There are Muslim polemicists who claim that the Quran correctly indicates that the moon’s light is borrowed and reflected, unlike the light of the sun which is not derived from an outside source. Some of the verses that these Muhammadans appeal to include the following:
Blessed is He Who made constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp (siraajan) and a Moon giving light (muniiraa); S. 25:61
And made the moon a light (Arabic- nuuran) in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp (Siraajaa)? S. 71:16
According to these Islamic propagandists, the term used for moonlight in Arabic is munir or nur, and often means reflected or borrowed light. Accordingly, these terms are never used to refer to the light of the sun, referred to in the above passages as a Lamp. The Quran is therefore allegedly indicating that whereas the moon’s light is borrowed the sun produces its very own light.
The problem with this rather blatantly dishonest explanation is that the Quran actually uses the very term munir to describe the light produced by a lamp. For instance, the following passage speaks of Muhammad as a Lamp giving forth light:
And as one who invites to Allah’s (Grace) by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light (wa Siraajam-Muniiraa). S. 33:46
Seeing that the sun itself is described as a Lamp, and seeing that the light produced by the Lamp is called muniiraa/light demonstrates the Muslims’ total arbitrariness in assuming that the terms nur and munir mean reflected light. That these words are used to describe the very light produced by a Lamp, and seeing that the Quran calls the sun a Lamp, shows that the the Islamic scripture makes no distinction between the light that emanates from either the moon or the sun. This is further confirmed by renowned Muslim scholar and expositor Ibn Kathir’s commentary on Q. 33:46:
<and as a lamp spreading light.> means, ‘the Message that you bring is as clear as the sun shining brightly, and no one can deny it except those who are stubborn.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir – Abridged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al Ahzab, Verse 50, abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore, July 2000], p. 716 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1841; bold emphasis ours)
Hence, Muhammad is likened to a sun shining brightly. This implies that Muhammad’s munir/light is the same as the light produced by the sun. Therefore, the assertion that munir and nur means borrowed or reflected light cannot be sustained since the sunlight is likened to Muhammad’s own munir/light.
Thirdly, nur is applied to Allah in connection to his own light:
Fain would they extinguish God’s light (nura) with their mouths, but God will not allow but that His light (nurahu) should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). S. 9:32 Y. Ali; cf. 24:35
This means, that if these Muhammadans are correct, then Allah has no light of his own, but only reflects light from another source or entity! Anyone can see from this how nonsensical this argument truly is.
In this next passage,
Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made the Darkness and the Light (an-Nur). Yet those who reject Faith hold (others) as equal with their Guardian Lord. S. 6:101
The Light that is mentioned would obviously refer to all the heavenly objects that bring forth light, such as the stars and sun. As Ibn Kathir noted:
Allah praises and glorifies His Most Honorable Self for creating the heavens and the earth, as a dwelling for His servants, and for making the darkness and the light to benefit them in the night AND THE DAY. In this Ayah, Allah described the darkness in the plural, Zulumat [where Zulmah is singular for darkness], while describing the light in the singular, An-Nur, because An-Nur is more honored… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir-Abridged Volume 3 Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An’am, p. 310 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1023; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The only nur produced in the daytime is the light from the sun!
