Flat Earth and the Qur'an
This article takes a closer look at some of the Qur'anic verses that imply its author assumed the earth is flat.
The fact that the earth is not flat has been known for thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks Pythagoras (570 - 495 BC), Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) and Hipparchus (190 - 120 BC) all knew this. The Indian astronomer and mathematician, Aryabhata (476 - 550 AD) knew this. And so did the early Christian scholars Anicius Boëthius (480 - 524 AD), Bishop Isidore of Seville (560 - 636 AD), Bishop Rabanus Maurus (780 - 856 AD), the monk Bede (672 - 735 AD), Bishop Vergilius of Salzburg (700 - 784 AD) and Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274 AD). In fact, contrary to what we are often told, the sphericity of the earth was common knowledge among early medieval Europeans and the Holy Roman Empire from as early as 395 AD used an orb to represent the spherical Earth.
If the Qur'an is a letter-by-letter dictation from Allah, it should also concur with this fact that was known throughout the world before its revelation, and it should contradict the flat earth model widely believed in by the 7th century Bedouins of Arabia.
Waal-arda madadnahawaalqayna feeha rawasiya waanbatnafeeha min kulli shay-in mawzooninAnd 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.
مَدَدْ = madad = protract , reach , elongate , extend , draw out , lengthen, stretch out , spread out , sprawl , dilate , reach , range , unwind , outstretch , pervade.
Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-ardamahdan wasalaka lakum feeha subulan waanzala mina alssama-imaan faakhrajna bihi azwajan min nabatinshattaHe 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.
مَهْدًا = mahdan = (Noun) cradle or bed, (verb) flatten, smoothen, smooth, level, cement, grade, ram, plane, roll, flat, level off.
Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-ardamahdan wajaAAala lakum feeha subulan laAAallakum tahtadoona(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);
مَهْدًا = mahdan = (Noun) cradle.or bed, (verb) flatten , smoothen , smooth , level , cement , grade , ram , plane , roll , flat , level off
Waal-arda madadnahawaalqayna feeha rawasiya waanbatnafeeha min kulli zawjin baheejinAnd the earth- We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)-
مَدَدْ = madad = protract , reach , elongate , extend , draw out , lengthen, stretch out , spread out , sprawl , dilate , reach , range , unwind , outstretch , pervade , lengthen
Waal-arda farashnahafaniAAma almahidoonaAnd We have spread out the (spacious) earth: How excellently We do spread out!
فَرَشَْ = farasha = provide with furniture , flatten , outspread , pervade , circulate , cement , grade , unwind , stretch , expand , flat , range , reach , ram , spread out , lengthen , sprawl , unfold , level off , roll out , level
الْمَهِدُونَ from مَهِدُ = flatten , smoothen , smooth , level , cement , grade , ram , plane , roll , flat , level off
WaAllahu jaAAala lakumu al-ardabisatanAnd Allah has made the earth for you as a carpet (spread out),
بِسَاطًا = bisaatan = drugget , carpet , rug from the verb بسط = outspread , flatten , flat , even , ram , grade , level off , outstretch , pave , level , smoothen , roll , cement
Alam najAAali al-arda mihadanHave We not made the earth as a wide expanse,
مهاد = flat land , flat , plain , ramming
Many Islamist apologists attempt to deflect criticism that the Qur'an promotes the mistaken belief of a flat earth by the word dahaha used in Qur'an 79:30, commonly translated as ‘spread’ or ‘stretched’.
Transliteration: Waal-arda baAAda thalika dahahaLiteral: And the earth/Planet Earth after that He blew and stretched/spread it. 
Some translations have attempted to translate the word dahaha to mean made egg-shaped or like an ‘ostrich egg’.
Some will also claim that the root word for dahaha is duhiya which means ostrich egg.
The Qur’an mentions the actual shape of the earth in the following verse:
“And we have made the earth egg shaped”. [Al-Qur’an 79:30]
The Arabic word Dahaha means egg shaped. It also means an expanse. Dahaha is derived from Duhiya which specifically refers to the egg of an ostrich which is geospherical in shape, exactly like the shape of the earth.
