The Qur'an Has Scientific Errors
1 - Accept and First Argument
2, 3, 4 - Rebuttal
5 - Conclusion
Sura 18:83-86 says, "And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say, "I will recite to you about him a report.". Indeed We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way. So he followed a way. 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."
Dhul-Qarnayn found the place where the Sun set, yet the Sun doesn't even actually set. It's in Space, and the rotation of the Earth only makes it appear that th Sun sets. Secondly, the Sun is too big to set in a spring of dark mud, It's millions of times bigger than Earth! There's also a people living there: They would be too close to the Sun and it would burn them.
My opponent may repeat Zakir Naik, and say, "When we says 'Sun set', it can be taken for time. If I say, 'The sun sets at 7 P.M.', I'm using it for time. If I say, 'The sun sets in the west', it means I'm taking it for place. He didn't reach the place of sunset: He reached the place at the time of the sunset. The problem is solved."
Yet, there are two problems with this:
1. The Qur'an is supposed to be a very clear book (Sura 3:7, Sura 11:1). Why would Allah say one thing and mean something else?
2. Muhammad himself interprets it differently. Sunan Aba Dawud 3991says, "I was sitting behind the Messenger of Allah (A018;) 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)."
I thank Esiar for instigating this debate. :)
- I’d like to first point out that the Qur’an is not a scientific book, & thus should not be considered as such. The Qur’an is a book of guidance that promotes knowledge, reason & encourages it. Also, the Qur’an is a Revelation, & thus it asserts its origin is God, & assert thus Prophethood & Miracles.
- Pro hasn’t define Scientific Error in the Qur’an, & so I’ll take the initiative & define it as: a statement from the Qur’an contradicting established scientific findings or established facts. & thus, if the Miracles mentioned in the Qur’an have natural causes, they thus can be proven or disproven scientifically ; if, on the other hand, they do not have natural causes, as in: they violate Causality, then the scientific method can not falsify them, for it presupposes Causality. Since the Qur’an is not clear which of the two is the right definition of Miracle (the two major Theological Schools of Thought in the Islamic Tradition differ on whether Miracles have natural Causes or supernatural causes), it would be pointless to argue that the Miracles mentioned in the Qur’an are scientific errors.
- The Resolution reads: ‘the Qur’an has Scientific Errors’, thus, it’s on Pro the BOP to demonstrate the positive existence of scientific errors in the Qur’an.
Here is the relevant part of the verses invoked by Pro:
So he followed a way ;
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.
> In Transliteration:
Faattba’a sababa ;
Hatta itha balagha maghriba ash-shamsi wajadaha taghrubu fee ‘aynin hami-atin wa wajada ‘indaha qawma.
Fattaba’a = fallowing/pursuing
sababa = way/road/course
Hatta = conjunction of time or place meaning: as far as/up to/until.
itha = when
balagha = (He) reached/arrived at
maghriba = east \ time of sunset.
ash-shamsi = sun.
wajadaha = (He) found \ spotted \ stumbled upon \ came upon \ deemed \ considered (it)
taghrubu = setting (the sun).
fee = in \ at.
‘aynin = spring \ lake \ sea \ ocean (any reserve or source of water or liquid).
hami-atin = muddy/murky/dark \ hot/warm. <<< this word is a variant of pronunciation & so it can either be read: hami-atin, Or hamiatin (hot).
wa wajada = (and) ‘wajada’
‘indaha = conjunction of time or place meaning: at/when/by (it).
qawma = people, group.
> It states that Thul-Qarnayn was following/pursuing a way/road/course, thus he must be going towards a destination.
> It starts first by a conjunction of time & place: Hatta, & so it suggests that whatever comes next is in fact a time or a place or both;
> & another: iItha’ (when) suggesting that there will be simultaneity among the following events.
>> Then, It follows the line of the previous verse & announces that Thul-Qarnayn reached his destination (balagha). & then tells of that destination , which is in the east (maghriba), which also suggests that the arrival at this destination happened at the time of sunset (maghriba ash-shamsi).
