Is the Earth Egg-Shaped?

Sura 79:30 reads

and is usually translated as

But some years ago, a new dawah[1] translation was made which reads

Based on this special translation, the following argument is sometimes presented:

The Holy Qur'an tells us that God had created the earth ovoid in shape (which is the nearest description according to recent scientific evidence, and not like a ball). This is one of many great evidences for the truth of the Qur'an.

Let us have a closer look at the scientific side of this claim: If we take a perfect ball and a normal egg, then the earth is much closer in shape to the perfect ball than to the egg. Scientists tell us that the actual shape of the earth is nearly a perfect ball very minor flattening at the poles. The actual percentage is so small that it is negligable.[3]

I am not sure what sort of eggs the hens are laying in Arab countries, but in the Europe and America, it is rather unlike the shape of a ball that is a bit flattened at two antipodal ends. Since the equator is a circle, we have to set the egg on the table with the "ball shaped" end at the bottom and the peak end at the top. But then, we have the problem that the north pole is not flattened, but instead bulging outwards even further than what the perfect ball would be, instead of being dented inwards as the earth is. So, instead of being LESS than the ball shape, an egg is MORE than the ball shape and the error in comparison to the real shape of the earth is much worse for an egg than for a ball.

A sane Muslim response from the newsgroup soc.religion.islam confirms the above:

Is the Qur'an now scientifically proven wrong by this? You might be glad to find out that the Qur'an does not make the false claim that the earth is "egg-shaped" after all. This is only the error of a misguided propaganda translation. Claiming that "dahaha" means "egg-shaped" is an atrocious mistranslation of the Arabic word. This issue is further investigated an article about the true meaning of Sura 79:30.

Notes and References:

1. "Dawah" means "invitation" (to Islam) and is the Arabic word for the Muslim missionary or proselytizing efforts.

2. This translation and claim that the Qur'an states "He made the earth egg-shaped" was presented as an argument for the scientific accuracy and divine origin of the Qur'an by Mustafa Mahmud in his book "Al-Quran Muhawala Lifihm A'asry" ("The Qur'an: An attempt for a modern understanding"), 5th edition, 1974, page 52. I do not know if that book is the original source and I would be grateful to be informed of earlier references. The only "official" translation of the Qur'an that so far picked up on this "meaning", is the one completed in 1989 by Dr. Rashad Khalifa who is called by the title "God's messenger of the Covenant" by his followers, but otherwise generally considered a heretic by orthodox Muslims. The footnote to 79:30 states: The Arabic "dahhaahaa" is derived from "Dahhyah" which means "egg." The copy in my possession is the revised edition of 1992.

Web sites using this argument for dawah: [1]

3. We are grateful to a reader who provided this information:

4. One Muslim response to my article: "You don't even consider the fact that there are many egg shapes, depending on which animal the egg came from: birds, reptiles, amphibia, fish, ....". As long as it is not specified in the Qur'an, eggs usually refer to birds and we have to read any text in its natural sense first. There just are not many fish in the Arabian desert around Mekka. What would the Quraish have understood when hearing the word "egg"? Furthermore, the challenge is still out for anyone to bring me one egg that is earth-shaped. so far, nobody has been able to. Thirdly, on the basis of the article on Sura 79:30, proving "egg-shaped" to be a mistranslation of "dahaha", the whole point is moot anyway.

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