Thus the Qur’an and modern established science are in perfect harmony.
Nevertheless, many Muslims still cling to the belief that dahaha means an ostrich egg, despite the scientific difficulty this presents in that the earth is an oblate spheroid while the ostrich egg is a prolate spheroid. Thus the earth and the ostrich egg are dissimilar in three dimensions.
A further apologetic is to point to a game played by Meccans in their attempt to link dahaha with roundness.
[Transliteration] Waal-arda baAAda thalika dahaha [79:30]
The key word in the above verse is “dahaha”. In Arabic, there is a phrase, “iza dahaha” which means “when he throws the stones over the ground to the hole”. The hole is called “Udhiyatun”. “Almadahi” signify round stones according to the size of which a hole is dug in the ground in which the stones are thrown in a game. “Almadahi” also signify a round thing made of lead by the throwing of which persons contend together. So there is a signification of ROUNDNESS in the root of the word “dahaha”. According to some etymologists, the word for the “egg of an ostrich” also has the same root as “dahaha”. They also take from this that the earth is of the shape of the egg of an ostrich. Latest science findings confirm that the earth is not exactly spherical but the earth is an ellipsoid, i.e. flattened by its poles,[ just like the shape of an egg of an ostrich].The Arabic words for “flat” or “level” or “straight shaped” are “sawi” and “almustavi”. There is not a single place in Quran where there is any indication of the earth being “flat” or “straight shaped”. The word “faraash” in 2:22, 51:48; the word “wasia” in 4:97, 29:56, 30:10; the word “mahd” in 20:53, 43:10, 78:6; the word “basaat” in 71:19; the word “suttihat” in 88:20; and the word “tahaaha” in 91:6, all may mean, “to spread”, “to expand” or “to extend” with slight differences in their connotations but none signify the earth being straight-shaped or flat.
The contention that almadahi and udhiyatun conveys the concept of roundness which they link to the root of dahaha is false for the reason that the 'roundness' of the almadahi and udhiyatun is only in two dimensions. The almadahi is round like a piece of Arab bread (i.e. shaped like a disc) and the udhiyatun is also round in two dimensions. Nevertheless, one of the meanings of dahaha is to 'throw' and that is the derivation of the words 'almadahi and udhiyatun'.
Daha and Duhiya
In Arabic, each word must be derived from its root. The root usually consists of three letters that can be manipulated, by adding vowels, prefixes and suffixes in order to produce different words with different meanings. For example, "ka-ta-ba" (to write) is the root for many words such as kitab (book), maktaba (library), katib (author), maktoob (written), kitabat (writings) et cetera.
Let's now take the word mentioned to mean egg of an ostrich, "Duhiya". This word is not a root. It is a noun and is derived from "da-ha-wa", the same root that the verb "dahaha" comes from. Furthermore, Duhiya does not even mean the egg of an ostrich. This is what the most respected dictionaries have to say on this subject:
Lisan Al Arab
Translation: Al-udhy, Al-idhy, Al-udhiyya, Al-idhiyya, Al-udhuwwa:The place in sand where an ostrich lays its egg. That's because the ostrich spreads out the earth with its feet then lays its eggs there, an ostrich doesn't have a nest.
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 الجِبالاو 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: means to spread it out. Then it mentions a couple of Arabic poems that confirm this meaning. Anyone who can read Arabic will find this to be the definitive proof that Daha means to spread out.
Al Qamoos Al Muheet
Translation: Allah daha the Earth: He spread it out.
Translation: To daha something: means to spread it out. For example: Allah daha the Earth.
