Islamic Views on the Shape of the Earth

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Taken from Zekeriya Kazvinî's "Acaib-ül Mahlûkat" (The Wonders of Creation). Translated into Turkish from Arabic. Istanbul: ca. 1553.
This map depicts "a traditional Islamic projection of the world as a flat disk surrounded by the sundering seas which are restrained by the encircling mountains of Qaf".[1]

Islamic scriptures imply, adhere to, and describe a flat-Earth cosmography (arranged in a geocentric system) which conceives of the earth as existing in the form of a large plane or disk. While knowledge of the spherical shape of the Earth has existed to a greater or lesser degree since at least the classical Greeks (4th Century BCE), such knowledge prominently entered the Islamic milieu in the 9th century CE when many Greek texts were translated into Arabic for the first time under the sponsorship of the Abbasid caliphate.

Today, some Islamic scholars claim that Islamic scriptures and their first audiences were fully aware of the spherical shape of the Earth and that this was also a consensus view of early scholars. Evidence does not support any of these claims, despite oft-cited statements from the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Hazm (see below). Critics note that clear descriptions and assumptions made in the Qur'an, hadith, tafsirs, and writings of early Islamic scholars demonstrate that Muhammad and his companions did not know the Earth was spherical but in fact held it to be flat and disk like, and this is the framework within which the Qur'an operates.

The later idea that Islamic scriptures themselves indicated a spherical Earth was a creative act of reinterpretation. Similarly, attempts to explain Quranic verses about the earth only in terms of local flatness at a human level are often challenged by critics using contextual arguments.

Greek astronomical knowledge

Ptolemy’s Almagest, written in the mid 2nd century CE, was translated into Arabic in the 9th century CE after the Qur’an had been completed and standardized. Ptolemy recorded in book five of the Almagest the discovery of Hipparchus, and of Aristarchus before him, that the sun is much larger than the earth and much more distant than the moon, as well as the Aristotelian view which maintains that the Earth is spherical and that the heavens are celestial spheres.[2] Indian and Sasanian mathematical astronomy works for calculating the apparent movements of the sun, stars and planets were translated into Arabic from the 8th century CE.[3]

Kevin Van Bladel, Professor of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations at Yale University[4], writes:

When the worldview of educated Muslims after the establishment of the Arab Empire came to incorporate principles of astrology including the geocentric, spherical, Aristotelian-Ptolemaic world picture – particularly after the advent of the ‘Abbāsid dynasty in 750 – the meaning of these passages came to be interpreted in later Islamic tradition not according to the biblical-quranic cosmology, which became obsolete, but according to the Ptolemaic model, according to which the Quran itself came to be interpreted.

Earlier in the same paper, Van Bladel describes how Christian theologians in the region of Syria in the sixth century CE shared the view that the Earth was flat and the heaven, or series of heavens was like a dome or tent above the Earth, based on their reading of the Hebrew and New Testament scriptures. This was a rival view to that of the churchmen of Alexandria who supported the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic view of a spherical Earth surrounded by spinning celestial spheres.[5] He summarizes as follows:

Clearly the Ptolemaic cosmology was not taken for granted in the Aramaean part of Asia in the sixth century. It was, rather, controversial.

David A. King, Professor of History of Science at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, writes:

The Arabs of the Arabian peninsula before Islam possessed a simple yet developed astronomical folklore of a practical nature. This involved a knowledge of the risings and settings of stars, associated in particular with the cosmical setting of groups of stars and simultaneous heliacal risings of others, which marked the beginning of periods called naw’, plural anwā’. […] Ptolemy’s Almagest was translated at least five times in the late eighth and ninth centuries. The first was a translation into Syriac and the others into Arabic, the first two under Caliph al-Ma’mūn in the middle of the first half of the ninth century, and the other two (the second an improvement of the first) towards the end of that century […] In this way Greek planetary models, uranometry and mathematical methods came to the attention of the Muslims.
King, David A., "Islamic Astronomy", In Walker, Christopher, Astronomy before the Telescope, London: British Museum Press, pp. 143-174, ISBN 978-0714127330, 1996 (archived from the original), 

Michael Hoskin and Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University[6], write:

In 762 [Muhammad’s] successors in the Middle East founded a new capital, Baghdad, by the river Tigris at the point of nearest approach of the Euphrates, and within reach of the Christian physicians of Jundishapur. Members of the Baghdad court called on them for advice, and these encounters opened the eyes of prominent Muslims to the existence of a legacy of intellectual treasures from Antiquity - most of which were preserved in manuscripts lying in distant libraries and written in a foreign tongue. Harun al-Rashid (caliph from 786) and his successors sent agents to the Byzantine empire to buy Greek manuscripts, and early in the ninth century a translation centre, the House of Wisdom, was established in Baghdad by the Caliph al-Ma’mun. […] Long before translations began, a rich tradition of folk astronomy already existed in the Arabian peninsula. This merged with the view of the heavens in Islamic commentaries and treatises, to create a simple cosmology based on the actual appearances of the sky and unsupported by any underlying theory.

Ahmed Dallal, president of the American University in Cairo, writes in regards to scientific astronomical knowledge advancing across the early caliphate:[7]

...mathematics and astronomy were partly integrated into the curricula of religious schools, through the disciplines of farā’iḍ (algebra of inheritance) and ilm al-mīqāt (timekeeping). And while we have some evidence for the teaching of theoretical astronomy in religious schools after the thirteenth century, we are much more informed about the institutional framework for the practice of the science of astronomy. One such institution where it was practiced was the observatory. The earliest planned and programmed astronomical observations were produced during the last years of the reign of Al-Ma’mūn (r. 813-33), at the outset of the translation movement. Under al-Ma’mūn, a program of astronomical observation was organized in Baghdad (Shammāsiyya) and Damascus (Mount Qāsiyūn). Like any organized research project, this one endowed astronomical activity in the Islamic world with formal prestige. It also set a precedent for future support of scientific activity by other rulers and established patronage as one of the modes of supporting scientific activity. The professed purpose of the program was to verify and correct the Ptolemaic observations for the sun and the moon by comparing the results derived by calculation, based on the Ptolemaic models, with actual observations conducted in Baghdad and Damascus some seven hundred years after Ptolemy...
Dallal, Ahmad. Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History (The Terry Lectures Series) . Yale University Press. 2012. 9780300177718. Kindle Edition. Location 425-440

Mohammad Ali Tabatabaʾi and Saida Mirsadri of Tehran University note in their paper surveying Qur'anic cosmography that the Qur'an "takes for granted" the flatness of the earth, a common motif among the scientifically naive people at that time, while it has "not even one hint of a spherical earth"[8] They also note that the pre-Islamic poet Umayya ibn Abī al‐Ṣalt (d. 5 / 626) described the earth as a carpet (bisāṭan, like Quran 71:19) and likened it to the uplifted heavens.

And [he] shaped the earth as a carpet then he ordained it, [the area] under the firmament [are] just like those he uplifted
Dīwān, Umayya ibn Abī al‐Ṣalt, p. 179 cited in Tabatabaʾi, Mohammad A.; Mirsadri, Saida, "The Qurʾānic Cosmology, as an Identity in Itself", Arabica 63 (3/4): 201-234, 2016,  p. 226
See here for the poem in Arabic.

Damien Janos in another paper on Qur'anic cosmography has similarly noted that while the exact shape of its boundaries are not described, "what is clear is that the Qurʾān and the early Muslim tradition do not uphold the conception of a spherical earth and a spherical universe. This was a view that later prevailed in the learned circles of Muslim society as a result of the infiltration of Ptolemaic astronomy".[9]

Direct references to a flat Earth in the Qur'an

The Qur'an frequently describes, in explicit terms, the creation of "al-ard", which can be translated as either "Earth" or "land", as a flat structure. The use of metaphors and words intimately associated with flat objects (such as beds and carpets) is especially common in cases where the context of the verse makes it clear that the word "al-ard" is being used to describe the creation of the Earth at the beginning of time alongside the creation of the "heavens" (rather than in the more limited sense of a certain portion of "land"). The best example of this is perhaps verse 88:20.

The same term 'al-ard' is even used to describe the creation of the next Earth after judgement day,[10] and is commonly used alongside 'the heavens' (i.e. the heavens and the Earth) as a reference to the whole Islamic conception of the universe - it's meaning of the whole Earth can be seen in further verses where it is used on QuranCorpus.

Qur'an 2:22 - firashan ("thing spread to sit or lie upon")

ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ ٱلْأَرْضَ فِرَٰشًا وَٱلسَّمَآءَ بِنَآءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِۦ مِنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا۟ لِلَّهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

Allathee jaAAala lakumu alarda firashan

[He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him].

فِرَٰشًا = firashan = a thing that is spread upon the ground, a thing that is spread for one to sit or lie upon.[11]

Qur'an 13:3 - madad ("extend", "stretch out")

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى مَدَّ ٱلْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَٰسِىَ وَأَنْهَٰرًا ۖ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ ٱثْنَيْنِ ۖ يُغْشِى ٱلَّيْلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَءَايَٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Wahuwa allathee madda alarda wajaAAala feeha rawasiya waanharan wamin kulli alththamarati jaAAala feeha zawjayni ithnayni yughshee allayla alnnahara inna fee thalika laayatin liqawmin yatafakkaroona

And it is He who spread the earth and placed therein firmly set mountains and rivers; and from all of the fruits He made therein two mates; He causes the night to cover the day. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.

مَدَدْ = madad (madda) = extend by drawing or pulling, stretch out, expand[12]

The Quran describes a reversal of this process occurring on the last day. It says the mountains will be removed and the earth left as a level plain (Quran 18:47 and Quran 20:105-107, discussed in more detail below) while Quran 84:3 says the Earth will be muddat i.e. the Arabic verb madad in the passive voice.

Qur'an 15:19 - madad ("extend", "stretch out")

And We have placed within the heaven great stars and have beautified it for the observers. And We have protected it from every devil expelled [from the mercy of Allah] Except one who steals a hearing and is pursued by a clear burning flame.

والارض مددناها والقينا فيها رواسي وانبتنا فيها من كل شئ موزون

Waal-arda madadnaha waalqayna feeha rawasiya waanbatnafeeha min kulli shay-in mawzoonin

And the earth - We have spread it and cast therein firmly set mountains and caused to grow therein [something] of every well-balanced thing.

مَدَدْ = madad = extend by drawing or pulling, stretch out, expand[12]

See also Mountains cast into the Earth regarding the wording about mountains here and in a few similar verses.

Qur'an 20:53 - mahdan ("bed")

الذي جعل لكم الارض مهدا وسلك لكم فيها سبلا وانزل من السماء ماء فاخرجنا به ازواجا من نبات شتى

Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-arda mahdan wasalaka lakum feeha subulan waanzala mina alssama-imaan faakhrajna bihi azwajan min nabatinshatta

[It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed [spread out] and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants.

مَهْدًا = mahdan = cradle or bed; a plain, even, or smooth expanse[13]

Qur'an 43:10 - mahdan ("bed")

And if you should ask them, "Who has created the heavens and the earth?" they would surely say, "They were created by the Exalted in Might, the Knowing."

الذي جعل لكم الارض مهدا وجعل لكم فيها سبلا لعلكم تهتدون

Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-arda mahdan wajaAAala lakum feeha subulan laAAallakum tahtadoona

[The one] who has made for you the earth a bed and made for you upon it roads that you might be guided

مَهْدًا = mahdan = cradle or bed; a plain, even, or smooth expanse[14]

Qur'an 50:7 - madad ("extend", "stretch out")

Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?

والارض مددناها والقينا فيها رواسي وانبتنا فيها من كل زوج بهيج

Waal-arda madadnaha waalqayna feeha rawasiya waanbatnafeeha min kulli zawjin baheejin

And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind,

مَدَدْ = madad = extend by drawing or pulling, stretch out, expand[12]

Qur'an 51:48 - farasha ("spread out") and mahidoon ("spreaders")

We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).

