Friday, January 12, 2018

Gog and Magog; Space, Sun, Moon, Earth and Celestial Bodies in Qur'an: True or False?

When the Qur'an mentions celestial bodies in space, it's unavoidable to talk about their beginning and their end. Yawm al Qiyama, the Day of Resurrection, is usually mentioned in the same verses. The verses' focus is on our destination and task during our lives, rather than on explaining physical creation, nature and function.

Qur'anic perspective is a long term, divine observation. It's not a human observation. Hence words as 'We molded the Earth and planted there firm mountains,' or 'a Day that lasts a thousand years in your calculation' (32:5 & 22:47); 'a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years' (70:4) or 'he reached the setting-place, or the rising-place of the Sun.' It refers to, firstly, the divine concept of time. Allah, God, is eternal, whereas every creature, has a temporary lifespan only. And, that lifespan is always 'short', compared with eternity. And, Allah can't be calculated in size, time, or limits. Therefore, it's justified to speak of 'molding' the mountains with 'hands', when to humans, the process of mountain formation, is a lengthy, immense, and sometimes violent process. And obviously, a day on Jupiter is longer than a day on Earth.

Living creatures, are created from water and 'clay', earth. Water is always same, but clay and earth, are not. The different colors of latter, indicate difference in substance, though Qur'an doesn't elaborate on that. (Verses 35:27,28 and 30:22.) We best read Qur'an as an invitation to gain knowledge of everything around us, because knowledge may help us connect with Allah. And, secondly, there's also reference to light and its sources. For a reason, the Sun and stars, are described as 'lamps' and the Moon as 'a light'. We know now, that the stars, among which the Sun, are direct sources of light.

Qur'anic stories about nature, usually can't be described as mythology. There's a few exceptions, such as the story of Gog and Magog. The story is an allegory rather than a myth. The story appears in other literature, too. Many commentators have referred to Alexander the Great being its main character. Alexander romances, which first appeared in Greece in the third century BC, were favorite reading and reciting material in medieval Europe. There are hadiths about a man claiming, towards the prophet, having seen the gate of Gog and Magog. The Torah and Bible (Ezekiel 38) mention Gog, ruler of land named Magog. Also in more recent days, these names have reappareared. Russian Jews spoke of Napoleon invading Russia. A few years ago, a book was written, 'Gog and Magog, the clans of chaos', with tales from all over the world about newcomers who are seen as primitive clans who overthrow the existing order. Turcs overthrew parts of ancient Persia; the Mongols overthrew Southwest Asia; Indonesian examples appear, too. I'd say, the Qur'anic story may be a reference to mythology, but Gog and Magog generally indicate change and ending, rather than hostile people or tribes. It perhaps indicates beginning and ending of world history. In the Qur'anic story, a primitive, perhaps ancient, people could florish after a heroic, traveling warrior had pushed back Gog and Magog by erecting a wall, with help of these people, as ordered by Allah swt. However, Gog and Magog return at the Day of Resurrection, which is the end of the world. If we look at it this way, the Qur'anic tale is a story of its own, with reference to mythology. It's meaning as a natural phenomenon cannot be disputed: Earth had a beginning, and it will have an ending. Earth was given the chance to live by keeping Gog and Magog at bay. But, it will die, at a pre-ordained day, under the turmoil of Gog and Magog. Qur'an says, Yawm al Qiyama is a misfortune only to those, who rejected Allah swt during their lives.

