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Does the Quran Support Geocentrism or Heliocentrism?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Nov 13, 2018

Question

Hello! Two months ago I was having severe doubts about Islam, and nearly left the religion altogether. Thankfully, reading the Quran and learning the explanations for some ayats, as well as this site, helped me greatly (Thank you!). There is one question I still have though. Some person told me the Quran supports geocentrism, but I didn't see that. But still, I noticed the Quran only mentioned the sun and moon having an orbit, or maybe I missed something. Is there any ayat for this to help me, or even a hadith? Please help me get rid of the last of these larger doubts.

Consultant

Answer


Heliocentrism

Short Answer: There is no verse meaning the sun is the center of the universe; nor is there any mention of the Solar System where the the planets move around the sun. This doesn’t mean that the modern ideas of the Solar System with its sun at the center are not true. Only thing is that the Quran does not mention it; because it is not a text book on astronomy. The point to emphasize here is that there is no Quranic verse that contradicts well-established facts of science; and the Quran’s ideas of science go beyond the concepts of geocentrism or heliocentrism.

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Peace be with you Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The Quran – a Book of Guidance

There are a few things we should not lose sight of when we read the Quran.

First, it is a Book of Guidance meant for those who would lead a life of God-consciousness in this world:

“This Book – let there be no doubt about it – is [meant to be] a guidance for all the God-conscious.” (Quran 2:2)

As we read it, we note that there are references in it to historical events; but for that reason it is not a book of history. The mention of historical events are meant for making the reader think about them with a view to learning lessons from them.

There are verses in the Quran which draw our attention to the phenomena of nature that may come under the broad title of science or under its various branches such as geology, astronomy, embryology and so forth. But any reference in the Quran to scientific phenomena is not worded in scientific terminology; because the Quran is not a book of science. It is a book of Guidance, as mentioned above.  

Geocentrism or Heliocentrism?

Words such as geocentrism and heliocentrism are of comparatively recent coinage referring to our solar system.

Geocentrism is the belief based on the Ptolemaic model of the universe where the sun, the planets and the stars revolve around a stationary earth. On the other hand, heliocentrism is based on the Copernican model in which the sun is assumed to lie at the center of the Solar System, while the earth and other bodies revolve around it.

Before we talk about the concept of geocentrism in the Quran, we need to look for any verses that depict the earth as the center of the universe, or of the sun as revolving around the earth. Similarly, we can speak of Quran’s heliocentrism too, if we can point out verses that mention the sun as the center of the universe or of the sun as revolving around the earth.

The Quranic View

The fact is that the Quran does not specifically say that the earth revolves around the sun or that the sun revolves around the earth. But we can look for verses that albeit indirectly, imply its support for the geocentric model or the heliocentric model.

See this verse:

He created the heavens and earth in truth. He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. Unquestionably, He is the Exalted in Might, the Perpetual Forgiver.” (Quran 39:5)

The above verse specifically depicts the sun, the moon, the earth and all other heavenly bodies as moving. The particular expression is: kullun yajree (= each running its course) in the sense, all are moving. The verb yajree is plural verb referring to three or more (bodies) moving. That is to say, the sun, the moon and the earth are all moving along its course for a specified term. The movement of the earth mentioned here rules out the idea of a fixed earth at the center of the Solar System. This suggests that the Quran does not support geocentrism.

Furthermore, we read about the phenomenon of wrapping night over the day, and the day over the night.” This suggests the earth’s rotation about its own axis. And the use of the Arabic word “yukawwiru” (= He wraps up) describes the winding of the turban around the head. That is to say the wrapping of the day over the night and the night over the day implies that the earth is a sphere. Thus the idea of a flat earth does not go along with the above Quranic expression.

As for heliocentrism, there is no verse meaning the sun is the center of the universe; nor is there any mention of the Solar System where the the planets move around the sun. This doesn’t mean that the modern ideas of the Solar System with its sun at the center are not true. Only thing is that the Quran does not mention it; because it is not a text book on astronomy.

The point to emphasize here is that there is no Quranic verse that contradicts well-established facts of science; and the Quran’s ideas of science go beyond the concepts of geocentrism or heliocentrism.

And Allah knows best.  

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Quran on Perfect Orbits in the Universe

5 Recently Discovered Facts Found in the Quran

Evidence of the Moon Splitting?

 

 




About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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