والارض فرشناها فنعم الماهدون

Waal-arda farashnaha faniAAma almahidoona

And the earth have We laid out, how gracious is the Spreader (thereof)!

فَرَشَْ = farasha (verse 2:22 uses this word in the noun form) = spread or expand, spread a bed or carpet[15]

الْمَهِدُونَ = mahidoon from مهد = make plain, even, smooth, spread a bed[16]

A hadith in Ibn Majah uses the plural noun furushaat to mean "beds":

It was narrated from Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “I see what you do not see, and I hear what you do not hear. The heaven is creaking and it should creak, for there is no space in it the width of four fingers but there is an angel there, prostrating to Allah. By Allah, if you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much, and you would never enjoy women in your beds (الْفُرُشَاتِ, al-furushaat), and you would go out in the streets, beseeching Allah.’”

Qur'an 71:19 - bisaatan ("carpet")

See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, [...]

والله جعل لكم الارض بساطا

WaAllahu jaAAala lakumu al-arda bisatan

And Allah has made the earth for you as a carpet (spread out),

بِسَاطًا = bisaatan = A thing that is spread or spread out or forth, and particularly a carpet (from the same root we also have بَسَاطٌ = basaatun = Land, expanded and even; and wide or spacious) [17]

A hadith in Tirmidhi uses the word bisaatan to describe the spreading or rolling out of a mat:

...Then he came to hug the Prophet (s.a.w) and uttered that his father and mother should be ransomed for him. Then he went to grove of his and he spread out a mat for them [فَبَسَطَ لَهُمْ بِسَاطًا, fa-basata la-hum bisaatan, literally "and-(he)spread for-them a-mat"]. Then he went to a date-palm and returned with a cluster of dates which he put down....

Qur'an 78:6-7 - mihadan ("bed")

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ ٱلْأَرْضَ مِهَٰدًا وَٱلْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا

Alam najAAali al-arda mihadan Waaljibala awtadan

Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs?

مِهَٰدًا (same as مَهْدًا mahdan) = cradle or bed; a plain, even, or smooth expanse[18]

Qur'an 79:30 - daha ("spread out wide")

Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it. He raised its ceiling and proportioned it. And He darkened its night and extracted its brightness.

وَٱلْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ دَحَىٰهَآ

Waalarda baAAda thalika dahaha

And after that He spread the earth.

He extracted from it its water and its pasture, And the mountains He set firmly As provision for you and your grazing livestock.

دحو = dahawa = spread out or forth, expand, make wide.[19]

The word dahaha ("He spread it out") also appears in a poem about the creation of a flat earth attributed to the pre-Islamic poet Zayd b. 'Amr, who reportedly was a monotheist who met Muhammad before his prophetic career began. The poem is certainly a very early demonstration of the meaning of the word dahaha in this context since it is recorded in the biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767 CE) and must pre-date that work.[20] Like the Quran, the poem says "He spread it out" (daḥāhā) i.e. the earth, then even clearer than the Quran, saw that it was level (استوت istawat[21]) on the water (i.e. flat), "and set firm the mountains on it" (arsā ʿalayhā l-jibālā, very similar to wa-l-jibāla ʾarsāhā in verse 32 of the Quranic passage).

دحاها فلما رآها استوت ... عَلَى الماء أرسى عليها الجبالا

daḥāhā falammā raʾādā istawat ʿalā l-māʾi arsā ʿalayhā l-jibālā

He spread it out and when He saw that it was settled upon the waters, He fixed the mountains upon it
Poem attributed to Zayd b. 'Amr, as found for example in Ibn Al Jawzi's Al Muntazam,[22] and Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad (as translated from Ibn Ishaq by Guillaume[20] and transliterated by Bravmann[23])

Similar language is found in the Bible. See Isaiah 42:5 and particularly Psalms 136:6.

For further discussion of this word and of modern claims attempting to associate it with the shape of eggs, see the dedicated section below.

Qur'an 88:20 - sutihat ("spread out flat")

And at the sky - how it is raised? And at the mountains - how they are erected?

وَإِلَى ٱلْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ

Wa-ila al-ardi kayfa sutihat

And at the Earth, how it is spread out?

سَطَحَ = sataha = spread out or forth, expand

The word sataha is used to describe making the flat top or roof of a house or chamber and making a top surface flat. Words derived from the same root mean: the flat top surface or roof of a house or chamber, a bounded plane in geometry, a level place upon which dates can be spread, a rolling pin (which expands the dough), plane or flat.[24] Indeed, the modern Arabic phrase used to refer to the "flat earth" today is الأرض مسطحة (al-ard musattaha)[25], the word musattaha is from the same root as the word sutihat.

In the tafsir Al-Jalalayn (from the 15th century) the word sutihat is used to explain that the Earth is flat. The author of this section, al-Mahalli (d. 1460), maintains that the flat-earth is the opinion of the scholars of the revealed law.

And the earth how it was laid out flat? and thus infer from this the power of God exalted be He and His Oneness? The commencing with the mention of camels is because they are closer in contact with it the earth than any other animal. As for His words sutihat ‘laid out flat’ this on a literal reading suggests that the earth is flat which is the opinion of most [the word "most" is not included in the original Arabic: "وعليه علماء الشرع"; see citation for full text] of the scholars of the revealed Law and not a sphere as astronomers ahl al-hay’a have it even if this latter does not contradict any of the pillars of the Law.
Tafsir al-Jalalayn 88:20 (See here for the Arabic)

Qur'an 91:6 - taha ("spread out")

And the heaven and Him Who built it,

والارض وماطحاها

Waal-ardi wama tahaha

And the earth and Him Who spread it,

طحو / طحى = taha = Spread out, expand, spread on the ground.[26]

Indirect references to a flat Earth in the Qur'an

In addition to direct references to a flat Earth in the Qur'an, where the original creation of the Earth is explicitly described using terms that denote a flat object, there are many indirect references to the shape of the Earth in contexts not related to the initial creation of the planet. These indirect references, poising themselves as describing the Earth as it exists rather than how it was created are, in a sense, stronger testimony to the cosmology of the Qur'an.

Since explicit cosmological descriptions are uncommon in societies with a uniform and common cosmology (due to the simple fact that no one needs state that which everyone knows), otherwise unrelated descriptions of phenomenon occurring within the confines of a given society's cosmology can often serve as the strongest evidence of their cosmological beliefs.[27]

Qur'an 18:86 and 18:90 - setting and rising places of the sun

حتى اذا بلغ مغرب الشمس وجدها تغرب في عين حمئة ووجد عندها قوما قلنا ياذا القرنين اما ان تعذب واما ان تتخذ فيهم حسنا

Hatta itha balagha maghriba alshshamsi wajadaha taghrubu fee AAaynin hami-atin wawajada AAindaha qawman qulna ya tha alqarnayni imma an tuAAaththiba wa-imma an tattakhitha feehim husnan

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.
حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَطْلِعَ ٱلشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَطْلُعُ عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ لَّمْ نَجْعَل لَّهُم مِّن دُونِهَا سِتْرًا

Hatta itha balagha matliAAa alshshamsi wajadaha tatluAAu AAala qawmin lam najAAal lahum min dooniha sitran

Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

A flat conception of the Earth is the only sort that permits the setting and rising places of the sun to be visited. Contemporary 7th-century Arabic and Syriac poems telling the same legend suggest that early Muslims understood the story literally, as do early tafsirs and narrations therein (see main article).

Qur'an 2:187 and 17:78 - fasting and prayer times

It is made lawful for you to go in unto your wives on the night of the fast. They are raiment [clothing] for you and ye are raiment for them. Allah is Aware that ye were deceiving yourselves in this respect and He hath turned in mercy toward you and relieved you. So hold intercourse with them and seek that which Allah hath ordained for you, and eat and drink until the white thread becometh distinct to you from the black thread of the dawn. Then strictly observe the fast till nightfall and touch them not, but be at your devotions in the mosques. These are the limits imposed by Allah, so approach them not. Thus Allah expoundeth His revelation to mankind that they may ward off (evil)

This verses outlines some of the requirements of the fourth Pillar of Islam, fasting: one can not eat, drink, or have sexual intercourse between "dawn" and "nightfall". The Qur'an conceives of itself as containing guidance for all people in all times in all places, yet the instructions contained here are, taken literally, impracticable for those who live near the North and South poles of the globe, where a single day/night cycle can take any where from weeks to months. While Islamic scholars were and are content to permit exceptions to the literal meaning of the verse for those who live in extreme climes, the original authors and audiences of Islamic scriptures do not seem to have appreciated this problem. Based on this evidence, the earliest believers were either mistaken about the details of the dynamic system existing between the rotating Earth and the star it orbits or, more likely, simply unaware of the system altogether.

Similar scriptural instructions for worship based on the position of the Sun relative to the observer confirm the implications of the Quran 2:187.

Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of night, and (the recital of) the Qur'an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur'an at dawn is ever witnessed.

For instance, in Aberdeen, Scotland, the time between the night prayer (Isha) and the dawn prayer (Fajr) is around 4 and a half hours in June, such that a practicing Muslim would be required to regularly awaken around 3:20am for prayer. These matters are further complicated by the increasingly relevant and real cases of space travel, and even simply travel through the air aboard a plane, as it is not entirely clear whether someone flying in or opposite the direction of the sun would be required to repeat or skip certain prayers due to the rapidly changing time of day. By these appearances, the rituals and instructions set out in the Qur'an were intended for the more limited audience and understanding of a 7th-century desert city.

Before embarking on the 1985 Discovery space shuttle flight he had been chosen to serve on as payload engineer, Saudi prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Muslim in space, said the following memorable lines to Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, later the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia:

“‘Look,’” Sultan remembers telling him, “‘we’re going to be traveling at eighteen thousand miles per hour. I’m going to see sixteen sunrises and sunsets every twenty-four hours. So does that mean I’ll get Ramadan finished in two days?' The sheikh loved that one—he laughed out loud.” . . . “It would be no good trying to face Mecca,” remembers the prince. “By the time I’d lined up on it, it would be behind me.”
Robert Lacey, "Chapter 10", Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia, Penguin, ISBN 9781101140734, 2009, 

Appeal is sometimes made to a lengthy hadith in which Muhammad instructs Muslims to make an estimate of prayer times in the last days when the Dajjal comes and when one day will be like a year, then like a month, and then like a week. It is argued on this basis that Muhammad provided a principle by which people at extreme latitudes should fast and pray.

An-Nawwas b. Sam`an reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) made a mention of the Dajjal one day in the morning.

We said: Allah's Messenger, how long would he stay on the earth? He (ﷺ) said: For forty days, one day like a year and one day like a month and one day like a week and the rest of the days would be like your days. We said: Allah's Messenger, would one day's prayer suffice for the prayers of day equal to one year? Thereupon he (ﷺ) said: No, but you must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer).


Critics note a number of shortcomings with this argument: Firstly, this hadith contains only an instruction for the end of time and when the whole world will have some very long days. The question remains why there are not specific instructions for praying (not to mention fasting) near the polar regions on our round planet. While a stretched analogy can be made with polar regions where the sun cannot be seen rising or setting at all for months at a time, places such as the north of Scotland in the example above still have very short nights in summer yet maintain a 24 hour day-night cycle all year round. This is not like the month or year long days affecting the world in the hadith. A further problem is that the hadith does not explain how an estimate is to be made. The assumption must be that in the last days scenario, people can use the intervals they had been used to in normal times and that this is possible all over the world (which therefore must also be flat). However, on our round earth, people in the polar regions cannot in any sense "estimate" what their prayer (and fasting) intervals would normally be when the sun no longer rises or no longer sets each day. Instead, typically they have to chose the times pertaining at the nearest lower latitude, or if possible, to pray (and fast) at the prescribed times if there is still some brief period of daytime (or night).