Dhahool (an arabicized word from the Pers. Dhakhool) A thing which the hunter of gazelles sets up (for the purpose of scaring them into his toil or into the neighbourhood of his place of concealment), consisting of pieces of wood: (S : ) or a thing which the hunter sets up for (the purpose of scaring) the (wild) asses, (K, TA,) and As adds, and the gazelles, (TA,) consisting of pieces of wood like short scars (K,* TA) stuck in the ground, with some pieces of ragged cloth upon their heads; and sometimes set up at night, for (the purpose of searing) the gazelle, with the addition of a lighted lamp; (TA; ) (whence) Dhu-r-Rummeh says, Wa Yashrabna Ajnan Wannujoomu Ka’annaha Masabeeh dahhalin Yuzakkee Zubalaha
(And they drink water that is altered for the worse in taste and colour, while the stars are like the lamps of the hunter by means of the Dahool when he make. their wicks to blaze brightly): (TA : ) the pl. is dawaheel (K.)
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 ) - Also, said of a man, (K,,) aor. yad’hoo, inf. n. dahwu(TA,) i.q. Jamie as also daja; on the authority of 1Abr. (TA.) (You say, dhahaha He compressed her; like as you say, dhajaha.) _ Also He threw, or cast, and impelled, propelled, oi removed from its place, a stone, with his hand (TA.) One says also, to him who is playing with walnuts, abidil maddha va adhhuhu, meaning (Make thou the distance far, and) throw it. (S,TA.: See also midh’hath, in two places. And of a torrent one says, dhaha bilbat’hai It cast along (the soft earth and pebbles in its course; or drove then along). (TA.) And of rain, one says, dhaha Al hissa an waj’hil Ardhi (S,Msb) It drove the pebbles from the surface of the earth; (Msb; ) or removed them. (TA.) (See also dhaha, in the next art.) And aldhahwu bilhijarathi also signifies The vying, one with another, in throwing stones, and striving to surpass (in doing so); as also al Midahath (inf. n- of dahee). (TA marra yad’hoo inf.n. dahow said of a horse, He went along throwing out his fore legs without raising his hoofs much from the ground. (S,TA.) = dhahal bathan The belly was, or became, large, and hanging down; (Kr, K; ) and Indhahee (the belly) was, or became, wide, or distended: (MF : ) or both signify it (the belly) became swollen, or inflated, or big,. and hung down, by reason of fatness or disease; as also Dhau and Indah (TA in art dooh.) 3. Dhahee inf.n. Mudahath: see 1. 5. Thud'hee He spread out, or extended, himself; syn. Thabassuth. (K: in art. Daha.) You say, nama fulan fathadhahha Such a one slept, and (extended himself so that he) lay upon a vide space of ground (TA in that art.) - And thadhahhathil ibilu fil ardhi The camels made hollows in the ground where they lay down, it being soft; leaving therein cavities like those of bellies: thus they do only when they are fat. (El-'Itreefee, TA in art. Daha. ) 7. see 1, last sentence. 9. id'havi (of the measure if’alath for if’alle like Ar’awa) It (a thing, TA) was, or became, spread, spread out or forth, expanded, or extended. (K.)
Dhahin (act. part n. of 1). Allahumma dhahil Mad’huwwath in a prayer of ‘Alee, means O God, the Spreader and Expander of the (seven) earths: (TA : ) al Mdhuwwath (properly) signifies the things that are spread, &c.; as also Al Mudh’hiyyath. (TA in art. dhaha ) _ Al’Matharuddahee The rain that removes (or drives) the pebbles from the surface of the earth. (TA.)
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.) (Hence,) binthu Adh’hiyyathun A female ostrich. (TA.)_(Hence also,) Al Udkhiyyu and Al Id’hiyyu A certain Mansion of the Moon, (K, TA,) (namely, the Twenty-first Mansion,) between the Na’aai’m sa’dha zabih (more commonly) called Al Baldath likened to the Adhahhee of the ostrich. (TA.)
Ud’huwwath and udh’hiyyath: see the next preceding paragraph, in three places: - and for the latter, see also mid’hath, below.
