Hadith Cosmology

Sam Shamoun

In response to my rebuttal to Shabir Ally's citation of Maurice Bucaille , Muslim Kalis Finest wrote:

Answer to http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Shabir-Ally/science11.htm

In this article Sam Shamoun quotes "sayings" of the prophet to support his claim that Muhammad believed the sun and moon orbit around the earth, this claim is quite silly.

I invite Sam Shamoun to go to MSA-USC Hadith Database and search the word "sun" and see if his quotes are there, if he cant find them, then he’s obviously lying about The Prophet

This is a pathetic argument. They seem to think if they make long arguments people will think they're telling the truth.

If his claims were real he would have cited the Hadiths CLEARLY

Keep in mind Sam Shamoun wants to argue with Dr. Maurice Bucaille a scientist, Sam Shamoun is NOT a scientist. (Source)

Since Kalis has failed to address my article, choosing instead to attack a straw man, there is really nothing for me to rebut. Even so, I still have decided to take Kalis up on his challenge to provide proof from the hadiths that Muhammad did in fact believe that the sun orbits around the earth. Yet, before I do so I first want to address Kalis' misreading of my rebuttal.

First, Bucaille claimed that Muslim historian Al-Tabari could not explain the Quranic statements regarding the orbit of the sun and the moon. This is a lie as I clearly showed by citing from al-Tabari's own words where he proceeds to explain the orbit of the sun and the moon. This is precisely the reason why I chose to focus on al-Tabari instead of the hadiths since Bucaille, not I, appealed to al-Tabari as a witness.

Second, Kalis has chosen to adopt the very tactics he has accused me of. He seems to think that by simply making claims that I am lying somehow will convince his readers that he is telling the truth. What Kalis needs to do is to document where I misquoted al-Tabari, not simply claim that I did. The fact that he could not do so, but instead chose to attack my integrity by accusing me of lying only serves to prove the validity of my arguments.

Third, Kalis assumes that Maurice Bucaille is qualified to speak on these issues since he is a scientist, whereas I am not. If this were so this would mean that neither Shabir Ally nor Jamal Badawi, nor any other Muslim who is not a scientist for that matter, have a right to comment on the scientific significance of the Quran. This means that Kalis must reject what these men have written or stated in their lectures and debates. This would also mean that unless Kalis is a scientist he has no right to critique my rebuttal of Bucaille. Otherwise he would be guilty of hypocrisy and of using a double standard.

Fourth, just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean he is qualified to speak on every subject pertaining to science. The field of science is broad, having many different branches such as astronomy, biology, zoology, botany, geology etc. Dr. Maurice Bucaille is a medical doctor. This implies that Bucaille may be considered an expert in the field of embryology, but this doesn't mean that he is an expert or qualified to comment on astrology.

Finally, just as Kalis recommends Bucaille's book to his readers we also would like to recommend the definitive rebuttal to Bucaille titled, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science. Written by retired Christian Missionary and medical doctor Dr. William F. Campbell, it exposes the misinformation and misrepresentation of facts as well as the logical fallacies of Muslim apologists such as Bucaille. The book can be read online here.

We now proceed to the link provided by Kalis to better document Muhammad's erroneous cosmological views. This will help us to further prove that Muhammad is not God's prophet.

Sahih Al-Bukhari

Volume 4, Book 54, Number 421:
Narrated Abu Dharr:
The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better." He said, "It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. 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)

The translator has an interesting footnote here:

The procedure of the sun mentioned in this Hadith and similar other things mentioned in the Qur’an like the prostration of the trees, herbs and stars (V. 55:6) are beyond our limited knowledge of this universe. It is interpreted that these are mentioned so because of the limited understanding of the people at that time about matters of the universe.

Not only do the Quran and Hadith reflect the limited understanding of the people, but also Muhammad himself shared the people's ignorance regarding the orbit of the constellations. Muhammad then tried to pass this erroneous understanding off as revelation from God.

Volume 6, Book 60, Number 327:
Narrated Abu Dharr:
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."

Volume 9, Book 93, Number 520:
Narrated Abu Dharr:
I entered the mosque while Allah's Apostle was sitting there. When the sun had set, the Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this (sun) goes?" I said, "Allah and His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and asks permission to prostrate, and it is allowed, and (one day) it, as if being ordered to return whence it came, then it will rise from the west." Then the Prophet recited, "That: ‘And the sun runs on its fixed course (for a term decreed)," (36.38) as it is recited by ‘Abdullah.

