Author [EN] [PL] [ES] [PT] [IT] [DE] [FR] [NL] [TR] [SR] [AR] [RU] Topic: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?

Offline Sword

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« on: December 23, 2016, 12:50:42 PM »
The Location of the Moon and the Stars

In the Qur’an we find the following statements about the moon and the stars:

He Who created the seven heavens, one above the other …
And We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps … (67:3,5)

And He completed them seven heavens in two days
and inspired in each heaven its command;
and We adorned the lower heaven with lamps,
and rendered it guarded… (41:12)

We have indeed adorned the lower heaven with the beauty of the stars. (37:6)

Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens
one above the other,
and made the moon a light in their midst,
and made the sun as a lamp? (71:15-16)

The above is Yusuf Ali’s translation. Pickthall renders Sura 71:16 as

And hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp?

The Qur’an seems to teach that there are seven heavens, one above the other, whether it was imagined to be like storeys in a high building (flat layers) or like shells or the layers of an onion.

As a poetic way of expression this is acceptable, even though there are, scientifically speaking, no discernable stages in the universe that would allow us to differentiate between those various heavens.

However, the Qur’an specifically assigns the stars to a lower or even the lowest heaven, while it states the relationship of the moon to the totality of the seven heavens is that it is “in them” (fehinna). This gives the impression that the moon is at least as far away as the stars if not further.

But everyone knows today that the stars are much much further away from the earth than the moon. This is not a small difference, it is an issue of several magnitudes. The average distance from the earth to the moon is 384,400 km, while Proxima Centauri, the closest star to us outside of the solar system, is already about 4.3 light years = 40,682,300,000,000 km (40 trillion kilometers) away, or expressed differently, we need to multiply the distance of the moon by more than 100 million to reach even the nearest
of all the stars.

Had the Qur’an formulated “and the moon in the middle of them” then this would have been unambiguously wrong. The formulation “in them” is vague enough to still allow the possibility of the moon to be in the lowest heaven as well. The wording of the Qur’an is certainly less than scientific in this instance and suggesting wrong notions even though it is sufficiently vague to not make it a clear error. It does, however, throw substantial doubt on the claim that God made the Qur’an scientifically as a proof of its divine origin.

Though it seems quite strenuous, one could say that maybe all the stars are in the lowest of the seven heavens (as the Qur’an does) and the moon is on the lowest part of the lowest heaven (which the Qur’an neither says nor implies). The Qur’anic expression relates the location of the moon to the plurality of the heavens and says that the moon is “in them”. It does not say it is exactly in the middle, but it does say somewhere “inside” when we look how this word is used elsewhere.

There are a good number of other verses where the Qur’an uses the exact same Arabic word “Fihinna” as in the verse we are talking about. In the verses 9:36 and 2:197 it is used in the phrase “the holy months, IN THEM do not …”, i.e. with the meaning of “during this time”. It is used speaking of a temporal “inside”.

In the following a list of verses where this word is used for location:

55:56

(about the gardens of Paradise)
IN THEM will be (Maidens), chaste, restraining their glances, …

55:70

IN THEM will be fair (Companions), good, beautiful;-

This is clearly stating that these beautiful women are inside these gardens, and more or less in the middle or distributed, but not that they are all huddling on the boundaries of it. This will be important below.

5:120

“Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship God, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt AMONGST THEM; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things.

Again, this is about Jesus, and the whole point is that he lived AMONG THEM, not a life at an obscure point at the periphery, not he was in their midst and they have no excuse that they did not hear his message because they didn’t know about it.

17:44

The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings THEREIN, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet ye understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving!

Again, the totality is meant, not just the beings at the periphery.

23:71

If the Truth had been in accord with their desires, truly the heavens and the earth, and all beings THERIN would have been in confusion and corruption! Nay, We have sent them their admonition, but they turn away from their admonition.

Again, IN THEM, means ‘inside’ those living in the earth or in the heavens.

Finally the verse 71:16 that is in question:

Pickthall: And hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp?

Yusuf Ali: And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp?

Clearly “in their midst” is a valid translation and there is no need to understand this as “exactly in the middle heaven” but it is “inside”. What does “in” refer to? It is THEM, i.e. the seven heavens, since that is what the Qur’an talks about in the verse before it.

Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens
one above the other,
and made the moon a light in their midst,
and made the sun as a lamp? (71:15-16)

No indication that the moon is on the boundary of these heavens, or even at the lower boundary of the lowest one of the seven. The natural reading is still “somewhere inside”. And clearly, Yusuf Ali thought that was the natural reading.