The hadith further demonstrates a flat earth and pre-scientific worldview. On a round earth, there would equally be a long night for half the world. Crops would soon fail on both the daylit and night sides of the earth during the day lasting a year and the day lasting a month. The world would starve before the other events could unfold.

Qur'an 2:144 - praying towards the Ka'bah

Top-left: Due to the sphericity of the earth, a prayer in any direction will point towards the sky/outer-space, not Mecca.
Top-right: People who are located on the opposite 'side' of the earth would have to pray vertically down towards the center of the earth, and would also be guilty of blasphemy, as they would also be defecating in exact direction of the Ka'bah..
Bottom-left: One is also always simultaneously praying with their face and backside aimed towards the Ka'bah, especially if located on the Ka'bah's antipode.
Bottom-right: From the Ka'bah's antipode, any direction is facing 'towards' Mecca and consequently, there is no one direction that would be the correct one.
We have seen the turning of thy face to heaven (for guidance, O Muhammad). And now verily We shall make thee turn (in prayer) toward a qiblah which is dear to thee. So turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship, and ye (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces (when ye pray) toward it. Lo! Those who have received the Scripture know that (this revelation) is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

This verse instructs prayer towards the Ka'bah (the word qiblah referring to the direction that one has to face in order to pray towards the Ka'bah). Taken literally, "turning one's face" toward the Ka'bah is only possible on a flat Earth, since on a spherical Earth, facing any direction when located anywhere other than the immediate vicinity of the Ka'bah will point along a tangent to the Earth's surface and ultimately off into outer-space, not Mecca. For this reason, the great circle method from spherical geometry is used. Nevertheless, other Islamic practices such as defecting opposite the Ka'bah and sleeping facing the Ka'bah are thereby complicated. Indeed, in facing the Ka'bah perfectly, one's hind side would also, on a sphere, necessarily face the Ka'bah with equal perfection.

Other problems emerge as well. The Americas are largely contained in the hemisphere of the antipode (point directly opposite on a sphere) to Mecca. The great circle lines across the continent diverge from the antipode before they start to converge when they enter the hemisphere of Mecca, causing people north and south across the Americas to face away from each other as they pray, with those on the west coast of North America even facing Northwards over the Arctic. To many this feels unnatural or uncomfortable, so among American Muslims the rhumb line method is often preferred (a rhumb line appears as a straight line on Mercator projection world maps). The two very different methods can lead to disagreement and criticism among Muslims in the same country. Another difficult implication is that a person located at the antipode of Mecca itself would simultaneously be facing toward and directly away from Mecca no matter which direction they turned, a situation similar to that a person attempting to pray within the walls of the Ka'bah itself.

While a non-literal reading of the passage helps to escape some of these implications, critics argue that it remains the case that the author of the verse did not appreciate the complications with his instruction to face the Ka'bah, suggesting that he held the Earth to be flat.

Qur'an 18:47 - when the mountains are removed, the entire Earth will be apparent

وَيَوْمَ نُسَيِّرُ ٱلْجِبَالَ وَتَرَى ٱلْأَرْضَ بَارِزَةً وَحَشَرْنَٰهُمْ فَلَمْ نُغَادِرْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا

Wayawma nusayyiru aljibala watara al-arda barizatan wahasharnahum falam nughadir minhum ahadan

And [warn of] the Day when We will remove the mountains and you will see the earth prominent, and We will gather them and not leave behind from them anyone.

بَارِزَةً = baarizatan = Wholey, or entirely, apparent or manifest, Land that is open, apparent, or uncovered, upon which is no mountain or any other thing.[28]

Also in accord with this picture are Quran 31:10 and similar verses which state that mountains were cast upon the earth to prevent it from shaking and Quran 78:6-7 (quoted above) in which Allah spread out the earth and made the mountains as pegs.

Similar language about the removal of mountains leaving a level plain appears in the Bible:

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Qur'an 20:105-107 - when the mountains are scattered, the Earth is a level plain

وَيَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْجِبَالِ فَقُلْ يَنسِفُهَا رَبِّى نَسْفًا فَيَذَرُهَا قَاعًا صَفْصَفًا لَّا تَرَىٰ فِيهَا عِوَجًا وَلَآ أَمْتًا

Wayasaloonaka AAani aljibali faqul yansifuha rabbee nasfan Fayatharuha qaAAan safsafan La tara feeha AAiwajan wala amtan

They will ask thee of the mountains (on that day). Say: My Lord will break them into scattered dust. And leave it as an empty plain, Wherein thou seest neither curve nor ruggedness.

The word فَيَذَرُهَا Fayatharuha ('And he will leave it') has the feminine 'ha' suffix, meaning 'it'. "It" here almost certainly refers to the Earth, which is not explicitly mentioned, and is a feminine noun. Similarly the word translated 'Wherein' is فِيهَا feeha (literally 'in it') and has the feminine 'it' suffix too. Since there are no other singular feminine nouns in these verses and due to the context provided by Quran 18:47, it is clear that the pronoun is referring to al-ard (the Earth).

قَاعًا = qaAAan = an even place; plain, or level, land that produces nothing; plain, or soft, land, low, and free from mountains.[29]

صَفْصَفًا = safsafan = a level, or an even, tract of land or ground.[30]

عِوَجًا = AAiwajan = crookedness, a curvity, bending, winding, contortion, wryness, distortion, or uneveness[31]

أَمْتًا = amtan = curvity, crookedness, distortion, or uneveness; ruggedness and smoothness in different places; depression and elevation; small hills and hollows.[32]

Whereas "AAiwajan" and "amtan " may refer to individual portions of land being flat, "qaAAan safsafan" appears to characterize the Earth as a whole as a "level, barren plain".

Qur'an 69:14 - the Earth and mountains will be lifted

In a verse about the last day, the Quran 69:14 states that the earth and mountains will be lifted and crushed. The context makes clear that this is a statement concerning the earth as a whole. Such imagery is fully in line with a flat earth worldview, but harder to reconcile with a spherical surface.

Then when the Horn is blown with one blast And the earth and the mountains are lifted and leveled with one blow - Then on that Day, the Resurrection will occur, And the heaven will split [open], for that Day it is infirm.

The verb used to say the earth and mountains "are lifted" is ḥumilati حُمِلَتِ which is used in the sense of taking up or carrying a load.[33]

The word translated levelled (dakkatan, meaning pounded down to ground level[34]) in the above verse occurs three times in various forms in another verse about the earth:

No! When the earth has been leveled - pounded and crushed -

Qur'an 17:37 - you will not tear / pierce the earth

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ ٱلْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ ٱلْجِبَالَ طُولًا

Wala tamshi fee alardi marahan innaka lan takhriqa alarda walan tablugha aljibala tool

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

The verb translated "tear" is kharaqa, which meant to make a hole in, perforate, pierce, or bore through something or to tear or rent such as a cloth, and appears also in Quran 18:71 when Allah's servant makes a hole in a ship.[35] The verse seems to imply that the earth has the kind of predominantly two dimensional shape to which this verb is often applicable, even if humans lack the power to do so.

Qur'an 26:28 - Lord of the east and the west and what is between them

[Moses] said, "The Lord of the heavens and earth and that between them, if you should be convinced."

[Pharaoh] said to those around him, "Do you not hear?"
[Moses] said, "Your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers.
[Pharaoh] said, "Indeed, your 'messenger' who has been sent to you is mad."

قَالَ رَبُّ ٱلْمَشْرِقِ وَٱلْمَغْرِبِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَآ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
Qala rabbu almashriqi waalmaghribi wama baynahuma in kuntum taAAqiloona

[Moses] said, "Lord of the east and the west and that between them, if you were to reason."

This verse says Allah is Lord of the east and the west "and what (is) between them" (wamā baynahumā with dual pronoun suffix). The same Arabic words are also used in verse 24 earlier in the same dialogue with Pharaoh, where Moses describes Allah as "The Lord of the heavens and earth and that between them". Clearly, the meaning in verse 28 is that Allah is Lord of the entire earth, but the phrase attributed to the prophet Moses and narrated approvingly in the Quran here naturally evokes a flat earth conception.

Qur'an 55:17 - Lord of the two easts and the two wests

رَبُّ ٱلْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ ٱلْمَغْرِبَيْنِ

Rabbu almashriqayni warabbu almaghribayni

(He is) Lord of the two Easts and Lord of the two Wests

Classical tafsirs unanimously[36] understand this verse as a reference to the two easts, or rising places (almashriqayni), and the two wests, or setting places (almaghribayni) of the sun on the summer and winter solstices. This accords with the literal meanings of mashriq[37] and maghrib[38]. Similarly, verse 70:40 (Quran 70:40) was classically understood to refer to all the different places where the sun rises and sets between these ranges (almashariqi waalmagharibi).[39] Taken literally, these descriptions can only concord with a flat Earth, as on a spherical Earth, the "two Easts" and "two Wests" are only relative and everchanging positions lacking any definite, physical nature - that is, there is no place on Earth that could be definitely and universally described as "one of the two Easts", for instance such that Allah could be "Lord of it".

Qur'an 57:21 - a garden, its width like the width of the heaven(s) and the earth

سَابِقُوٓا۟ إِلَىٰ مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا كَعَرْضِ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ أُعِدَّتْ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ فَضْلُ ٱللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَٱللَّهُ ذُو ٱلْفَضْلِ ٱلْعَظِيمِ

Sabiqoo ila maghfiratin min rabbikum wajannatin AAarduha kaAAardi alssamai waalardi oAAiddat lillatheena amanoo biAllahi warusulihi thalika fadlu Allahi yuteehi man yashao waAllahu thoo alfadli alAAatheemi

Be ye foremost (in seeking) Forgiveness from your Lord, and a Garden (of Bliss), the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers: that is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom he pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding

The words ʿarḍuhā kaʿarḍi ("its width is like the width") refer to the breadth, width, or side of something.[40]

Some academic scholars cite this verse in support of their argument that the Quranic heavens are flat layers above a flat earth (see Cosmology of the Quran). In a very similar verse, the garden's width is as the heavens plural and the earth (Quran 3:133). This interchangable width of the heaven singular (57:21) or heavens plural (3:133) may lend further support to that view. The verse most naturally indicates that the author imagined the heaven or heavens to be of similar width to the earth, whether they were imagined to be dome shaped or flat layers, and that the earth's flatness makes for an ideal width yardstick, though other interpretations are possible.

Qur'an 2:22 - the heavens are a canopy / building

الذي جعل لكم الارض فراشا والسماء بناء وانزل من السماء ماء فاخرج به من الثمرات رزقا لكم فلا تجعلوا لله اندادا وانتم تعلمون

Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-arda firashan waalssamaa binaan waanzala mina alssama-i maan faakhraja bihi mina alththamarati rizqan lakum fala tajAAaloo lillahi andadan waantum taAAlamoona

Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth).

The word translated as canopy is binaa or binaan ( بِنَاء ). This word means building, structure, edifice or tent.[41] In his tafsir for another verse, Quran 2:29, Ibn Kathir uses the same word for his analogy of the earth and seven heavens as a multi-story building.

These Ayat indicate that Allah started creation by creating earth, then He made heaven into seven heavens. This is how building usually starts, with the lower floors first and then the top floors, as the scholars of Tafsir reiterated, as we will come to know, Allah willing.
Tafsir of Ibn Kathir for 2:29 (See here for the Arabic)

A similar concept occurs in the Bible (another Quranic parallel with Isaiah chapter 40 is shown in the Q. 18:47 section above):

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Flat Earth in the hadiths

While the Islamic tradition maintain and modern academics contest whether so-called authentic hadiths can be reliably traced back to the prophet and his companions, all agree that hadiths, whether authentic or inauthentic represent the beliefs of various populations among the earliest Muslims. That is, even if a hadith is weak, it's fabrication, existence, and circulation attest to the simple fact that at least some early Muslims, even if this did not include Muhammad and his companions, believed that hadith's contents.

