Muhammad is perhaps the most misrepresented person in history. He is perhaps the most loved and most hated person engulfing the world today.Many followers of Islam worship him as the most perfect personality in history. To them, anything written in name of Muhammad becomes example. And then, they attempt to justify the same. On other hand, ex-Muslims and rationalists blame Muhammad for being a violent lascivious person whose teachings and manipulations have caused bloody warfare throughout history and cause terrorism today.

You will find plethora of references from Hadiths and Quran and also from biographies of Muhammad that portray him as a characterless power-hungry psychopath. There is a tremendous literature on this aspect of Muhammad. A lot of material is available on internet as well.

Spurred by the strong opinions – both positive and negative – that are available on Muhammad, I set out to explore his life and evaluate what would have made him so hated and so loved. I shall detail summary findings in this post. But the conclusion was very clear – Muhammad was a legendary revolutionary far ahead of his times and perhaps one of the most inspiring persons of history. Had I lived in his era, I would have been his fan without an iota of doubt. But only a few could understand the man and his vision properly.

Thus his character has been maligned both by his admirers and detractors. His admirers view him as final answer to everything ignoring the fact that he was a human, and as every human he was subject to social and cultural conditioning as per his era. As every human, he had his own set of imperfections. Any attempt to justify an imperfection of any human only maligns and dilutes the positive aspects and noble deeds of legends.  On other hand, his detractors find him an easy scapegoat for all the nonsense that happens in name of Islam – gender discrimination, slavery, terrorism, bomb blasts, hijacking and superstitions. They refuse to dig deeply and explore the possibilities of Muhammad being victim of situations and false slander.

One day, I would love to write a detailed biography of this great legend. But for now, I would provide sufficient points to explore the third possibility – a visionary revolutionary noble intentioned legend being misinterpreted and misrepresented.

a. Just think for a while. Why would he call his religion Islam (that means peace) and its followers Muslims (those who humbly submit) if he were to propagate violence and violent means? He could have chosen some other name as well. But why there has been a specific emphasis on Peace and Humility? To me that is the primary theme of Muhammad’s message and everything else should be interpreted in this light alone.

b. The Arab of his times was deeply drenched in immorality and superstitions. If you carefully study his life, you would find that he risked even his life to bring the corrupt Arabic culture of his times towards enhanced sensibilities. He was born in an era where people even used to marry each others’ daughters. Incest was also prevalent and so was slavery. He knew that these practices could not be stopped instantaneously. Not having opportunity to learn from any teacher and complete even a basic education, he began a self-motivated journey of analysis of the practices of his times and trying to discover what should be the right way. He did it to best of his capabilities and knowledge. And considering his education and society, he could think of a long way. He then tried to stop or dilute many of these practices through a variety of tactics – by explaining to them, by showing them fear, by giving them incentives and at times even fighting them.

c. Despite all greatness, Muhammad was still a human and subject to social conditioning as per his times. Often people question why he married a kid and his daughter-in-law. But they forget that in those times, even incest was common. Compared to that, Muhammad came a long way. He showed a great example of monogamy in his first marriage, which was a rare exception in his times. After death of her first wife, he did marry many others including Aisha when she was 6 years old, and Zainab who was wife of his adopted son. He also kept concubines. But instead of criticizing him for these, we should understand that these were fairly accepted practices of his times. We should admire the fact that he did stress on monogamy, even though he himself could not follow it. He also stressed on not marrying in very close relations. So he was in fact a visionary for his society.

d. Similarly, while he could not think of a world where slavery does not exist, he did make freeing of slaves count as a noble deed. He also thought of giving his concubines at least half the status of his wives and their children equal status. In a world of Arabs, where women had no status of dignity or had even basic rights, he could acknowledge that two women equal intelligence of one man.

e. When he had married several times, he realized that polygamy has its peril. So he restricted Muslims from more than 4 marriages. Since keeping concubines was fairly common, he allowed that but on condition that children of concubine at least get same status in family as that of children from wives. Had he lived a few years more, he may have had eradicated slavery and concubines completely.

