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To Raqib, "science in the Qur'an" continued

Reader comment on item: Pope Benedict XVI and the Koran
in response to reader comment: Qur'an and Science

Submitted by Lactantius Jr. (United Kingdom), Nov 5, 2006 at 18:21

To Raqib,

Thanks for clearing up any confusion about was it astrology? or astronomy? saying it was a typing mistake (which we all make), but it's good of you to apologise for the potential confusion. Thank you.

You say quite correctly Raqib, "that Qur'an is not a book of science but it gives us enough, more than enough information about some scientific fact which has been proven with the help of modern technology," going on to say that "Modern astronomers found, using modern technology that sun rotates, in its resting position."

Neither the Bible or the Qur'an are books of science, and make no claim to be, but it is inescapable that if either of them do make claims to scientific accuracy, those claims should be found correct when closely examined using modern scientific knowledge, and if the claims made are indeed correct, I will readily agree this proves they could not have been written by human beings ignorant of those facts at the time, which in the case of the Qur'an, was ~1400 years ago. But if the claims are wrong, this destroys the claim for them being the Word of God or Allah.

How does quoting Surah 36:38 support the claim that "the Sun rotates in its resting position?"

Here are 10 translations into English of the Qur'anic Arabic of Surah 36:38 and none of them speak of "rotation of the sun" in its "resting position."

And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise. (Pickthall)

And the sun runs his course for a period determined for him: that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali)

And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the Decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. (Hilali-Khan)

And the sun runs on to a term appointed for it; that is the ordinance of the Mighty, the Knowing. (Shakir)

And the sun is moving on to its determined goal. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing Allah. (Sher Ali)

The sun sets into a specific location, according to the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient (Khalifa)

And the sun -- it runs to a fixed resting-place; that is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. (Arberry)

and the sun runs on to a place of rest for it; that is the ordinance of the mighty, the wise. (Palmer)

And the Sun hasteneth to her place of rest. This, the ordinance of the Mighty, the Knowing! (Rodwell)

And the sun hasteneth to his place of rest. This [is] the disposition of the mighty, the wise [Allah].(Sale)

Does the Sun really have a resting position Raqib? In reading my previous lengthy reply to you, you will have read Al-Baidawi's comment on Surah 36:38 and I now repeat it,

"The sun - It runs to a fixed resting place" refers to a certain limit at which it cycle comes to an end. It is compared to the resting-place of a traveler after his journey, or to the center of the sky where it moves slower, so that one thinks it has come to a halt. [The poet says, ‘The sun is gone astray and revolves in the sky".] It can also mean a settled course, or an appointed end for each day from the east to the west. For it has a cycle of three hundred and sixty sunrises and sunsets; it rises every morning from its resting-place and sets in a setting place, only to return to them the following year. This could also be a reference to the destruction of the world when it ceases to rotate. Another reading is: ‘with no resting-place to it'; namely, it does not rest, but moves all the time. (Baidawi's comments on Surah 36:38 as cited by ‘Abd al-Fadi, Is the Qur'an Infallible?, p. 29)

Which gives the impression that the sun travels from one end of the earth to the other over a three hundred and sixty-day period. This strongly argues that the Qur'an pictures the earth as an immovable, stationary object where the sun and moon travel around. In fact, Muhammad also taught that the sun rests in a muddy spring from which it returns back on its course, this claim being recorded in Sahi Bukhari, (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 421) and in the Qur'an at Surah 18:86

The Sun does not "rest" in a "muddy spring," everything in our solar system is constantly moving, the Sun taking ~25 days to rotate about its axis, itself rotating around the centre of the milky way galaxy, at a speed of between 200-300 kilometres per second (~600,000 miles per hour).

I look forward to you interacting with the material presented in my comments titled "To Raqib, ‘Quran and Science,'" responding to it, and to the questions I posed in the Conclusion, namely:- "If the Qur'an is indeed foretelling modern scientific fact, why then does it not bother to mention that the earth is rotating on its axis, or that it is also traveling on an orbit? Why does it give the impression that the earth is stationary, and that the sun travels to one end of space and then comes to rest in a muddy spring? Why does it give the impression that the sun and moon travel on the same course when we know that the moon is actually rotating around the earth and it is the earth that rotates around the sun? Why does it give the impression that the earth is actually flat and that the stars are to be found only in the lowest heaven as opposed to being found throughout the entire universe? Why does the Qur'an claim that meteors or stars are actually objects used to cast out immaterial spirits from the presence of angels? Perhaps you can answer all these questions Raqib, but I can't, and must conclude that the Qur'an falls short of making the kind of scientific statements you and others claim it does."

I look forward to hearing your response, and welcome entering into dialogue with you about the "many more scientific and historical facts in Holy Qur'an" you refer to.

With kind regards and best wishes

Lactantius Jr


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