Muhammad’s Magical Mountain: One Whale of a Tale!

Even though the Quran claims to be a clear book that provides a detailed explanation for all its verses,

Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers. S. 6:114 Pickthall

One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:89 Y. Ali

A Book, the verses of which have been expounded in detail and which will be repeatedly read, couched in clear, eloquent language, for a people who have knowledge, S. 41:3 Sher Ali

The fact is that much of the Islamic scripture is actually incoherent and unintelligible without recourse to secondary sources such as the ahadith and commentaries.

Take, for instance, the letter found in the following verse:

Qaf. By the glorious Koran! S. 50:1 Arberry

What is Qaf and why does the Quran start off this chapter with this peculiar letter/word? More importantly, why does the Islamic scripture fail to provide a thorough explanation at this point, seeing how often it claims to be a fully detailed book?

Since the Quran fails to provide the answers Muslims have no choice but to consult the hadiths and commentaries. However, once they do so they will not like what they discover.

According to the Islamic sources, Qaf just so happens to be a huge green mountain that encompasses the whole earth!

Note what the following references all say:

“Allah, highly exalted, created a great mountain of a green chrysolite, to which the sky owes its greenness. It is called Mount Qaf, and it encompasses all the earth. It is by this mountain that Allah swore when He said, ‘Qaf by the glorious Qur’an.”’ (Al-Tha’labi, Ara’is al-Majalis, pp. 7-8)

“‘Abdallah Ibn Salam inquired of Muhammad, saying, ‘What is the highest peak in the world?’ Muhammad said, ‘It is Mount Qaf.’ He asked, ‘And what is it?’ Muhammad said, ‘It is of green chrysolite, to which the sky owes its greenness.’ He said, ‘You have spoken the truth, Messenger of God. And what is the height of Mount Qaf?’ Muhammad answered, ‘It is a journey of five hundred years!’ He asked him further, ‘How long does it take a man to cover its circumference?’ He answered, ‘It is a journey of two thousand years.'” (Abd al-Wahhab al-Najjar, Qisas al-Anbiya, p. 5)

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that he said in the interpretation of Allah’s saying (Qaf.): ‘(Qaf.) He says: it is an azure mountain overlooking this world, and the colour of the sky takes from it; Allah swore by it, (By the glorious Qur’an) and He swore by the glorious, noble Qur’an, (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

What makes this all the more interesting is that this happens to be the very mountain which the sun descends behind,

(And he said: Lo! I have preferred the good things (of the world)) I have preferred the wealth of this world (to the remembrance of my Lord) to the obedience of my Lord; (till they were taken out of sight behind the curtain) until the sun disappeared behind the mountain of Qaf. (Ibid., Q. 38:32; bold and italicized emphasis ours)

Qāf… [With this word] God, Exalted is He, made an oath by His strength (quwwa) and omnipotence (qudra). In its outer meaning it refers to the mountain which surrounds this world, which is the first mountain God, Exalted is He, created. Then after it, He created Mount Abū Qubays, which is the mountain which rises above Ṣafā. Beyond this, by a distance of one year’s journey, is a mountain behind which the sun sets, just as He said: until it [the sun] disappeared behind [night’s] veil [38:32]. It has a face like a human face and a heart like the hearts of the angels in gnosis (fi’l-maʿrifa). His words:

… By the glorious Qurʾān. He said: This means that it is honoured above all other speech. His words: (Tafsir al-Tustari; bold emphasis ours)

As it sets in a spring of murky water!

(3991) Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: IT SETS IN A SPRING OF WARM WATER (hamiyah).3408 (Prof. Ahmad Hasan, Sunan Abu Dawud – English Translation With Explanatory Notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Lahore, 1984], Volume III. Chapters 1338-1890, XXV. Kitab Al-Ahruf Wa Al-Qira’at [Book of Dialects and Readings Of The Qur’an], Chapter 1498, p. 1120; bold and capital emphasis ours)

  1. Qur’an, xviii. 86. The word hami’ah in this verse has two readings. Abu Ja‘far, Abu ‘Amir, Hamzah, al-Kisa’i and Abu Bakr read it hamiyah with long vowel a. Hamiyah means warm water. The others read it hami’ah meaning musky water. (Ibid.)