f. Meat was primary diet of his era. Yet he called for compassion on animals. We may complain that he did not ban meat-eating altogether. But we forget that it would have been too ridiculous for his times considering that meat was staple diet of his times. We should admire the foresight shown by Muhammad that has made many Muslims the most ardent proponents of Vegetarianism. Visit islamveg.org. They are aptly carrying ahead the true mission of Muhammad.

g. People blame him for calling himself as final prophet and asking them to believing in him alone. What else could he have done when everybody was trying to fool people in name of religion and nonsense was happening in name of previously known religious books? He simply wanted people to not be distracted by this. The scientific literature of the East was not available in Arab. All they had were books of superstitions. To put an end to these, he asserted that they were no more necessary and they should follow his message alone.

h. When he found people so intoxicated by stupidity and superstitions, he thought of a great plan. He had been suffering from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) from childhood. So he said that he had visions of true teachings of God and hence everyone should stop believing in false practices. He claimed that the TLE bouts were actually times when he had supernatural experiences and visions of true knowledge. Scientists have now discovered that TLE patients tend to be more religious, in any case.

Thus he used even his debility to help people and society. What can be a better example of foresight and self-abnegation!

i. Since many people, primarily Pagans were turning lazy due to belief that they would do good things in next life. So to make them more action oriented he said to them that this life is the only life and they should make best of it. In return, all good things that they aspire for would be gifted to them by God. And if they refuse to do good things, they will burn in Hell. He found no other ploy that could work against such dumb-headed and perverted people.

Image via Wikipediaj. Muhammad had no access to philosophy of the East. He knew that the earlier books known to his society were full of glaring loopholes. Yet he also sensed that even his teachings could also not be fully perfect. So he referred that the true knowledge of God is much vast in scope and is the source of true knowledge. Is it not great foresight that he could admit Vedas as original complete source book of all knowledge, even though he had no access to it? He mentions several times that he believes that East has a spiritual fragrance. He has mentioned also that the old eternal knowledge of God is perfect. Maybe if he had lived a bit longer or had got access to Vedas, things would have been much simpler for him and he could have become a Vedic preacher.

k. But Muhammad had another dilemma as well. If he did not state that his teachings are full and final, he knew that even some of his rogue followers would keep coming up with new teachings to fool people. So he stated that Quran is the last word and there would be no further changes.

And alas! This noble act of Muhammad became cause of all the distortions and misrepresentations that people have about Muhammad and his true Islam, true Quran, true religion.

l. His followers deceived him. They knew that Quran has not yet been compiled. So they imprisoned Muhammad and started spreading false stories and false verses in his name. They knew that Muhammad had bouts of TLE Epilepsy. So they would spread any false thing and then then tell Muhammad that he said so in his epilepsy bout. Since he would not remember clearly and hallucinate in these bouts, his trustworthy followers found an easy way to add whatever they wanted in name of divine message given to Muhammad in his vision.

m. Once Muhammad caught this. He is said to have uttered something in one of the bouts that was against his ideology. He immediately retracted it by saying that he was captured by Satan and hence they were Satanic verses.

Image via Wikipedia

n. Thus Muhammad’s teachings were caught between manipulations by several individuals and groups who were looking for their own selfish goals, and some good intentioned followers. Hence Quran and Hadiths become a mixture of original teachings of Muhammad interspersed with unverifiable manipulations. Thus one can easily find innumerable contradictions and glaring inconsistencies in Quran.

o. Once Muhammad rose to power, his followers used him as the face of Islam but overwhelmed him. At times they would put him in embarrassing positions in his bouts and then threaten or fool him to justify that as a divine revelation. Some such events include cohabitation with his daughter-in-law, semen marks on his clothes which Aisha scratched with her fingernails and illegitimate sex with her slave in bed of his wife Hafsa, among other events. One is not sure if these events actually happened in first place, or Muhammad was dragged into them by misusing his epileptic fits. But they do not seem to fit into the noble thoughts and character of Muhammad.

p. As evidence of his foresight, Muhammad could sense the doom that is coming. He had started to doubt his trustworthy people and felt helpless. He thus stated that of the 72 sects of Islam, only one is on path of truth. But by then it was too late. He was gradually poisoned to dumb his mind and finally he died.

q. The process of compilation of Quran happened after his death and there was a bitter fight among his followers. The fight was desperate because the winner would decide what the final Quran that goes to world as only authentic Quran, would look like and would have access to growing Muhammadism. And indeed that happen. The Quran we see today was compiled not by Muhammad but by his followers who were fighting each other like bloody hounds.