>>> After, the verse relates that Thul-Qarnayn (He) found\spotted (wajadaha) the sun (it) setting (taghrubu), which follows naturally, as expected, from the fact that he indeed arrived at sunset. & thus the act of spotting the sun setting happened upon arrival.
>>>> & so, it follows: the setting of the sun, as Thul-Qarnayn spotted it, was in\at (fee) a reserve of water\liquid (‘aynin). It is thus understood that the sun was setting behind water & not in it, for he (Thul-Qarnayn) had witnessed such sunset, & thus, it would seem to him as if the sun was going into the water. Which, thus, indicates that he was at the coast/seashore/border. Eg. if I say: ‘I saw you in the sea’ it would mean that I was at the sea when I saw you.
>>>> Then, it describes the nature of the water behind which the sun was then setting: hami-atin\hamiatin. Implying that it (the water\liquid = spring\lake\sea\ocean) was of a muddy/murky/dark nature, Or hot/warm (depending on the pronunciation).
>>>>> & then, the verse relates further what Thul-Qarnayn found\stumbled-upon\came-upon\spotted (wajada) when (‘inda) he arrived at the border of that water, & that is a people/group by this spring\lake\sea\ocean (‘indaha, i.e. living near it).
=> The dual use of time & place interchangeably in the verse is testament to the high rhetorical style of the Arabic in the Qur’an.
=> The interpretation of the nature of the water\liquid (‘aynin hami-atin), as proposed by some Exegetists, may refer to the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caspian Sea, or even as some suggested (such as Ben ‘Ashour): an oil field near the Caspian Sea (because it conforms with the description of dark liquid). The first two were favourites of the earlier Exegetists, the last two were favourites of the more recent ones, for the Caspian Sea fits more the description: it either is warm, or muddy, or has nearby oil fields.
- Claim: verse 18:86 states that the sun sets in a ‘spring of dark mud’.
=> That can not be true, because the verse does not say: ‘Until, when he reached the maghrib of the sun, IT was setting in a spring of dark mud’ <<< that is to say: it doesn’t assert anything about where or how the sun sets! It rather describes the scenery surrounding Thul-Qarnayn when he arrived at his destination (from his own perspective) : ‘[. . .] , HE found\spotted it -as if- setting in a spring of dark mud’
- Claim: Muhammad himself interprets it differently. Sunan Aba Dawud 3991says, "I was sitting behind the Messenger of Allah 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).”
> That narration was reported by Abu Dharr (a companion of the Prophet):
- Narrated Abu Dharr:
I was sitting behind the Messenger of Allah 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)
[^Abu Dawud #4002]
> Another similar narration reported by the same companion as follows:
Narrated Abu Dharr:
Once I was with the Prophet in the mosque at the time of sunset. The Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and prostrates underneath (Allah's) Throne; 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." [(36.38)]
[^al-Bukahri #3199, #4801, 7424] + [^Muslim #159] + [^at-Tarmidhi #2286, #3227] + [^Abu Dawud #368] + [^an-Nisai #229]
- The former narration appears in only one of the Six Canonical Collections of Hadith (the most authentic collections of Hadith). The latter narration appears in five of the Six Canonical Collections. The two narrations are reports by the same companion of the same account, & thus they must be variants of transmission, i.e. only one of the two can be true. & the latter is definitely the True version, because:
1. For the reason I cited above, the latter is reported in almost all authentic sources of Hadith, the former is reported in just one.
2. In the single chain of transmission of the former there is a narrator called: al-Hakam Ibn ‘Utaybah, who was accused of fabrication of distorted reports by an-Nisai (of of the authors of the Six Canonical Collections) & by others (such as Ibn Hiban . . .). In the multi chain of transmission of the latter, there are besides al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah, others fully trustworthy narrators, such as: Musa Ibn Musayb, al-A’mash. . .
3. Both narrations depict a description of the sunset that is inspired from the Qur’an, the former from the verse 18:86 (“setting in a dark/warm water”) ; the latter from the verse 22:18 “Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars [. . .]”. & so there is reason to suspect why one narrator may confuse the two, & replace one with the other, either intentionally or unintentionally.
