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This question is not related to these two verses only. These are just for reference.

Many searchers say Islams give the concept of flat earth which is contrary to what it is.

Sura An-Naziat (79:30)

And after that He spread the earth;

and

Sura Al-Kahf (18:86)

Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allâh) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness."

among many others. I have also come across Muslim brothers who believe the mountains act as pegs so that earth can not move. Is this a correct interpretation from Quran?

Can we interpret from the Holy Quran, the earth is flat or it is round or it simply shed no light on it.

  • You can't draw any conclusions from what you've stated above. – ashes999 Jun 20 '12 at 17:03
  • these are really just references. The question is open and is not entirely related to these verses. – muslim1 Jun 20 '12 at 17:03
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    You can interpret whatever you want of course, but I assume you want to know whether such an interpretation would be correct or not in the opinion of Islam. There is no consensus(ijma) that this is the correct interpretation. – user84 Jun 20 '12 at 17:05
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    Rather an important one, the fact that we face Kaba for prayer clearly means, earth was flat. – muslim1 Jun 20 '12 at 17:11
  • @Thecrocodilehunter See my answer below, I have answered all the points you have raised and also proved quran says earth is not flat. After which I saw the "facing kaba" in the comment. Please open another question for it. – islam101 Aug 11 '12 at 12:07
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Spreading something does not mean that it's flat. Spreading means making surface more expansive. However, Quran says وسع for which development is a better translation than spreading in my opinion. Development of something does not mean that it's flat. The word can also take a non-physical meaning. For example I'm a Software Developer and software is not a physical thing.

'The Sun's setting in a spring of black muddy' also does not mean that earth is flat. If you stand against a sea when the Sun is setting, you'll feel that the Sun is going down into the water. Quran says that he (not God) found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water.

I have no idea about mountains but that Earth is round can be found out from Quran because it talks about two wests and easts.

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Quran says the earth is a sphere!!

He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night: He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His law): Each one follows a course for a time appointed. Is not He the Exalted in Power - He Who forgives again and again? [Quran 39:5]

Most translators use the word "overlap" etc for translating كَوِّرُ (kawiru). But if you refer to the arabic root كَوِّرُ (kawiru) it means "ball" as a verb. (Paste the word in google translate and see for yourself! It will tell you "ball" as a verb or see refrence below). Literally "ball like mass or core" actually.

So this verse says Allah created the heavens and the earth and "bowls" the night on the day and "bowls" the day overnight. This practically describes the relation of the earth wrt to night and day.... a ball like motion !!

Many would argue that this is in reference to the night or day and not the earth. But the night or day are NOT physical entities to have a ball like motion but are a resultant of the earth having a ball like motion.

I have identified 3 verses in the question (forgive me if I have missed any other). I will try to answer in short here for each. But if you need a detailed explanation of these 3 or any other verse feel free to open it as an individual question for a more detailed answer.

Verses you mentioned in your question

None of the verses mentioned actually indicate the earth's shape being flat or sphere

1) "Earth Spread" [79:30]

If you take a sphere (globe) and cover it with a cloth, you would be spreading it with the cloth but it would still be a sphere. So this in no way indicates the earth to be flat. Just talks about "spreading".

Example:

Let’s assume we want to cover a table tennis ball with glitter for decoration. You would probably take a glue stick & SPREAD the glue on the ball. "Spreading" has nothing to do with the shape.

2) "he (Dhul-Qarnain) found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water" [18:86]

Just because Dhul-Qarnain saw it as setting in a spring does not indicate that it actually is setting in the water. Today WE ALL call it "sunset" but does the sun really set? It’s just the usage of the language.

Similarly, when we call Japan the "land of the rising sun" does the sun really fly up from Japan? The word "Japan" is the Romanization of the word "Nippon", which means "where the sun originates". This was Japan's name during the Sui Dynasty. If you translate that phrase to arabic it roughly comes to مشرق الشَّمْسِ (mashrik ash-shams) or "where the sun rises". The word مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ (magrab ash-shams) which is used in this verse could mean a place too and is translated as "where the sun sets".

Another example of current Arabic usage is the word مَغْرِبَ (magrab) can mean "a place of setting" but in context it can simply mean "Morocco" as in the country of "Morocco".

Allah knows better where Dhul-Qarnain was travelling. BUT this has nothing to do with the shape of the earth.

3) "Mountains as pegs" [78:6-7]

Here I would refer you to look at the phenomenon of mountains "folding". This phenomenon makes two masses of land lock into each other creating the mountain. The mountain is an overlap of the mass of land. So when there is any seismic activity (earthquake etc.) it prevents it from shaking.

This "folding" phenomenon is the reason why the height of certain mountains can be seen increase every year.

But to explain in simple terms...

Let’s assume you buy a bed and the bed is very shaky. If you nail one end of the bed to the wall, you will notice that it will stop to shake as much. So in this case, the end of the bed that you nailed to the wall actually prevents it from shaking.

This again has nothing to do with the shape of the earth.

Reference
Screenshot

Google translate

  • @Thecrocodilehunter His points 1) he is arguing you can spread "a thing" over another "things" of any shape, thus your argument does not invalidate a sphere as a candidate for the earth's shape. 2)If I spoke of 'the setting place of the sun' I would be speaking figuratively. I do not expect the quran to be always literal. 3) islam-guide.com/ch1-1-b.htm you can peg a ball as easily as a cube, or a disk or a....anything. – Pureferret Aug 12 '12 at 1:47
  • @Thecrocodilehunter I have modified my answer to address a few of your concerns – islam101 Aug 12 '12 at 1:54
  • @islam101 there is one problem with the translation above.Night overlaps the day and day overlaps the night. If you take this in true context, the day on north pole will be an extremely long day since night cannot possibly *overtake" the day. But in north pole it does or you have to observe fast for some two consecutive months. – muslim1 Jun 9 '13 at 15:55
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    "So when there is any seismic activity (earthquake etc.) it prevents it from shaking." This is incorrect, mountains do not prevent the Earth from shaking, there are more earthquakes in mountain regions on average than in other regions. – G. Bach Mar 13 '17 at 0:50
  • "the day balls the night" doesn't mean anything, "the day overlaps the night" means something. Something that was known to 6th century men, and something that can occur on a flat surface (for instance the water overlaps the sand on the flat seashore). – Darme Aug 18 '17 at 20:09
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We have to believe that the Quran has more meaning than we could even imagine. It is the scripture, the word of God (SWT).

With that said, we can not really be sure if the verses you have given, or any ayat on the topic, should be taken literally or metaphorically, or if they have some other meaning. In this case, there is really no source that tells us one way or the other, besides science, which says the Earth is in fact round.

The Quran is interpreted in many ways. Most of the concrete ideas of the religion are agreed upon throughout the world, others are not.

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In sura Ar-RAD there is verse:

Sahih International
It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see; then He established Himself above the Throne and made subject the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain.

I heard that this ayah is counter argument for old conception of the origin of the Arabs of the world.
They thought that the sky standing on columns (pillars) at end of world.
This is also considering as one of miracles of holy Quran.

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