Some Astronomical Phenomena - Quranic Description and Modern Scientific Discoveries
11:59:52 2024-04-23 110

Among the celestial objects the Qur'an imparts a special status to the sun as a Source of light and enlightenment controlling productive activities on earth. In Surah Yunus, Jonah, (X: 5) the sun has been descended to be a Shining glory whereas "the moon to be a light (of beauty)" Obviously this refers to the reflected light-of moon unlike the sun which Itself generates light. Again in Surah Nuh, Noah (LXXI: 16) this concept is repeated that Allah "made the moon a light in their midst and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp?"
In Surah Al-Naba, the (Great) News (LXXVIII: 12-13) the status of sun has been stressed again by calling it "a Light of Splendor" However, what is more revealing is that the Qur'an speaks of the orbital movement of the sun which was discovered only in 1927 when the Netherlands astronomer Jan Oort accounted for the motions of stars as orbital motions in the gravitational field of the alaxy (Encyclopaedia Britannica, p. 1013).

This is what the Qur'an has to say in this regard. "And the Sun runs his course for a period determined for him, Surah Yasin, XXXVI: 38. In Sirah Al-Anbiya', The Prophets (XXI: 33) this course has been defined as a "rounded.. course":. "It is He Who created the Night and the Day and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along each in its rounded course" The striking similarity between Jan Oort's discovery about the motions of stars and Qur'anic revelation about celestial bodies is notable.

Finally, the Qur'an points out that this "round course" of the sun and the moon is a movement in their own orbit: "It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up with the moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law)" (Surah Yasin: XXXVI: 40).

It is a scientific fact that the nights and days are formed because of the earth's sphericity and its rotation on its axis in approximately 24 hours; It is also scientifically proved that the earth's axis is in:, lined by 23 1/2 degrees and that the earth revolves round the sun in its orbit in 365 1/4 days. These factors account for the occurrence of seasons, for the variations in the duration of days and nights, and for shifts in the position of the rising and setting of the sun from north to south in their respective easterly and westerly horizons.

The rotationary movement of the earth and its sphericity are inevitably implied when the Qur'an speaks of the alternation of days and nights. Due to this rotationary movement "The night cannot outstrip the day ." This phenomenon will continue so long as the Universe lasts. However, the duration of days and nights change with seasons. During the northern winter, when the sun is in the southern hemisphere, the days are of shorter nights are longer in the northern hemisphere. This changing duration of days and nights has been cogently expressed in two verses of the Qur'an. In Surah Luqman (XXXI: 29) it is pinted out: "Seest thou not that God merges the night into Day and merges the Day into Night." The phenomenon of merger will occur only if part of the day or its total duration is absorbed in night and vice versa.

Consequently the day or night lose their identity either partly or completely. There are areas in the northern or southern hemisphere between the Arctic Circle and the North Pole, and the Antarctic Circle and South Pole where days and nights are of six months' duration each. This concept of the changing duration of days and nights is again expressed in Sirah Al-Zumar, the Crowds (XXXIX: 5) in the following words: ... "He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night." While the alternation of days and nights are associated. with the rotation of the earth on its axis, the changing duration of days and nights is inevitably linked with the inclination of the earth's axis and the revolution of the earth in its orbit round the sun.

The inclination of the earth's axis by 23 1/2 degrees and the revolution of the earth round the sun along its orbit besides accounting for changing seasons also cause a significant shift in the position of the rising and the setting of the sun from season to season as explained below:

1) Firstly it defines two extreme locations for the rising and the setting of the sun. At the time of the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere when the sun is at the 11 Tropic of Cancer (23 1/2N) on 21st June the sun rises and sets at the northern extremity of the eastern and western ill horizons respectively.

On the other hand at the time of Winter Solstice when the sun is at the Tropic of Capricorn (23 1/2 S) on 22nd December it rises and sets at the south.

2) Between these two extremes are a number of intermtermediate positions for the sun to rise and set because of the apparent movement of the sun from winter to Summer Solstice and vice versa.

These scientifically, determined and distinguishing positions for the rising and setting of the sun were clearly postulated in the Qur'an in the 7th Century. While the Qur'an refers to the east and west in general terms as is commonly understood, it also makes very precise statements regarding the changing the positions of the rising and setting .of the sun. In Surah Al-Rahman (LV: 17) it proclaims the existence of two Orients and two Occident: "Lord of the two Wests." Obviously this is with reference to the positions of the rising and the setting of the sun at the time of the Summer and Winter Solstices as explained in para (1) above.

This is further clarified in the Qur'an when in Surah Al-Rahman (LV:17) it speaks of the 'distance between two Orients', ("He is) Lord of the two Easts and Lord of the two Wests:" i.e., extreme locational distance between the rise of the sun in Summer and Winter Solstices from the eastern horizon. The intermediate positions between the Solstices for the rising and the setting of the sun is expressed in the Qur'an as "the Lord of all points in the East and West." (Al-Ma'arij, the Ways of Ascent, LXX:40). This is possible only if there are varying locations for the sun to rise and corresponding locations for it to set. The Qur'an has not offered any explanation but the inference is clear. The two extreme locations of east.


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