Further discussion on the Quran Contradiction

Six or Eight Days of Creation?

Sam Shamoun

Load Islam decided to rebut (*) our Quran contradictions article regarding the number of days the Quran claims it took Allah to create the universe (*). They begin their examination by citing some Muslim scholars’ commentaries on Q. 41:9-10:

There are various explanations that can be given here:

1. The first explanation is the classical and most common one, but we shall elaborate upon it in greater detail. The classic scholars of the Qur'an have mentioned that the four days mentioned in verse 41:10 includes the two days mentioned in verse 41:9. This was the explanation provided by Al-Qurtubi, Al-Zajjaaj and Al-Baghawi. Indeed this is a very logical approach because there is no indication that verse 41:10 describes a period subsequent to that described in verse 41:9. Verse 41:9 is in the form of a question, while 41:10 explains the point further. It is logical that the development of mountains, the bestowment of blessings, and the measure of sustenance would denote the full development of the earth, including its period of creation mentioned in 41:9.

A similar example would be if one were to say, "I read the first chapter of that book in two days, and I finished the entire book in two weeks." Or if one were to say, "The teacher taught us the basics in two days, and we understood all the details within three weeks."

Obviously, in both cases, the second period of time can be taken to include the first period of time.

One objection that is raised to this explanation is that the second stage described in 41:10 presupposes the existence of the earth and therefore does not include its creation. Is this true? The indication of time in 41:10 is given by saying "fee four days". When fee is translated as within, then this period can clearly include the previous period describing the creation of the earth. As illustrated by the second example provided, understanding the details of a subject does entail understanding the basics, but this does not mean that the basics cannot be included in the second period of time if the preposition 'within' is used. So if it is said that we understood the basics in two days, and we understood the details within three weeks, even though the details requires the basics, the second period of time still includes the first period. Moreover, the period of time is connected to the measurement of sustenance, which does not need to occur after to the creation of the earth. Rather, it occurs during the earth's creation as well.

To help the readers better understand the point, the author is essentially claiming that the four days of Q. 41:10 encompass the first two days of Q. 41:9, which means that these days are not intended to be added together since that would give us a total of six days.

There are at least two problems with the author’s position. One problem is with the author’s appeal to the preposition fee since this is simply being used in conjunction to the period of time it took for Allah to create the earth’s nourishments such as vegetation, mountains etc. The Quran is basically using the preposition in relation to the creation of these things taking place within a period of four days, apart from the two days of the previous citation. To put it simply, the preposition, in and of itself, tells us very little regarding whether the two days of Q. 41:9 are included within the four days mentioned in Q. 41:10.

This leads us to the second problem with the author’s harmonization. A careful analysis provides evidence against the view that the two days of Q. 41:9 are part of the four days mentioned in Q. 41:10. Carefully note what verse 10 says:

And He made IN (feeha) IT mountains above its surface, and He blessed therein (feeha) and made therein (feeha) its foods, in (fee) four periods: alike for the seekers. Shakir

This text presupposes the existence of the earth, otherwise how could Allah place mountains in an earth that didn’t already exist? In other words, there must have been an earth in order for mountains and food to be placed therein, which assumes that the two days of Q. 41:9 are not part of the four days that it took Allah to create the earth’s nourishments and provisions.

The writer continues:

Another objection to this explanation is that it is scientifically inaccurate[sic] to say that the earth was formed before the heavens. This objection interprets the heavens in this verse to refer to outerspace, and claims that it is inaccurate[sic] to say that it was only 'smoke' even after the earth was created. But these critics do not realize that the heaven in this passage refers to the atmosphere of the earth, as is indicated by the mentioning of the seven layers, and each with its own property or command (this description is explained here). The term used for heaven in the Qur'an is As-Samaa. This basically denotes whatever is above or beyond the earth. Depending on the context of the verse, it can be taken to mean atmosphere of outerspace. In these verses, only after mentioning the atmosphere does verse 41:12 mention As-Samaa Ad-Dunyaa or what can be translated as the cosmic heaven. The cosmic heaven refers to outerspace while the heaven described in seven layers refers to the earth's atmosphere. So to answer this objection, any student of science knows that the atmosphere has developed greatly since the formation of the earth. The modern atmosphere is often referred to as the 'third atmosphere'. The first atmosphere that formed with the earth was very primitve[sic] and very different from our modern atmosphere. The original atmosphere[sic] consisted of mainly helium and hydrogen, and was soon dissipated by the heat of the earth. The second atmosphere was formed after volcanic activity and primarily consisted of carbon dioxide and water vapor. There was some nitrogen but virtually no oxygen. So the development of the modern atmosphere was clearly after the creation of the earth, which is exactly as the verses state. Interestingly, the modern atmosphere also formed after the existence of early life and the abundance of rain, which Allah often describes as His blessings in the Qur'an. This is exactly as the Qur'an has stated in verses 41:9-12.

