The Shape of the Earth in Quran
And after that He spread the earth.
- The Quranic verse Surah An-Nazi’at 79:30 describes the beginning of the Earth’s creation. The Arabic word ‘dahaha’ is used in this verse, which means: stretched, egg-shaped, spread, made round. The materials that formed Earth spread out in the early protoplanetary disk. The protoplanetary disk was a spinning disk-shaped region within the early solar nebula, which was a vast cloud of gas and dust particles that existed in our solar system’s early stages. Within this protoplanetary disk, various materials and particles were distributed relatively evenly. Over time, gravitational forces caused these materials to come together, leading to the formation of Earth. Later, it was shaped into a compact object or sphere (39:5). So, the Quranic verse refers to the ‘materials of the Earth,’ which became our Earth itself. Then, its surface was spread out and extended to provide a suitable environment for living beings (Quran 78:6). This interpretation is consistent with the scientific understanding of the formation of the Earth, which suggests that the planet was formed through the accretion of dust and gas in the early solar system. Over time, the Earth became more massive and eventually developed a spherical shape due to the force of its gravity. As the planet cooled down, its surface solidified and formed a crust, which underwent various geological processes contributing to the creation of different landforms and environments. This matches the general shape of the Earth’s surface, which is roughly spherical but appears flat to human observers on the ground. This description of the Earth’s shape in the Quran can be seen as evidence of the scientific accuracy of the holy book, as it accurately describes the shape of the Earth centuries before it was scientifically proven.
In Earth’s Beginning
Scientists believe that Earth, like the other inner planets, came to its current state in three different stages. The first stage, described above, is known as accretion, or the formation of a planet from the existing particles within the solar system as they collided with each other to form larger and larger bodies. Scientists believe the next stage involved the collision of a protoplanet with a very young planet Earth. This is thought to have occurred more than 4.5 billion years ago and may have resulted in the formation of Earth’s moon. The final stage of development saw the bombardment of the planet with asteroids.
- Example: In the early stages of Earth’s formation within the protoplanetary disk or solar nebula, the planet initially existed as dispersed and spread-out cosmic particles and material. Over an immense expanse of time, the process of accretion gradually attracted and merged these particles, leading to Earth’s growth in size and mass. As these particles gathered, Earth assumed a spherical shape, eventually evolving into the planet we recognize today. To illustrate this process, consider when you toss a handful of snow. Initially, it spreads out in all directions. However, as you roll it and more snow accumulates, it naturally forms into a round snowball. Similarly, during Earth’s formation, the initial particles in space were scattered and spread out, but over time, gravity drew them together, eventually molding them into a spherical planet, much like a snowball becomes round as you roll it and gather more snow or you can think of the early Earth’s shape as a clump of clay or playdough that’s been roughly shaped but hasn’t yet been molded into a perfect sphere. As geological and gravitational processes acted upon it over time, it gradually transformed from an irregular clump into a more spherical shape, just as you can mold and shape clay or playdough into a round ball.
Reference: Formation of Earth
Regarding the Quran’s use of the word ‘spread’ in other passages with contexts similar to when God stated, ‘We spread the Earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers,’ it’s worth noting that following the Earth’s formation, mountains and rivers did not appear instantly. From a Quranic perspective, it is understood that God is the ultimate cause behind these processes, even though the Quran does not explicitly describe His direct intervention in scientific terms. Mountains, rivers, and other features emerged on the Earth’s surface subsequently. When God declares, ‘We placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers,’ the reference is not to an instantaneous placement but rather to the causation of these occurrences, underscoring His active role in their establishment. Consequently, the scientific description remains valid, as God’s involvement in this process is evident. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that Allah did not state that He created the Earth as ‘spread out’; instead, all Quranic verses indicate that He made the Earth spread
Protoplanetary disk and a solar nebula
The cosmic dust and gases that make up our Earth’s composition initially scattered and spread out across space. Over eons, these dispersed particles gradually coalesced due to gravitational attraction, forming a celestial body known as Earth. As time passed, the relentless pull of gravity molded this nascent planet into a spherical form, creating the world we know today.
Reference: Protoplanetary disk
Reference: Why Are Planets Round
What Is Terrain?
[It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed, and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants.