This said, there exist a variety of hadiths in canonical and authentic collections of hadith that explicitly and implicitly attest and adhere to a flat Earth. Countless weak hadiths can be counted which, in addition to these authentic hadiths, reflect the beliefs before the translations of Greek astronomy and philosophy had taken hold, and confirm that the earliest Muslims believed in a flat earth.[42]

Seven stacked earths

Main article: Science and the Seven Earths

Various narrations describe seven stacked flat earths (not spherical layers, طوّقه means put on a neck-ring[43]):

Narrated Salim's father (i.e. `Abdullah): The Prophet said, "Whoever takes a piece of the land of others unjustly, he will sink down the seven earths on the Day of Resurrection."
Narrated Sa`id bin Zaid:

Allah's Messenger said, "Whoever usurps the land of somebody unjustly, his neck will be encircled with it down the seven earths (on the Day of Resurrection). "

Sa'id b. Zaid reported: I heard Allah's Apostle say: He who took a span of earth wrongly would be made to wear around his neck seven earths on the Day of Resurrection.

This daif (weak) hadith elaborates what some early Muslims (if not Muhammad) thought about the shape of the world:

...Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under that?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, below it is another earth, between the two of which is a distance of five-hundred years.’ Until he enumerated seven earths: ‘Between every two earths is a distance of five-hundred years.’...

Setting and rising place of the sun

The following hadith is graded Sahih by Dar-us-Salam (Hafiz Zubair 'Ali Za'i) and has a chain of narration graded as Sahih (authentic) by al-Albani.

Narrated Abu Dharr: I was sitting behind the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water (Hamiyah).

A similar, more elaborate hadith in Sahih Muslim (shown below) describes a cycle in which Allah instructs the sun to go and rise "from its rising place" (min matli'iha مَطْلِعِهَا - this word also occurs as matli'a ash shamsi "the rising place of the sun" in Quran 18:90). One day, it will instead be told to go and rise "from the place of your setting" (min maghribiki مِنْ مَغْرِبِكِ), so it goes and rises "from the place of its setting" (min maghribiha مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا ). The latter phrase also appears in all the simpler narrations of this hadith despite often being mistranslated as "in the west".[44] The sun is commanded to go to some particular place. The words "matli'" and "maghrib", when juxtaposed, refer to a "rising place" and "setting place", while the words "al mashriq" and "al maghrib", when juxtaposed, refer more generically to "the east" and "the west", although some English translations attempt to obscure this detail. The use of the words "matli'iha" and "maghribiha" in reference to specific locations as opposed to general directions is further confirmed by the lack of the definite article (al-) and usage of possessive pronouns (-ha) which make these "the sun's matli'" and "the sun's maghrib" - if the narration were referring to the "east" and "west" generically, the hadith would not refer to "the sun's east" and "the sun's west".

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything ( unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.[45]

Ends of the Earth

Thauban reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: Allah drew the ends of the world near one another for my sake. And I have seen its eastern and western ends. And the dominion of my Ummah would reach those ends which have been drawn near me and I have been granted the red and the white treasure and I begged my Lord for my Ummah that it should not be destroyed because of famine, nor be dominated by an enemy who is not amongst them to take their lives and destroy them root and branch, and my Lord said: Muhammad, whenever I make a decision, there is none to change it. I grant you for your Ummah that it would not be destroyed by famine and it would not be dominated by an enemy who would not be amongst it and would take their lives and destroy them root and branch even if all the people from the different parts of the world join hands together (for this purpose), but it would be from amongst them, viz. your Ummah, that some people would kill the others or imprison the other
It was narrated from Sahl bin Sa’d As-Sa’idi that the Messenger of Allah said: “There is no (pilgrim) who recites the Talbiyah but that which is to his right and left also recites it, rocks and trees and hills, to the farthest ends of the earth in each direction, from here and from there.”

Allah in the last third of the night

The following two narrations alluding to the optional Tahajjud prayer state that there is a particular time of night when Allah approaches the nearest heaven and invites supplications. This concept could only make any sense at all in a flat earth worldview, not in a spherical world in which it is always night-time somewhere.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Allah descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the first part of the night is over and says: I am the Lord; I am the Lord: who is there to supplicate Me so that I answer him? Who is there to beg of Me so that I grant him? Who is there to beg forgiveness from Me so that I forgive him? He continues like this till the day breaks.

The hadith also appears in Sahih al-Bukhari ("to us" is not present in the Arabic).

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) (p.b.u.h) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: "Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?"

Flat Earth in tafsirs

The spring where the sun sets

Early Tafsirs (commentaries on the Quran from Muslim Scholars) had no issue stating that the Quran supports a flat Earth cosmology. In fact the earliest surviving authentically attributed tafsir, Tafsir Muqātil ibn Sulaymān (d. 767 CE), i.e. who lived closer to the time of Muhammad than any other scholar, says on verse 18:86 that this means the sun is setting in a muddy spring, which is only possible on a flat (and geocentric) Earth.

{Until when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of mud}, meaning hot and black. Ibn Abbas said: When the sun rises, it is hotter than when it sets.

In the tafsir of al-Tabari (b. 224 AH / 839 CE) for Quran 18:86, the following remarks are made about the nature of the spring into which the sun sets. For another, full English translation of the relevant page in al-Tabari's tafsir see this article. The similar sounding words hami'ah (muddy) and hamiyah (hot) seem to have become confused at some point in the transmission of the Qur'anic script:

الْقَوْل فِي تَأْوِيل قَوْله تَعَالَى : حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِب الشَّمْس وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُب فِي عَيْن حَمِئَة

يَقُول تَعَالَى ذِكْره : { حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ } ذُو الْقَرْنَيْنِ { مَغْرِب الشَّمْس وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُب فِي عَيْن حَمِئَة } , فَاخْتَلَفَتْ الْقُرَّاء فِي قِرَاءَة ذَلِكَ , فَقَرَأَهُ بَعْض قُرَّاء الْمَدِينَة وَالْبَصْرَة : { فِي عَيْن حَمِئَة } بِمَعْنَى : أَنَّهَا تَغْرُب فِي عَيْن مَاء ذَات حَمْأَة , وَقَرَأَتْهُ جَمَاعَة مِنْ قُرَّاء الْمَدِينَة , وَعَامَّة قُرَّاء الْكُوفَة : " فِي عَيْن حَامِيَة " يَعْنِي أَنَّهَا تَغْرُب فِي عَيْن مَاء حَارَّة . وَاخْتَلَفَ أَهْل التَّأْوِيل فِي تَأْوِيلهمْ ذَلِكَ عَلَى نَحْو اِخْتِلَاف الْقُرَّاء فِي قِرَاءَته

The meaning of the Almighty’s saying, ‘Until he reached the place of the setting of the sun he found it set in a spring of murky water,’ is as follows:

When the Almighty says, ‘Until he reached,’ He is addressing Zul-Qarnain. Concerning the verse, ‘the place of the setting of the sun he found it set in a spring of murky water,’ the people differed on how to pronounce that verse. Some of the people of Madina and Basra read it as ‘Hami’a spring,’ meaning that the sun sets in a spring that contains mud. While a group of the people of Medina and the majority of the people of Kufa read it as, ‘Hamiya spring’ meaning that the sun sets in a spring of warm water. The people of commentary have differed on the meaning of this depending on the way they read the verse.

So he says of the Basran reading of the Qur'an:

بـمعنى: أنها تغرب فـي عين ماء ذات حمأة "Meaning: that it sets in a spring of muddy water."

And he says of the Kufan reading of the Qur'an:

يعنـي أنها تغرب فـي عين ماء حارّة "It means that it sets in a spring of hot water"

Early authorities such as Ibn 'Abbas explain this to mean that the sun sets in black mud:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّد بْن عَبْد الْأَعْلَى , قَالَ : ثنا مَرْوَان بْن مُعَاوِيَة , عَنْ وَرْقَاء , قَالَ : سَمِعْت سَعِيد بْن جُبَيْر ,

قَالَ : كَانَ اِبْن عَبَّاس يَقْرَأ هَذَا الْحَرْف { فِي عَيْن حَمِئَة }

Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-A'la narrated and said: Marwan ibn Mu'awiya narrated from Warqa, he said: I heard Sa'id ibn Jubayr say: Ibn 'Abbas read this letter "in a muddy spring"

وَيَقُول : حَمْأَة سَوْدَاء تَغْرُب فِيهَا الشَّمْس

and he said: the sun sets in black mud.

وَقَالَ آخَرُونَ : بَلْ هِيَ تَغِيب فِي عَيْن حَارَّة

Others said: it disappears (تَغِيب) in a hot spring.

This Ibn ‘Abbas narration from Sa'id ibn Jubayr has a trustworthy chain of narrators according to hadith scholars.[46] Abu Salih, another companion of Ibn ‘Abbas, made a very similar report narrated through another chain recorded by al-Farra (d. 822 CE) in his Ma'ani al-Qur'an regarding this verse:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْعَبَّاسِ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدٌ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا الْفَرَّاءُ قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي حِبَّانُ عَنِ الْكَلْبِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ (حَمِئَةٍ) قَالَ: تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ سَوْدَاءَ
[...] al-Farra narrated from Hibban, from al-Kalbi, from Abu Salih, from Ibn ‘Abbas "muddy". He said, "It sets in a black spring".

Al-Tabari (d. 923) in his History of the Prophets and Kings and al-Baydawi (d. 1286) in his tafsir mention the opinion that the sun has 360 springs into which it can set. A similar idea is found in the so-called pre-Islamic "Jahili" Arab poems.

A longer list of scholars who took this as literal can be found in this reddit thread on R/CritiqueIslam, where one can see it only become 'metaphorical' as Ptolemy's round Earth views became more widely accepted. As historian of science James Hamman notes, when the translation movement began in the late eighth century, the study of the Koran was already a mature discipline. And since the Koran was the product of a very different environment from multicultural Baghdad, its world picture didn’t cohere with the cosmology transmitted by the foreign sciences of Indian and Greek astronomy.[47]

The sky as a dome above the Earth

Al-Tabari in his tafsir for Quran 2:22 includes narrations from some of the earliest Muslims about the sky being a dome or ceiling over the Earth:

حَدَّثَنِي مُوسَى بْن هَارُونَ , قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرو بْن حَمَّاد , قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا أَسْبَاط , عَنْ السُّدِّيّ فِي خَبَر ذَكَرَهُ , عَنْ أَبِي مَالِك , وَعَنْ أَبِي صَالِح , عَنْ ابْن عَبَّاس , وَعَنْ مُرَّة , عَنْ ابْن مَسْعُود وَعَنْ نَاس مِنْ أَصْحَاب النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : { وَالسَّمَاء بِنَاء } , فَبِنَاء السَّمَاء عَلَى الْأَرْض كَهَيْئَةِ الْقُبَّة , وَهِيَ سَقْف عَلَى الْأَرْض .وَحَدَّثَنَا بِشْر بْن مُعَاذ , قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيد , عَنْ سَعِيد , عَنْ قَتَادَةَ فِي قَوْل اللَّه { وَالسَّمَاء بِنَاء } قَالَ : جَعَلَ السَّمَاء سَقْفًا لَك .

Musa ibn Harun narrated and said that Amru ibn Hammad narrated and said that Asbath narrated from al-Suddi in the report mentioned, from Abu Malik, and from Abu Salih, from ibn 'Abbas and from Murrah, from ibn Masud and from people of the companions of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):

"...and the sky a canopy..." The canopy of the sky over the earth is in the form of a dome, and it is a roof over the earth. And Bishr bin Mu'az narrated and said from Yazid from Sa'id from Qatada in the words of Allah "...and the sky a canopy..." He says he makes the sky your roof.

