It is a common practice of Islamophobes and critics to lie about the scientific accuracy of the Quran. In one such failed attempt, they point out: “the Quranic Earth is flat”, or that “the author of the Qur’an believed that the sun sets in a muddy spring, and furthermore, that such verses encouraged the early Muslims to maintain false beliefs about the world.” But the harsh reality is that everyone knew that the Earth was round by the time of Muhammad. This article will dispel the Islamophobic claim, and will also discuss this cosmography under the lens of Hinduism.
Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 2454 (Book 46, Hadith 15 / USC-MSA Vol. 3, Book 43, Hadith 634 ∥ Grade: Sahih): The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever takes a piece of the land of others unjustly, he will sink down the seven earths on the Day of Resurrection.”
Islam critics wrongly claim that this sinking down theEarth signifies the flat shape of the Earth. The truth is that the seven earths being refereed to here are not the planets, rather they are the seven layers of our very earth (planet). Studies in geology have proven that the earth is composed of seven zones:
1. The Solid Inner Core of Earth: 1.7% of the Earth’s mass; depth of 5,150 – 6,370 kilometers (3,219 – 3,981 miles)
2. The Liquid Outer core: 30.8% of Earth’s mass; depth of 2,890 – 5,150 kilometers (1,806 – 3,219 miles)
3. The “D” Layer: 3% of Earth’s mass; depth of 2,700 – 2,890 kilometers (1,688 – 1,806 miles)
4. Lower Mantle: 49.2% of Earth’s mass; depth of 650 – 2,890 kilometers (406 -1,806 miles)
5. Middle Mantle (Transition region): 7.5% of Earth’s mass; depth of 400 – 650 kilometers (250-406 miles)
6. Upper Mantle: 10.3% of Earth’s mass; depth of 10 – 400 kilometers (6 – 250 miles)
7. Lithosphere and Oceanic crust: 0.099% of Earth’s mass; depth of 0-10 kilometers (0 – 6 miles)
The Islamobhobic claim comes from the fact that the seven planetary earths (of hell) myth has been talked about in many ancient books by the Arab scholars. But they fail to realize that a lot of the information which those books give (such as naming of the seven earths and calling the seventh earth as resting place of Lucifer [Source: Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-9)]) are in direct contradiction of Quran and hadiths (no names have been given to the seven earths in Islamic scriptures, and hell has been described as a place of punishment for Lucifer, not his resting area), and hence can’t be related to Islamic views.
Jami` at-Tirmidhi Hadith 3298 (Book 47, Hadith 3611 / USC-MSA Volume 6, Book 44, Hadith 3298 ∥ Grade: Da’if): Abu Hurairah said: “Once when the Prophet of Allah was sitting with his Companions, a cloud came above them, so the Prophet of Allah said: ‘Do you know what this is?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘These are the clouds that are to drench the earth, which Allah [Blessed and Most High] dispatches to people who are not grateful to Him, nor supplicate to Him.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is a preserved canopy of the firmament whose surge is restrained.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know how much is between you and between it?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Between you and it [is the distance] of five-hundred year.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above that.’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, above that are two Heavens, between the two of them there is a distance of five-hundred years’ – until he enumerated seven Heavens – ‘What is between each of the two Heavens is what is between the heavens and the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above that?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, above that is the Throne between it and the heavens is a distance [like] what is between two of the heavens.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under that?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, below it is another earth, between the two of which is a distance of five-hundred years.’ Until he enumerated seven earths: ‘Between every two earths is a distance of five-hundred years.’ Then he said: ‘By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! If you were to send [a man] down with a rope to the lowest earth, then he would descend upon Allah.’ Then he recited: He is Al-Awwal, Al-Akhir, Az-Zahir Al-Batin, and He has knowledge over all things.”
This is a da’if (weak) hadith, hence cannot be considered authentic in any sense.
Sunan Abu Dawud Hadith 4002 (Ahmad Hasan reference: Hadith 3991 ∥ Grade: Hasan- shaadh): Narrated Abu Dharr: I was sitting behind the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets ? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water (Hamiyah).