In fact, when we look at the earliest Muslim records we discover that Muhammad and his followers believed that the moon, much like the sun, emanated its own light. They did not believe that the moon simply reflected the light emanating from the sun. Al-Tabari quotes a tradition from Muhammad on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas where the former extensively comments on the orbit of the sun and moon. The following lengthy quotation is taken from the History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (translated by Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press [SUNY], Albany, NY 1989), pp. 231-237. Bold and/or capital emphasis will be mine:
Among the traditions transmitted from the Messenger of God on this subject is what I have been told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur al-Amuli- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu’aym `Umar b. Subh al-Balkhi- Muqatil b. Hayyan- `Abd al-Rahman b. Abza- Abu Dharr al-Ghifari: I walked hand in hand with the Prophet around evening when the sun was about to set. We did not stop looking at it until it had set. He continued. I asked the Messenger of God: Where does it set? He replied: It sets in the heaven and is then raised from heaven to heaven until it is raised to the highest, seventh heaven. Eventually, when it is underneath the Throne, it falls down and prostrates itself, and the angels who are in charge of it prostrate themselves together with it. The sun then says: My Lord, whence do You command me to rise, from where I set or from where I rise? He continued. This is (meant by) God’s word: “And the sun: It runs to a place where it is to reside (at night)” – where it is held underneath the Throne – “That is decreed by One Mighty and Knowing” — by “this” is meant the procedure of the “mighty” Lord in His royal authority, the Lord Who is “knowing” about His creation. He continued. Gabriel brings to the sun a garment of luminosity from the light of the Throne, according to the measure of the hours of the day. It is longer in the summer and shorter in the winter, and of intermediate length in autumn and spring. He continued. The sun puts on that garment, as one of you here puts on his garment. Then, it is set free to roam in the air of heaven until it rises whence it does. The Prophet said: It is as if it had been held for three nights. Then it will not be covered with luminosity and will be commanded to rise from where it sets. This is (meant by) God: “When the sun shall be rolled up.” He continued. The same course is followed by the moon in its rising, its running on the horizon of the heaven, its setting, its rising to the highest, seventh heaven, its being held underneath the Throne, its prostration, and its asking for permission. But Gabriel brings it a garment from the light of the Footstool. He continued. This is (meant by) God’s word: “He made the sun a luminosity and the moon a light.” Abu Dharr concluded: Then I went away together with the Messenger of God and we prayed the evening prayer. This report from the Messenger of God indicated that the only difference between the condition of the sun and that of the moon is that the luminosity of the sun comes from the wrap of the luminosity of the Throne with which the sun was covered, while the light of the moon comes from a wrap of the light of the Footstool with which the moon was covered.
The other report, referring to a different concept, is what I was told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu’aym- Muqatil b. Hayyan- Ikrimah: One day when Ibn `Abbas was sitting (at home or in the mosque), a man came to him and said: Ibn `Abbas, I heard Ka’b, the Rabbi, tell a marvelous story about the sun and the moon. He continued. Ibn `Abbas who had been reclining sat up and asked what it was. The man said: He suggested that on the Day of Resurrection, the sun and the moon will be brought as if they were two hamstrung oxen, and flung into Hell. `Ikrimah continued. Ibn `Abbas became contorted with anger and exclaimed three times: Ka’b is lying! Ka’b is lying! Ka’b is lying! This is something Jewish he wants to inject into Islam. God is too majestic and noble to mete out punishment where there is obedience to Him. Have you not heard God’s word: “And He subjected to you the sun and the moon, being constant” — referring to their constant obedience. How would He punish two servants that are praised for constant obedience? May God curse that rabbi and his rabbinate! How insolent is he toward God and what a tremendous fabrication has he told about those two servants that are obedient to God! He continued. Then he said several times: We return to God. He took a little piece of wood from the ground and started to hit the ground with it. He did that for some time, then lifting his head he threw away the little piece of wood and said: You want me to tell you what I heard the Messenger of God say about the sun and the moon and the beginning of their creation and how things went with them? We said: We would, indeed, May God show mercy unto you. He said: When the Messenger of God was asked about that, he replied: When God was done with His creation and only Adam remained to be created, He created two suns from the light of His Throne. His foreknowledge told Him that He would leave here one sun, so He created it as (large as) this world is from east to west. His foreknowledge also told Him that He would efface it and change it to a moon; so the moon is smaller in size than the sun. But both are seen as small because of the sun’s altitude and remoteness from the earth.
He continued: If God had left the two suns as He created them in the beginning, night would not have been distinguishable from day. A hired man then would not know until when he should labor and when he should receive his wages. A person fasting would not know until when he must fast. A woman would not know how to reckon the period of her impurity. The Muslims would not know the time of the pilgrimage. Debtors would not know when their debts become due. People in general would not know when to work for a livelihood and when to stop for resting their bodies. The Lord was too concerned with His servants and too merciful to them (to do such a thing). He thus sent Gabriel to drag his wing three times over the face of the moon, which at the time was a sun. He effaced its luminosity and left the light in it. This is (meant by) God’s word: “And We have made the night and the day two signs. We have blotted out the sign of the night, and We have made the sign of the day something to see by.” He continued. The blackness you can see as lines on the moon is a trace of the blotting. God then created for the sun a chariot with 360 handholds from the luminosity of the light of the Throne and entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting the lower heaven with the sun and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds. He entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting (the lower?) heaven with the moon and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds.