Image via Wikipediar. He was deceived by Aisha, his child-bride, who was too smart for her age. Muhammad had adopted this child from his friend and had a paternal affection to her. Whether he was actually her husband or godfather is unclear. That Aisha was his wife seems not to match the great character and ideology of Muhammad. That should be explored further.

But by the time she reached youth, Muhammad was on death-bed. She was smart enough to manipulate Muhammad from very beginning, perhaps on instructions of someone else. She would always claim that Muhammad had a bout of epilepsy/ revelation whenever Muhammad was with her. And Muhammad because of short-term memory loss would be helpless to admit to them.

Soon it became a trend that Ayats would be revealed to Muhammad only when he was with Aisha. Thus in Quran we have today, apart from the Ayats that were supposed to have been revealed in Ramadan, almost all the rest have been stated to be revealed when Muhammad was alone with Aisha. Thus we have only Aisha to trust reliability of these verses or Ayats.

s. What more, she also had power to manipulate most Hadiths. Today bulk of Hadiths relate to evidence of Aisha or her henchmen.

So smart was she that she even allowed breast-feeding to adults as a ploy to have motherly close relations with them. Claiming it to be a hadith, she and her sisters used it to come close to men in privacy!

Image via Wikipedia

t. Not everyone could manipulate the Quran. But that was easier in case of Hadiths. And today, Islam is predominantly as per what is written in these Hadiths. Because the practices of Islam today are governed by Hadiths primarily. Quran is more generic in nature and hence does not spell out much detail.

In case of Hadiths, it was almost free for all. Everyone compiled their own stories as parts of Hadiths. Thus you would find blatant vulgarity, contradictions and even stupid jokes in these Hadiths. Scholars keep fighting on which is a weak Hadith and which is strong. Further, each sect of Islam follows its own Hadiths.

u. Once Muhammad died, bitter fighting began. Aisha, supposed to be dearest to Muhammad fought against even his most loyal followers. The history of Islam has been that of bloodshed since then. The various sects have continued to fight and no follower of islam (peace) as given by Muhammad was spared from it. All immediate followers of Muhammad were engaged in bloody warfare after his death. Many of the Caliphs were murdered and deceiving each other was rampant.

v. Muhammad was indeed prophetic to have seen all this. That is why he said that of the 72 groups, only one is in path of truth. He ensured that his true message of peace finds place in the adulterated Quran and Hadiths. Any reader of Quran can find original message of Muhammad mixed with later day adulterations.

He even inserted in Quran (3.144) his concern that he may be killed. It seems he had realized that he was being slow-poisoned and his epilepsy is being used to make him a prisoner.

w. Final Quran was ready around 10-20 years after his death. Knowing that he has been cheated by his own people, Muhamamad did force insertion of “bismillah rahamanurrahimi” as a prerequisite to reciting any verse of Quran. It emphasizes that
“One and only one who has Compassion and Bliss is to be followed”. He deliberately inserted this Basmala out of context to prevent the sinking ship for drowning. Note that initially this Basmala was rejected because Raham and Rahim that form basis of this phrase or not Arabic words. But even though this does not come in any verse, Muhammad forced insertion of this Basmala as first words to utter when reciting Quran.

x. Muhammad did the best he could do, but the ship eventually sunk. How could it have been saved when someone like Aisha who is claimed to be divinely provided to Muhammad by angels, and whom Muhammad nurtured from very childhood deceived him. He is supposed to have been killed by two of his dearest wives – Aisha and Hafsa by order of their fathers Abu Bakr and Omar. Please refer to research by
Shaykh Yasser Al-Habib.