Ibn Kathir in his tafsir for Quran 13:2 has more narrations of the sahabah and tabi'un (2nd generation) on this topic:

Allah said next, (..without any pillars that you can see.) meaning, `there are pillars, but you cannot see them,' according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, and several other scholars. Iyas bin Mu`awiyah said, "The heaven is like a dome over the earth," meaning, without pillars. Similar was reported from Qatadah, and this meaning is better for this part of the Ayah, especially since Allah said in another Ayah, (He withholds the heaven from falling on the earth except by His permission.) 22:65 Therefore, Allah's statement, (..that you can see), affirms that there are no pillars. Rather, the heaven is elevated (above the earth) without pillars, as you see. This meaning best affirms Allah's ability and power.
Tafsir ibn Kathir 13:2 (see here for the Arabic)

Seven flat Earths

Ibn Kathir records that Mujahid said that the seven heavens and the seven Earths are on top of one another. Many similar narrations demonstrate that this type of cosmology was the standard understanding among Muhammad's companions.

فَسَوَّاهُنَّ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ - قَالَ: بَعْضُهُنَّ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ، وَسَبْعُ أَرَضِينَ، يَعْنِي بِعَضَهُنَّ تَحْتَ بَعْضٍ.
(And made them seven heavens) He [Mujahid] said, one [heaven] above the other, and the seven earths, meaning one below the other.

The Earth on the back of the Islamic Whale

Al-Tabari's tafsir regarding Quran 68:1, which mysteriously starts with the Arabic letter nun, records, along with many other classical tafsirs and sahih narrations[48][49][50][51], that one of the interpretations among sahabah such as ibn 'Abbas was that the 'nun' is a whale on whose back the Earth is carried (other interpretations were that "Nun" is an inkwell or a name of Allah). While there may not have been a consensus on the existence of the whale, the plausibility and acceptability of the idea implies a flat Earth and radically non-modern cosmology.

Classical perspectives

Knowledge of the spherical nature of the Earth existed, at the very least, for nearly a millennium prior to the emergence of Islam in the 7th century. However, due to the non-uniform distribution of knowledge across the world and the pervasive assumption of a flat-Earth in Islamic scriptures, it is widely held that Muhammad and his companions were almost certainly ignorant of the matter. In the absence of explicit and authentic formulations from Muhammad and his companions on the topic, however, full confidence is impossible and modern inquirers are left to infer the cosmology of the earliest Muslims on the basis of indirect scriptural allusions. Such allusions are plenty and uniformly point to the assumption of a flat-Earth.

Militating against these appearances are statements from the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Hazm, who are often cited as evidence[52] of an early Islamic consensus on a spherical earth. While the notion of a spherical earth had undoubtedly entered the Islamic milieu in the centuries following Muhammad's death to a limited extent, claims of anything approaching an early consensus on a spherical earth are unfounded, and attempts to extend this to Muhammad's generation, entirely fanciful.

Al Mawardi (d. 1058)

Al-Mawardi (d. 450 / 1058 CE), in his commentary on Quran 13:3, regards that verse as a counter-argument to those who claim the Earth is shaped like a ball.[53]

Ibn Hazm (d. 1064)

One of the three that Ibn Taymiyyah cites, Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) of Cordoba, asserts that while there is sound evidence that the Earth is round, common people and some non-leading Muslim scholars may think otherwise. Still, he maintains, none of the leading scholars of Islam deny that the Earth is round.[52]

This can be taken as evidence that it was not uncommon for uneducated lay persons living in Muslim lands in the 11th century to still believe the Earth to be flat. It is likewise clear from the arguments marshalled by Ibn Hazm that, by his time, members of the scholarly class had, in addition to their round-Earth-friendly interpretations of scripture, solid astronomical reasoning on which to base their belief in the round Earth. The same can be said about the other followers of Imam Ahmad cited by Ibn Taymiyyah (see below).

Al-Qurtubi (d. 1273)

Al-Qurtubi (d. 671 AH / 1273 CE), another prominent exegete, in his commentary on Quran 13:3 regards that verse as a counter-argument to those who claim the Earth is shaped like a ball.[54]

Ibn Taymiyyah (d.1328)

In one oft-cited work[52], Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH / 1328 CE) references Abu’l-Husayn Ahmad ibn Ja‘far ibn al Munadi as saying that the scholars from the second level of the companions of Imam Ahmad (d. 241 AH / 855 CE) – i.e. the early Hanbalis – maintained there was consensus among the scholars that both heaven and Earth are balls, the latter consensus being based on astronomical reasoning. However, this evidence does not help determine earlier beliefs, since from the 8th century CE onwards, Muslims had access to Greek and Indian astronomical scholarship, which had already come to learn of the Earth's spherical form (see above). The term 'consensus' (ijma) has been used in different ways by different scholars, but essentially means the agreement of Muslim scholars, or, ideally, also of the salaf (the first generations of Muslims)[55]. In this case, it is used to claim the consensus of the scholars, not that of the salaf, and certainly not that of Muhammad and his companions.

In another instance[56], Ibn Taymiyyah, answering a question about the shape of the heavens and Earth, cites Abu’l-Husayn Ahmad ibn Ja‘far ibn al Munadi (a second time), Abu’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH / 1201 CE), and Ibn Hazm (d. 456 AH / 1064 CE) as saying that there is a consensus that the heavens are round. In this instance, Ibn Taymiyyah makes no mention of the shape of the Earth. He further mentions that these authorities have provided evidence for the shape of the heavens from the Qur'an, sunnah, and narrations from the companions (sahabah) and second generation.

Evidence cited by Ibn Taymiyyah

Ibn Taymiyyah proceeds to directly give this evidence for the round shapes of the heavens from the Qur'an, sunnah, and narrations from the early Muslims. Here, he argues that a round heavens and Earth is supported by what specialists on tafsir and language have said about certain words in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an verses cited by Ibn Taymiyyah in support of the round shape of the heavens are Quran 21:33, Quran 36:40, Quran 39:5, and Quran 67:5). These evidences are, however, indirect, and rely on what Ibn Taymiyyah and those he references argue is implied by their extrapolations on the grammatical nuances of the verses discussed. The solitary piece of direct evidence that Ibn Taymiyyah brings from the companions about the round shape of the heavens is a narration where Ibn 'Abbas and others comment on Quran 36:40, which describes the heavenly bodies swimming in a falak (rounded course):

فِي فَلْكَة كَفَلْكَةِ الْمِغْزَل

fee falka, ka-falkati almighzal

in a whirl (whorl), like the whirl of a spindle

A whirl or whorl was a small wheel or hemisphere that was constructed around a spindle for the purpose of clothes-making[57]. As the sun and moon appear to arc across the sky, even those who imagined the Earth was flat and the heavens a dome (or a sphere) would also imagine some path for the two celestial bodies to continue beneath the Earth upon setting so they could return the for the following day and night cycle. In his commentary on another, related verse (Quran 31:29), Ibn Kathir quotes Ibn Abbas again, saying exactly this. The sun runs in its falak (فَلَكهَا) in the sky / heaven (السَّمَاء) during the day, and when it sets it runs during the night (بِاللَّيْلِ - omitted from the translation) in the very same "falak" beneath the Earth until it rises from its rising place (من مشرقها - translated below as "in the east").[58]

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn ’Abbas said, “The sun is like flowing water, running in its course in the sky during the day. When it sets, it travels in its course beneath the earth until it rises in the east.” He said, “The same is true in the case of the moon.” Its chain of narration is Sahih.

Ibn Taymiyyah follows this with a hadith recorded in Sunan Abu Dawud which, unlike the above sahih hadith, is graded as "da'if" or weak (see: Sunan Abu Dawud 4726 (Dar-us-Salam Ref) and in which Muhammad forms a dome with his fingers above his head and proceeds to say that Allah's throne is above the heavens. Ibn Taymiyyah here interprets the narration to mean that the throne is dome shaped.

Finally, Ibn Taymiyyah cites the following hadith from al-Bukhari and, returning to his reliance on indirect grammatical nuance, argues that if the structure (the hadith refers to "Jannah" or Paradise in particular, rather than Heaven in general) described below has a "midmost" part, then it must be spherical, for only spherical structures have such a "midmost" point.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and His Apostle offers prayers perfectly and fasts (the month of) Ramadan then it is incumbent upon Allah to admit him into Paradise, whether he emigrates for Allah's cause or stays in the land where he was born." They (the companions of the Prophet) said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Should we not inform the people of that?" He said, "There are one-hundred degrees in Paradise which Allah has prepared for those who carry on Jihad in His Cause. The distance between every two degrees is like the distance between the sky and the Earth, so if you ask Allah for anything, ask Him for the Firdaus, for it is the last part of Paradise ["فَإِنَّهُ أَوْسَطُ الْجَنَّةِ", "أَوْسَطُ" is better translated as "midmost" or "medial"[59]] and the highest part of Paradise, and at its top there is the Throne of Beneficent, and from it gush forth the rivers of Paradise."

Given that Ibn Taymiyyah cited the above-mentioned scholars, the narrations he uses to argue for the spherical shape of the heavens (when asked about the shape of both the heavens and Earth), were most probably the best available. Stronger and clearer evidence might reasonably be expected if a consensus for the round shape of the Earth (in addition to that of the heavens) went back to Muhammad and the companions.

Ibn Kathir (d. 1373)

Ibn Kathir says the heavens are a dome or roof or like the floors of a building over the Earth which is its foundation in his tafsir for verses 2:29, 13:2, 21:32, 36:38, and 41:9-12. It is also clear like those before him he is directly aware of astronomers theories.

(on its fixed course for a term (appointed). ) (The first view) is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, beyond the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the roof of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is a dome supported by legs or pillars, carried by the angels, and it is above the universe, above the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at noon, it is in its closest position to Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at midnight, it is in its furthest position ...

Jalal ad-Din al-Maḥalli (d. 1460)

In Tafsir al-Jalalayn, started by Jalal ad-Din al-Maḥalli (d. 1460) and completed by Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 1505), a different majority view is asserted. This relevant portion of the Tafsir is authored by al-Mahalli):

As for His words sutihat ‘laid out flat’ this on a literal reading suggests that the earth is flat which is the opinion of most of the scholars of the revealed Law and not a sphere as astronomers (ahl al-hay’a) have it even if this latter does not contradict any of the pillars of the Law.

The word "sutihat" in Quran 88:20 means "laid out flat".

See also their commentary on 91.6, 71.19, 13.3, 15.19, 51.48, 79:30 etc.


Many further examples of scholars expressing a flat earth interpretation of the Quran are collated in another article. One can see that all early mufassirūn (Quranic scholars who wrote commentaries/tafsirs) (which can be viewed directly on that commented on the relevant verses took the view the Qur'an was describing a flat earth with the sun literally setting in a muddy spring.

Adding to these lists of mufassirūn we can almost certainly add the main compliers of the hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa'i and ibn Majah), who were themselves extremely important scholars in early Islam. As while they may not have had a 100% consistent view of the cosmos in every aspect, it is clear they adhere to the ancient flat-Earth (with seven flat earths) geocentric worldview, as they would unlikely have trusted or contained so many statements in their collections (such as mentioned above), had they known or believed them to conflict directly with reality or the Qur'an.

These interpretations contrast with claims of an Islamic scholarly consensus for a round earth. As Dr Omar Anchassi says 'It is clear that the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic vision of the cosmos remained contested by theologians of all stripes to the end of the fifth/eleventh century'[60] in his article 'Against Ptolemy? Cosmography in Early Kalām' (2022).