Besides the gross scientific errors, we even have a variant reading!

This shows that, contrary to Muslim propaganda, the Quran hasn’t been perfectly preserved since the extant manuscripts and the Islamic traditions show that the Muslim scripture contains literally thousands of variant and conflicting readings. For the documentation we recommend the consulting the information found in the following links:

Textual Variants of the Qur’an

The Different Arabic Versions of the Qur’an

With that said, here is a different English translation of Abu Dawud’s report:

  1. It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: “I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah while he was on a donkey, and the sun was setting. He said: ‘Do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said: ‘Allah and his Messenger know best.’ He said: ‘IT SETS IN A SPRING OF WATER (fa innaha taghrubu fi ‘ainin hamiyah).’” (SAHIH) (English Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Compiled by Imam Hafiz Abu Dawud Sulaiman bin Ash‘ath – From Hadith no. 3242 to 4350, ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khaliyl (USA) [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition: July, 2008], Volume 4, 29. The Book Of The Recitations And Readings Of The Qur’an, p. 375; capital emphasis ours)

Abu Dawud wasn’t the only Muslim to record this absurd notion of the sun literally, physically setting in a muddy spring:

(Till, when he reached the setting place of the sun) where the sun sets, (he found it setting in a muddy spring) a blackened, muddy and stinking spring; it is also said that this means: a hot spring, (and found a people thereabout) these people were disbelievers: (We said: O Dhu’l-Qarnayn!) We inspired him (Either punish) either kill them until they accept to believe that there is no deity except Allah (or show them kindness) or you pardon them and let them be. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold emphasis ours)


“The Jews asked Muhammad about Dhu al-Qarnain (Alexander the Great), and he said to them that God established him in the land so that he could reach the place where the sun sets. He found that it set in a muddy spring, and all around the spring were idolatrous people! He also walked to the place where the sun rises and discovered that people lived there who went about naked, with no homes to shelter them from the sun. After that he walked to a site that lies to the north, between the place where the sun rises and sets, which he found to be between two mountains. He poured on these two mountains a mixture of iron and molten brass, thereby setting up an impassable barrier which only God can reach on the Day of . Resurrection.” (‘Abdallah Ibn ‘Umar Anwar al-Baidawi, al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil, 2 Volumes, Istanbul, n.d.)

Al-Baidawi also noted that, “Ibn ‘Abbas heard Mu’awiya read ‘aynin hamiya [‘hot springl, so he told him it was hami’a [‘muddy’]. Therefore, Mu’awiya sent to Ka’b al-Ahbar, asking, ‘How do you find the sun setting?’ He said to him, ‘In water and clay. Likewise we find in the Torah'” (Ibid.).

To make matters worse for Muslims, one particular scholar named Ibn al-Akhshad went against the views of the learned men of his day who realized that the sun could not possibly set in any spring because of its immense size. And yet due to the explicit witness of the Quran on this matter,

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu’l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness. S. 18:86 Pickthall

Al-Akhshad had no choice but to disagree with them. He is recorded as saying, “No, it does set in a muddy spring, EXACTLY AS THE QURAN CLEARLY SAYS” (Tafsir al-Tibyan al-Tusi

To top it off, Muhammad further taught that the sun descends into hell itself before rising back up again to resume its course!

Yazeed bin Harun narrated to us, from al-Awam, from a slave of Abdullah ibn Amru, from Abdullah bin al-Aas who said: “The messenger of Allah saw the sun when it went down and said (it went) into Allah’s hell fire. If it was not for the order intended for it (the sun) by Allah, it would have destroyed all that is on the earth.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 6895

The absurdities get even worse. According to Ibn Abbas and others, the letter Nun in Q. 68:1,

Nun. By the pen and that which they write (therewith), Pickthall

Actually refers to the whale or fish that Allah created, and on whose back he has placed the earth! Allah then sent down mountains on the earth as firm anchors so as to prevent it from floating into space due to the shaking or agitation of the whale/fish!

As if it couldn’t get any more absurd, Allah is said to have placed the water where the whale/fish swims upon the back of a rock, and put that rock on the back of an angel, with the angel standing on another rock, which is kept suspended by the wind!