After Muhammad was dead, and they had manipulated Quran and Hadiths to significant extents, they then started fighting and killing other followers of Muhammad. They also started proclaiming that if one questions anything in Quran, he or she would go to Hell. Free speech, which was the core characteristic of Muhammad was completely banned.

y. Since then, the warring factions of Muslims would try to justify anything and everything in name of Islam, analyzing not even for a while that lack of questioning and violence go against basic essence of Islam as put by Muhammad.

And when progressive Muslims try to rise above clutches of a questionable Quran and try to abide by core essence of Muhammad, they are threatened through fatwas and Hadiths which justify killing of one who deserts Islam.

(There are hadiths and verses which even state that Muhammad used to spit on mouth of others because his saliva had healing properties, or that Muhammad would not always wash hands after bowels, or how one should rub hands in dust and on mouth if one ejaculates but find no water, or how one is allowed to keep concubines, or how one should kill non-believers in month of Ramadan, and many other ridiculous concepts which any person with scientific temper cannot believe in. But still, when open minded Muslims try to rise above it rejecting it all as unreasonable, they have to face threat of fanatics. Interestingly, one Hadith states that one who deserts the faith deserves to be killed, and even if one has to raid in night, or cheat or kill children and women of non-believers, that is justified. Another even justifies rape of widows of those who have been just killed in battle! All this falsehood in name of Muhammad!)

scientific error in quran

Introduction Among the more bizarre arguments used by Islamic apologists is the claim that the Qur'an contains scientific information that could not have been known 1400 years ago. Needless to say, the slightest bit of critical review invariably shows such claims to be entirely specious. There does not exist in the Qur'an any correct information that was not already known to ancient civilizations that long preceded the birth of Muhammad.

But that is not the subject of this essay. This article is designed more narrowly to uncover and explain the actual state of scientific knowledge that is represented in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Specifically, we will explore Islamic Cosmology, in particular the Qur'ans understanding of the nature and structure of the physical universe.

To no surprise, “Islamic Cosmology” was not advanced beyond that of any of its ancient neighbors, and in fact is far less sophisticated and accurate in its understanding than the Greeks or Romans that had preceded them by centuries. While other civilizations had (for example) long before realized that the earth was a globe, the Qur'an betrays no understanding that the earth is anything but flat. But, I get ahead of myself.

Now, it is recognized up front that (as in almost every other ancient text), some of what is reflected in the Qur'an was meant to be taken literally, while some is allegorical or symbolic. But such recognition does not give the reader license to simply reject some descriptions which are obviously in error without good reason. In fact, the cosmology suggested by the Qur'an and the Sunnah is remarkably consistent, regardless of the specific purpose of the particular story being read.

This is because at no point was the purpose of the Qur'an or the Sunnah to describe the structure of the universe. In almost every instance, such descriptions exist only as side affects of the other religious or ethical lessons that were the real objectives of the texts we consider. If a detail of cosmology is contained in an allegory, yet itself has no allegorical purpose, then it must be accepted as the actual understanding of the author. So, while we have only a handful of direct statements concerning cosmology, a lot can still be determined from the occasional intriguing detail accidentally dropped by the authors as part of other discussions.

The wealth of such “hints” provide a compelling resource, and provide a clear picture of what Muhammad thought the universe looked like.

[edit] The Heavens and the Earth Any accounting of the cosmology of the Qur'an must begin with the fact that the Islamic universe is extremely small and simple. It consists entirely of two (and only two) components; the heavens and the earth.

There is no recognition of any of the other features of the universe that modern peoples take for granted. There is no concept of solar systems, of galaxies, or of “space.” There is no hint that the earth is a planet like the other planets visible from it, or that stars are other suns, just very far away. Qur'anic cosmology is primarily limited to that which is visible to the naked eye, and where the authors attempt describe what is not actually visible, they are invariably wrong.