Mad’han see ud’hiyy
Mid’hath A wooden thing with which a child is driven along (yud’ha), and which, passing over the ground, sweeps away everything against which it comes (K, TA.) - Accord. to Sh, A certain thing with which the people of Mekkeh play: he says, I heard El-Asadee describe it thus: Almadahiyy and Almasadiyy signify stones like the (small round cake of bread called) qursath, according to the size which a hole is dug, and widened a little: then they throw those stones (yad’hoona biha) to that hole and if the stone fall therein, the person wins; but if not, he is overcome: you say of him yad’hoo and yasdoo when he throws the stones (Iza dhahaha) over the ground to the hole: and the hole is called ud'hiyyath. (TA.) (Accord. to Freytag, the authority of the Deewan El-Hudhaleeyeen, A round thing made of lead, by the throwing of which persons contend together.)
Almadhuwwath and almad’hiyyath see Dahin,
1. Dhaha first pers. Dhahaithu,aor. yad’ha inf.n. dhah’ya: see 1 in art. Dhahoo.__ dhahaithul ibil (K,) inf. n. as above, (TA,) I drove the camel,; (K; ) as also dhahaithuha (TA.)
(4 mentioned by Freytag as on the authority of the K is a mistake for 5.)
5 (mentioned in this art. in the V and TA): see art. Dhahoo
7 (mentioned in this art. by MF): see art. Dhahoo.
Dhah’yath A single act of dhahy, i. e. spreading, (Msb.) = A she-ape, or she-monkey. (K.) dhihyath A mode, or manner, of dhahyu, i. e. spreading, &c. (Msb.) = A headman, or chief, (R, K, TA,) in an absolute sense, in the dial. of El-Yemen, (R, TA,) and particularly, of an army, or a military force. (K, TA.) AA says that it signifies "a lord," or "chief," in Pers.; but seems to be from dhahahu aor. yadh’hoohu, meaning "he spread it, and made it plain or even ;" because it is for the headman or chief to do this; the a. being changed into LS as it is in swibyath and fith’yath; and if so, it belongs to art. dahoo. (TA.) (Accord. to Golius, the pl. is dihau; but I think that it is more probably dhahan.) It is in a trad. that what is called Albaithul Ma’emoor (q.v. in art. Amr) is entered every day by seventy thousand companies of angels, every one of these having with it a dhih’yath and consisting seventy thousand angels. (TA.)
Ud’hiyyun and Id’hiyyun see art. dhaha.Ud’hiyyath: see ud’hiyyu, in art. dahoo, in two places.
Note above that Lane also translates dahaha to mean the place in the sand where the ostrich lays its eggs, and not the eggs themselves.
Wa-ila al-ardi kayfa sutihatAnd at the Earth, how it is spread out?
Notice the word سَطَّحَ . If you do a word search in an Arabic Qur'an text file you will find the word سطحت , feminine for سَطَّحَ
سَطَّحَ = outspread , unfold , unroll , roll , lengthen , level , range , pave , pervade , circulate , grade , reach , even , level off , spread out , prostrate , plane , outstretch, flat , flatten , even , smoothen.
Waal-ardi wama tahahaBy the Earth and its (wide) expanse
Allathee jaAAala lakumu al-arda firashan waalssamaa binaan waanzala mina alssama-i maan faakhraja bihi mina alththamarati rizqan lakum fala tajAAaloo lillahi andadan waantum taAAlamoonaWho 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". The heavens are as a multi-story building over the earth. There are seven layers or stories to this building called the heavens. The heavens are built on a "flat" foundation called "the earth". The tafsir of 'ibn Kathir confirms this:
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 husnanUntil, 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."
This verse on the setting of the sun in murky water supports that the earth is flat in the Qur'an.
Wayawma nusayyiru aljibala watara al-arda barizatan wahasharnahum falam nughadir minhum ahadanOne 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.
In this verse we are told that it's only the mountains which keep the earth from being completely flat.
This verse tells all Muslims to pray towards the Ka'aba (qiblah being the direction that one has to face in order to do this). This is only possible on a flat earth model. Due to the sphericity of the earth, a prayer in any direction will point towards the sky/outer-space, not Mecca.
For people who are praying a great distance from Mecca, their qiblah would be somewhere down towards the ground, and the people who are located on the opposite 'side' of the earth would have to pray vertically downward towards the center of the earth.