Sahih al-Bukhari 3199 (Book 59, Hadith 10 / USC-MSA Vol. 4, Book 54, Hadith 421 ∥ Grade: Sahih): Narrated Abu Dhar: The Prophet (ﷺ) asked me at sunset, “Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” He said, “It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: “And the sun runs its fixed course For a term (decreed) that is The Decree of (Allah) The Exalted in Might, The All- Knowing.” (Quran 36.38)
Sahih Muslim Hadith 159a (Book 1, Hadith 306 / USC-MSA Book 1, Hadith 297 ∥ Grade: Sahih): It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) one day said:Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything ( unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.
Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 21459 (Grade: hasan – shaadh): Abu Dharr narrated, “Once I was with the Prophet riding a donkey on which there was a saddle or a (piece of) velvet. That was at sunset. He said to me, ‘O Abu Dharr, do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘It sets in a spring of murky water, (then) it goes and prostrates before its Lord, the Exalted in Might and the Ever-Majestic, under the Throne. And when it is time to go out, Allah allows it to go out and thus it rises. But, when He wants to make it rise where it sets, He locks it up. The sun will then say, “O my Lord, I have a long distance to run.” Allah will say, “Rise where you have set.” That (will take place) when no (disbelieving) soul will get any good by believing then.’”
As per the critics, these hadiths “say, “from its rising place” (min matli’iha مَطْلِعِهَا ), and “from the place of your setting” (min maghribiki مِنْ مَغْرِبِكِ). The sun is commanded to go somewhere – it cannot be claimed that this is an idiomatic way of commanding the Earth to rotate, nor that the words mean the east and west here (despite mistranslations of similar hadiths), not least because the words al mashriq and al maghrib would have been used for that purpose and without the possessive suffixes. The words used in this hadith must refer to the sun’s rising and setting places – it is pure nonsense to claim otherwise.” But this is true only for the Sahih Muslim Hadith quoted above. The complementary hadith from Sahih Bukhari (also quoted above) clears this doubt of the direction of setting of the sun (west- مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا) , and rising from the same direction (at another place) for preparation of rising from the east at the same place. So the Sun sets at one place in the west, rises from west (in reference to the same place) for another place, then rises from the east for the same place. This shows that that the earth is not flat.
Another false claim the critics of make regarding the above hadiths is that since the Sun sets in the muddy (murky/warm) water, it would mean that the Earth is flat. They quote Quran 18.86 (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.”) to support their claim. The problem here is that the verse does not says that sun sets in muddy water literally, it is making a comparison here with regards to the colors we see at the time of dawn. Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset and sunrise than during the day, when the sun is higher in the sky. More atmosphere means more molecules to scatter the violet and blue light away from our eyes, thereby giving us a vivid spectrum of brown, red and other murky shades. Hence the sky is called a murky water body here due to the color we perceive.
Sahih Muslim Hadith 2889a (Book 54, Hadith 24 / USC-MSA Book 41, Hadith 6904 ∥ Grade: Sahih): Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends which have been drawn near me and I have been granted the red and the white treasure and I begged my Lord for my Ummah that it should not be destroyed because of famine, nor be dominated by an enemy who is not amongst them to take their lives and destroy them root and branch, and my Lord said: Muhammad, whenever I make a decision, there is none to change it. I grant you for your Ummah that it would not be destroyed by famine and it would not be dominated by an enemy who would not be amongst it and would take their lives and destroy them root and branch even if all the people from the different parts of the world join hands together (for this purpose), but it would be from amongst them, viz. your Ummah, that some people would kill the others or imprison the others.
The critics claim that the ends of the earth being talked about means that the earth is flat as it is being thought as a concatenation of two halves (eastern and western) merged into one. There is serious problem with this claim of theirs. Firstly, it can be done with any shape, be it flat or somewhat spherical. We have Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) which divides the Earth into two equal halves (the East and the West), and we use it for time and navigation here on Earth. Another similar 0° line is zero line of magnetic declination (similar due to the Gravitational Time Dilation phenomenon). Just like the GM, this line also changes year after year, and divides the earth into two equal halves. Looking at the 2010 data (see pic below), Mecca was one of the several cities close to the zero line of magnetic declination. It is very much possible that the Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was talking about this line, or some other line. Denying the authenticity of this hadith by such claims would mean that even the Greenwich Meridian doesnt divides the earth into easten and western halves (and geometrically, those halves will definitely have edges).