The fundamental status of the “heavens and the earth” as the two key components of creation is emphasized repeatedly in the Qur'an, and it is the “separation” of the two that stands as the initial creative act of Allah.

Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
Qur'an 21:30 The exclusivity of these two venues is also repeatedly stressed. There is (for example) no third place within which things might exist or conversations might take place. Whenever the authors of the Qur'an want to make a point concerning Allah’s omniscience, for example, the phrase “in heaven or on earth” is invariably used as shorthand for the entire universe.

O our Lord! truly Thou dost know what we conceal and what we reveal: for nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether on earth or in heaven.
Qur'an 14:38 Say: "My Lord knoweth (every) word (spoken) in the heavens and on earth: He is the One that heareth and knoweth (all things).
Qur'an 21:4 Knowest thou not that Allah knows all that is in heaven and on earth? Indeed it is all in a Record, and that is easy for Allah.
Qur'an 22:70 To Allah belong all things in heaven and earth: verily Allah is He (that is) free of all wants, worthy of all praise.
Qur'an 31:26 The “heavens and the earth” are also described as a sort of “container” within which the entire Universe (that man experiences) operates. There is only heaven, earth, and the things between them.

Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!
Qur'an 21:16 Not surprisingly, the nature of this space “between the heavens and the earth” is described according to the straightforward (if false) perception of a human standing on the ground. Looking in all directions, the Earth appears to be basically flat, and the circular horizon gives the impression of standing at the center of a flat disc. Looking up, the sky (heaven) appears as a solid blue dome reaching its greatest height directly overhead, and anchored at or beyond the horizon. This is essentially (as we will discuss in detail) what we find in the Qur'an.

Additionally, the Qur'an is clear that when Allah created the heavens and the earth, the earth came first.

Say (O Muhammad, unto the idolaters): Disbelieve ye verily in Him Who created the earth in two Days, and ascribe ye unto Him rivals? He (and none else) is the Lord of the Worlds. He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask; Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient.
Qur'an 41:9-11 And

He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.
Qur'an 2:29 So there we have the basic framework. The earth is a flat disc, and the heavens are a solid dome (actually seven solid domes) overhead. For a look at more of the details, let us first consider the heavens.

[edit] The Heavens and their Denizens As seen from the earth, the dome of the innermost heaven extends overhead, although in actuality they are more correctly described as seven concentric domes with the disk of the earth at their base.

It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.
Qur'an 2:29 So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command.
Qur'an 41:12 These seven heavens are solid objects; this can be shown in several ways. For starters, they stand as barriers that both protect (as does a roof) and contain.

The protective nature of this roof is shown in verses such as:

And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)!
Qur'an 21:32 And the fact that they are solid is shown by references to pieces of the heavens falling and potentially injuring residents of the earth.

See they not what is before them and behind them, of the sky and the earth? If We wished, We could cause the earth to swallow them up, or cause a piece of the sky to fall upon them. Verily in this is a Sign for every devotee that turns to Allah (in repentance).
Qur'an 34:9 In fact, they are so substantial that it is even conceivable to climb up onto them using a ladder.

If their spurning is hard on thy mind, yet if thou wert able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the skies and bring them a sign,- (what good?).
Qur'an 6:35 And finally, the heavens are apparently heavy enough to require physical supports of some sort. Contrary to some Muslim claims, the Qur'an acknowledges that such supports are required, but also explains that they are invisible.

Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.
Qur'an 13:2 The authors here take it as obvious that the heavens require support of some kind. But their emphasis is on their invisibility, not their actual absence.

To further expound on the nature of the seven heavens, we need additional help from the hadith. Here we learn the distances between each heaven, as well as what is on the other side of the furthermost.

Narrated Al-Abbas ibn AbdulMuttalib: I was sitting in al-Batha with a company among whom the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, when a cloud passed above them. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) looked at it and said: What do you call this? They said: Sahab.

