15 Nov Does the Qur’an Allude to Scientific Developments?.Part4
The verse explicitly presents the universe as a single miracle of creation. Each thing in it is an integral part of that miracle, and contains signs that prove its claim. Everything is interconnected, just like the leaves of a massive tree—they are all different, but resemble each other and are linked to a common root. The verse also emphasizes water’s vitality and significance, for it constitutes three-fourths of the body mass of most liv-ing creatures.
The sun has a special and significant place.
The Qur’an reveals its most important aspects in four words, whose full meaning cannot be rendered easily:
And the sun runs its course (mustaqarr) determined for it. That is His decree, the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing (36:38).
Given the context, mustaqarr may mean a determined orbit, a fixed place of rest or dwelling, or a determined route in time. We are told that the sun follows a predetermined course toward a particular point. Our solar system is heading toward the constellation Lyra at an almost inconceivable speed:
Every second we come ten miles closer (almost a million miles a day). Our attention also is drawn to the fact that when the sun finishes its appointed task, it will abide by a command and come to rest. [*]
[*]The sun moves (in its course) to a restingplace for it (36:38).
▪Before elucidating other meanings and connotations, remember that earlier peoples’ sensederived information led them to believe that the sun moved around a motionless Earth. Science and observation later showed that the Earth spins on its own axis and orbits the sun, which is relatively motionless. First, since people see the sun moving, the Qur’an mentions it as moving. Second, the Qur’an mentions the sun here to illustrate the magnificent order prevailing throughout the universe as a sign of God’s Might and Knowledge:
A sign for them is the night. We strip it of the day, and behold! they are in darkness. And the sun moves (in its course) to a restingplace for it. That is the measuring and ordaining of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. And for the moon We have appointed mansions till it returns like an old shriveled palmleaf. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They float, each in an orbit. (36:37-40)
▪We understand from this context that the sun’s function is vital. The word mustaqarr (stability) applies to is course and the place in which stability is secured. So, the statement can mean that the sun has a central position in the universe’s order. Second, the preposition used here, li, has three meanings: for, to, and in. Therefore, the exact meaning of this statement is:
The sun moves following a route or course to a fixed place determined for it for the purpose of its (system’s) stability.
▪Recently, solar astronomers have observed that the sun is not motionless; rather it quivers, shakes, and continually rings like a wellhit gong. (Bartusiac, M. (1994) ‘Sounds of the Sun’, American Scientist, January-February, pp.61-68) The resulting vibrations reveal vital information about its deep interior and hidden layers, information that affects calculations of the universe’s age. Also, knowing exactly how the sun spins internally is important in testing Einstein’s theory of gen-eral relativity. Like so many other significant findings in astronomy, this one was totally unexpected. Some astronomers have commented that it is as if the sun were a symphony orchestra, with all its instru-ments being played simultaneously. At times, all the vibrations combine to produce a net oscillation on the solar surface that is thousands of times stronger than any individual vibration.
Commenting on the Qur’anic verse:
The sun moves to a resting-place for it,
several decades before this totally unexpected discovery, Said Nursi wrote:
As the word “moves” points to a style, the phrase “in its course” demonstrates a reality. The sun, like a vessel built of gold, travels and floats in the ocean of the heavens comprising ether and defined as a stretched and tightened wave. Although it quivers and shakes in its course or orbit, since people see it running, the Qur’an uses the word “travel” or “float.” However, since the origin of the force of gravity is movement, the sun moves and quivers in its orbit. Through this vibra-tion, which is the wheel of its figurative movement, its satellites are attracted to it and preserved from falling and scattering. When a tree quivers, its fruits fall. But when the sun quivers and shakes, its fruits—its satellites—do not fall.
▪Again, wisdom requires that the sun should move and travel on its mobile throne—its course or orbit—accompanied by its soldiers—its satellites. For the Divine Power has made everything moving, and condemns nothing to absolute rest or motionlessness. Divine Mercy allows nothing to be condemned to inertia, which is the cousin of death. So the sun is free; it can travel, provided it obeys the laws of God and does not disturb others’ freedom. So it may actually be travelling, as its travel-ling may also be figurative.
However, what is important according to the Qur’an is the universal order, the wheel of which is the sun and its movement. Through the sun, the system’s stability and orderliness are ensured.