[He] who made for you the earth a bed –
- The Quranic verse (Quran 20:53 & Quran 2:22) aligns with the idea that God has made the Earth as a bed for humanity. The verse emphasizes that the Earth’s landscape & Terrain likened to a “bed” or a flat and stable surface, highlighting its adaptability for human activities like building homes, roads, and walking on relatively level terrain. This interpretation underscores the concept that God has provided the Earth’s natural features and landscape as a foundation upon which humans can live, develop, and prosper through their efforts and abilities. It reflects the belief that the Earth’s landscape and terrains are part of God’s design to support human life and civilization. It is important to note that the Earth is round, but in this verse, God said, “We made for you the earth a bed,” signifying the Earth’s hospitable landscape as a place for us, rather than stating that He created the Earth to physically resemble a bed.
Reference: What Is Terrain?
Here are some more verses from the Quran
The Quran describes the creation of the Earth and its surface in several places using vivid and poetic language to convey its majesty and grandeur. For example, in Surah An-Nazi`at (79:30-32), Allah is described as having “spread out the earth” like a bed (20:53) and “set mountains firmly upon it.” This imagery emphasizes the stability, solidity, beauty, and grandeur of the Earth’s surface. Other verses in the Quran describe the creation of the Earth and its surface as a deliberate act of Allah’s will and power. In Surah Ar-Rahman (55:10-12), the Quran states that Allah “created the earth for all creatures,” and it is filled with abundant and diverse life, including fruits, palm trees, grains with husks, and scented plants. Moreover, Quran 21:31 and 78:7 refers to the surface of the Earth and the mountains that have been placed there to prevent the Earth from shifting. This verse accurately describes the role of mountains in stabilizing the Earth’s crust, making it a remarkable example of the scientific accuracy of the Quran.
Reference: Do Mountains Cause or Prevent Earthquakes
Reference : What is Tectonic Shift
The Movement of Tectonic Plates: Earth’s Surface Spreading
The movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates is a primary cause of the spreading of the Earth’s surface. The tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust are constantly moving, driven by convection currents in the mantle below. This movement can cause the plates to separate, collide, or slide past each other, leading to the spreading and shifting of the Earth’s surface. So to rephrase, the statement “the Earth’s surface is spreading out” is a result of the movement of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust. it is important to note that The movement of tectonic plates and the resulting spreading of the Earth’s surface has been happening since the Earth’s formation. However, the rate and direction of plate movement has varied over time and continues to do so. The study of plate tectonics helps us understand the changes and patterns in the movement of these plates over millions of years.
Did Allah Mention in the Quran that He Created the Earth in a Spread or bed Shape
The Quran does not state anywhere that Allah created the Earth in a spread or bed shape. In the verses where Allah said He created the earth, He didn’t specify that ‘we created the earth in a spread or bed shape.’ Allah made a distinction between ‘create’ and ‘made’ in these verses. Within the Quran, phrases such as ‘Allah made the earth spread’ or ‘spread out,’ as well as ‘like a bed,’ are used. In the Quran, there are verses in which Allah is described as having ‘made the earth,’ but none of these explicitly state ‘Allah created the earth spread’ or ‘like a bed.’ The Quranic verses that do mention ‘we made the earth spread,’ encompassing the Earth’s surface, also allude to the early stages of Earth’s formation. For instance, in Quran 79:30, when Allah refers to the early stages of Earth’s formation, He begins by describing the expanse of space, the formation of the sun, and then declares that He spread the Earth. Notably, Allah includes references to the formation of mountains within these early stages. From a scientific perspective, we understand that during the early phases of Earth’s formation, both the material that would become the Earth and the Earth’s surface itself underwent a process in which they spread out and gradually assumed a round form over an extended period due to gravitational forces.
- In Quran 13:3, the verse also alludes to the early stages of Earth. It’s essential to note that the Arabic word used directly refers to the Earth’s surface, rather than the Earth’s early formation stage, as in Quran 79:30, where Allah uses a different word with different meanings. In this verse, Allah is describing the Earth’s surface being spread out after the Earth’s formation. He placed firm mountains, rivers, and created pairs of fruits. The specific process of mountain formation is not detailed in the Quran, it‘s serves a purpose in Allah’s creation.
And the earth and ˹the One˺ Who spread it!
- In this verse 91:7, when Allah mentions “And the earth and ˹the One˺ Who spread it!” it is not referring to Allah complete the Earth and shaping it in a spread form. Instead, it alludes to the early stages of the Earth’s formation when it was spread out or extended, signifying that Allah spread the Earth during its early development.
As for the earth, We spread it out and placed upon it firm mountains, and caused everything to grow there in perfect balance.