He said: And muzn? They said: And muzn. He said: And anan? They said: And anan. AbuDawud said: I am not quite confident about the word anan. He asked: Do you know the distance between Heaven and Earth? They replied: We do not know. He then said: The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years. The heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going on till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea, the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there are eight mountain goats the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, is above that.
Abu Dawud 2:475 Ignoring the giant mountain goats which are never mentioned in the Qur'an itself, the outermost heaven lies beneath a sea that is as deep as the distances between adjacent heavens. That Allah’s “throne” is above such waters is mentioned in the Qur'an as well as the hadith.

He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was over the waters - that He might try you, which of you is best in conduct. But if thou wert to say to them, "Ye shall indeed be raised up after death", the Unbelievers would be sure to say, "This is nothing but obvious sorcery!"
Qur'an 11:7 There are however no mentions of galaxies, quasars, galaxy clusters or empty space. Simply water, a throne, and Allah himself.

Additional details concerning the individual heavens are found in the accounts of Muhammad’s “night journey.” Rather than quoting at length, readers are referred to Sahih Bukhari 9:93:68 for the long version. But here are the key points.

Each of the seven heavens is populated by multiple angels and a few other folks as well. These heavens are entered through doors in the solid domes, each with an angelic guard and each populated by a resident prophet. For example, immediately above the dome of the first heaven is where Muhammad met Adam, and discovered (in the absence of true geographic knowledge) the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The second heaven is the home of the Prophet Idris. Aaron is in the fourth heaven, Abraham the sixth, and Moses the seventh.

[edit] The Celestial Objects Inside the nearest heaven (i.e. less than 73 years away) are the stars and (apparently) also the sun and moon. We can be certain that the stars are inside this closest heaven, as the Qur'an is quite explicit on this point.

We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars.
Qur'an 37:6 So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge.
Qur'an 41:12 The idea that the stars might actually be objects on the scale of the sun, but much farther away was clearly missed by the authors of the Qur'an.

[edit] The Sun and the Moon The sun and moon are a bit more ambiguous, as all we know is that they are in the “midst” of the heavens, and not explicitly inside the lowest of them.

And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp?
Qur'an 71:16 These two lights (along with the stars and planets) follow prescribed paths along the curved walls of the solid heavenly domes.

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.
Qur'an 21:33 It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).
Qur'an 36:40 And at the end of their daily paths across the sky, the sun (and presumably also the moon and stars) pass through the earth’s flat disk near the far Western edge using openings filled with water.

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."
Qur'an 18:86 Once out of view of the humans that populate the top of the earthly disc, their motion stops, and they rest for the night in particular resting places.

And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise.
Qur'an 36:38 At some point during the night, however (and here again we call to the hadith for details) the sun must negotiate its return the next day with a direct appeal for Allah’s permission.

Narrated Abu Dhar: The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better." He said, "It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west.
Sahih Bukhari 4:54:421 And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah:

And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed). that is The Decree of (Allah) The Exalted in Might, The All-Knowing.
Qur'an 36:3 With permission to rise received, the sun passes back through the earthly disk near its Eastern edge to commence the next day. While no “muddy pools” are specifically mentioned for the sunrise, the description of people living nearby the exit point mirrors the description of the place where the sun set.

Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.
Qur'an 18:90 [edit] Eclipses of the Sun or Moon The Qur'an demonstrates no understanding whatsoever of eclipses. Perhaps this is understandable. The hadith claim that Muhammad only experienced one solar eclipse during his lifetime, an experience which frightened him into a spectacular act of piety. But the Qur'an only makes (as far as I have been able to find) a single reference to eclipses, and that is a lunar eclipse that will take place at the end of the world.

In fact, the Qur'an actually makes a statement that would conceivably make eclipses impossible.

It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).
Qur'an 36:40 For a solar eclipse to occur however, the sun and the moon actually must (from the perspective of the earth) "catch up" to each other in their "orbits." But since the moon itself is not visible at that time, the authors of the Quran never noticed this.

But then, when discussing the end of time the Qur'an assumes that a lunar eclipse (which can only occur when the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth) can occur at the same time the sun and moon finally do “catch up” to each other.

