The Qur'an and Astronomy

The sun, the stars, the moon, the earth and many other astronomical signs are mentioned in The Qur'an. Especially in the early suras. Why is that? Well, a very good friend of mine would say:

   "Because Muhammed was young, full of energy and had

    nothing interesting to say.  So, he described the 

    early morning views he was seeing in the cave!"

                                             --Eisenman

This is total bologna. A man with Mohammed's power and intelligence would not talk about "early morning views." That sounds as if Muhammed was a lunatic or unbalanced man, which anybody with a little knowledge about Islam and Muhammed would totally disagree.

Here are a few examples about astronomy that were mentioned in the Qur'an:

I. The nature of the Sun vs. the nature of the moon:

 
        "And made the moon a light in their midst and made the sun as a Lamp(Siraja)
        -Sura 71, Ayah 16 
 
        The above Ayah shows that the difference between the sun and the moon is very obvious. It states that the sun is a Lamp, and the moon is a Light. What's the difference between both? Well, we all know that a lamp is something that produces light by using some kind of energy while the light is the result of that lamp.

        This is what the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia says about the sun:

          "...The sun's temperature is high enough for the occurrence of nuclear reactions, which are assumed to be the source of the sun's energy. Hans Bethe proposed a cycle of nuclear reactions known as the carbon cycle, in which carbon acts much as a catalyst, while hydrogen is transformed by a series of reactions into helium and large amounts of high energy gamma radiation are released."
        And this is what The American Heritage Dictionary says about the moon:
          "The natural satellite of Earth, visible by reflection of sunlight and having a slightly elliptical orbit."
        As we can see, the moon reflects the sun's light. This is exactly what the Qur'an says about the sun and the moon. The Qur'an also mentions the sun as a Siraj. Siraj is an Arabic term that means: a mass of fire, which produces light. On the other hand, the Qur'an does not mention the moon as being in the state of Siraj, which totally agrees with what the modern sciences says about both the sun and the moon.

        II. The orbits of the sun and the moon:

 
        "The sun must not catch up the moon nor does the night outstrip the day. Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion.
        -Surah 36, Ayah 40 
 
        Here is an essential fact that is clearly stated: the existence of the sun's and moon's orbit, plus a reference is made to the traveling of these bodies in space with their own motion.
        This is what The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia says about the moon and the sun's orbit.
          "The lunar orbit is elliptical, and the average distance of the moon from the earth is about 240,000 mi."
          "The sun is c.28,000 light-years from the nucleus and takes 200 million years to revolve once around the galaxy."
        Also, the Qur'an says:
 
        "And the Sun runs her course for a period determined for her: that is the decree of (Him) the exalted in Might the All-Knowing. 
        And the Moon We have measured for his mansions (to traverse) till he returns like the old (and withered) lower part of date-stalk.
        -Surah 36, ayah 38-39 
 
        In this verse, we can see that the Qur'an explains how the sun has an appointed or allotted amount of time that it will last for. This agrees with the modern science which says that the sun will probably have a limited span of 5 billion years. However, the verse also mentions the moon's independent orbit around the earth in which it will return regardless of the sun's status with the earth. Here we can conclude that the sun and the moon have independent orbits, one closely connected to that of the earth, which is the moon, and the other with a limited term of orbit and life span and independent of the moon's orbit.
        In all of the verses quoted, we see no references of any facts stating the sun is orbiting around the earth, which at the time was a very popular belief. Rather, we see the Qur'an stating that the moon and sun are quite independent and that they follow very different paths. Muslims at the time followed whatever scientific fact was in popular reason and in fact, when Ibn Shater during the 12th-13th century hypothesized that the earth was not the center of the universe and proved it by trigonometric means, Muslims had no problem accepting his theory. Later on, Copernicus restated this theory to the Europeans. He received the credit for the discovery even until today. At the time, his theory was rejected and he was threatened by the church to change his opinion; which he did.
        We can see the Muslims throughout history have had no problems accepting true scientific facts as it was part of their religious duty, but European Christians have always had to separate religion and science even until this very moment.




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