=> It’s clear from the above arguments, that the latter narration report the true account, & thus the former is a mistaken one.
- Pro makes the claim that ‘Sura 36:38 doesn't sound accurate either…’ without supporting it in any way. I don’t see any argument from Pro that I need to refute. Nevertheless, I will proceed with falsifying Pro’s claim, regardless of his reasons behind it.
- Pro is contesting to the assertion that the Sun prostrates under Allah’s Throne offered in this narration:
* Narrated Abu Dharr: Once I was with the Prophet in the mosque at the time of sunset. The Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and prostrates underneath (Allah's) Throne; 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."
- & so, the Hadith is apparently an interpretation of this verse:
* ”And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed).” (36:38)
> By this verse:
* “Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars [. . .]” (22:18)
- Now let’s see what does this interpretation stand for, let's first start by checking other narrations & verses:
* “See you not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another” (71:15)
* Narrated Sa’id Ibn Jubayr: A man came to Ibn ‘Abbas (companion of the Prophet) and asked him about “the seven heavens”, He (Ibn ‘Abbas) said: “they are wrapped (multawiyat) one over the other” [^al-Fasl fil-Milal #2/80] <<< Meaning: the seven heavens are contained one in the other, where the above contains & encloses the lower.
* “And We have certainly beautified the lowest heaven (as-Samaa ad-Dunya) with stars” (67:5) <<< The lowest heaven (Dunya) thus indicate the observable Universe, for it contains the stars.
* The Prophet said: “Indeed, this world (Dunya) in comparison to the Hereafter (Akhira) is that if anyone of you should dip his finger into the ocean: let him then see what he brings forth.” [^Ibn Majah #4108] <<< The lowest heaven is extremely insignificant compared to what is above it.
* “His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth” (2:255) <<< The Kursi, likewise, encompasses the seven heavens.
* The Prophet said: “Do you know how great Allah is? His Throne is above the heavens (thus indicating with his fingers like a dome over him)” [^Abu Dawud #4726] <<< The Throne encloses & englobes the seven heavens.
* Narrated Abu Darr: “The likeness of the Kursi in comparison to the Throne of Allah is but a mere ring in the midst of a desert” [^Ibn Hiban #213] /// Another version (weak narration): “O! Abu Darr, the seven heavens and the Kursi in comparison to the Throne are but a more ring in a desert land” [^Ibn Asakir #23/277] <<< The seven heavens are insignificant compared to the Kursi, & the latter is insignificant compared to the Throne.
* It was reported in an Atar (report by a companion) “The Earth in the lowest heaven is like a ring in a desert, similarly for the lowest heaven in comparison to the one above it, and so on to the seventh heaven, and the latter relative to the Kursi is like a ring in a desert, as is the Kursi relatively to the Throne of Allah” [^al-Allusi #9/129] <<< Well, you pretty much get the idea.
* “All (heavenly bodies) each in an orbit.” (21:33)
* Narrated Abu Darr: I asked the Prophet about the Statement of Allah: “And the sun runs on fixed course for a term (decreed)” (36.38) He said, "Its course is underneath Allah's Throne." [^al-Bukhari #4803]
>>> Thus we have two assertions: ”And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed).”, & ”Its course is underneath Allah's Throne."
* "Allah is the Creator of every thing and He has charge over every thing." (39:62).
* Actions: "And Allah created you and whatever you do." (37:96)
* Will: "And you do not will except that Allah wills - Lord of the worlds." (81:29)
* Choice: "Your Lord does create and choose as He pleases. In no way do they have the choice. All Extolment be to Allah, and Supremely Exalted be He above whatever they associate (with Him)." (28:68)
* Dominion: "Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is exalting Allah. To Him belongs dominion, and to Him belongs all praise, and He has power over all things." (64:1)
* Pre-destiny: "Indeed, all things We created with predestination -in proportion and measure-." (54:49)
* “yukawwiru allayla ‘ala annahari wa yukawwiru annahara ‘ala allayli”
> Yukawwiru, from the root verb Kawwaru, which literally means: make into a globe or a circle.
> In the Arabic Dictionary: ‘Kawwara’ applied onto a turban means: encircle it.