In distinction to this, we have the very clear statement that the stars are “on the boundary” of the seven heavens since they are in the LOWEST heaven as Sura 67:5 says.

As such, maybe one cannot say that the moon is further away than the stars, but given that the stars are in the lowest and the moon is inside the heavens, the moon is at least as far away as the nearest stars and that is scientifically problematic. If it is not outright wrong what the Qur’an says due to the vagueness of expression, it does nevertheless give a wrong impression!!!

https://arabkingdom.wordpress.com/contradictions-in-quran/

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2016, 01:11:11 PM »
"However, the Qur’an specifically assigns the stars to a lower or even the lowest heaven, while it states the relationship of the moon to the totality of the seven heavens is that it is “in them” (fehinna). This gives the impression that the moon is at least as far away as the stars if not further."



How? The Quran furnishes no information about the size if each heaven. The universe, as you know, is absolutely massive. Therefore, it is entirely plausible that the moon and stars are merely in one "layer" of the heavens. As you pointed out, the Quran does not give the location of the moon within the seven heavens, so this is really just reading ideas into the text that aren't there.
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2016, 01:24:56 PM »
"The wording of the Qur’an is certainly less than scientific in this instance and suggesting wrong notions even though it is sufficiently vague to not make it a clear error. It does, however, throw substantial doubt on the claim that God made the Qur’an scientifically as a proof of its divine origin"

I simply cannot state this enough, the Quran is NOT a scientific document. Any attempt to argue this will not only fail, but backfire upon you. The phrasing is "unscientific" because it's not meant to tell humanity the location of the moon and stars. Please, do not attempt to argue the Quran's divinity by using "scientific miracles".
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2016, 01:33:26 PM »
Another thing to keep in mind when looking at these rebuttals of the Quran through science, is what the target audience believed at the time. For example, do people really think that Arabs thought the sun set in a pool of mud? How stupid were they?? Getting back to this, looking at the night sky, the moon is far brighter than the stars, and so appears closer. This interpretation you posit therefore does not make sense even if the Quran was man-made.
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline Sword

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2016, 02:16:13 PM »
Dear Wanderer,

Salaam and thanks for your input.

I think the problem arises when we translate "as-sama wa al-ardh" as "lower heaven". I have checked many translations of this phrase and found that everyone has translated it as "lower/nearest heaven" except for Shabbir Ahmed and Mir Aneesuddin. These two individuals have translated this phrase simply as "the sky of the world" as opposed to "lower heaven". So I also want to if "the sky of the world" could be the correct translation?

Shabbir Ahmed: And indeed, We have beautified the sky of the world with shining lamps. And made them objects of futile guesses for the satans. (15:17), (37:6-9), (72:8). And for them We have prepared the doom of blazing flames.

Mir Aneesuddin: And We adorned the sky of the world with lamps and We made them missiles for the devils and We have prepared for them the punishment of blazing fire.

Translation reference: http://islamawakened.com/quran/67/5/


The contention here is that, if the stars/planets are in the lowest/nearest heaven, then how can the moon be WITHIN the seven heavens? Because we know that the moon is closer to the earth than the stars/planets, therefore the moon must also be in the lowest heaven and not "inside/within (fehinna)" the seven heavens. But if we interpret "as-sama wa al-ardh" as simply "the sky of the world", then this whole argument does not arise.

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2016, 02:28:44 PM »
I do not see any contradiction here:
Moon- is in one of the heavens
Stars- in the lowest heaven
It is entirely possible (even likely, considering the size of the universe) they are in the same heaven. (Please point it out if I am not getting something here).
While I cannot speak for the accuracy of the particular phrase used here, I have grave reservations about using Shabbir Ahmed's interpolation as a source.
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline Sword

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2016, 03:44:42 PM »
Firstly, I would like to apologize cause I made a mistake in my previous post. The phrase in question is "as-sama ad-dunya" and not "as-sama wa al-ardh".

What does the word 'dunya' mean? It can mean something which is 'lower or near', and it can also mean the 'world'. In most verses 'dunya' has been translated as the world, so why in this case could it not be possible?

Check this word dunya here: http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=dnw#(67:5:4)

Before we discuss further, can you tell me what do you understand by the word 'samawaat', plural of heaven, i.e. heavens? Do you think each heaven is on top of the other, like in layers? Does 67:3 tell us that each heaven is "on top of the other" or does it say each heaven is "in harmony" with one other? Because there is a clear difference between being on top of one another and being in harmony.

67:3
Muhammad Asad: He who has created seven heavens in full harmony with one another..

Yusuf Ali: He Who created the seven heavens one above another..


