Today we can look at a globe and know that the earth is somewhat like a ball,
a sphere. The Holy Quran makes certain statements that led Muslim scientists to
understand long before their European counterparts that the earth is spherical.
When Europe was in the dark ages thinking that the earth was flat, Muslim
students were using globes for studying the earth in Islamic universities.
Since it was not the purpose of Quran to teach science, the Holy Quran did not
need to state explicitly that the earth is spherical in shape. But some of what
Quran says stimulates you to think of the world as a globe. Take, for example,
the following verse: "Have you not seen how God merges the night into the day
and merges the day into the night?" (Quran 31/29).
Another verse tells us that God coils the day and night around: "He coils the
night upon the day and He coils the day upon the night" (Quran 39/5).
The word 'coils' in the verse above is a translation of the Arabic verb Kawwara
which is used in describing the action of coiling a turban around the head. To
understand this statement fully, readers of Quran had to think of the earth as a
To fully appreciate the above two statements in the Holy Quran, try this
experiment at home: You need a flashlight and a globe. Take these items into a
dark room. Using the flashlight to simulate the light of the sun, shine the
light upon the globe. Notice that only one half of the globe is lighted up. The
other half is in darkness. Half the world is having day, the other half is
having night. Now, recall that the earth is continuously rotating on its axis
and will go around completely in twenty four hours. Slowly turn the globe around
to simulate this rotation. Notice that as the globe turns, the day is going
around the globe to light up the other half of the world. The night is also
going around the globe to give rest to the other half of the world.
The day and night are perpetually coiling around the earth with some degree of
interpenetration. This is exactly how it appears to astronauts during their
Dr. Bucaille makes the following remark: "This process of perpetual coiling,
including the interpenetration of one sector by another, is expressed in Quran
just as if the concept of the earth's roundness had already been conceived at
the time—which was obviously not the case." (The Bible, the Holy Quran and
Science, p. 165).
How do we explain the presence of this knowledge in Quran? This obviously did
not reflect the level of learning of the time, but was helpful in stimulating
Muslim scientists to conceive of the earth in its real shape.
This is no less than a reminder to (all) the worlds. And you shall certainly
know the truth of it (all) after a while. (Quran 38/87-88).