Volume 9, Book 93, Number 528:
Narrated Abu Dharr:
I asked the Prophet regarding the Verse:--'And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term decreed for it.' (36.28) He said, "Its fixed course is underneath Allah's Throne."

Sahih Muslim

Book 001, Number 0297:
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything (unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.


It is clear from these hadiths that Muhammad literally believed that the sun is traveling on a fixed course. This course begins from the moment the sun rises till it prostrates itself before God's throne, from which it returns back on its course. This further implies that Allah actually lives somewhere in space, otherwise we are forced to assume that the sun travels outside the physical universe and actually enters into the spiritual realm.

Yet, this would affirm that heaven is a location where Allah's throne occupies a certain section, further implying that Allah is not an omnipresent entity. Rather, this implies that Allah is an entity that has an actual body, albeit a spiritual one, much like angels have spiritual bodies that occupy spatial dimensions.

This conclusion is supported by Ibn Kathir's commentary on S. 36:38:

There are two views over the meaning of the phrase ...

<on its fixed course for a term (appointed).> (The first view) is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, BEYOND the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the ROOF of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is A DOME SUPPORTED BY LEGS OR PILLARS, CARRIED BY THE ANGELS, and it is ABOVE the universe, ABOVE the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at noon, it is in its closest position to the Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at midnight, it is in its furthest position from the Throne. At that point it prostrates and asks permission to rise, as mentioned in the Hadiths.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I was with the Prophet in the Masjid at sunset, and he said: ...

((O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets?)) I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said: ...

((It goes and prostrates itself beneath the Throne, and that is what Allah says: <And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.>))

It was also reported that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I asked the Messenger of Allah about the Ayah: ...

<And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term.>

He said: ...

((Its fixed course is beneath the Throne.))"

(The second view) is that this refers to when the sun's appointed time comes to an end, which will be on the Day of Resurrection, when its fixed course will be abolished, it will come to a halt an it will be rolled up. This world will come to an end, and that will be the end of its appointed time. This is the fixed course of its time ... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir Abridged, Volume 8 Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; September 2000, first edition], pp. 196-197; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Third, since Muhammad has actually given his interpretation of S. 36:38, and since Muslims believe that everything Muhammad said was inspired, this means that any appeal to scientists for the exegesis of this passage is entirely unfounded and misplaced. Yet Muhammad's interpretation leaves irreconcilable contradictions with well-established scientific facts.

This essentially means that Muslims are forced to either reject Muhammad's statements in the Hadith and commentaries, or reject the findings of scientists by assuming that they are all in error.

Yet to adopt the former is to reject one of the essential pillars of Islam, namely the Sunnah of Muhammad which is to be found in these hadiths, as well as other Muslim sources. This would also mean that Muslims must adopt science as a criterion to judge the Quran for truth and error. This approach makes science higher and greater in authority than the alleged revelation of Allah. Yet to reject the findings of scientists as false is to lose any credibility and respect among the scientific and intellectual community.

Finally, Muhammad's claim that the sun travels in a fixed course presumes that the earth is stationary, a fact supported by the following hadiths:

Sahih Al-Bukhari

Volume 8, Book 76, Number 513:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established till the sun rises from the west, and when it rises (from the west) and the people see it, then all of them will believe (in Allah). But that will be the time when ‘No good it will do to a soul to believe then. If it believed not before ...’" (6.158)
The Hour will be established (so suddenly) that two persons spreading a garment between them will not be able to finish their bargain, nor will they be able to fold it up. The Hour will be established while a man is carrying the milk of his she-camel, but cannot drink it; and the Hour will be established when someone is not able to prepare the tank to water his livestock from it; and the Hour will be established when some of you has raised his food to his mouth but cannot eat it."

Sahih Muslim

Book 041, Number 7025:

Abdullah b. 'Amr reported: I committed to memory a hadith from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and I did not forget it after I had heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The first sign would be the appearance of the sun from the west, the appearance of the beast before the people in the forenoon and which of the two happens first, the second one would follow immediately after that.