=> Commentary: the night is wrapped over the day encircling it, & the day is wrapped over the night encircling it.
=> Thus, the Earth MUST be a glob for such a scenario to take place.
=> Commentary: the duration of one night & one day is fixed, & one is not allowed to overtake the other.
=> The ‘wrapping’ of the day over the night on the Glob is such that the duration of the full cycle (of encircling day night) is fixed, which indicates a steady speed of rotation.
=> Commentary: the decreased hours of the night are added to the hours of the day, & the decreased hours of the day are added to the hours of the night.
==>> All these verses provide accurate descriptions of the shape & cycle of the Earth.
* “kullun fee falakin yasbahoon”
> Falakin = arc, orbit, circle, circular shape, round shape
=> Commentary: Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas (companion to the Prophet): " 'falakin' like the round shape of a spinning wheel " [^Tafsir at-Tabari, Yasin p.521]
==>> The Qur’an assert that heavenly bodies float in - round - orbits.
===>>> Conclusion: we can assert with absolute certainty that the Sunset mentioned in (18:86) MUST be a description of the scenery as witnessed by Thul-Qarnayn, & thus, can not be an explanation of the Sunset itself & its location! Otherwise, we would find ourselves contradicted by the Qur’an itself through the verses mentioned above.
- Al-Marwazi (d. 869) the first muslim to provide a fairly accurate estimation of the diameter of the Earth: 10,323km. He also made estimations of the diameter of the Sun to: 56,777km (which makes the Sun at least 170 bigger than the Earth), of the Moon: 3,036km, of the average distance Moon-Earth: 308,000km, of the average distance Sun-Earth: 6,245,547km.
- Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) “None of the great Scholars, who deserve the degree of Imamah (authority in Scholarship), may allah bless them, contested the round shape of the Earth.” [^al-Fasl fil Milal #2/78]
- Abu al-Husein Ibn al-Munadi (d. 947) “There is no difference of opinion between the Scholars that the Sky is round shaped, and they all agreed that the Earth, land and sea, is in the shape of a globe” [^Majmu’ al-Fatawa #25/195]
- Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) “The planets are round shaped according to the Scholars of Islam [. . .], many have stated the consensus on this subject, such as Ibn Hazm and Ibn al-Jawzi, and they reported narrations to that affect from the Companions & their Successors with know chains of transmissions, and their brought proofs from the Qur’an and the Sunnah on top of mathematical proofs and astronomical proofs. And I am not aware of any know Scholar who has contested this position, with the exception of few who did not succeed in providing proof for the contrary” [^al-Fatawa #6/586]
I think I’ve established decisively & thoroughly that the description of the Sun-Earth relationship in the Quranic worldview conforms with the reality of it, & thus no statement in the Qur’an concerning that subject is in contradiction with the established facts, thus far, invalidating Pro's resulotion.
2. "Considering all the verses & narrations I have cited, it becomes crystal clear that, according to the Qur"an, the Sun, heavenly bodies, whatever is in the heavens & the Earth, all are in a state of obedience following the Decree of Allah in the course that He has set for them: "And to Allah prostrates [in obedience] whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth of creatures, and the angels [as well]" (16:49). & all are in that state of obedience under the Throne of Allah."
There is nothing Scientifically wrong, but anyone could interpret this way. "God set a certain orbit for them and they obey God." isn't a Scientific miracle.
3. Showing Scientifically accurate things in the Qur'an doesn't show there are no Scientifically inaccurate things. That's like asking.
-When are the first records of Al-Marwazi's predictions/calculations?
-It was discoverd the Earth was round long before Ibn Hazm.
-When are the fist record of Abu al-Husein Ibn al-Munadi?
-They figured out that the Earth was round, and figured the rest of the planets were.
"36:38 sounds wrong because the Earth orbits the Earth, not the other way around. The prostating has nothing to do with it."
- ”And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed).” (36:38)
=> Pro must be confused about the verse 36:38, there is no mention of the Earth in the verse at all!
- What is a scientific miracle?! This is an oxymoron!
