The Quran’s Geographical Errors Pt. 2

This is a continuation from the previous segment (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/the-qurans-geographical-errors-pt-1/).

8. The Valley of Towa

Question 8: We read in Sura Ta Ha 20:12: “I am thy Lord; put off thy shoes; thou art in the holy valley, Towa.”

Muslim scholars agree unanimously that the valley where God first appeared to Moses is Towa. But the Bible teaches us that, when Moses was grazing the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, he drove the sheep out of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. And he beheld the bush burning with fire without being consumed. Then the Lord called to him, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:1-5). So this happened to Moses in Horeb, the mountain ofGod. Where did the Qur’an find the name “Towa”, when in fact Horeb was a well-known mountain on the Sinai Peninsula?

9. Olives on Mount Sinai

Question 9: We read in Sura al-Mu’minun 23:19,20: “Then We produced for you therewith gardens of palms and vines wherein are many fruits for you, and of them you eat, and a tree issuing from the Mount of Sinai that bears oil and seasoning for all to eat.”

Commentators said that the tree refers to olives, and the seasoning refers to the food eaten with the bread (al-Tabari, Jami’ al-Bayan 18:13).

We ask: Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to refer to Canaan, which is known for olives, and notSinai, where God had to provide manna for the Israelites, owing to the barrenness of the land? In other words, the Sinai Desert is not known for its olives.

10. The Sun Runs to a Resting Place

Question 10: We read in Sura Ya Sin 36:38: “And the sun – it runs to a fixed resting-place; that is the ordaining of the All- mighty, the All-knowing.”

Al-Baidawi said:

“The sun – it runs to a fixed resting-place” refers to a certain limit at which its cycle comes to an end. It is compared to the resting place of a traveller after his journey, or to the centre of the sky where it moves slower, so that one thinks it has come to a halt. [The poet says, ”The sun is gone astray and revolves in the sky.’1lt can also mean a settled and certain course, or an appointed end for each day from the east to the west. For it has a cycle of three hundred and sixty sunrises and sunsets; it rises every morning from arising place and sets in a setting place, only to retum to them the following year. This could also be a reference to the destruction of the world when it ceases to rotate. Another reading is: “with no resting-place to it”; namely, it does not rest, but moves all the time.

We ask: How can the Qur’an say that the sun runs, or that it has a resting place to which it is bound to go? The sun is a stationary star that does not move anywhere. Rather, it is the earth that revolves around the sun.

As for the claim that a variant reading of the Qur’an points to the sun running and not stopping, this only proves that the Qur’an has widely different interpretations which change the meaning. Thus the commentator himself contests the alleged soundness and accuracy of the Qur’an.

11. The Moon Is Like a Palm Frond

Question 11: We read in Sura Ya Sin 36:39,40: “And the moon – We determined it by stations, till it runs like an aged palm bough. It behoves not the sun to overtake the moon, neither does the night outstrip the day, each swimming in the sky.”

Al-Baidawi said:

“And the moon – we determined” means its course is determined by stations. These stations are [twentyseven]. They are as follows: Saratan [‘Cancer’], Batin [‘the Ventricle’], Thurayya [‘the Pleiades’], al-Dabaran, al-Mihqama, aI-Hata’a, Dhira’ [‘the Arm’], al-Natra, Tara’ [‘the End’], Jaiha [‘the Countenance’], Zabra [‘the Lion’s Shoulder’], Sarfa [‘the Lion’s Heart’], ‘Uwa’ [‘the Lion’s Thigh’], al-Samalik, al-Zayana, Iklil [‘the Wreath’], Qalb [‘the Heart’], Shauka [‘the Thorn’], al-Ta’a’im, Balda [‘the Town’], Sa’d al-Dhabih [‘Said of the Sacrifices’], Sa’d Bala’, Sa’d al-Su’ud, Sa’d al-Ahbiya, Fargh al-Dilw al-Muqaddam [‘the advanced Aquarius’], Fargh al-Dilw al-Mu’akhkhar [‘the delayed Aquarius’], and Risha [‘the Whale’s Belly’]. Every night the moon rests at a station, neverexceeding it, and never late to it. When it is at its last station, which precedes the meeting, it tapers and tums into a crescent, “till it runs like an aged palm-bough” or an old palm frond, or a year-old palm frond. “It behoves not the sun” means it does not fit the sun “to overtake the moon” in speed. “Neither does the night outstrip the day” means it does not run before it and leave it lagging behind.

“Each” refers to the suns and the moons. “Swimming in a sky” means they glide easily in it.

12. Mount Qaf Encompasses All the Earth

Question 12: We read in Sura Qaf 50:1: “Qaf by the glorious Qur’an.”

In Ara’is al-Majalis (pp. 7, 8) Tha’labi says, “God, 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 God swore when He said, ‘Qaf by the glorious Qur’an.”’ In a book entitled Qisas al-Anbiya (p. 5) it is written that “(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 joumey of two thousand years.’ ”

This story of Mount Qaf owes its origin to the Jewish book, Hagiga. In chapter 11, section 1 of this book, the author tries to explain the rarely used Hebrew word tohu [“emptiness or formlessness”], which occurs in Genesis 1:2. The said book reads: “Tohu is the green line encompassing the entire world, from which darkness issues.” The Hebrew word translated as “line” in this book is qav. On hearing the word, the Companions did not know it meant a line, but fancied it to be a majestic mountain chain called Qaf! (There is no letter v in Arabic.)

Now if the Qur’an was revealed by God, as Muslims claim, how could it allege that the horizon, which is an imaginary line, is a mountain?

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