That the sun will rise from the west affirms that the sun is traversing a stationary earth. Either that or we must presume that Allah will actually reverse the earth's rotation. In light of the previous hadiths which indicate that the sun travels to God's throne, it is clear that the latter interpretation cannot be accepted.

Continuing further with the Ahadith, we are also told the following:

Sahih Muslim

Book 004, Number 1812:

... He said: Observe the dawn prayer, then stop praying when the sun is rising till it is fully up, for when it rises it comes up between the horns of Satan, and the unbelievers prostrate themselves to it at that time. Then pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended (by angels) till the shadow becomes about the length of a lance; then cease prayer, for at that time Hell is heated up. Then when the shadow moves forward, pray, for the prayer is witnessed and attended by angels, till you pray the afternoon prayer, then cease prayer till the sun sets, for it sets between the horns of devil, and at that time the unbelievers prostrate themselves before it ...

Book 040, Number 6852:

Miqdad b. Aswad reported: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace he upon him) as saying: On the Day of Resurrection, the sun would draw so close to the people that there would be left only a distance of one mile. Sulaim b. Amir said: By Allah, I do not know whether he meant by "mile" the mile of the (material) earth or an instrument used for applying collyrium to the eye. (The Holy Prophet is, however, reported to have said): The people would be submerged in perspiration according to their deeds, some up to their knees, Some up to the waist and some would have the bridle of perspiration and, while saying this, Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) pointed his hand towards his mouth.

Malik's Muwatta

Book 15, Number 15.10.44:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from Ata ibn Yasar from Abdullah as-Sunabihi that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The sun rises and with it is a horn of Shaytan and when the sun gets higher the horn leaves it. Then when the sun reaches the meridian the horn joins it and when the sun declines the horn leaves it, and when the sun has nearly set it joins it again." The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade prayer at these times.


The claim that the sun rises and sets on Satan's horns and that the sun will be drawn close to the people on the Day of Judgment only serves to prove that Muhammad held to an erroneous view of cosmology. The statements from the Quran, the hadiths, and the tafsirs clearly teach that the sun is actually traveling around the earth till it reaches Allah's throne. From there, it returns back on its course until Allah will cause it to rise from the west.

The next tradition taken from the Mishkat poses additional problems for those who seek to use science as a means of authenticating Muhammad's prophethood:

Al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib asserted that he was sitting in al-Batha' with a company among whom God's messenger was sitting when a cloud passed. They looked at it and God's messenger asked, "What do you call this?" and they received the reply "Clouds (sahab)." He said, "And rain-clouds (muzn)," to which they agreed. He asked, "Do you know the distance between heaven and earth?" and when they replied that they did not, he said, "The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years, the heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there are EIGHT MOUNTAIN-GOATS the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like that between one heaven and the next. On their backs is the Throne the extent of which from top to bottom is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then God is above that." Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih, English Translation With Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson, Volume II [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1994], p. 1226; italic emphasis ours)

What scientist would say that Muhammad's claim here regarding the distance between one heaven and the next, or that there is a sea above the seventh heaven above which there are eight mountain goats is remotely scientific? This sounds like something from a fairytale.

Before concluding, we would like to address the following claim made by Muslims. We are told in the Quran:

He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night: He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His law): Each one follows a course for a time appointed. Is not He the Exalted in Power - He Who forgives again and again? S. 39:5

According to some Muslims, the word "Overlap" (yukawir) can also mean "coil" or "rotate". This word was used to refer to the coiling of a turban around one's head. Muslims therefore see in this verse the modern scientific realization that the earth is round and rotates on an axis. Muslims assert that this is what the Quran is implying when stating that the day coils into the night and vice-versa. This is then taken as scientific proof that the Quran is revelation from God.

There are two problems with this claim. First, much like a person's head remains stationary while the turban coils around it, this demonstrates that the author of the Quran assumed that the earth is a stationary object which the sun and the moon are orbiting! Second, you can have the day and the night coil into each other without this implying a round earth. For instance, we often find people coiling wires around a flat surface such as a board.

In light of the preceding factors, it becomes pretty obvious that the writer of the Quran thought that the sun and the moon actually rotate around the earth as the earth remains in a fixed position.

May the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ use this article to bring people to read his inspired truth, the Holy Bible. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. We love you forever.

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