Qur'an doesn't say which was created first: Heaven; matter; celestial bodies, among which Earth; fluids; or gas. All Qur'an says, is: They've always been there, and once, heavens and earth were one clutter; then they were separated. This makes sense, because the thought that matter was created from the non-existing or nothing, is an impossibility. Qur'an doesn't say, whether only our planet Earth was made from this earth, or also the other celestial bodies. Heaven was 'a smoke', ie small, gaseous particles floating in space, some of which were 'molded' into bigger celestial bodies. Qur'an says, distances, positions and orbits of Sun, Moon, and other celestial bodies, are regulated and planned. They are 'punctual', so people may orientate at sea and enjoy the benefit from the rotation of light: Night and day. The cosmos has been created and, then, extended. Life is created from water and earth, 'clay', in several colors. Let's remember, that Qur'an was written for an everyday human perspective; hence it uses metaphors that are useful to the average person. That doesn't mean, Qur'an contains incorrect texts. We can't falsify them. The texts correspond with modern theories -- and also theories, partly haven't been falsified.

Qur'anic verses quoted here, are 2:255, 6:95-99, 10:5, 18:83-99, 21:30-37, 32:5-10,47,65; 35:27,28, 36:36-42, 39:5, 41:9-12, 51:47-49, 54:1-6, 55:5-12, 70:1-11, 71:16, 75:6-10, and Surah 81:

'Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.' (2:255)

'Lo! Allah (it is) Who splitteth the grain of corn and the date-stone (for sprouting). He bringeth forth the living from the dead, and is the bringer-forth of the dead from the living. Such is Allah. How then are ye perverted? (95) He is the Cleaver of the Daybreak, and He hath appointed the night for stillness, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise. (96) And He it is Who hath set for you the stars that ye may guide your course by them amid the darkness of the land and the sea. We have detailed Our revelations for a people who have knowledge. (97) And He it is Who hath produced you from a single being, and (hath given you) a habitation and a repository. We have detailed Our revelations for a people who have understanding. (98) He it is Who sendeth down water from the sky, and therewith We bring forth buds of every kind; We bring forth the green blade from which We bring forth the thick-clustered grain; and from the date-palm, from the pollen thereof, spring pendant bunches; and (We bring forth) gardens of grapes, and the olive and the pomegranate, alike and unlike. Look upon the fruit thereof, when they bear fruit, and upon its ripening. Lo! herein verily are portents for a people who believe.' (6:95-99)

'He it is Who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge.' (10:5)

'They will ask thee of Dhu'l-Qarneyn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him. (83) Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road. (84) And he followed a road (85) 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. (86) He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment! (87) But as for him who believeth and doeth right, good will be his reward, and We shall speak unto him a mild command. (88) Then he followed a road (89) Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom. (90) So (it was). And We knew all concerning him. (91) Then he followed a road (92) Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying. (93) They said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them? (94) He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank. (95) Give me pieces of iron - till, when he had levelled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: Blow! - till, when he had made it a fire, he said: Bring me molten copper to pour thereon. (96) And (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount, nor could they pierce (it). (97) He said: This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord is true. (98) And on that day we shall let some of them surge against others, and the Trumpet will be blown. Then We shall gather them together in one gathering.' (18:83-99)

'Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe? (30) And We have placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them, and We have placed therein ravines as roads that haply they may find their way. (31) And we have made the sky a roof withheld (from them). Yet they turn away from its portents. (32) And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit. (33) We appointed immortality for no mortal before thee. What! if thou diest, can they be immortal! (34) Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned. (35) And when those who disbelieve behold thee, they but choose thee out for mockery, (saying): Is this he who maketh mention of your gods? And they would deny all mention of the Beneficent. (36) Man is made of haste. I shall show you My portents, but ask Me not to hasten.' (21:30-37)

'And they will bid thee hasten on the Doom, and Allah faileth not His promise, but lo! a Day with Allah is as a thousand years of what ye reckon.' (22:47)

'Hast thou not seen how Allah hath made all that is in the earth subservient unto you? And the ship runneth upon the sea by His command, and He holdeth back the heaven from falling on the earth unless by His leave. Lo! Allah is, for mankind, Full of Pity, Merciful.' (22:65)

'Allah it is Who created the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, in six Days. Then He mounted the Throne. Ye have not, beside Him, a protecting friend or mediator. Will ye not then remember? (4) He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth; then it ascendeth unto Him in a Day, whereof the measure is a thousand years of that ye reckon. (5) Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, (6) Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; (7) Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; (8) Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! (9) And they say: When we are lost in the earth, how can we then be re-created? Nay but they are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord.' (32:4-10)