I think most arguments arise due to our lack of understanding of such verses. If, for example, the above verse intends to mean "one above another", then a lot of questions arise like why can't we see the layers? Is there a gap between each heaven? Why can't we see any distinction between each heaven? etc. But if the verse intends to mean "in full harmony with one another" like Muhammad Asad has translated it, then these questions may not arise. Similarly a lot of questions arise if we say "God has adorned the lowest heaven with stars" as opposed to "God has adorned the heaven of this dunya with stars". And when we cannot interpret a verse properly, it is then the skeptics tend to find alleged contradictions or scientific errors.

A study of the various verses shows the Quranic 'samaawat' must lie within the scope and range of human observation and study. For example, take a look at this verse:

71:15
Alam taraw kayfa khalaqa Allahu sabAAa samawatin tibaqan
Literal word-by-word translation: Do not you see how did create Allah (the) seven heavens (in) layers

The above verse makes me feel like we as humans should be able to observe the seven/several heavens above us. But most scholars will tell you that we only see the lowest heaven and we cannot see the other heavens. This has me question the entire concept of heaven in Islamic thought and has me question the traditional understanding of the relevant verses, some of which I have discussed above.

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2016, 04:07:43 PM »
I'm a little pressed for time at the moment and will answer later. However, in the meantime, please read this: http://quransmessage.com/articles/are%20there%20seven%20heavens%20or%20several%20heavens%20FM3.htm
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline Sword

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2016, 06:26:11 PM »
Dear Wanderer,

I have read the article many times which you have kindly shared. I agree with brother Joseph's conclusions. But I cannot simply accept the traditional interpretations regarding the other aspects of heaven without questioning.

According to brother Joseph, in his article titled 'Heaven(s) and Paradise - The Difference' [1], he wrote:

"The word Samawaat(i) (a plural of 'Samaa') refers to the sky and any part of the wider expanse of the universe."

So according to the above definition of 'samawaat' can we say that samawaat (plural) is observable? Or only a sama (singular) is observable? Where does God expect us to look at? Does God expect us to look at a sama (singular) or at samawaat (plural)? According to 10:101, God wants us to look at in the samawaat (plural):

10:101
Say, "See, what (is) in the heavens (assamawati) and the earth."..

So does that mean we can look at heavens, i.e. several / many heavens? If yes, then why does traditional scholars say that we can only see the lowest heaven (singular), yet God tells us to look at in the heavens (plural)? Am i completely missing something or are my questions valid according to you?


Reference:
[1] http://quransmessage.com/articles/heaven%20and%20paradise%20FM3.htm

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2016, 06:54:11 PM »
I've always interpreted "heavens" in the context of these verses to refer to the sky, in particular that of it visible to the naked eye. I believe that "heavens" in the verses you just cited refers to a broad concept. For example, if someone says, Look at the sky, do they mean look at literally the ENTIRE sky? No. Same thing here.
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)

Offline Sword

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 48
    • View Profile
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2016, 06:23:38 PM »
Dear Wanderer,

I understand what you mean.

Let me summarize below my contention as simply as possible:

Traditional scholars say that we can only see one heaven out of seven or several other heavens. But I say we can see seven/several heavens and not just one heaven.

Traditional scholars say that we only see one heaven because Allah said each heaven is on top of another heaven and only the lowest heaven is decked with stars and planets. I say that maybe these verses which say that 'each heaven is on top of another heaven' and 'only the lowest heaven is decked with stars and planets' may have been translated wrong because in 71:15-16 God said he has placed the moon INSIDE/WITHIN/AMONG (feehinna) the seven/several heavens.

71:15-16
Literal word-by-word translation: Do not you see how did create Allah (the) seven heavens (in) layers, And made the moon THEREIN/INSIDE/WITHIN (feehinna) a light and made the sun a lamp?

According my current understanding and analysis of the word 'feehinna', if the moon is inside/within the seven/several heavens, then that means we should be able to see the seven/several heavens as it is inside/within them. If you think the usage of the word 'feehinna' in the above verse does not prove my understanding, then you may share why do you think this understanding is wrong.

Offline wanderer

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 300
    • View Profile
    • Diverging Thoughts
Re: Can someone please refute this scientific "error"?
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2016, 06:47:00 PM »
As I already established, just because the moon is "within" the layers, does not mean it is in the middle. Considering the expansiveness of the universe, it is highly likely in the lowest layer with the stars. And if the moon is only within the lowest layer, it makes perfect sense that that is the one we are able to see. I honestly can't think of a way in which we are able to see 'all' of the heavens.
Regards
wanderer
Rather, We dash the truth upon falsehood, and it destroys it, and thereupon it departs. And for you is destruction from that which you describe. (21:18)