Quran 2.22: Who made the earth a bed for you, the sky a canopy, and sends forth rain from the skies that fruits may grow — your food and sustenance. So, do not make another the equal of God knowingly.
Islamophobes say that the bed being referred to signifies the flatness of Earth. This a false claim as here the Earth is being compared to the bed in terms of comfort it provides. This is evident from the receiving of the rain as a blessing from the God, as given in the same verse. Moreover since the verse signifies that the canopy of the sky over the earth is in the form of a dome, and it is a roof over the earth; critics have inferred that this means the Earth is flat. Again they are wrong here in their judgement as the canopy being referred to here is the atmosphere (which bring rain) covering the Earth. There is no reference to the shape of Earth here.
Quran 31.29. Do you not see that Allah blends the night into day and He blends the day into night? And He makes the sun and the moon obey (His Order), each running along its way for a time appointed? And that Allah is All Informed (Khabir) with what you do?
This Quranic verse regarding the alternation of day and night. Blending here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth were flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day, and from day to night.
Quran 9.30. And more, He has extended the earth (far and wide also in the shape of an egg):
The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical i.e. it is flattened at the poles, sort of like oval shape. The Arabic word for egg in this verse is ‘dahaha’, which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth. Thus, the Quran correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Quran was revealed was that the earth is flat.
Rig Veda 8.25.18. He who hath measured with his ray the boundaries [ends] of heaven and earth..
Atharva Veda 15.7.1. He, having become moving majesty, went to the ends of the earth…
Atharva Veda 20.88.1. Him who with might hath propped earth’s ends
Rig Veda 1.62.8. Two dames of different fashion, morning and the night, have been travelling (in the sky) the Earth since the times.
Rig Veda 10.58.3. Thy spirit, that went far away, away to the four cornered earth.
Rig Veda 6.62.1. …They are ever the discomfiters of darkness and at the breaking of dawn, scatter the investing glooms to the ends of the earth.
In the above verses, the “four corner/end of earth” claim has been made a lot of times. Hindus claim that the reference is symbolic, to the four cardinal directions. But if we read these verses, only the Atharva Veda 15.7.1. and Rig Veda 6.62.1. seems to be referring symbolically. The rest Atharva Veda 20.88.1., Rig Veda 10.58.3. and Rig Veda 8.25.18. don’t. They wouldn’t make sense if they be talking about the cardinal directions (or even about a nation’s boundary).
Satapatha Brahman 22.214.171.124. …Now this earth is four-cornered, for the quarters are her corners: hence the bricks are four-cornered; for all the bricks are after the manner of this earth.
This verse clearly shows that the Earth is cuboid in shape, i.e. has a flat surface. The Rig Veda 1.62.8. combined with this verse could only represent that people live on both sides of the cuboid shaped Earth.
Markandeya Purana 54.12. Earth is flattened at the poles.
This is a false translation cropping up the internet since a few years. The original verse reads: “Know that on the southern side of this are three continents or Barshas and similarly three on the northern side; and between them the Ilabrata-Barsha stands as a crescent.” Where are the poles here???
Rig Veda XXX.IV.V. (30.4.5). Shape of Earth is like an Oblate Spheroid.
There is no such verse in Rig Veda. It is fabricated verse. Also note that the Hindus claim the Earth has been called “bhu-gol” (bhu means ‘land’, and gol means ‘circular or something with roundness (not to be confused with “kanduka/ guda/ gol chhetra” that translates to ‘sphere)’) in the Vedas, the claim is true for the translations only. In our research, we found that the Earth has been called “prithvi (prithviya)“. The term bhugol was coined much later than the time Columbus and refers to the subject of ‘geography’ in today’s world.
- Islamic View- The Earth is NOT a flat circle or plate. It is of the shape of an egg, i.e., a sphere with flattened poles.
- Hinduism View- The Earth is flat like a brick, i.e., cuboid in shape.