'Hast thou not seen that Allah causeth water to fall from the sky, and We produce therewith fruit of divers hues; and among the hills are streaks white and red, of divers hues, and (others) raven-black; (27) And of men and beasts and cattle, in like manner, divers hues? The erudite among His bondmen fear Allah alone. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Forgiving.' (35:27,28) (And 30:22)

'Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth groweth, and of themselves, and of that which they know not! (36) A token unto them is night. We strip it of the day, and lo! they are in darkness. (37) And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise. (38) And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf. (39) It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit. (40) And a token unto them is that We bear their offspring in the laden ship, (41) And have created for them of the like thereof whereon they ride.' (36:36-42)

'He hath created the heavens and the earth with truth. He maketh night to succeed day, and He maketh day to succeed night, and He constraineth the sun and the moon to give service, each running on for an appointed term. Is not He the Mighty, the Forgiver?' (39:5)

'Say (O Muhammad, unto the idolaters): Disbelieve ye verily in Him Who created the earth in two Days, and ascribe ye unto Him rivals? He (and none else) is the Lord of the Worlds. (9) He placed therein firm hills rising above it, and blessed it and measured therein its sustenance in four Days, alike for (all) who ask; (10) Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient. (11) Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower. (41:9-12)

'We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof). (47) And the earth have We laid out, how gracious is the Spreader (thereof)! (48) And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect.' (51:47-49)

'The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain. (1) And if they behold a portent they turn away and say: Prolonged illusion. (2) They denied (the Truth) and followed their own lusts. Yet everything will come to a decision (3) And surely there hath come unto them news whereof the purport should deter, (4) Effective wisdom; but warnings avail not. (5) So withdraw from them (O Muhammad) on the day when the Summoner summoneth unto a painful thing.' (54:1-6)

'The sun and the moon are made punctual. (5) The stars and the trees adore. (6) And the sky He hath uplifted; and He hath set the measure, (7) That ye exceed not the measure, (8) But observe the measure strictly, nor fall short thereof. (9) And the earth hath He appointed for (His) creatures, (10) Wherein are fruit and sheathed palm-trees, (11) Husked grain and scented herb.' (55:5-12)

'A questioner questioned concerning the doom about to fall (1) Upon the disbelievers, which none can repel, (2) From Allah, Lord of the Ascending Stairways (3) (Whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years. (4) But be patient (O Muhammad) with a patience fair to see. (5) Lo! they behold it afar off (6) While we behold it nigh: (7) The day when the sky will become as molten copper, (8) And the hills become as flakes of wool, (9) And no familiar friend will ask a question of his friend (10) Though they will be given sight of them. The guilty man will long to be able to ransom himself from the punishment of that day at the price of his children' (70:1-11)

'And hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp?' (71:16)

'He asketh: When will be this Day of Resurrection? (6) But when sight is confounded (7) And the moon is eclipsed (8) And sun and moon are united, (9) On that day man will cry: Whither to flee!' (75:6-10)

And, Surah 81.

Hadith: Imam Al-Bukhari transmitted in his Sahih the following Hadith: A man told the Prophet (S.A.W.S) that he had seen the dam of Gog and Magog. The Prophet (S.A.W.S) asked: “How did you find it?” The man said: “I found it like Al-Burd Al-Muhabbar (striped garments).” The Prophet (S.A.W.S) said: “You have seen it.”

Sources & Further Reading:
Quran Explorer
The story of Dhul Qarnain at Wikipedia
The story of Gog and Magog at Wikipedia
The story of Yajuj and Majuj at
Ezechiƫl 38 at Shalomgemeente
Cool Cosmos for comparative studies of Quran, Bible and science Open source full text of Maurice Bucaille's book 'The Bible, Qur'an, and Science