The Cosmology of the Quran

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The Creation Concept

Report on the Firmament

Astronomy in the Bible

Genesis 1 Restored

Introduction to Bible Cosmology


The Quran was written in seventh century AD, and reflects popular cosmological beliefs characteristic of that period, such as belief in a rigid heaven that revolved around the earth. These concepts are not consistant with our modern understanding of the universe, although some Muslim scholars argue the Quran's cosmology is less primitive than that of the Bible. The creation of heaven and earth in six days, and numerous other ideas are derived from the Bible. This is a brief survey of cosmological statements that occur in the Quran.

Heaven and earth were made in 6 days

al-A`raf  7:54

Indeed your Lord is Allâh, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose over the Throne. He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars subjected to His Command. Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allâh, the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists)!

In the light of modern knowledge, it would be a little more accurate to say it is the daylight that "covers" the night sky. Night is hardly a cover of daylight sky. The the sky is dark at night because of the absence of sunlight when the sun is hidden by the earth.

The author of the above quotation probably supposed the six days of creation to be literal days.  Exodus 20:11 says God creates all things in six days. This encompasses the formation of everything in heaven and in the earth to the present day. [Are comets, meteorites, volcanoes, rainbows and snowflakes included in God's six-day creation? Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 includes the saints as creations of God: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."]

The firmament was made with skill

adh-Dhariyat 51:4-49

With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We who create the vastness of space. And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: How excellently We do spread out! And of every thing We have created pairs: That ye may receive instruction.

I am puzzled by the "We" as it implies the angels who visited Abraham were the creators. John 1:3 identifies Christ, the Word, as the one who made all things. The reference to pairs refers to male and female. The rigid heavenly firmament was thought to rotate about the earth once each day. It was a wonder and a mystery in ancient times.

an-Nazi`at 79:27-33

Are you more difficult to create, or is the heaven that He constructed? He raised its height, and He has equally ordered it, Its night He covers with darkness, and its forenoon He brings out (with light). And after that He spread the earth; And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture; And the mountains He has fixed firmly; (To be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.

There are seven heavens

al-Baqarah 2:25,29

He it is who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.

at-Talaq 65:12,38

Allah it is who hath created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof. The commandment cometh down among them slowly, that ye may know that Allah is able to do all things, and that Allah surroundeth all things in knowledge.

In the Islamic legend of the Miraj, or the 'night journey', Muhammad rode on a magic horse named Buraq from Mecca to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and from there ascended to the seventh heaven on a ladder of light. Jesus and the prophets were visited at the various levels of heaven. The following is a summary (from The Prophet Of Islam).

Islam teaches the existence of seven heavens. In the first heaven Muhammad supposedly met Adam; in the second, John the Baptist and Jesus; in the third, Joseph; in the fourth, Enoch; in the fifth, Aaron; in the sixth, Moses; and in the seventh, Abraham (who welcomed him as "Good son and good prophet"). Fifty prayers were ordained by Allah to be said by all believers daily. On the journey back, Moses, in the sixth heaven, encouraged Muhammad to go back to the seventh heaven and request a smaller quota, since this large number would be rather impractical to execute. Ten daily prayers were deducted. Again Moses encouraged Muhammad to go back and ask for still fewer prayers, which was repeated three times, until five daily were set for observance. This Muhammad did not dare query. (According to "Siratu'l Rasul" vs. 270-271)

Seven heavens are also featured in the book of Enoch, which is probably the source of this story.

The lowest heaven contains the planets

as-Saffat 37:4-6

Lo! thy Lord is surely One; Lord of the heavens and of the earth and all that is between them, and Lord of the sun's risings. Lo! We have adorned the lowest heaven with an ornament, the planets.

God keeps the heavens revolving

al-Fatir 35:41

Surely, Allah holds the heavens and the earth lest they deviate from their positions. And if they did deviate, none can hold them back but He. Verily, He is Forbearing, Most Forgiving.

at-Tariq 86:3,11

By the Firmament which returns (in its round),

The sun and moon orbit the earth

Ya Sin 36:38-40 (Tr. Rashad Khalifa) 

The sun sets into a specific location, according to the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient. The moon we designed to appear in stages, until it becomes like an old curved sheath. The sun is never to catch up with the moon. The night and the day never deviate, each of them is floating in its own orbit.

They are always on time

ar-Rahman 55:5

The sun and the moon are made punctual.

Allah owns and surrounds everything

an-Nisa' 4:8,126

Unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Allah ever surroundeth all things.

Heaven is a roof covering the earth

al-Anbiya' 21:32-33.

And We have made the heaven a roof, safe and well guarded. Yet they turn away from its signs. And He it is who has created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each in an orbit floating.

The sky is referred to as a canopy in the following passages:

al-Baqarah 2:21-22

O mankind! worship your Lord, Who hath created you and those before you, so that ye may ward off (evil). Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy; and causeth water to pour down from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you. And do not set up rivals to Allah when ye know (better).

al-Mu'min 40:64.19

Allah it is Who appointed for you the earth for a dwelling-place and the sky for a canopy, and fashioned you and perfected your shapes, and hath provided you with good things. Such is Allah, your Lord. Then blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!

Allah holds heaven up

al-Hajj 22:65. 

See you not that Allâh has subjected to you (mankind) all that is on the earth, and the ships that sail through the sea by His Command? He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth except by His Leave. Verily, Allâh is, for mankind, full of Kindness, Most Merciful.

The firmament has gates

The gates of the firmament will open up to receive those who believe, but not those who offend. 

al-A`raf  7:40  (tr. Maulvi Sher Ali)

Those who reject Our Signs and turn away from them with disdain, the gates of spiritual firmament will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Heaven until a camel goes through the eye of a needle. And thus do We requite the offenders.

Unbelievers are to be consigned to fire

al-Balad 90:1-9

But those who reject Our Signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand. On them will be Fire vaulted over (all round). By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour; By the Moon as she follows him; By the Day as it shows up (the Sun's) glory; By the Night as it conceals it; By the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure; By the Earth and its (wide) expanse: By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it.

Heaven to be rolled up like a scroll

This idea comes from a prophecy found in Isaiah 34:4. When a scroll is rolled up, it stops rotating because the spindles of the scroll meet, and there can be no further rotation. The prophecy refers to the scientific revolution, and the discovery that it is the earth that rotates, not the heavens. 

al-Anbiya' 21:104

And (remember) the Day when We shall roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books, as We began the first creation, We shall repeat it, (it is) a promise binding upon Us. Truly, We shall do it.

For more information see: Asronomy in the Bible

Heaven will be stripped away; hell will burn fiercely

at-Takwir 81:11-12. 

And when the heaven shall be stripped off and taken away from its place; And when Hell fire shall be kindled to fierce ablaze.

Doom is inevitable?

According to the Quran, certain doom awaits the unbeliever.

at-Tur 52:7 

Lo! the doom of thy Lord will surely come to pass; There is none that can ward it off. On the day when the heaven will heave with (awful) heaving, And the mountains move away with (awful) movement, Then woe that day unto the deniers.

The New Testament offers men much more hope: "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." [1 Timothy 4:10]

Related Sites

Science and the Quran

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