He asketh: “When will be this Day of Resurrection?”
But when sight is confounded
And the moon is eclipsed
And sun and moon are united,
Qur'an 75:6-9 The “uniting” of the sun and the moon not only demonstrate a singular instance when they do “catch up” with each other, but also indicate that the authors of the Qur'an believed they were comparable in size. This is of course only an illusion of comparative distance.

[edit] Night and Day The fact that the authors of the Qur'an did not realize that the sun and moon actually cause eclipses (as opposed to simply experiencing them) is similar to their failure to realize that the sun actually causes day and night. In the Qur'an, night is not simply the absence of day. Night and day are each specific, tangible creations of Allah, and they engage in a form of balanced conflict independent of the celestial bodies.

Thou causest the night to gain on the day, and thou causest the day to gain on the night; Thou bringest the Living out of the dead, and Thou bringest the dead out of the Living; and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest, without measure.
Qur'an 3:27 Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.
Qur'an 3:190 He draweth the night as a veil o'er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider!
Qur'an 13:3 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).
Qur'an 22:61 Day and night are clearly entities independent from the sun, moon or any other celestial objects. Even when considered in the same verse, night and day are independent of the sun, with no recognition that the sun causes either of them.

Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession: He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. Is it not His to create and to govern? Blessed be Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!
Qur'an 7:54 And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the day hath he (also) made subject to you.
Qur'an 14:33 It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.
Qur'an 21:33 ’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?
Qur'an 31:29 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?
Qur'an 39:5 So, if the sun does not cause day and night, what is its purpose other than merely being the brighter of the two major celestial lamps?

Well, it turns out that the purpose of these objects is primarily time and calendar keeping.

He it is that cleaveth the day-break (from the dark): He makes the night for rest and tranquillity, and the sun and moon for the reckoning (of time): Such is the judgment and ordering of (Him), the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient.
Qur'an 6:96 It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for her; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). Nowise did Allah create this but in truth and righteousness. (Thus) doth He explain His Signs in detail, for those who understand.
Qur'an 10:5 [edit] The Stars, Planets and Meteors It is not obvious from the translations of the Qur'an that the authors of the Qur'an actually distinguished between stars and planets, as the same word is often translated to mean either. But as ancient peoples generally knew that planets were different from ordinary stars (they moved) it is a safe assumption that the earliest Muslims were equally aware.

But the mistaken (if understandable) belief that stars are very small nearby objects is not merely reflected in the placement of them inside the nearest dome. As with most other ancient people, the authors of the Qur'an believed that meteors literally were “falling stars.” Yet with the unmistakable flavor of Arab martial creativity, they do not fall without purpose. They are weapons against devils and jinn.

And we have, (from of old), adorned the lowest heaven with Lamps, and We have made such (Lamps) (as) missiles to drive away the Evil Ones, and have prepared for them the Penalty of the Blazing Fire.
Qur'an 67:5 This appears to be part of the protective role of the heavens.

And (the Jinn who had listened to the Quran said): We had sought the heaven but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors.
Qur'an 72:8 [edit] The Earth and its Denizens The authors of the Qur'an felt a lesser need to describe the nature of the earth than the heavens, since much of the earth’s nature was obvious to the people that lived upon it. There was simply much less to explain. But the descriptions that do exist provide us with unassailable conclusions.

First and foremost, the earth is flat. Repeatedly, the authors of the Qur'an use same word to describe the “spreading out” of the earth that Arabs used to discuss the spreading out of a “carpet,” a usage that translators often make use of.

And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.
Qur'an 15:19 "He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky." With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.
Qur'an 20:53 (Yea, the same that) has made for you the earth (like a carpet) spread out, and has made for you roads (and channels) therein, in order that ye may find guidance (on the way);
Qur'an 43:10 And the earth- We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)-
Qur'an 50:7 And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: How excellently We do spread out!
Qur'an 51:48 In fact, at one point the Qur'an even emphasizes how much flatter the earth would be were it not for the mountains that disrupt the view.