Modern perspectives and criticisms thereof

Qur'an 22:61 and 31:29 - night and day merging

ذلك بان الله يولج الليل في النهار ويولج النهار في الليل وان الله سميع بصير

Thalika bi-anna Allaha yooliju allayla fee alnnahari wayooliju alnnahara fee allayli waanna Allaha sameeAAun baseerun

That is because Allah merges night into day, and He merges day into night, and verily it is Allah Who hears and sees (all things).
الم تر ان الله يولج الليل في النهار ويولج النهار في الليل وسخر الشمس والقمر كل يجري الى اجل مسمى وان الله بما تعملون خبير

Alam tara anna Allaha yooliju allayla fee alnnahari wayooliju alnnahara fee allayli wasakhkhara alshshamsa waalqamara kullun yajree ila ajalin musamman waanna Allaha bima taAAmaloona khabeerun

Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to his Law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do?

Today, it is sometimes advanced that the word "Merging" here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon, it is then argued, can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.

However, every person who ever believed in a flat Earth, in so far as they had seen the sun setting and rising, understood that the transition from day to night and vice versa was a gradual and not sudden one. The key difference between a flat earth cosmology and modern cosmology in this regard is that a flat earth cosmology does not permit variant time zones across the surface of the planet, since day is day for everyone and night is night for all. Several other hadith confirm this ignorance of variant day times, most famously perhaps the hadiths describing the day of judgement as beginning one morning when the Sun "rises from the West". A sahih hadith in Ibn Majah attests that later on that same day, "at forenoon", the "Beast will emerge". This narrations vividly illustrates the scriptural notion of a common time-of-day taking place worldwide.

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“The first signs to appear will be at the rising of the sun from the west and the emergence of the Beast to the people, at forenoon.’” 'Abdullah said: "Whichever of them appears first, the other will come soon after." 'Abdullah said: "I do not think it will be anything other than the sun rising from the west."

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

39:5 - night and day wrapped over each other

خلق السماوات والارض بالحق يكور الليل على النهار ويكور النهار على الليل وسخر الشمس والقمر كل يجري لاجل مسمى الا هو العزيز الغفار

Khalaqa alssamawati waal-arda bialhaqqi yukawwiru allayla AAala alnnahari wayukawwiru alnnahara AAala allayli wasakhkhara alshshamsa waalqamara kullun yajree li-ajalin musamman ala huwa alAAazeezu alghaffaru

He created the heavens and earth in truth. He wraps the night over the day and wraps the day over the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. Unquestionably, He is the Exalted in Might, the Perpetual Forgiver.

In the very similar verse 39:5 the word يُكَوِّرُ yukawwiru (he overlaps / winds around[61]) is used. The verb كور was used for, among other things, wrapping a turban around a head. Today, it is also sometimes argued that this wrapping connotation of the word comports with a spherical conception of the Earth.

While the words used in 39:5 and 21:33 do not violate a spherical model of the Earth, they are also equally comfortable with a flat model of the Earth. Since all positive evidence in the Islamic scriptures demonstrates that the earliest Muslims though the Earth to be flat, and since these two verses do not contradict that worldview, the simplest explanation of these verses is to relate them to Quran 21:33 and Quran 36:40 which describe the motions of the night, day, sun and moon in a "falak", now popularly translated as "orbit", but meaning a circuitous path, celestial sphere or, more likely, a hemisphere (see Geocentrism and the Quran). Also relevant are Quran 7:54 where Allah "covers" the night with the day (or possibly vice versa) and Quran 36:37 where Allah strips the day from the night.

Verse 39:5 specifically describes Allah overlapping (or wrapping) the night and the day over each other, with no mention of the Earth, its shape or its rotation. Critics further argue that in any case, these two verses are largely irrelevant to the question of the Earth's shape, as it is possible for one to "wrap around" and "orbit" an object of any shape, whether it be flat or spherical.

It is further worth noting that contrary to a claim sometimes found on English-language Islamic websites, the verb yukawwiru (يُكوِّر) in this verse (overlap/wind around) is not in any way related to the modern Arabic word for "ball" (كرة).[62] Nor is yakawwiru (from the root kaf-waw-ra ) related to an entirely different root (ك ر ي kaf-ra-ya) from which certain words mean spherical or sphericalness.[63]

For further discussion, see Geocentrism and the Quran.

Qur'an 79:30 - daha ("spread out", said to mean "ostrich egg")

Verse 79:30 uses the word دَحَىٰهَآ (dahaha), commonly translated as ‘He spread it’ or ‘He stretched it’, to describe to describe a step in the creation of the Earth. Today, it is sometimes argued that word means something to the effect of "he made it to be like an ostrich egg", the implication being that because an ostrich egg is both spherical and slightly oval-shaped, it is comparable to the shape of the Earth. Such a translation and interpretation is, however, not backed by any dictionary of classical Arabic and features in no authoritative translation or tafsir of the Qur'an.

Arabic: والارض بعد ذلك دحاها

Transliteration: Waal-arda baAAda thalika dahaha

Literal: And the Earth after that He stretched/spread it.[64]

Word by word: Waal-arda وَٱلْأَرْضَ (wa - وَ - and; al - ٱلْ - the; ard - أَرْضَ - Earth, feminine in Arabic) baAAda بَعْدَ (after) thalika ذَٰلِكَ (that) dahaha دَحَىٰهَآ (dahaa - دَحَىٰ - [he] spread, verb; ha - هَآ - her or "it" in the English translation, referring to the Earth)

The هَا (-ha) suffix pronoun meaning literally "her" is also repeated in the surrounding verses as a literary device, all referring the different acts of creation Allah is imparting upon the Earth and "the heaven":

أَأَنْتُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمِ السَّمَاءُ ۚ بَنَاهَا 79:27 - Aantum ashaddu khalqan ami alssamao banaha - Are ye the harder to create, or is the heaven that He built?

79:28 رَفَعَ سَمْكَهَا فَسَوَّاهَا - RafaAAa samkaha fasawwaha - He raised the height thereof and ordered it;

79:29 وَأَغْطَشَ لَيْلَهَا وَأَخْرَجَ ضُحَاهَا - Waaghtasha laylaha waakhraja duhaha - And He made dark the night thereof, and He brought forth the morn thereof.

79:30 وَالْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ دَحَاهَا - Waalarda baAAda thalika dahaha - And after that He spread the earth,

79:31 أَخْرَجَ مِنْهَا مَاءَهَا وَمَرْعَاهَا - Akhraja minha maaha wamarAAaha - And produced therefrom the water thereof and the pasture thereof,

79:32 وَالْجِبَالَ أَرْسَاهَا - Waaljibala arsaha - And He made fast the hills,

Authoritative translations of the Qur'an do not read anything to the effect of an ostrich egg into the verse (see: Quran 79:30):

Yusuf Ali: And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse);
Pickthal: And after that He spread the earth,
Arberry: and the earth-after that He spread it out,
Shakir: And the earth, He expanded it after that.

Some less reliable translations, such as the one rendered by the controversial Rashad Khalifa and the notoriously edited and confessedly non-literal QXP translation (indeed, the QXP translation is better described as a tafsir rather than a translation of the Qur'an, comparable in style to Tafsir al-Jalalayn)[65] have interpolated the ostrich-egg theory into the verse:

Khalifa: He made the earth egg-shaped.
QXP: And after that He made the earth shoot out from the Cosmic Nebula and made it spread out egg-shaped. ('Dahaha' entails all the meanings rendered (21:30), (41:11)).

Daha as derived from duhiya and related to madaahi

The specific argument often advanced today is that that word daha may derive from the word duhiya, which is said to mean "ostrich egg".[66] The idea here is that, if these words derive from the same root, they both carry the same "signification" of oval-shaped roundness, and, since the Earth is not perfectly spherical but rather slightly oval, this common "signification" serves as evidence that Qur'anic cosmology is essentially modern. Further buttressing this claim, it is argued, are: another sense of the word daha (which means "he threw" or "he cast", referring particularly to the casting of a madaahi into its udhiyah)[67], the word madaahi (which refers to a small stone or similar object in the shape of a "small round cake of bread")[68], and udhiyah (which refers to a small hole, roughly the size of the madaahi, into which the madaahi is to be cast as part of a game)[68]. All these terms carrying a similar "signification" of roundness, it is thus concluded, make it so that the creation of the Earth described in 79:30 implies roundness.

Critics argue that such a reading is bereft of any linguistic basis or traditional and scriptural precedent.


Almost every word in Arabic is formed of a root consisting of three letters to which have a variety of vowels, prefixes, and suffixes have been added. For instance, "ka-ta-ba" (to write) is the root for words including kitab (book), maktaba (library), katib (author), and maktoob (written).

Duhiya is derived from "da-ha-wa" (دحو)[19], just like the verb dahaha (دَحَىٰهَآ) in 79:30 (the final -ha being a pronoun suffix meaning "it"). The word Duhiya, while sometimes used in contexts relating to ostrich eggs, is not attested to actually mean "ostrich egg" in any dictionary.

الأُدْحِيُّ و الإدْحِيُّ و الأُدْحِيَّة و الإدْحِيَّة و الأُدْحُوّة مَبِيض النعام في الرمل , وزنه أُفْعُول من ذلك , لأَن النعامة تَدْحُوه برِجْلها ثم تَبِيض فيه وليس للنعام عُشٌّ . و مَدْحَى النعام : موضع بيضها , و أُدْحِيُّها موضعها الذي تُفَرِّخ فيه.ِ
Translation: Al-udhy, Al-idhy, Al-udhiyya, Al-idhiyya, Al-udhuwwa: The place in sand where an ostrich lays its egg. This is because the ostrich spreads out (تَدْحُوه, tadhooh) the earth with its feet then lays its eggs there, an ostrich doesn't have a nest.
الدَّحْوُ البَسْطُ . دَحَا الأَرضَ يَدْحُوها دَحْواً بَسَطَها . وقال الفراء في قوله والأَرض بعد ذلك دَحاها قال : بَسَطَها ; قال شمر : وأَنشدتني أَعرابية : الحمدُ لله الذي أَطاقَا

بَنَى السماءَ فَوْقَنا طِباقَا

ثم دَحا الأَرضَ فما أَضاقا

قال شمر : وفسرته فقالت دَحَا الأَرضَ أَوْسَعَها ; وأَنشد ابن بري لزيد بن عمرو بن نُفَيْل : دَحَاها , فلما رآها اسْتَوَتْ

على الماء , أَرْسَى عليها الجِبالا

و دَحَيْتُ الشيءَ أَدْحاهُ دَحْياً بَسَطْته , لغة في دَحَوْتُه ; حكاها اللحياني . وفي حديث عليّ وصلاتهِ , اللهم دَاحِيَ المَدْحُوَّاتِ يعني باسِطَ الأَرَضِينَ ومُوَسِّعَها , ويروى ; دَاحِيَ المَدْحِيَّاتِ . و الدَّحْوُ البَسْطُ . يقال : دَحَا يَدْحُو و يَدْحَى أَي بَسَطَ ووسع

Translation: To daha the earth: to spread it out.

The entry in Lisan al-Arab contains Arabic poems whose usage of the word daha serves as proof for the definition provided by the dictionary

دَحَا: الله الأرضَ (يَدْحُوهَا وَيَدْحَاهَا دَحْواً) بَسَطَهة
Translation: Allah daha the Earth: He spread it out.
al-Qamoos al-Muheet دَحَا
دَحَا الشيءَ: بسطه ووسعه. يقال: دحا اللهُ الأَرض
Translation: To daha something: to spread it out. It is said: Allah daha the Earth.
al-Waseet دَحَا
Dahw (دحو)

1. Daha (., MM_b;,, 1,) first pers. Dahouth aor, yad'hoo inf. N. dahoo He spread; spread out, or forth; expanded; or extended; (S, Msb, K; ) a thing; (K; ) and, when said of God, the earth; (Fr, S, Mb, 1V; ) As also daha first pers. dahaithu (K in art. daha) aor. yaad’heae inf. n. dahae: (Msb, and K in art. dahae : ) or He (God) made the earth wide, or ample; as explained by an Arab woman of the desert to Sh: (TA : ) also, said of an ostrich, (S, TA,) he expanded, and made wide, (TA,) with his foot, or leg, the place where he was about to deposit his eggs: (S, TA : ) and, said of a man, he spread, &c., and made plain, even, or smooth. (TA in art. dhaha) . . .

