I am a regular visitor of your site and frequently ask questions. Alhamdulillah I am very much satisfied by your fatwas.
I have few questions that I get daily in my mind.
1. Should we believe the images of earth from space? They are Round in shape and like a ball as per the satellite images.
2. How Quran and Hadith describe about earth? I heard that earth is like a plate (flat dish on which food is served).
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
That which can be seen with the eye, and upon which one can gain knowledge, should be accepted as it is seen and known. Hence, with respect to the images of earth from space, one can accept them as they are given through the satellite images. These are based on that which has been witnessed and seen via the use of reliable electronic equipment. They should be accepted in this manner.
The Quran has spoken about the earth in different ways. Some of the verses relate to the creation of the earth, others speak about the time taken for creation and some make mention of what was the state before.
Some of these verses are:-
Allah says in Sura 41 verse11:-
Then He turned to the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come in willing obedience.”
In another verse Allah says:-
‘Have not the disbelievers seen that the heavens and earth were joined together as one body, then we parted them’. (21:30)
The first verse above indicates to the fact that the universe was once a large mass of smoke. This reference to ‘smoke’ is the gaseous mass that scientists refer to when they state that the universe was once an opaque highly devised and hot gaseous composition. (The First Three Minutes, a Modern view of the Origin of the universe, Weinberg gp.94-105).
The other verse quoted above, refers to the separation process of a primary single mass whose elements were fused together and then diffused and separated. It therefore means that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity and were then separated afterwards.
With respect to the description of the earth, the following are mentioned in the Holy Quran :-
1) Sura 2 verse 22 states:-
‘Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth).
2) Sura 13 verse 3 states:-
And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o’er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider!
3) Sura 20 verses 53, 54 states:-
53. “He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky.” With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.
54. Eat (for yourselves) and pasture your cattle: verily, in this are Signs for men endued with understanding.
4) Sura 27 verse 61 states:-
Or, Who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable; and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (Can there be another) god besides Allah. Nay, most of them know not.
Here, a reference has been made to the general stability of the Earth’s crust which was once unstable.
There is no clear indication in the verses of the Holy Quran or ahadith that identifies the Earth as being round, oval shape or flat. Obviously, the images taken through satellite pictures etc. reveal the way in which it looks to us from a far distance. Hence, this can be accepted.
And Allah knows best,
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.