- Of course not! That’s the BOP on Pro > to come up with scientifically inaccurate statements in the Qur’an, which Pro so far failed to provide.
- I don’t particularly understand the point of all this, but anyhow:
- Estimations based on methods of measurements*
- Yes? And? Ibn Hazm was speaking about the Consensus of Scholars (Islamic Scholars: Jurists, Theologians, . . .) about the round shape of the Earth, from the time of the Companions to the Successors. . . etc. before even al-Marwazi did his first estimations. (as did Ibn Taymiyyah & Ibn al-Munadi).
- I have provided the dates of death of all those I mentioned (d. = died in):
> Al-Marwazi (d. 869)
> Ibn Hazm (d. 1064)
> Abu al-Husein Ibn al-Munadi (d. 947)
> Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328)
2. It is not a Scientific miracle because anyone in the 7th cetury knows that. This is like saying, "An Arab from the 7th century knew how to make babies... How did he know that?! It's a Scientific miracle!"
3. You didn't answer my questions about Al-Marwazi. I asked when it was first recorded in history that he made those calculations, or, in what time of history was it first discovered.
4. It means that Ibn Hazm had no Scientific miracle on his part, because it was already known the Earth was round.
5. I was asking when Abu al-Husein Ibn al-Munadi's predictions were first recorded in history. I.e., in what time of history was it first discovered that he made those predictions.
Con hasn't answered most of my questions. Vote who you think won.
1. No, I am not mixing it up with the Earth. I am saying that the Sun has no fixed course, because it doesn't orbit the Earth, but that the Earth orbits the Sun.
- Pro is making up a false interpretation of the verse (36:38), there is no mention of the word ‘Earth’ in the verse whatsoever: ”And the Sun runs its fixed course For a term (decreed).”
- Second, why is Pro talking about scientific miracles? <<< The Resolution is about ‘Scientific Errors’.
- Third, very few people knew the Earth was round in the 7th Century especially not the Arabs, for only those who had access to Astronomy knew about that fact, which was inherited from the Greek & Roman Astronomers.
- Fourth, what does Pro really mean by ‘making babies’?!!! <<< He couldn’t have meant ‘sexual intercourse leading to pregnancy & conception’, he could thus have only meant: ‘the process of progression of the embryo in the womb’, which was obviously not known until the 20th century .
- Second, what does Pro mean by ‘when it was first recorded in history that he made those calculations’?!!! <<< It is self-evident that al-Marwazi was the first to record his own calculations since he made them (in his book ‘The Book of Bodies and Distances’ )!!! How could there have been another who recorded them before they were even made!!!
- Third, what is the correlation between Pro’s question & his Resolution? <<< None, of course.
- Fourth, the reason why I brought up the calculations of al-Marwazi is to show that the Early Muslims were aware that the Sun was a much bigger body than the Earth, so how could they’ve thought that the Sun sets some place on the Earth! The verse clearly doesn’t say so, & thus the Hadith that says: ‘the sun sets on a muddy spring’ is simply false.
- Fifth, al-Marwazi was not the first nor the last muslim astronomer who calculated the Earth’s radius. Al-Biruni’s (b. 973 - d.1048) estimation: 6,339.9 km is very close to the the current value: 6,356.7 km (with a 0.2% margin of error = 16.8 km) .
- Second, that is exactly my point: muslim Scholars from the time of the Companions were aware of the fact that the Earth was round, & I brought proofs attesting to this reality from different muslim Scholars (Ibn Hazm & the others), & from the Qur’an itself. Therefore, it’s nonessential to think that the Qur’an insinuates that it isn’t, or that the Sun sets in some place on the Earth, For those that believed in it & understood it (the Qur’an) from the time of its revelation thought otherwise.
=> Throughout this debate Pro provided no valid arguments to support his resolution: ‘The Qur'an Has Scientific Errors’. The only alleged ‘Scientific Error’ Pro invoked is one that is based on a false interpretation, supported by a false account, & contradicted by the clear statement of the Qur’an itself, & the Consensus of -muslim- Scholars, in both the scientific realm & the religious realm, as I decisively & thoroughly demonstrated.
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