Imran verse no. 7
7. He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.-Yusuf Ali
While Ali's interpretation gives us a glimpse of the problem, a better understanding could be achieved by replacing the words fundamental and allegorical, which he used as an interpretation of the words Mohkamat and Motashabehat
To start with Allah states that he gave us two types of verses and the context follows that they are antonymous, in no way is Ali's choice of words indicating this.
The word mohkam is translated as; coherent, well knit, cohesive, solid ,firmly connected
While the word motashabeh is translated as; alike, similar, analogous, parallel,
So we have two types of verses one mohkam and other motashabeh, and the unworthy follow the motashabeh why is it so to seek its hidden meanings,
As far as I see in light of this the text is referring to clear verses that are easily understood and unclear verses that have hidden meanings and are misleading. A lot is to be said on the above verse but its inclusion here is not for such reason.


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