Ud'hiyy (S.K) (Originally od'huwa of the measure Uf’ool from dhahaithu but said in the S to be of that measure from dhahouthu the dial. var. dhahaithu not being there mentioned,) and and id’hiyy and Ud’hiyyath and ud’huwwath (K) The place of the laying of eggs, (S, K,) and of the hatching thereof, (S,) , of the ostrich, (S. K. ) in the sand; (K; ) because that bird expands it, and makes it wide, with its foot, or leg; for the ostrich has no (nest such as is termed) Ush (S: ) pl. Adahin (TA in the present art.) and Adahee (i. e., if not a mistranscription, Adahiyyu agreeably with the sing.): (TA in art. dhaha and mudhhiyya (likewise) signifies the place of the eggs of the ostrich. (S.) . . .

The modern usage of words derived from the same root as daha, as found in Hans Wehr, is also strongly indicative of the word's original meaning.

(da-ha-wa) daha daha: u (dahw) to spread out, flatten, level, unroll

udhiya udhiya: ostrich nest in the ground

midha midhan: pl. midaah madahin roller, steam roller

Dahaha used for a flat earth in pre-Islamic poetry

As discussed in more detail above in the section Qur'an 79:30 - daha ("spread out wide"), a pre-Islamic (or at least very early) arabic poem attributed to Zayd b. 'Amr used daḥāhā "He spread it out" to very explicitly describe the spreading of a flat earth.

دحاها فلما رآها استوت ... عَلَى الماء أرسى عليها الجبالا

daḥāhā falammā raʾādā istawat ʿalā l-māʾi arsā ʿalayhā l-jibālā

He spread it out and when He saw that it was settled upon the waters, He fixed the mountains upon it
Poem attributed to Zayd b. 'Amr, as found for example in Ibn Al Jawzi's Al Muntazam,[22] and Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad (as translated from Ibn Ishaq by Guillaume[20] and transliterated by Bravmann[23])

Tradition and scripture

Tafsirs explain that this verse describes the Earth to be flat. A brief example of this is found in Tafsir al-Jalalayn. The word translated "He made it flat" is a verbal form of the word for carpet used in Quran 71:19 discussed above, meaning to spread out, expand, stretch forth.

(and after that He spread out the earth) He made it flat for it had been created before the heaven but without having been spread out;
Tafsir al-Jalalayn 79:30 (see here for the Arabic)

There is no mention of the Earth being shaped like an ostrich egg in scripture, however the word "ostrich egg" does appear in a hadith in Ibn Majah, and nothing approximating the words dahaha or duhiya is used. Instead, an ostrich egg is referred to as بَيْضِ النَّعَامِ (bayd al-ni'aam), the first word (bayd) meaning "egg" and the second word (al-ni'aam) meaning "the ostrich"; the positioning and grammatical qualities of these two words render the phrase possessive, bringing about the meaning "egg of the ostrich" or, more colloquially, "an ostrich egg".

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُوسَى الْقَطَّانُ الْوَاسِطِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ مَوْهَبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ بْنُ مُعَاوِيَةَ الْفَزَارِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْعَزِيزِ، حَدَّثَنَا حُسَيْنٌ الْمُعَلِّمُ، عَنْ أَبِي الْمُهَزِّمِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ فِي بَيْضِ النَّعَامِ يُصِيبُهُ الْمُحْرِمُ ‏ "‏ ثَمَنُهُ ‏"‏ ‏

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, concerning an ostrich egg (بَيْضِ النَّعَامِ) taken by a Muhrim: “Its cost (must be paid as a penalty).”

Oblate vs prolate spheroids (earth vs egg shape)

An oblate spheroid (top left), a prolate spheroid (bottom left), and an ostrich egg, which is a prolate spheroid, no matter its orientation. Spheres, oblate spheroids, and prolate spheroids are all fundamentally different shapes defined by different mathematical equations.

In addition to the disagreement of definitions available in dictionaries, translations, and tafsirs with the definitions required to justify this modern reinterpretation, neither of the connections attempted ("ostrich egg" and madaahi) accurately denote or imply the shape of the Earth.

An ostrich egg is a prolate spheroid (a sphere-like shape with pointed poles) like most eggs. This is fundamentally different to the shape of the Earth, which is a very slightly oblate spheroid (a sphere-like shape with flattened poles). The Earth is 0.3% wider at its equator than it is tall between its poles.[69] This is not merely a matter of perspective or orientation. An oblate spheroid cannot be made prolate simply by rotating it.

The shape of the madaahi, whether in the form of a stone or some other object, is said to be like a "small round cake of bread" or a "قرصة".[68] Such cakes of bread are defined as being "very small", "of a round, flattened form", like the apparent "disk of the sun"[70], and, on the whole, far more similar in shape to discs or extremely-oblate spheroids than they are to the only very slightly oblate Earth.

Plate tectonics

One modern Islamic interpretation for verses which mention the spreading of the earth is that Allah is referring to plate tectonics (formerly known as the theory of continental drift). Critics note numerous flaws with this interpretation.

Tectonic history is largely characterised by a cycle of repeated supercontinent formation and breakup, and not a one-off "spreading of the earth" event, as it is sometimes misrepresented on Islamic websites.

Descriptions of the earth as a bed (20:53 and the other mahdan verses) or carpet (71:19), or the use of verbs for the spreading of such an item (51:48) or stretching it out (13:3 and other verses which use madad), spreading to make it wide (79:30) and flat (88:20), do not remotely sound anything like the process of plate tectonics.

Moreover, the tectonic plate interpretation is reliant on the "spread" verbs in such verses, divorcing them artificially from the nouns which describe the earth as something which was laid out (like a bed or carpet). Yet these are obviously all part of a connected imagery.

It is further notable that verses such as Quran 88:17-20 assume that the 7th century listeners are aware of what is being referred to ("Do they not look..."), which can hardly be plate tectonics. Indeed, the earth appears essentially spread out and flat to a scientifically unaware observer. The Judeo-Christian tradition with which the Quran frequently assumes its listeners are familiar uses similar language (see Isaiah 42:5 and Psalms 136:6).

Perhaps most importantly, the spreading out of a flat earth makes sense as a beneficial act of creation for mankind. But it is far less obvious how the process of plate tectonics compares as the same kind of direct benefit as the creation of tracts, rivers and fruits of the Earth mentioned in the same verses. Finally, all these things are consistently described as creation events using verbs in the past tense in Arabic (not always clear in translations), yet all are ongoing processes to this day.

The Earth is flat, but only from a human perspective

Translation of audio: According to the people of knowledge the Earth is round. Indeed, Ibn Hazm and other scholars have declared that there is consensus on this matter among the people of knowledge This means that all of the surface of the Earth is connected together so that the form of the planet is like a sphere.

Nevertheless, Allah has spread out the Earth's surface in relation to us, and He has placed upon it firm mountains, the seas, and life as a mercy for us. For this reason, Allah said: "And (do they not look) at the Earth, how it was spread out flat (sutihat)." [Sûrah al-Ghâshiyah:20]

Therefore, the Earth has been made flat for us in regards to our relationship to it to facilitate our lives upon it and our comfort. The fact that it is round does not prevent that its surface has been made flat for us. This is because something that is round and very large, then its surface will become very vast or broad, having a flat appearance to those who are upon it."

The above fatwa, understanding the statements of scripture to simply describe reality as it is perceived by the unaided human eye, represents another common trend among Islamic scholars today. The example of Ibn Baz's fatwa is especially pertinent since he once maintained that the Earth was flat[71] and, in a fatwa still hosted on his website, asserts that there is no convincing evidence that the sun is larger than the Earth[72]. Despite the anti-modern nature of views he once held and even, in some cases, apparently held until his passing in 1999, Ibn Baz eventually revised his literal reading of the verses describing the creation and nature of the Earth. Such changes in readings of scripture are characteristic of a large subset of Islamic scholars.

This modern reinterpretation of Qur'anic cosmology significantly aligns with modern science and historiography insofar as it understands the intent of the Qur'an to be based on the worldview of the 7th-century Arabian city where it is said to have been produced - that is, as far as Muhammad and his companions were concerned and could tell, the world was indeed flat, and this is the same perspective assumed by the Qur'an. The Qur'an and its first audience did not know the Earth was spherical and did not say as much. This reading of the Qur'an also benefits from not relying on faulty linguistic, historic, and geometric ideas in order to force fit a round earth reading into the verses. This view is the most common amongst educated Muslims today and is likely to predominate going forward.

On the other hand, critics, in line with academic scholars such as those quoted earlier in this article, argue that the context of most of the relevant verses is expressly the creation of the heavens and the earth and that these are therefore statements about the earth as a whole, even if the main purpose of the verses are to remind the audience how Allah has thereby made the earth traversible and hospitable to humans.

If the Quranic author was describing the earth only as perceived from a 'human' or 'local' perspective, critics note that he could easily have stated so explicitly, or with further context: for example, 'see how the Earth appears spread out like a carpet/bed for you to live on safely', or 'the ground in front of you is spread out'. And/or ignore flat references, focusing on other aspects of nature's beauty and benefits to make the same point, without denoting a cosmological view that has been directly and repeatedly used by devout Islamic scholars throughout history to argue against a round earth.[73]

See Also

  • Cosmology - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Cosmology


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External Links


  1. Views of the Earth - World Treasures of the Library of Congress, July 29, 2010
  2. Toomer, G. J., "Ptolemy and his Greek predecessors", In Walker, Christopher, Astronomy before the Telescope, New York: St. Martin's Press, p. 86, ISBN 9780312154073, 1996 (archived from the original), 
  3. Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World - Marika Sardar, Metropolitan Museum of Art website, 2011
  4. "Kevin T. van Bladel is a philologist and historian studying texts and societies of the Near East of the period 200-1200 with special attention to the history of scholarship, the transition from Persian to Arab rule, and historical sociolinguistics. His research focuses on the interaction of different language communities and the translation of learned traditions between Arabic, Iranian languages, Aramaic, Greek, and Sanskrit.", "Kevin van Bladel", Yale University (archived), 
  5. ibid. pp.224-226. Here are some more excerpts:
    Entering into the debate was John Philoponus, a Christian philosopher of sixth-century Alexandria, who wrote his commentary on Genesis to prove, against earlier, Antiochene, theologians like Theodore of Mopsuestia, that the scriptural account of creation described a spherical geocentric world in accord with the Ptolemaic cosmology. [...]

    On the other hand, Cosmas Indicopleustes wrote his contentious Christian Topography in the 540s and 550s to prove that the spherical, geocentric world-picture of the erroneous, pagan Hellenes contradicted that of the Hebrew prophets. Cosmas was an Alexandrian with sympathies towards the Church of the East, who had travelled through the Red Sea to east Africa, Iran, and India, and who received instruction from the East Syrian churchman Mār Abā on the latter's visit to Egypt. His Christian topography has been shown to be aimed directly at John Philoponus and the Hellenic, spherical world-model he supported. [...] However, it is clear that Cosmas was going against the opinions of his educated though, as he saw it, misguided contemporaries in Alexandria.