- In Quran 15:19, it refers to the same spread of the Earth mentioned in Quran 79:30. However, it’s important to note that in Quran 79:30, the Arabic word can be interpreted as “egg-shaped” or “made round.” But within the context of Quran 79:30, it refers to both spread and being egg-shaped. It’s worth mentioning that in the early stages, the Earth wasn’t round but was more spread out. In Quran 15:19, Allah is referring to these early stages and the subsequent formation of mountains. However, the Quran does not specify the time period when the mountains formed.
And the sky—how it was raised ˹high˺; and the mountains—how they were firmly set up; and the earth—how it was levelled out?
- In verse 88:18-19 of the Quran, it mentions the sky, which we understand as the Earth’s atmosphere extending into space. The reference to mountains in this verse corresponds with other passages in the Quran, as mentioned in this article. Now, in verse 88:20, when it speaks of the Earth being “levelled out,” it refers to the Earth’s surface. From a scientific viewpoint, let’s delve into Earth’s geological history to understand this concept better. In the early stages of the Earth’s formation, billions of years ago, it was a very different place. At that time, there were no towering mountain ranges, deep valleys, or human-made structures. The Earth’s surface was relatively smooth and uniform, much like a vast canvas waiting to be painted by the forces of nature. Over eons, natural processes like plate tectonics, volcanic activity, erosion, and sedimentation gradually transformed the Earth’s surface. Mountains began to rise, continents drifted, and oceans formed. These dynamic processes created the varied landscapes we see today. However, it’s essential to emphasize that this description doesn’t suggest that the Earth is flat; rather, it acknowledges the predominantly even distribution of land and water in the early stages of Earth’s development and how this continues to be relevant. Today, the Earth’s surface is still relatively level in many areas, making them suitable for human habitation and various ecosystems. This leveling is a testament to the enduring influence of these natural processes. From a scientific perspective, these verses invite us to contemplate the remarkable geological history of our planet and the intricate beauty of its landscapes, which continue to evolve over time.
The Quran and Earth’s Shape and Movements
O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah ].
- The verse mentions the heavens and the earth and implies that they have measurable dimensions or ‘diameters’, which suggests that they have a specific shape or form. This is consistent with the Islamic belief in a spherical earth, as the idea of a round earth was already known and accepted in the ancient Islamic world. Therefore, the description in the verse is scientifically accurate because it implies that the heavens and the earth have measurements that are consistent with a spherical shape.
Did you not see that Allah makes the night enter into the day, and makes the day enter into the night, and He has subjugated the sun and the moon, each running towards an appointed time, and that Allah is fully aware of what you do?
[Allah] Created the heavens and the Earth in truth. He overlaps the night over the day and overlaps the day over the night, and enslaved the sun and the moon. ALL MOVE to a prerecorded destiny. Is He not the Exalted, the Forgiver.
|Surah Az-Zumar (Chapter 39), verse 5||The Arabic word “Kura كرة” means ball; the Quran used its verb “Yukawer يُكَوِّرُ” meaning to make into a ball. The verse suggests that the overlapping of the night and the day forms a ball (sphere).|
|Surah Az-Zumar (Chapter 39), verse 5||The Quran mentions “Kullon Yajree كُلٌّ يَجْرِي,” indicating that all entities are in motion, not only the sun and moon but also the Earth. In Arabic grammar, “Kulahuma Yajreean كلاهما يجريان” is used for binary (two), but the Quran said “Kullon yajree كُلٌّ يَجْرِي” in the plural form, suggesting the movement of three or more entities, which includes the Earth alongside the sun and moon.|
See you not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges Day into Night –
- The transition from night to day and vice versa occurs because of the spherical shape of the Earth and its rotation on its axis. As the Earth rotates, different parts of its surface are exposed to the Sun’s light, causing the cycle of day and night. This phenomenon is a result of the Earth’s spherical nature and its rotation.
These verses in the Quran, along with others, indicate that the Earth is not a perfect sphere but rather an oblate spheroid, flattened at the poles and bulging at the equator due to its rotation, this is supported by scientific evidence and measurements.
- Even though our planet is a sphere, it is not a perfect sphere. Because of the force caused when Earth rotates, the North and South Poles are slightly flat. Earth’s rotation, wobbly motion and other forces are making the planet change shape very slowly, but it is still round.
Reference: What Is Earth?
It is important to note that the Qur’an is not a scientific text and its primary purpose is to provide guidance for believers in their spiritual and moral lives. It’s also important to recognize that the understanding of science and the natural world has evolved over time, and that many of the scientific concepts we take for granted today were not fully understood or accepted in the past.