One Day We shall remove the mountains, and thou wilt see the earth as a level stretch, and We shall gather them, all together, nor shall We leave out any one of them.
Qur'an 18:47 And in the same way one would stake down a tent or a carpet to keep it from shifting or blowing away, the mountains are described as serving this same purpose.

And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves;
Qur'an 16:15 And the mountains as pegs?
Qur'an 78:7 Perhaps the one unclear facet of Islamic cosmology is the fact that the Qur'an mentions without explanation that there are (like the heavens), seven earths:

Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number. Through the midst of them (all) descends His Command: that ye may know that Allah has power over all things, and that Allah comprehends, all things in (His) Knowledge.
Qur'an 65:12 The seven concentric domes of the heavens are fairly straightforward. The seven different earths are a bit more difficult to picture. One hint is given by the Qur'ans mention that in the same way “things” can “come down from” or “mount up to” the heavens, there are also things that can “come forth out of” or “enter within” the earth.

He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and is moreover firmly established on the Throne (of Authority). He knows what enters within the earth and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do.
Qur'an 57:4 This leads to the conclusion that the seven earths are stacked one atop the other, similar to a stack of coins. This conclusion would certainly help us solve the one great remaining cosmological puzzle.

[edit] Where are Paradise and Hell? Islamic cosmology takes a perfectly prosaic position in terms of Paradise and Hell, and places them firmly within the cosmos that consists of the heavens and the earth. The description of Muhammad’s “night journey” shows each of the seven heavens already populated with the departed prophets in Paradise. This is consistent with the Qur'ans description of the size of Paradise.

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,-
Qur'an 3:133 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.
Qur'an 57:21 If the heavens (to include the seventh and largest) are already populated with denizens of Paradise, the width of Paradise would be precisely that of heaven and earth.

And since Paradise is on the other side of the first heaven, it follows that Hell is below the surface of the first earth, filling the spaces beneath and between the seven earths. This is consistent with the descriptions of hell as being a completely enclosed place.

For them there is Hell, as a couch (below) and folds and folds of covering above: such is Our requital of those who do wrong.
Qur'an 7:41 Among them is (many) a man who says: "Grant me exemption and draw me not into trial." Have they not fallen into trial already? and indeed Hell surrounds the Unbelievers (on all sides).
Qur'an 9:49 Further, the direction of hell, when it is mentioned, is invariably “down.”

That Day shall they be thrust down to the Fire of Hell, irresistibly.
Qur'an 52:13 Elsewhere, it is described as an underground dungeon.

It may be that your Lord will have mercy on you, but if ye repeat (the crime) We shall repeat (the punishment), and We have appointed hell a dungeon for the disbelievers.
Qur'an 17:8 And in yet another reference, an observer is directed to “look down” in order to witness a denizen of hell.

(A voice) said: "Would ye like to look down?" He looked down and saw him in the midst of the Fire.
Qur'an 37:54 - Qur'an 37:55 And so, we have the Islamic Universe in completion.

Conclusion The Qur'an is not a book of science. As such, it makes no extended effort to describe the cosmos in the way a textbook might. Yet dealing as it does with universal questions of creation, purpose and fate it cannot avoid revealing its cosmological framework as it describes the workings of Allah.

In so doing, while it never comes out and says “this is the form of the universe,” a consistent and comprehensive cosmology still reveals itself. And to no surprise, this proves to be the mythical cosmos of 7th century Arabia rather than an accurate description of the real universe.

In the Qur'an, the entire universe is very small and contains simply the earth and its surrounding heavens. There are no galaxies, other solar systems, or such a thing as “outer space.”

The earth is the top-most of seven, flat discs, surrounded by the seven solid concentric domes of the heavens. The celestial objects that do exist (sun, moon, stars and planets) are quite small, very close, and they follow semi-circular paths within the innermost of the seven heavenly domes. When they are not in the sky above the earth, they are resting somewhere underneath it, except while petitioning Allah’s permission to return the following day (or night). Paradise exists between the seven heavens, and hell exists between the seven earths.

All of this is submerged in a cosmic sea, above which is the throne of Allah.

And Allah knows best.