Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
9.4 Solar System in the Quran
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Equilibrium and Orbits
Julian and Lunar Calendars
Many references exist in the Quran about the difference in nature between stars, as generating light, and planets, as reflecting light.
Surah 25, Ayah 61 "Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a lamp, and a moon giving light."
Surah 71, Ayah 16 "And (He) made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (glorious) lamp."
The Quran makes clear a distinction between the sun and the moon. The sun is referred to in many verses as a lamp, which is a device that generates light, heat, and radiation. The Quranic choice of the word "lamp" is an incredibly accurate representation of the sun, regardless of the difference in the light producing process. The moon is referred to as an object in the sky that is lighted up, but it does not generate light by itself.
In a reference to the planets, Allah says:
Surah 24, Ayah 35 "Allah is the Light of heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a niche and within it a lamp. The lamp enclosed in glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star (planet)"
The actual Arabic word in the above Ayah is planet; however the English translation refers to the planet as star. The glass by itself does not shine. But when the light comes into it, it reflects the light and shines like a brilliant star. This glorious parable of the Light of Allah contains layer upon layer of transcendent truth of spiritual mysteries. No statements can do adequate justice to its full meaning. The physical light is but a reflection of the true Light in the world of Reality and that true Light is Allah. We can only think of Allah in terms of our own phenomenal experience, and the phenomenal world; light is the purest thing we know.
Equilibrium and Orbits
The equilibrium of the universe is referred to in the following short Ayat:
Surah 55, Ayah 5-7 "The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed; And the star and the trees - both (alike) bow in adoration. And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice)"
In the great mathematical universe, there are great mathematical laws that require calculations. We now understand that these Ayat refer to the laws discovered by Kepler and Newton. These laws bear witness to Allah’s Wisdom and also His favors to His creatures. We all benefit from the energy and light, the seasons, and the numerous changes in the tides and the atmosphere. Quranic commentators interpret the balance in the above Ayah as one of the following:
Balance of Justice between humans.
The heavens themselves are sustained by Divine equilibrium.
The sun enters the Constellation Libra (the balance) at the middle of the zodiacal year.
The divine equilibrium of the skies discovered by Newton in 1687 had not been realized in the seventh century. Yet the Creator of equilibrium revealed one of His favors to humanity.
The equilibrium of the stars and planets requires an orbital motion that each should follow. Therefore, in other Chapters in the Quran, a clear mention of the orbital motion is presented:
Surah 21, Ayah 33 "It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon: All (celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course (orbit)."
Surah 36, Ayah 40 "It is not permitted to the sun to catch up the moon, nor the night outstrips the day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law)"
The orbital motion of all celestial objects is repeated twice in the above Ayat for emphasis. These orbital motions of stars and planets are described as "swimming" through space with perfectly smooth motion. Swimming is "the action of propelling oneself by means of the movements of the body." This perfect description of celestial motion by the action of swimming indicates that heavenly objects have two motions: one is moving forward, and a second motion of the body around itself. This second motion is the rotation of the stars and planets about an internal axis. It is quite impossible that someone in the seventh century, even if he had all the knowledge of his time, to use such an expression "swim in orbits" to describe the motion of stars and planets. Who told him that? It is the Only One that Knows. It is Allah Himself, the Creator of orbits.
Julian and Lunar Calendars
The Muslim calendar is based upon the moon, which revolves around the earth in periods of about 29 days. The Islamic calendar was established by the second Caliph Omar in 639 AD to begin with the new moon of the first Arabic month (Muharram) of the year in which the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Madinah took place. That first day was 16 June 622 of the Julian calendar.
Nearly fourteen centuries ago, the Quran was revealed to the Arabs in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, who were used to the lunar system. It was correct to address them in the only language they could understand and not to upset their habits. It is known how well versed men living in the desert are in the observation of the sky; they navigated according to the stars, and told time according to the motion of the sun and the moon. This was the simplest and the most reliable system available for them.
Most people are unaware of the perfect correlation between the Julian and the lunar calendar: 235 lunar months corresponds exactly to 19 Julian years of 365 1/4 days, (228 months). The length of our year of 365 days is not perfect because it has to be rectified every four years (with a leap year). With the lunar calendar, the same phenomena occur every 19 Julian years. The Quran refers to this relationship between the lunar and the Julian systems as follows:
Surah 18, Ayah 25 "So they stayed in their cave three hundred years, and nine (more)"
The literal translation of the above Ayah replaces "and nine" by "increased by nine." This suggests that one has to be careful about each word or letter in the Quran. The latest calculation of the lunar month is 29.53059 days. Therefore, the lunar year is 12 x 29.53059 = 354.36708 days. This means that 300 Julian year (300x365.25= 109575 days) is equivalent to 309 lunar years (354.36708x309= 109499.43). This is a miraculous accuracy. Therefore the above Ayah can be explained as "So they stayed in their cave three hundred solar years, and increased by nine lunar years". This is just an amazing revelation from the Creator of time. Only Allah knows the exact time of any event in any reference of time.
Surah 18, Ayah 26 "Say: Allah knows best how long they stayed"