Some Chrisitans claim that the Muslims believe the earth to be flat because of Quran??
Despite the critic’s claims the Quran does not say the Earth is flat. The critic tries to use 71:19 from the Quran, however if we view the translation of the Quran we realise the Quran is saying nothing about a flat Earth but is talking about the expanse of the Earth, i.e. it is spread out.
71:19 And Allah has made for you the earth a wide expanse (Muhsin Khan and Al-Hilali translation).
After viewing the translation one would clearly see the critic to be in manifest error. The question is how the critic came to his /her inaccurate claim.
The critic utilizes another translation of the same verse (71:19); the translation the critic uses is the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation as this translation uses the word “carpet”. The translation:
71: 19: “‘And Allah has made the earth for you as a carpet (spread out),
However, even this translation does not indicate a flat earth as in the brackets the meaning of the comparison to the carpet is clarified, it simply means “spread out”, hence the earth is spread out in the sense it is spacious for mankind to reside and move over. Dr Zakir Naik goes into further detail concerning this issue:
“The surface of the earth i.e. earth’s crust is less than 30 miles in thickness and is very thin as compared to the radius of the earth which is about 3750 miles. The deeper layers of the earth are very hot, fluid and hostile to any form of life. The earth’s crust is a solidified shell on which we can live. The Qur’an rightly refers to it like a carpet spread out, so that we can travel along its roads and paths.” (1)
To further show the inaccuracy of the critic’s claim, the authoritative explanations (tafasir) of the Quran (e.g. tafsir of Ibn Abbas) has no mention of a flat earth and merely indicates to us that it refers to the expanse of the earth:
And Allah hath made the earth a wide expanse for you) to lay and sleep on (2)
Further refutation of the critics (though further refutation is not required as the evidence already provided is sufficient) we can highlight early Muslim understanding from no less than Ibn Taymiyah who tells us all celestial bodies are round:
[That] celestial bodies are round (istidaaratul-aflaak) – as it is the statement of astronomers and mathematicians (ahlul-hay’ah wal-hisab) – it is [likewise] the statement of the scholars of the Muslims; as Abul-Hasan ibn al-Manaadi, Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm, Abul-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi and others have quoted: that the Muslim scholars are in agreement [that all celestial bodies are round]. (3)
The Earth is a celestial body so we realise Taymiyyah believed the earth to be round. Ibn Taymiyah informs us that he and other Muslims scholars view all celestial bodies to be round.
As we are speaking of the great ibn-Taymiyyah it is opportune to mention one of his admirers; Sheikh Bin baz (passed away in 1999). The reason why I mention this is because many critics use a forgery (a lie) falsely ascribing a quote to Sheikh Bin Baz which claims the earth to be flat. Bin Baz (before his death) denied this and even denounced it as “a lie” (5).
Bin Baz, contrary to what critics allege, did not believe the earth to be flat. This is the depraved and morally bankrupt level the critic would go to in order to attack the Quran; they would basically use forgeries and lies! I mention this to protect the good name of Sheikh Bin Baz and to highlight the critic’s arguments as well as the untruthful nature of their work.
So I ask Muslims to be aware of their claims when they make claims such as “Saudi scholar believes the earth is flat”, I ask Muslims and non-Muslims to know the critics are using forgeries and effectively telling lies/untruths.
Going back to their claim; the Quran (55:17) seems to indicate the earth is round by referring to two easts and two wests. The critics fail to mention this, I guess the truth and scholarly etiquette is of little concern to the critics
However, ironically enough for the Christian critic, the Bible in Job 26:7 uses a similar term; ‘spreads out’ when it concerns the northern (skies) (4). A disingenuous method (the same method the Christian critic employs to attack the Quran concerning verse 71:19) could also be employed by non-Christians to attack this verse of the Bible. This would be unscholarly and intellectually dishonest, the same applies to anybody who attacks the Quran with such a methodology, and hence the critics of the Quran concerning this verse are intellectually dishonest and unscholarly.
May Allah guide the critics and save people from their misleading information. Ameen
- Tanwir al Miqbas min Ibn Abbas 71:19
- NIV Bible translation Job 26:7