Don’t believe me? Then read it for yourself:

Someone might say: If it is as you have described, namely, that God created the earth before the heaven, then what is the meaning of the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas told all of you by Wasil b. ‘Abd al-A‘la al-Asadi- Muhammad b. Fudayl- al-A‘mash- Abu Zabyan- Ibn ‘Abbas: The first thing God created is the Pen. God then said to it: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write, my lord! God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued: And the Pen proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and gong to be to the Coming of the Hour. God then lifted up the water vapor and split the heavens off from it. Then God created THE FISH (nun), AND THE EARTH WAS SPREAD OUT UPON ITS BACK. The fish became agitated, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied BY MEANS OF THE MOUNTAINS, for they indeed proudly (tower) over the earth.

I was told about the same by Wasil – Waki’ – al-A‘mash – Abu Zabyan – Ibn ‘Abbas.

According to Ibn al-Muthanna – Ibn Abi ‘Adi – Shu‘bah – Sulayman (al-A‘mash?) – Abu Zabyan – Ibn ‘Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. It proceeded to (write) whatever is going to be. (God) then lifted up the water vapor, and the heavens were created from it. Then He created the fish, and the earth was spread out on its back. The fish moved, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, for the mountains indeed proudly (tower) over the earth. So he said, and he recited: “Nun. By the Pen and what they write.”

I was told the same by Tamim b. al-Muntasir – Ishaq (b. Yusuf) – Sharik (b. ‘Abdallah al-Nakha‘i) – al-A‘mash – Abu Zabyan or Mujahid – Ibn ‘Abbas, with the exception, however, that he said: And the heavens were split off from it (instead of: were created).

According to Ibn Bashshar – Yahya – Sufyan – Sulayman (al-A‘mash?) – Abu Zabyan – Ibn ‘Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. God said: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write? God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued. And (the Pen) proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and going to be from that day on to the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. He lifted up the water vapor, and heaven was split off from it, and the earth was spread out upon the back of the fish. The fish became agitated, and as a result, the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, he continued, for they proudly (tower) over the earth.

According to Ibn Humayd – Jarir (b. ‘Abd al-Hamid) – ‘Ata’ b. al-Sa’ib – Abu al-Duha Muslim b. Subayh – Ibn ‘Abbas: The first thing created by God is the Pen. God said to it: Write!, and it wrote whatever is going to be until the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. Then he heaped up the earth upon it.

This reportedly IS A SOUND TRADITION AS TRANSMITTED ON THE AUTHORITY OF IBN ‘ABBAS and on the authority of others in the sense commented upon and explained and does not contradict anything transmitted by us from him on this subject.

Should someone ask: What comment on his authority and that of others proves the soundness of what you have transmitted to us in this sense on his authority? He should be referred to what I have been told by Musa b. Harun al-Hamdani – ‘Abdallah b. Mas‘ud and some (other) companions of the Messenger of God (commenting on): “He is the One Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He stretched out straight toward the heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens.” God’s throne was upon the water. He had not created anything except what He created before the water. When He wanted to create the creation, He brought forth smoke from the water. The smoke rose above the water and hovered loftily over it. He therefore called it “heaven.” Then He dried out the water, and thus made it one earth. He split it AND MADE IT INTO SEVEN EARTHS on Sunday and Monday. He created the earth UPON A (big) FISH (hut), THAT BEING THE FISH (nun) MENTIONED BY GOD IN THE QUR’AN: “Nun. By the Pen.” The fish was in the water. The water was UPON THE BACK OF A (small) ROCK. The rock was UPON THE BACK OF AN ANGEL. The angel was UPON A (big) ROCK. The big rock – THE ONE MENTIONED BY LUQMAN – WAS IN THE WIND, neither in heaven nor on the earth. The fish moved and became agitated. As a result, the earth quacked, whereupon He firmly, anchored the mountains on it, and it was stable. This is stated in God’s word that He made for the earth “firmly anchored (mountains), lest it should shake you up.”(The History of Al-Tabari: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, 1989], Volume 1, pp. 218-220; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Speaking of the seven earths, Al-Tabari claims that Allah made them flat islands:

According to Muhammad b. Sahl b. ‘Askar-Isma’il b. ‘Abd al-Karim-Wahb, mentioning some of his majesty (as being described as follows): The heavens and the earth and the oceans are in the haykal, and the haykal is in the Footstool. God’s feet are upon the Footstool. He carries the Footstool. It became like a sandal on His feet. When Wahb was asked: What is the haykal? He replied: Something on the heavens’ extremities that surrounds the earth and the oceans like ropes that are used to fasten a tent. And when Wahb was asked how earths are (constituted), he replied: They are seven earths that are FLAT and islands. Between each two earths, there is an ocean. All that is surrounded by the (surrounding) ocean, and the haykal is behind the ocean. (Ibid., pp. 207-208; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Not to be outdone by their Sunni brothers, the Shiites narrate a similar fairy tale:

H 14813 – From him, from Salih, from one of his companions, from Abdul Samad Bin Basheer, who has reported the following:

Abu Abdullah has said that: ‘The whale which is carrying the earth secretly said to itself that it is carrying the earth by its own strength. So Allah the High Sent to it a fish smaller than a palm’s length, and larger than a finger. So it entered in its gills and shocked it. It remained like t hat for forty days. Then Allah Raised it and was Merciful to it, and Took it out. So whenever Allah Intends the earth to be in a quake, He Sends that (small) fish to that (big) fish. So when it sees it, it becomes restless, so the earth gets engulfed by the earthquake’. (Shaikh Muhammad Bin Yaqoub Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Volume 8, Part VI, p. 45

Interestingly, despite the fact that the following Salafi site tries to explain away this whale of a tale, it is nonetheless forced to admit that this fable is based on a sound narration from Ibn Abbas:

With regard to what the questioner has mentioned, there is no proof to confirm it in the Holy Qur’an or in the saheeh Prophetic Sunnah. The most that has been narrated concerning it is reports from some of the Sahaabah and Taabi‘een.

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that he said: The first thing that Allah created was the Pen, and it wrote all that is to happen. Then water vapour was raised, from which the heavens were created. Then the noon – i.e., the whale – was created, and the earth was spread out on the back of the noon, and the earth moved and shook. Then it was made steady with the mountains, and for that reason the mountains boast to the earth. And he recited (interpretation of the meaning): “Noon. (These letters (Noon, etc.) are one of the miracles of the Quran, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings). By the pen and what the (angels) write (in the Records of men)” [al-Qalam 68:1].

This was narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in his Tafseer (2/307); Ibn Abi Shaybah (14/101); Ibn Abi Haatim – as mentioned in Tafseer Ibn Katheer (8/210); at-Tabari in Jaami‘ al-Bayaan (23/140); al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak (2/540); and many others. All of them narrated it via al-A‘mash, from Abu Zabyaan Husayn ibn Jundub, from Ibn ‘Abbaas. THIS IS A SAHEEH ISNAAD. Al-Haakim said: This hadith is saheeh according to the conditions OF THE TWO SHAYKHS (AL-BUKHARI AND MUSLIM), although they did not narrate it. Adh-Dhahabi said in at-Talkhees [It is saheeh] according to the conditions OF AL-BUKHARI AND MUSLIM, as was narrated from Mujaahid, Muqaatil, as-Suddi and al-Kalbi. See: ad-Durr al-Manthoor (8/240); Tafseer Ibn Katheer (8/185) at the beginning of the commentary on Soorat al-Qalam.

This report – as you can see – is mawqoof and is the words of Ibn ‘Abbaas. It is not the words of the Prophet. What is most likely to be the case is that Ibn ‘Abbaas learned it from the words of Ka‘b al-Ahbaar or from the books of Bani Israa’eel that contain many weird and strange things and lies. This is indicated by the details mentioned in some of the books of tafseer concerning this matter.