Then he said: For the sun and the moon, He created easts and wests (positions to rise and set) on the two sides of the earth and the two rims of heaven, 180 springs in the west of black clay – this is (meant by) God’s word: “He found it setting in a muddy spring,” meaning by “muddy (hami’ah)” black clay – and 180 springs in the east likewise of black clay, bubbling and boiling like a pot when it boiled furiously. He continued. Every day and night, the sun has a new place where it rises and a new place where it sets. The interval between them from beginning to end is longest for the day in summer and shortest in winter. This is (meant by) God’s word: “The Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests,” meaning the last (position) of the sun here and the last there. He omitted the positions in the east and the west (for the rising and setting of the sun) in between them. Then He referred to east and west in the plural, saying; “(By) the Lord of the easts and wests.” He mentioned the number of all those springs (as above).
He continued. God created an ocean three farsakhs (18 kilometers) removed from heaven. Waves contained, it stands in the air by the command of God. No drop of it is spilled. All the oceans are motionless, but that ocean flows at the rate of the speed of an arrow. It is set free to move in the air evenly, as if it were a rope stretched out in the area between east and west. The sun, the moon, and the retrograde stars run in its deep swell. This is (meant by) God’s word: “Each swims in a sphere.” “The sphere” is the circulation of the chariot in the deep swell of that ocean. By Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand! If the sun were to emerge from that ocean, it would burn everything on earth, including even rocks and stones, and if the moon were to emerge from it, it would afflict (by its heat) the inhabitants of the earth to such and extent that they would worship gods other than God. The exception would be those of God’s friends whom He would want to keep free from sin.
Ibn `Abbas said that `Ali b. Abi Talib said to the Messenger of God: You are like my father and my mother! You have mentioned the course of the retrograde stars (al-khunnas) by which God swears in the Qur’an, together with the sun and the moon, and the rest. Now, what are al-khunnas? The Prophet replied: `Ali, they are five stars: Jupiter (al-birjis), Saturn (zuhal), Mercury (`utarid), Mars (bahram), and Venus (al-zuhrah). These five stars rise and run like the sun and the moon and race with them together. All the other stars are suspended from heaven as lamps are from mosques, and circulate together with heaven praising and sanctifying God with prayer. The Prophet then said: If you wish to have this made clear, look to the circulation of the sphere alternately here and there. It is the circulation of heaven and the circulation of all the stars together with it except those five. Their circulation today is what you see, and that is their prayer. Their circulation to the Day of Resurrection is as quick as the circulation of a mill because of the dangers and tremors of the Day of resurrection. This is (meant by) God’s word: “On a day when the heaven sways to and fro and the mountains move. Woe on that day unto those who declare false (the Prophet’s divine message).”
He continued. When the sun rises, it rises upon its chariot from one of those springs accompanied by 360 angels with outspread wings. They draw it along the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of night and the hours of day, be it night or day. When God wishes to test the sun and the moon, showing His servants a sign and thereby asking them to stop disobeying Him and to start to obey, the sun tumbles from the chariot and falls into the deep of that ocean, which is the sphere. When God wants to increase the significance of the sign and frighten His servants severely, all of the sun falls, and nothing of it remains upon the chariot. That is a total eclipse of the sun, when the day darkens and the stars come out. When God wants to make a partial sign, half or a third or two-thirds of it fall into the water, while the rest remains upon the chariot, this being a partial eclipse. It is a misfortune for the sun or for the moon. It frightens His servants and constitutes a request from the Lord (for them to repent). However this may be, the angels entrusted with the chariot of the sun divide into two groups, one that goes to the sun and pulls it toward the chariot, and another that goes to the chariot and pulls it toward the sun, while at the same time they keep it steady in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of day or the hours of night, be it night or day, summer or winter, autumn or spring between summer and winter, lest the length of night and day be increased in any way. God has given them knowledge of that by inspiration and also the power for it. The gradual emergence of the sun or the moon from the deep of that ocean covering them which you observe after an eclipse (is accomplished by) all the angels together who, after having brought out all of it, carry it (back) and put it upon the chariot. They praise God that He gave them the power to do that. They grip the handholds of the chariot and draw it in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer. Finally, they bring the sun to the west. Having done so; they put it into the spring there, and the sun falls from the horizon of the sphere into the spring.
