Monday, 13 February 2012

Earth is spherical

Earth is spherical

In early times, people believed that the earth was flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, for fear of falling off the edge! Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597.

Consider the following Qur’anic verse regarding the alternation of day and night:

31:29 ►“ أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ “

“Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges Day into Night?” [Al-Qur’an-Surah Luqman- 31:29]

Merging 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 was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.

The following verse also alludes to the spherical shape of the earth:

39:5 ►“ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ يُكَوِّرُ اللَّيْلَ عَلَى النَّهَارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ النَّهَارَ عَلَى اللَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لأجَلٍ مُسَمًّى أَلا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ “

“He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night.”[Al-Qur’an -Surah Az-Zumar- 39:5]

The Arabic word used here is Kawwara meaning ‘to overlap’ or ‘to coil’– the way a turban is wound around the head. The overlapping or coiling of the day and night can only take place if the earth is spherical.

The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical, i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:

79:30 ►“ وَالأرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ دَحَاهَا “

“And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped.” [Al-Qur’an-Surah An-Naziat 79:30]

The Arabic word for egg here is dahaahaa1 which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth.

Thus the Qur’an correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’an was revealed was that the earth was flat.

1 The Arabic word dahaahaa has been translated by A. Yusuf Ali as “vast expanse”, which also is correct. This word also means an ostrich-egg.

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