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Was the earth created before the sky? (Part 3)

the earth

2. When it comes to how the earth and the sky were created, there are different views and beliefs. However, the question is: Can what has been stated by the Qur’an be considered as opposed to the rampant theories in the present world? Obviously not, the Qur’an has not propounded or raised any subject that might have turned out to be wrong. [1]

Moreover, we must know that the Qur’an is a book of guidance and it does not seek to provide details about everything in the universe. In fact, it makes reference only to generalities leaving further research and study in every area of sciences to human beings themselves. What is mentioned about the creation of heavens and the earth in the Qur’an does not mean that there existed no planets or galaxies before the creation of the earth; it does not mean also that God created the earth completely first and then He created the skies.

It is likely that your question may concern with the point that you may have deduced the posteriority of the creation of the heaven from the word “thumma”‌ (then) in the verse whereas such an understanding is not correct because the word “thumma”‌ does not always indicate posteriority of something in relation to something already mentioned. Sometimes, the case is the opposite.

Read this verse carefully:

"ألم تر إلي ربک کيف مدّ الظلّ و لو شاء لجعله ساکنا ثم جعلنا الشمس عليه دليلا"

“Have you not considered (the work of) your Lord, how He extends the shade? And if He had pleased He would certainly have made it stationary; then We have made the sun an indication of it.”‌[2]

If “thumma”‌ was to necessarily indicate posteriority, then we should believe according to this verse that the shade should have been there first of all and then the sun should have come into existence whereas there is no doubt that shade does not exist unless the sun is there.

Therefore, the word “thumma”‌ in the said verse of the Holy Qur’an never signifies temporal posteriority and we cannot conclude either that the earth is older than the skies so that it might be inconsistent with today’s science.

Secondly, there is another verse in the Qur’an which explicitly states that the creation and expansion of the earth in its present form and shape had taken place after the creation of the sky.[3] Of course, some consider that verse to be in contradiction with verses which apparently denote that the earth was created before the skies. However, the apparent contradiction is resolved, if you study carefully those verses and contemplate over them.[4]

In view of the two foregoing explanations, we cannot say for sure that the Qur’an considers the skies to be younger than the earth.  Nevertheless, even if we assume that the word “thumma”‌ implies temporal posteriority, is there any objection to say that God first created the earth’s initial nucleus before the stars and galaxies but the final formation of the earth took place after the creation of the skies? Does such a process contradict with the accepted theory which says that matter and energy never got destroyed and terminated; but they changed into one another?

3. As for the last part of your question, we must say: Although astronomers have discovered many galaxies and constellations with billions of light year distance, they have not been able to reach the end of the world and to become aware of the layers of the sky or what is known as firmaments.

As well, the astronomers have been able to travel to the moon which is just a little more than one light second distance from the earth.  Millions of light years distances have been discovered and billions more remain undiscovered? Therefore, the scientists are not basically qualified to comment on such issues and they also do not claim that they are qualified to comment on such matters.

However, the exegetes and interpreters of the Holy Qur’an have given various views in this regard. For instance, it has been said:

“If we define number seven as a number meaning “multiplicity”‌, then it means that there are numerous worlds, planets, constellations and galaxies above you. And if we define number seven in its literal sense (the number seven), then it means that there are six worlds other than the world which we are in. They are a collection of stationeries, planets and galaxies which human beings do not access to and that science has not yet reached. [5]


[1] - About the heavens and the earth and how they have been created, refer to following answers: 3256 (site: 3634), 1755 (site: 1742), 13936 (site: 13743), 1051 (site: 1120), 711 (site: 751).

[2] - Furqan, 45.

[3] - Al-Naze’aat, 27 – 30.

[4] - For further information in this regard, regard question 3634.

[5] - Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Namunah, vol.14, pg. 216, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah, Tehran, 1374 (1995).

Source: islamquest.net

Other links:

The Creation of What Lies Between the Heavens and the Earth

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