So, for example, Muslims in the Solomon Islands in fact blaspheme against Allah, because they defecate toward the direction of the Ka'aba when they answer the call of nature.
Even if we were to use the traditional Muslim method of determining qiblah (i.e. a great circle) this would still be blasphemous because you would be simultaneously praying with your face and backside aimed towards the Ka'aba.
There is also one point on the opposite 'side' of the earth where any direction for all 360 degrees would be facing 'towards' Mecca and consequently, there would be no one direction that would be the correct one.
In addition to all of the direct evidence we have provided, this is just one of the problems which indirectly indicate that the narrator/writer of the Qur'an believed in a flat earth model.
The closer we get to the poles, the longer our days or nights become. They can eventually extend for up to several months each, making this verse, the fourth Pillar of Islam, impossible to practice without starving yourself to death. Again, this problem would not exist on a flat earth model.
Qur'an 22:61, 31:29, & 39:5
Thalika bi-anna Allaha yooliju allayla fee alnnahari wayooliju alnnahara fee allayli waanna Allaha sameeAAun baseerunThat is because Allah merges night into day, and He merges day into night, and verily it is Allah Who hears and sees (all things).
Alam tara anna Allaha yooliju allayla fee alnnahari wayooliju alnnahara fee allayli wasakhkhara alshshamsa waalqamara kullun yajree ila ajalin musamman waanna Allaha bima taAAmaloona khabeerunSeest 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?
Khalaqa alssamawati waal-arda bialhaqqi yukawwiru allayla AAala alnnahari wayukawwiru alnnahara AAala allayli wasakhkhara alshshamsa waalqamara kullun yajree li-ajalin musamman ala huwa alAAazeezu alghaffaruHe 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?
Muslims sometimes claim "Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon 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."
This claim is false. The gradual shift from day to night and vice versa would still happen on a flat earth model. The only difference is that the flat earth model would be lit up at the same time, there would be no timezones just the same night and day for everyone.
You can do the experiment yourself. All you need is a dark room, table and flashlight. Simply let the flashlight rise slowly above the edge of the table, just like a sunrise, and you will see a gradual shift from darkness to light. So verses 31:29, 39:5 and 22:61, tell us nothing of the earth's shape. They are merely observations that anyone can make.
In addition, these verses erroneously refer to lightness and darkness as two different things. They are in fact the same thing. The Night does not "overlap" the Day because there is only light, and darkness is nothing but the absence of light.
Shaykh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, the former supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, believed the earth is flat, and so does Muslim Researcher on Astronomy Fadhel Al-Sa'd, who declared in a televised debate aired on Iraqi Al-Fayhaa TV (October 31, 2007) that the Earth is flat as evidenced by Qur'anic verses and that the sun is much smaller than the Earth and revolves around it.
As devout Muslims, they have good reason to conclude the Earth is flat; the Qur'anic verses 15:19, 20:53, 43:10, 50:7, 51:48, 71:19, 78:6, 79:30, 88:20 and 91:6 all clearly state this and not a single verse in the Qur'an hint to a spherical earth.
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- Is the Earth Egg-Shaped? - Answering Islam
- The Earth is Flat - Islam Monitor
- A Tribute to a Muslim Genius (Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz) - Islam Watch
- Views of the Earth - World Treasures of the Library of Congress, July 29, 2010
- "Myth of the Flat Earth", Wikipedia, accessed June 12, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth&oldid=556807448.
- Globus cruciger - Wikipedia, accessed September 9, 2009
- Islam Awakened - Quran 79:30
- Answering Christianity on dahaha
- Q & A - Zakir Naik - dahaha
- QuranTeachings.co.uk - 79:30
- Lane's Lexicon - daha (PDF)
- Tafsir 'ibn Kathir
- Muslim Edicts Take on New Force - New York Times, February 12, 1995.
- Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ben Baz (1395 AH [1974 AD]), "Evidence that the Earth is Standing Still", Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia. First edition, p. 23.
- Iraqi Researcher Defies Scientific Axioms: The Earth Is Flat and Much Larger than the Sun (Which Is Also Flat) - MEMRI TV, Video No. 1684