Islam and the Cosmos
(The following is from a personal note sent to a friend)
As I said in my last mail, let us forget about Hinduism. It is a manmade religion -- ideology -- no one claims it to be perfect. It is ever evolving process and never ending. I am sure along the way we have made many mistakes and will continue to do so. But we will keep on evolving.
But Islam and Christianity claim their genesis directly in God -- creator of the Universe. So if God created the universe and he wrote the Bible and the Koran, firstly why are they conflicting -- did God change His mind over time. Let that go for the moment.
At least God should be fully aware of the physical nature of the universe? Or has it also changed since God wrote His famous book the Koran?
Since your discussion is with a Muslim scholar, let us limit ourselves to the Koran and the physical nature of the universe as we know it and as Allah wrote about it in the Koran.
1. Muslims believe the Koran to be literal word of Allah -- unalterable and immutable. Not only that it is the final word. No more revelations or words of wisdom will be forthcoming from Allah.
2, After the Koran -- Sahih al-Bukhari is the most authentic work in Islam and it frequently quotes the Koran. Sahih Al Bukhari is the collection of what Muhammad said or did. I need not state its importance as your Muslim friend must know it.
If you need more about its importance, I will be glad to do so.
3. Let us today deal with the cosmos and the creation. Let us see what the Koran and the Sahih Al Bukhari have to say about it.
4. I am using the translation by N. J. Dawood as he claims it to be as close to English idiom as possible. This is literal translation not giving his own opinion in it. Salman Rushdie also used the same translation in his Satanic Verses.
For Sahih Bukhari I am using translation by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan of Islamic University, Medina Al-Munawwara. The authenticity of the translation is attested to by Muhammad Amin Al-Misri, Ph.D., Cambridge Univ., Advisor and Head of Sharia Department, College of Sharia and Islamic studies, Mecca Al-Mukarrama.
5. The Koran says "The sun hastens to its resting place: its course is laid for it by the Mighty One, the All-knowing. (36:38) -- sometime the number might not be exact since the translation I am using gives the number for every fifth Sura -- I have to guess the numbers in between.
It goes on to say:
"We have ordained phases for the moon, which daily wanes and in the end appears like a withered twig>" (36:39)
From 36:38 to me it is clear that Allah said that every night the sun hastens to its resting lace -- natural after walking all day the sun gets tired..
Let us not be accused of blasphemy by interpreting it ourselves. Let us how the Prophet himself interpreted and explained it to his followers.
Prophet Muhammad explained this to his followers as -- Sahih Al Bukhari, vol. 4, Book of the Beginning of Creation, pp. 283, Hadith 421 and I quote:
Narrated Abu Dhar: The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better."
He said, "It goes (i.e. travels till it prostrates underneath the Throne, and takes 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 tern (decreed)
The Decree of Allah
The Exalted in Might
The All-knowing (36:38)
May be the knowledge about the Cosmos we have today is All-Wrong because the Allah who created the world does not think so. According to Him the sun goes to rest every night and does not rise again till the permission to do so is granted.
I don't think there is any need for elaborate any further.
I am sure your Muslim scholar friend has a very good explanation. I have no doubt about it.
7. The Koran says
""The sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. each in its orbit runs." (36:40)
Evidently either the nature and relationship of sun and moon has changed since Allah created the universe or Allah did not remember what he had created.
Allah did not say that within the solar system the earth goes around the sun and the moon around the earth.
I don't know why Allah was talking of the sun and the moon moving in its own orbit and why the question of one overtaking the other ever arose. One body can overtake the other only if they are on the same course -- at least that is my understanding.
8. IN this mail, let us deal with just one more topic -- stars and why were they created.
The Koran says: "We have prepared the lowest heaven with lamps, missiles for pelting devils." (67:5)
Sahih Al-Bukhari explains it further:
"The creation of these stars is for three purposes i.e. as decoration on the sky, as missiles to hit the devils, and as signs to guide travelers. So if anybody tries to find a different interpretation, he is mistaken and just wastes his efforts, and troubles himself with what is beyond his limited knowledge (e.g. To send a man to over the the stars or moon etc, is just wasting of money and energy)."
I don't think it needs further elaboration .
There is more material on my Website at
Let me stop here today. If you want , I shall be glad to discuss other topics regarding Islam -- only from its core scriptures -- not opinions of others.