    A number of Syrian churchmen, notably but not only the Easterners working in the tradition of Theodore of Mopsuestia, took the view of the sky as an edifice for granted. Narsai d. c. 503), the first head of the school of Nisibis, in his homilies on creation, described God's fashioning of the firmament of heaven in these terms: "Like a roof upon the top of the house he stretched out the firmament / that the house below, the domain of earth, might be complete". ayk taṭlîlâ l-baytâ da-l-tḥēt mtaḥ la-rqî῾â I d-nehwê mamlâ dûkkat ar῾â l-baytâ da-l῾el. Also "He finished building the heaven and earth as a spacious house" šaklel wa-bnâ šmayyâ w-ar῾â baytâ rwîḥâ. Jacob of Serugh (d. 521) wrote similarly on the shape of the world in his Hexaemeron homilies. A further witness to the discussion is a Syriac hymn, composed c. 543-554, describing a domed church in Edessa as a microcosm of the world, its dome being the counterpart of the sky. This is the earliest known text to make a church edifice to be a microcosm, and it shows that the debates over cosmology were meaningful to more than a small number of theologians.
  6. "Owen Gingerich is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1992-93 he chaired Harvard's History of Science Department.", "Owen Gingerich", Harvard University (archived), 
  7. Dallal, Ahmad. Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History (The Terry Lectures Series) . Yale University Press. 2012.
  8. Tabatabaʾi, Mohammad A.; Mirsadri, Saida, "The Qurʾānic Cosmology, as an Identity in Itself", Arabica 63 (3/4): 201-234, 2016,  p. 211; also available on
  9. Janos, Damien, "Qurʾānic cosmography in its historical perspective: some notes on the formation of a religious wordview", Religion 42 (2): 215-231, 2012  See pp. 217-218
  10. E.g. Quran 14:48
  11. فِرَٰشًا firashan - Lane's Lexicon page 2371
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 مد madda (مدد) - Lane's Lexicon page 2695
  13. مَهْدً mahdan - Lane's Lexicon page 2739
  14. مَهْدً mahdan - Lane's Lexicon page 2739
  15. فرش farasha - Lane's Lexicon page 2369
  16. مهد mahada - Lane's Lexicon page 2739
  17. بِسَاطًا bisaatan - Lane's Lexicon page 204
  18. مَهْدً mahdan - Lane's Lexicon page 2739
  19. 19.0 19.1 دحو dahawa - Lane's Lexicon page 857
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Guillaume, A., The Life of Muhammad, London: Oxford University Press, 1955, p. 102
  21. استوت istawat - Lane's Lexicon p. 1477
  22. 22.0 22.1
  23. 23.0 23.1 Bravmann, M. M. (1977) Studies in Semitic Philology, Leiden: Brill p.439
  24. سطح sataha - Lane's Lexicon page 1357
  25. Translation of "flat earth" in Arabic, ReversoContext (archived from the original), 
  26. طحو / طحى taha Lane's Lexicon page 1832
  27. Eustace M. Tillyard. The Elizabethan World Picture: A Study of the Idea of Order in the Age of Shakespeare, Donne and Milton. Vintage. ISBN 978-0394701622, 1959. 
  28. بَارِزَةً baarizatan - Lane's Lexicon page 187
  29. قَاعًا qaAAan - Lane's Lexicon page 2994
  30. صَفْصَفًا safsafan - Lane's Lexicon page 1694
  31. عِوَجًا AAiwajan - Lane's Lexicon page 2187
  32. أَمْتًا amtan - Lane's Lexicon page 95
  33. hamala حمل - Lane's Lexicon page 646
  34. دك dal-kaf-kaf - Lane's Lexicon page 898
  35. kharaqa خرق Lane's Lexicon page 737
  36. Tafsirs 55:17
  37. مَشْرِقُ mashriq - Lane's Lexicon page 1541
  38. مَغْرِبُ maghrib - Lane's Lexicon page 2241
  39. Tafsirs 70:40
  40. عَرْضٌ 'ard - Lane's Lexicon page 2006
  41. بِنَاء binaa - Lane's Lexicon page 261
  42. Hannam, James. The Globe: How the Earth Became Round REAKTION BOOKS. 2023. See Chapter 15: Islam: ‘The Earth laid out like a carpet’. Quote on (p. 197): became evident that a great many of Muhammad’s alleged utterances had been invented later on, to win an argument or prove a point. Their numbers proliferated, and blatant inconsistencies crept into the canon. Muslim scholars were alive to this issue and went to great efforts to authenticate the sayings by verifying the chain of oral transmission. Many were declared ‘weak’ and so treated with scepticism. By AD 900, specialist researchers had winnowed down the thousands of sayings into six overlapping canonical compilations that, according to Muslim consensus, enjoy a high level of reliability. The sayings are an invaluable record of the debates and thinking of Muslim scholars in the earliest years of Islam. In particular, they reflect the intellectual environment before the translations of Greek astronomy and philosophy had taken hold. In this respect, a weak hadith, while not reflecting the words of Muhammad himself, is still evidence of Muslim opinion in the years before 900.
  43. طوق tawwaqa Lane's Lexicon p. 1894
  44. Muhsin Khan is particularly guilty of this in his translation of Sahih Bukhari. Compare with min al maghribi in Quran 2:258 which does mean "from the west".
  45. For the Arabic, see or #159:
  47. Hannam, James. The Globe: How the Earth Became Round (pp. 194-195). REAKTION BOOKS. 2023.
  48. Tafsirs 68:1
  49. Islam & the whale that carries the Earth on its back, The Masked Arab, February 25, 2016, 
  50. "Muhammad’s Magical Mountain: One Whale of a Tale!", Answering Islam Blog, October 19, 2016 (archived from the original), 
  51. Sam Shamoun, "The Quran and the Shape of the Earth", Answering Islam (archived from the original), 
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, ed, (April 6, 2014), "Consensus that the Earth is round", Islam Question & Answer, April 6, 2014 (archived from the original), 
  53. - Tafsir al-Mawardi for verse 13:3
  54. - Tafsir al-Qurtubi for verse 13:3
  55. Hisham Muhammad Kabbani, "Questions on ijma' (consensus), taqlid (following qualified opinion), and ikhtilaf al-fuqaha' (differences of the jurists)", As-Sunna Foundation of America (archived from the original), 
  56. For the full chapter in Arabic see, and for someone's English translation for most of the relevant parts see Salafitalk forum
  57. الفَلَكُ falak - Lane's Lexicon Volume 1 page 2444. See also the previous page. Lane says that the falak was generally imagined as a celestial hemisphere by the Arabs, but also that the Arab astronomers applied the term to seven spheres for the sun, moon, and the five visible planets, rotating about the celestial pole. This must reflect the post-Qur'anic influence of Ptolemy, whose astronomical work was translated for the Arabs from the 8th century onwards.
  58. Tafsir Ibn Kathir 31:29
  59. Lane's Lexicon
  60. Against Ptolemy? Cosmography in Early Kalām (2022). Omar Anchassi. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 142(4), 851–881.
  61. كور kawara - Lane's Lexicon page 2637
  63. ك ر ي kaf-ra-ya - Lane's Lexicon Supplement, page 3000
  64. Islam Awakened - Quran 79:30
  65. Ahmed, Shabbir, "Introduction", The Qur'an As It Explains Itself, Lighthouse, p. 12, ISBN 978-0974787985, 2003, 
    QXP is a Tasreef-based understanding of the Qur’an that is easy enough even for teenagers. It is not a literal translation.

    Tasreef is the Qur’anic process where verses in one part of the Qur’an explain or provide deeper understanding of the verses in other parts of the Book. Concisely, it means looking at the Qur’an in its Big Picture. Thus the Qur’an lets us look at its terms and concepts from very diverse vantage points. This has helped me explain every verse from within the Qur’an itself.

    The reader should expect to find “The Qur’an As It Explains Itself” different from the prevalent translations and explanations because of the use of Tasreef and the Quraish dialect, and for rejecting extrinsic sources.
  66. "Quran and the Shape of the Earth", The Quranic Teachings (archived, )
  67. "دحا", Lane's Lexicon, p. 863,,ll=900,ls=h5,la=h1332,sg=h374,ha=h210,br=h324,pr=h55,aan=h184,mgf=h295,vi=h142,kz=h683,mr=h221,mn=h389,uqw=h506,umr=h356,ums=h288,umj=h236,ulq=h695,uqa=h130,uqq=h101,bdw=h297,amr=h219,asb=h279,auh=h557,dhq=h174,mht=h275,msb=h79,tla=h48,amj=h228,ens=h1,mis=h633  See the entry on the same page for مدحاة for the specific connotation and usage of the word in this sense
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 The word مداحي is listed under the entry for مدحاة "مدحاة", Lane's Lexicon, p. 863,,ll=900,ls=h5,la=h1338,sg=h375,ha=h210,br=h325,pr=h55,aan=h185,mgf=h296,vi=h142,kz=h686,mr=h221,mn=h391,uqw=h509,umr=h357,ums=h289,umj=h236,ulq=h696,uqa=h130,uqq=h102,bdw=h298,amr=h220,asb=h280,auh=h558,dhq=h175,mht=h276,msb=h79,tla=h48,amj=h229,ens=h1,mis=h633 
  69. Joseph Ciotti, Shape and Size of the Earth, University of Hawaii Center for Aerospace Education, 2010 (archived from the original), 
  70. "قرض", Lane's Lexicon, p. 2572,,ll=2609,ls=h8,la=h3587,sg=h848,ha=h610,br=h777,pr=h126,aan=h519,mgf=h722,vi=h296,kz=h2114,mr=h532,mn=h1107,uqw=h1300,umr=h875,ums=h734,umj=h652,ulq=h1407,uqa=h345,uqq=h305,bdw=h711,amr=h517,asb=h787,auh=h1286,dhq=h452,mht=h732,msb=h197,tla=h84,amj=h640,ens=h1,mis=h633 
  71. Robert Lacey, Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia, Penguin, pp. 89-90, 2009, 
    . . . soon afterward the sheikh gave an interview in which he mused on how we operate day to day on the basis that the ground beneath us is flat, even though science asserts, against our physical experience, that the world is spherical.

    “As I remember from when I could see,” he said, “it seemed to be flat.”
    It was an honest expression of paradox, particularly moving from a man who had been blind most of his life, and it led him to the belief that he was not afraid to voice and for which he became notorious—Bin Baz believed that the earth was flat.

    At least one senior member of the ulema reproved Bin Baz for his embarrassing assertion, which radicals had seized on to satirize the Wahhabi establishment as “members of the Flat Earth Society.” But the sheikh was unrepentant. If Muslims chose to believe the world was round, that was their business, he said, and he would not quarrel with them religiously. But he was inclined to trust what he felt beneath his feet rather than the statements of scientists he did not know: he would go on believing the earth to be flat until he was presented with convincing evidence to the contrary.
  72. Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, مدى صحة قول من قال: بأن الشمس أكبر من الأرض [How true is the saying: the sun is larger than the Earth?], Bin Baz official website (archived from the original), 
    وأما دعوى بعض الفلكيين أن الشمس أكبر من السماوات وأكبر من الأرض إلى غير هذا فهي دعوى مجردة لا نعلم صحتها ولا نعلم دليلاً عليها فهي آية عظيمة، أما القول بأنها أكبر من السماوات والأرض فهذا شيء يحتاج إلى دليل، هذه مجرد دعوى كما يقول العلماء، هذه مجرد دعاوى ليس عليها دليل واضح فيما نعلم.
    Translation: As for the claim of some astronomers that the sun is greater than the heavens and greater than the earth to other than this, it is an abstract claim that we do not know its validity and we do not know of evidence for, it is a great sign. Just claims that do not have clear evidence for as far as we know.
  73. Read on the debate within Islamic authorities between those following the traditional cosmological view of the Quran verses, against those incorporating Greek science and philosophy in the first five centuries of Islam (in which the debate was not settled in) in: Against Ptolemy? Cosmography in Early Kalām (2022). Omar Anchassi. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 142(4), 851–881