Today when I was sitting in khutba, I think the imam wanted to give evidence that the sun is turning around the earth. He used a Hadith, which is to be found in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim that tells of how the prophet (saw) asks a sahabi [i.e. a companion of the Prophet (pbuh)] if he knows where the sun goes after dusk. Then the Prophet (saw) says that it goes on until it reaches under Allah’s throne and then it makes a prostration and Allah tells it to continue. Until one day when He is going to say to it to go back from where it came from. He also used the verses of how the sun and moon move in their orbits. I still haven’t got a satisfying answer from anyone to this Hadith. To me it must
either be false although it’s in the Sahih;
people understand it in the wrong way
If it is really Sahih and the way they have understood it is right then the astronomers are lying.
Islam contains a scientific mistake (which shouldn’t be possible since the Qur’an is free from such mistakes.
Please I hope you have some good explanation or comment on this issue and Hadith.
One of the basic things that should always be kept in mind while reading the Qur’an or the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) is that neither the Qur’an nor the narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) focus on informing us about any scientific facts.
Thus, when the Qur’an says:
The stars and the trees prostrate [to the Lord] (Al-Rahmaan 55: 6)
To the Lord does everything prostrate, whether willingly or unwillingly, even their [i.e. the rejecter’s] shadows in the mornings and the evenings (Al-Ra`d 13: 15)
Do they not see the things that God has created, their shadows move from the right and the left, prostrating [to the Lord]. (Al-Nahl 16: 48)
Have you not seen that to God prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is in the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the mountains and the trees and the animals and a lot among the humans. (Al-Hajj 22: 18)
it is not a scientific or a physical fact that the Qur’an is referring to. On the contrary, it is the apparent nature of things (or a scientifically unknown spiritual nature of things) that the Qur’an uses to remind those who are too arrogant to bow to the Lord of the worlds.
Prostration has traditionally been a symbol of extreme reverence and veneration and of submission and subservience. Thus, the word prostration may be used to imply the actual act of bowing in front of a revered personality or simply to imply the ultimate level of submission and subservience to the commands of an authority.
In my opinion, the implication in most of the referred verses of the Qur’an is the ultimate level of submission of the stated objects, things and/or beings and the apparent nature of things, in which their movement (generally a circular or a similar movement) is metaphorically (or spiritually) regarded as prostration.
In view of the above explanation, one may also consider the referred narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). The prostration of the sun, referred to in the narrative, maybe construed as an information regarding a spiritual reality – which is outside the scope of the physical sciences – given by the Prophet (pbuh) of God, or, on the other hand, the word ‘prostration’ in this narrative may be taken in a metaphorical meaning implying the complete submission of the sun to the commandments of its Lord. In any case, the information given in the narrative does not relate to any scientific realities and therefore cannot be termed as contradicting any astronomical information.
25th January 2000