He created the heavens and the Earth with truth. He wraps the night around the day and wraps the day around the night, and has made the Sun and Moon subservient, each one running for a specified term. Is He not indeed the Almighty, the Endlessly Forgiving? ( Surat az-Zumar, 5)
In the above verse the movement of the Earth is described by the word “yukawwiru,” which comes from root verb “takwir,” meaning “to cover up a spherical body,” in the way that the rotation of the Earth gives rise to night and day, like the winding of a turban. In addition to the spherical shape of the Earth the word is also the most accurate expression of its movement around the Sun. Because of the Earth’s spherical shape and its movement around the Sun, the Sun always illuminates one side of the Earth while the other is in darkness. The side in shadow is shrouded by the darkness of night, to be replaced by the brightness of day when the Sun rises. The positions of the Sun and Earth are revealed as follows in Surah Ya Sin:
And the Sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. And We have decreed set phases for the Moon, until it ends up looking like an old palm spathe. It is not for the Sun to overtake the Moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere. (Surah Ya Sin, 38-40)
The movements of the Sun and Moon in verse 40 of Surah Ya Sin are described by the Arabic word "yasbahoona," meaning “flowing, passing or swimming.” This word refers to an action performed by someone on their own. Someone acting according to this verb continues to perform it alone, with no intervention from anyone else. The above verses may therefore be referring to the Sun’s independent movement in the universe, independent of any other celestial body. (Allah knows the truth.) It is impossible for us to see or follow the movement of the Sun with our own eyes. It is only possible to determine that movement using special technological equipment. As stated in verse 39 of Surah Ya Sin, in addition to rotating around its own axis once every 26 days, the Sun also moves through its own course.
The verse also reports that the Sun is not allowed to “overtake the Moon,” and the Qur’an thus states that the Sun and Moon do not revolve around the same body, as astronomers put it. At the same time, the verse makes it clear that there is no connection between the motion responsible for night and day and the movement of the Sun and Moon. (Allah knows the truth.)
Until the 16th century it was thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. This view is known as the “geo-centric model,” from the Greek words geo (Earth) and centron (center). This belief was questioned by the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543 in his book De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (Of the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres), in which he suggested that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun. But as a result of observations using a telescope performed by Galileo Galilei in 1610, it was scientifically established that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Since it had hitherto been thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth, most scholars of the time rejected Copernicus’ theory. The famous astronomer Johannes Kepler's views setting out the movements of the planets confirmed the helio-centric model in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this model, whose name comes from the words Helios (Sun) and centron (center), the Sun is the center of the universe, rather than the Earth. Other heavenly bodies also revolve around the Sun. Yet this was all revealed 1400 years ago in the Qur’an.
By saying that the Earth was the center of the universe, the ancient Greek astronomer Ptolemy was responsible for the geo-centric idea of the universe that prevailed for hundreds of years. For that reason, at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, nobody knew that the Earth-centered model that accounted for the formation of day and night in terms of the movement of the Sun was incorrect. On the contrary, all the stars and planets were regarded as revolving around the Earth. Despite these prevalent errors of the time, the Qur’an contains many expressions that agree with the scientific facts regarding day and night:
By the Sun and its morning brightness, and the moon when it follows it, and the day when it displays it, and the night when it conceals it (Surat ash-Shams, 1-4)
As set out in the above verse, day, the brightness of the Sun, is the result of the movement of the Earth. It is not the movement of the Sun that is responsible for night and day. In other words, the Sun is immobile in terms of night and day. The information in the Qur’an refutes the thesis that the Earth is fixed while the Sun revolves around it. The Qur’an is clearly descended from the presence of our Lord, He Who is unfettered by space and time. As science and technology advance more and more examples of the compatibility between the Qur’an and science are coming to light. This is set out in another verse from the Qur’an:
There is instruction in their stories for people of intelligence. This is not a narration which has been invented but confirmation of all that came before, a clarification of everything, and a guidance and a mercy for people who believe. (Surah Yusuf, 111)
The above manuscript dating from the 1750s shows the geo-centric
(Earth-centered) model of the universe. It took many years for
this to be abandoned and replaced by the helio-centric model.
The model above is the helio-centric (solar-centered) one that has
been proved today, while the model on top is the geo-centric (Earth-centered)
model that was thought to be true for many hundreds of years.