Tabari continues to comment about the role the sun and moon will play at the end of the world:
When this takes place, the sun will be held underneath the Throne for one night. Whenever it prostrates itself and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it should rise, it is given no answer until the moon joins it and prostrates itself together with the sun and asks for permission (to proceed to) whence it shall rise. The moon, too, is not given an answer. Finally, (the angel?) will hold the sun for three nights and the moon for two nights… (Ibid., p. 239)
Ibn Kathir also indicates that the moon has its very own light:
<and the sun and the moon.> the sun with its own light and its own path and orbit and allotted time, and the moon which shines with a different light and travels on a different path and has its own allotted time.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir- Abridged Volume 6 Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 39 to the end of Surat Al Mu’minun, p. 444 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2645; bold emphasis ours)
<And We have made (therein) a shining lamp> (78:13). <and a moon giving light.> means, shining and illuminated by the light of something else, different from the light of the sun…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Abriged Volume 7 Surat An-Nur to Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 50, pp. 193-194 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2384; bold emphasis ours)
Furthermore, Ibn Kathir much like Tabari claims that the Quran teaches that both the sun and moon are orbiting, yet with one added twist. Ibn Kathir states that the earth is not orbiting, but rather remains in a fixed position!
<And has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for a term appointed;> It was said that this means, each runs within its limits, or it means until the Day of Resurrection; both meanings are correct. The first view is supported by the Hadith of Abu Dharr in the Two Sahihs, according to which the Messenger of Allah said…
O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this sun goes? I (Abu Dharr) said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said…
It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it seeks permission from its Lord, and soon it will be said: “Go back from whence you came.”
Ibn Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The sun is like flowing water, running its course in the sky during the day. When it sets, it travels its course BENEATH THE EARTH until it rises in the east.” He said, “The same is true in the case of the moon.” Its chain of narration is Sahih. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 7, pp. 593-594 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1784; bold and capital emphasis ours)
This leaves us with the impression that whereas the sun and moon are traveling around the earth, the earth remains stationary. This is precisely what Ibn Kathir later claims, namely that the earth is stationary. Commenting on Q. 27:61, he states:
<Is not He Who has made the earth as a fixed abode,> meaning, STABLE AND STATIONARY, SO THAT IT DOES NOT MOVE OR CONVULSE, because if it were to do so, it would not be a good place for people to live on. But by His grace and mercy, He has made it smooth and calm, and it is not shaken or moved… (Ibid., p. 341 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2232&Itemid=83#1; bold and capital emphasis ours)
In light of the preceding statements, we are left with the conclusion that Islamic cosmogony is geocentric in nature, a fact confirmed even further by Ibn Kathir’s exposition of Q. 25:45-46:
<Have you not seen how your Lord spread the shadow> Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Al-‘Aliyah, Abu Malik, Masruq, Mujahid, Sa’id bin Jubyar, An-Nakha’i, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others said, “This refers to the period from the beginning of the dawn until the sun rises.”
<If He willed, He could have made it still> meaning, immobile, never changing…
<but We have made the sun its guide.> means, were it not for the sun rising, it would not be there, for a thing can only be known in contrast to its opposites. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, “The sun is a guide which follows the shade until the shade disappears.”
<Then We withdraw it, towards Ourselves- a gradual withdrawal.> This refers to the shade.
<gradual> meaning slowly. As-Suddi said, “A gentle, concealed, withdrawal until there is no shade left on earth except under a roof or a tree, and the sun is shining on whatever is above it.”
<a gradual withdrawal.> Ayyub bin Musa said: “Little by little.” (Ibid., pp. 178-179 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2391&Itemid=80; bold emphasis ours)
Furthermore, Ibn Kathir likens the heavens to a dome surface above the earth. Commenting on Q. 21:32, he writes:
<And We made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded>
means, covering the earth like a dome above it. This is like the Ayah…
<With Hands We constructed the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.> [51:47]
<By the heaven and Him Who built it.> [91:5]
The building and making described here refers to the raising of the dome, as when the Messenger of Allah said…
<Islam is built on five.> i.e., five pillars, which can only refer to a tent as familiar among Arabs. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 6, p. 443 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2645&Itemid=76; bold emphasis ours)
The following Quranic verse also points to the sky as an actual physical dome covering the earth:
Seest thou not that Allah has made subject to you (men) all that is on the earth, and the ships that sail through the sea by His Command? He withholds the sky from failing on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man. S. 22:65
Ibn Kathir comments:
<He withholds the heaven from falling on earth except by leave.> If He willed, He could give the sky permission to fall on the earth, and whoever is in it would killed, but by His kindness, mercy, power, He withholds the heaven from falling on earth, except by His leave…” (Ibid., p. 611 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2490&Itemid=77; bold emphasis ours)
Two conclusions can be drawn from these statements. First, the thing is solid, otherwise it couldn’t kill anyone when falling down, or, if it was not material, it couldn’t fall in the first place. Furthermore, the only way for the heavens to cover the earth like a dome and for Allah to prevent them from crashing upon the earth is if in fact the earth is flat!