Imam al-Baghawi said:

The narrators said: When Allah created the earth and split it (from the heavens), He sent from beneath the Throne an angel who came down to earth until he reached beneath the seven earths, then he placed them on his shoulders, with one of his hands in the east and the other in the west, stretched out and holding the seven earths until he managed to get them settled. His feet did not have a firm place to stand on, so Allah sent down from al-Firdaws a bull that had forty thousand horns and forty thousand feet, and He made the feet of the angel stand on its hump, but his feet did not become settled firmly on it. So Allah took a green emerald from the highest level of al-Firdaws, the thickness of which was the distance of five hundred years, and He placed it between the hump and the ear of the bull, so that the feet of the angel could stand firm on it. The horns of that bull emerge from beneath the layers of the earth, and its nostrils are in the sea. Every day it takes a breath. When it exhales, the tide comes in towards the land, and when it inhales, the tide goes out. The feet of the bull had no firm place to stand, so Allah created a rock as thick as seven heavens and seven earths, so that the feet of the bull could stand firm on it. This is the rock that Luqmaan mentioned to his son when he said: “O my son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth” [Luqmaan 31:16]. The rock was not stable, so Allah created a noon, which is a great whale, and placed the rock on its back, and there is nothing else on its body. The whale is on an ocean, and the ocean is carried on the back of the wind, and the wind is carried by divine power. It was said that the entire world, with everything on it, is only two letters (the kaaf and noon of the word kun, meaning ‘Be!’); the Compeller, may He be glorified and exalted, said to it: ‘Be!’, and it was.

Ka‘b al-Ahbaar said:

Iblees managed to reach the whale on whose back the earth is carried and he whispered to it: Do you know what is on your back, O Leviathan – the name of the whale – of nations, animals, trees and mountains? If you shake them off, you will throw them off from your back. Leviathan thought of doing that, but Allah sent a beast that entered his nostrils and reached his brain, so the whale beseeched Allah because of it, and Allah gave it permission to leave.

Ka‘b said: By the One in Whose hand is my soul, the whale is looking at the beast and the beast is looking at the whale, in case the whale wants to do that, in which case the beast is ready to jump back into its nostrils. End quote. (Islam Question and Answer, General Supervisor: Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, 114861: False reports about the earth being placed on the back of a bull; bold and capital emphasis ours)(1)

It is little wonder that so many individuals still believe in Islam. After all, if people can believe in such nonsense then it’s not hard to imagine why they would accept a man such as Muhammad as God’s messenger, despite all the gross immorality and evil that he brought to this world.

Related Articles and Videos

Does the Quran really say the Sun sets in a muddy spring?

Islam & the whale that carries the Earth on its back

Qur’an Error: Does the Sun Set in a Muddy Spring? (Surah 18:86)

Muhammad on the Setting Place of the Sun

The Sun in the Muddy Pool and the Prophethood of Muhammad

Islam and the Setting of the Sun

Dhu’l Qarnayn and the muddy spring in Qur’an 18:86 – New evidence

Dhu’l Qarnayn and the muddy spring: New evidence (Shorter version)

Dhul-Qarnayn and the Sun Setting in a Muddy Spring (Part One), (Part Two)

The Quran and the Shape of the Earth


(1) The reasons given for rejecting this report from Ibn Abbas are tenuous at best since, not only did Muhammad relate the stories and fables of the Israelites, i.e. the Jews,

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet used to relate to us traditions from the children of Isra’il till morning came; he would not get up except for obligatory prayer. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 25, Number 3655

And encouraged his followers to do likewise,

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet said, “Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 667

Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet said: relate traditions from the children of Isra’il; there is no harm. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 25, Number 3654

But we also find narrations that speak of Muhammad asking Allah to grant Ibn Abbas in-depth knowledge and understanding of the religion:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Once the Prophet entered a lavatory and I placed water for his ablution. He asked, “Who placed it?” He was informed accordingly and so he said, “O Allah! Make him (Ibn ‘Abbas) a learned scholar in religion (Islam).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 145

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Allah’s Messenger came to privy and I placed for him water for ablution, When he came out he said: Who placed it here? And in a version of Zuhair they (the Companions) said, and in the version of Abu Bakr (the words are): I said: It is Ibn ‘Abbas (who has done that), whereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: May Allah grant him deep understanding of religion. (Sahih Muslim, Book 031, Number 6055

Thus, the report of the whale/fish cannot easily be swept aside (pun intended) seeing that it comes from a man whom Muhammad prayed would be given wisdom to understand the Islamic faith.






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