Now someone might argue that the Quran is using phenomenological language here, ordinary speech that is not meant to convey scientific fact. For instance, even today we find meteorologists using the phrases “sunrise” and “sunset” without anyone finding fault with it. Therefore, the Quran is speaking from the earth’s vantage-point, that from our perspective on earth the sun seems to be rising and setting.
The only problem with this assertion is that it completely ignores the preceding commentaries that posit a stationary earth with the sun, moon and stars all orbiting around it. Hence, from the early Islamic perspective neither Muhammad nor his companions were understood to be using phenomenological language. Rather, they were seen by those closest to them to be speaking quite literally.
In light of all this, we would like to ask the following questions. Seeing that both Ibn Kathir and Tabari cite Islamic traditions from Muhammad and others such as Ibn `Abbas in relation to the orbit of the sun, moon and stars how can one possibly accept Muhammad as a prophet in light of his comments that are brimming with scientific errors? Does the sun and moon travel together on a similar course? Was the moon actually a sun before God stripped it of its luminosity? Does the moon have light of its own? Is there really an ocean in space where the sun, moon and stars travel within? Why is there no mentioning the fact that the earth is actually orbiting around the sun? Why does Ibn Kathir claim that the earth is not traveling at all but is rather stationary? All these factors make it hard for any thinking individual to take seriously the Muslim claim that the Quran is a scientific miracle or that Muhammad was actually God’s prophet seriously.
The following is from Qisas al-Anbiya-Tales of the Prophets:
“Wahb said: Then God created the sun and the moon. The sun, He created from the light of the Throne, and the moon He created from the light of His veil.
Kaab used to say that on the Day of Resurrection the sun and the moon will be led like bulls and hurled into Hell. When Ibn Abbas heard this, he grew angry and said, ‘Kaab has lied. God praised the sun and the moon, saying, He likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you (14:33). How then can they be cast into Hell?’
Wahb ibn Munabbih said: God entrusted the sun and the moon to angels who send them out for a while and draw them back for a while, as He hath said: God causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night (22:61). Therefore, what is subtracted from one period is added to the other.
The people of the Torah say that God began to create on a Sunday and finished on a Saturday, whereupon He sat on the Throne; therefore, they have adopted that day as a holiday.
Ibn Abbas said: The beginning was on a Saturday and the end on Friday. God rested on Friday, so for that reason we have made it a holiday.
The Prophet said that Friday is the mistress of the day of the week and is greater in God’s view than Id al-Fitra and Yawm al-Adha. Friday has five significances: on that day Adam was created, the spirit was breathed into him, he was married on that day, and on that day He took him unto Himself. Also on that day is a time during which God’s servants ask their Lord for nothing He does not grant (a variant report adds: …so long as it is not a thing forbidden).
And on that day will Doomsday commence.” (Ibid., pp. 15-16; bold emphasis ours)
This story also confirms that the moon has its own light. In fact, this tradition presumes a young earth along with the fact that the sun and moon were created only after the earth and its vegetation. (Cf., pp. 8-15) Compare this with the following Islamic traditions:
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger took hold of my hands and said: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam after ‘Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i.e. Between afternoon and night. (Sahih Muslim, Chapter MCLV, The beginning of creation and the creation of Adam, Hadith No. 6707 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=039&translator=2&start=0&number=6707; bold emphasis ours)
Muhammad states that vegetation preceded the formation of light, i.e. the sun. It must be emphasized that Sahih Muslim is considered the second most reliable source of hadith collections. Dr. Naik is a Sunni Muslim. Therefore, as a Sunni Muslim we presume he accepts the authority of Sahih Muslim seeing it is considered the second most reliable collection of traditions.
Some Muslims have tried to claim that this tradition is weakly attested. For instance, M.S.M. Saifullah lists it as a malul hadith and notes:
Ma’lul or Mu’allal
Ibn al-Salah says, “A Ma’lul (defective) hadîth is one which appears to be sound, but thorough research reveals a disparaging factor.” Such factors can be:
- declaring a hadîth Musnadwhen it is in fact Mursal, or Marfuwhen it is in fact Mauquf;
- showing a reporter to narrate from his shaikh when in fact he did not meet the latter; or attributing a hadîthto one Companion when it in fact comes through another.61
Ibn al-Madinî (d. 324) says that such a defect can only be revealed if all the isnads of a particular hadîth are collated. In his book al-‘Ilal, he gives thirty-four Successors and the names of those Companions from whom each of them heard ahadîth directly. For example, he says that al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110, aged 88) did not see Alî (d. 40), although he adds that there is a slight possibility that he may have seen him during his childhood in Madinah.62 Such information is very important, since for example, many Sufi traditions go back to al-Hasan al-Basri, who is claimed to report directly from Alî.
Being a very delicate branch of Mustalah al-Hadîth, only a few well-known traditionists such as Ibn al-Madini (d. 234), Ibn Abî Hatim al-Razi (d. 327), al-Khallal (d. 311) and al-Daraqutni (d. 385), have compiled books about it. Ibn Abî Hatim, in his Kitab al-‘Ilal, has given 2840 examples of Malul ahadîthabout a range of topics.
An example of a Malul hadîth is one transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abû Hurairah, who reports the Prophet as saying,
“Allah created the land on Saturday; He created the mountains on Sunday; He created the trees on Monday; He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday; He created the light (or fish) on Wednesday; He scattered the beasts in it (the earth) on Thursday; and He created Adam after the afternoon of Friday, the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, between the afternoon and night.”63
Regarding it, Ibn Taimiyyah says,
“Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as al-Bukhârî and Yahya b. Ma’in, have criticised it. Al-Bukhârî said, ‘This saying is not that of the Prophet, but one of Kab al-Ahbar’.”64 (Islamic Awareness, An Introduction To The Science Of Hadith The Classification Of Hadith: According To A Hidden Defect Found In The Isnad Or Text Of A Hadith https://www.islamic-awareness.org/hadith/ulum/asb6)
When we look at Saifullah’s footnote # 64 we discover that some Muslims believed that this tradition was actually sound:
- Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu’ Fatawa (37 vols., ed. Abd al-Rahmân b. Qasim & his son Muhammad, Riyad, 1398), 18:18f. Ibn Taimiyyah mentions that Imâm Muslim’s authentication of this hadîth is supported by Abû Bakr al-Anbari & Ibn al- Jauzi,whereas al-Baihaqi supports those who disparaged it. Al-Albani says that it was Ibn al-Madini who criticised it, whereas Ibn Ma’in did not (the latter was known to be very strict, both of them were shaikhs of al-Bukhârî).He further says that the hadîth is Sahih, and does not contradict the Qur’ân, contrary to the probable view of the scholars who criticised the hadîth, since what is mentioned in the Qur’ân is the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, each of which may be like a thousand years, whereas the hadîthrefers to the creation of the earth only, in days which are shorter than those referred to in the Qur’ân (Silsilah al-A hadîth as-Sahihah, no. 1833). (Ibid., Appendix & Endnotes https://www.islamic-awareness.org/hadith/ulum/aape; bold emphasis ours)
Hence, we find Muslims disputing amongst themselves over which hadiths are sound and which are not. Yet, the fact remains that Sahih Muslim is not the only Islamic source indicating that both Muhammad and his Companions believed in a young earth and that the sun was created after vegetation. Historians such as at-Tabari also record this fact. The following traditions are taken entirely from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193. Again, all bold and/or capital emphasis is mine:
“We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere. Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)- Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash- Abu Sa’d al-Baqqal- ‘Ikrimah- Ibn Abbas: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur’an): ‘Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking’- for those who ask. On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: ‘Then He sat straight upon the Throne.’ The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: ‘We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say.’”
According to this tradition from Ibn Abbas, Muhammad believed the earth and everything within it was created on the first four days whereas the heavens and the constellations were created afterwards on Thursday and Friday. Hence, Muhammad believed that vegetation was created nearly two days before the sun was even formed.
“According to al-Muthanna- al-Hajjaj- Hammad- ‘Ata’ b. al-Sa’ib- ‘Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God’s rest(ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: ‘We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us.’”
Once again we have “food”, i.e. vegetation, appearing on Wednesday with the sun being created on Friday. Al-Tabari then comments:
“The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday – meaning by ‘light’ the sun, if God wills.”
Tabari is honest enough to state that both the Quran and Muhammad’s interpretation of it clearly place the sun after the earth and its nourishment had already been made.