The above explanation is evidently the best and most logical. Nevertheless, we shall quote some other explanations given by muslims to allow the reader some choice in selecting the best refutation to this allegation.

Are we the ones that do not realize that the seven heavens refer to the earth’s atmosphere as opposed to outer space? Let us see:

Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience." So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. S. 41:11-12 Pickthall

The first problem with the author’s exegesis is that the verses plainly say that the heaven was smoke when Allah called it together with the earth, which implies that heaven and earth were two separate parts which Allah then brought together. But if this were referring to the earth’s atmosphere then this would have already been a part of it and there would have been no need for it to be called to come together with the earth.

The above texts also refer to the formation of the seven heavens and state that Allah placed lamps in the lowest heaven, which obviously includes more than simply the earth’s atmosphere. In fact, the Quran in many places speaks of Allah placing the sun, moon and stars within these seven heavens:

See ye not how God has created the seven heavens one above another, And made the moon a light IN THEIR MIDST, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp? S. 71:15-16 Y. Ali

This next text, although not as explicit as the above, connects the seven heavens with the sun:

And WE have built above you seven strong ones; And have made the sun a bright lamp. S. 78:12-13 Sher Ali

The Quran further states that these heavens were placed on top of each other:

He Who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (God) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw? S. 67:3 Y. Ali

This presupposes that the seven heavens are a physical dome covering the earth!

Since the author cited a few commentators to support his case, we will quote a few of our own:

(Who hath created seven heavens in harmony) each one securely resting above the other, like a dome whose extremities are cemented with each other. (Thou) O Muhammad (canst see no fault) no crookedness (in the Beneficent One’s creation) in the creation of the heavens; (then look again) at the sky: (Canst thou see any rifts) cracks, cleaves, defects or faults? (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs on 67:3; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

(See ye not) have you not been informed, O disbelievers of Mecca, (how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony) He created them one above the other like a dome whose different parts are cemented with each other, (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs on 71:15; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Hence, the foregoing data demonstrates that if the author’s proposed interpretation is valid then the Quran is teaching that the seven heavens along with their stars are all part of the earth’s atmosphere!

Moreover, certain narrations claim that there are creatures that live within these seven heavens. As Ibn Kathir stated regarding Q. 67:3:

<Who has created the seven heavens one above the other;> meaning stacked one on top of the other. Are they connected to each other, meaning that they are in elevated ascension, some of them being stacked above others, or separated with space between them. There are two views concerning this, and the most correct opinion seems to be the latter as is proven in the Hadith of Isra’ (the Prophet’s Night Journey) and other narrations… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat At-Tagabun to the end of the Qur’an), abridged by a group pf scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore, First Edition: September 2000], Volume 10, pp. 80-81; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The so-called sound narrations refer to this journey in more detail:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

The night Allah's Apostle was taken for a journey from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) Al-Ka'ba: Three persons came to him (in a dream while he was sleeping in the Sacred Mosque before the Divine Inspiration was revealed to Him). One of them said, "Which of them is he?" The middle (second) angel said, "He is the best of them." The last (third) angel said, "Take the best of them." Only that much happened on that night and he did not see them till they came on another night, i.e. after the Divine Inspiration was revealed to him (Fateh-Al-Bari Page 258, Vol. 17) and he saw them, his eyes were asleep but his heart was not----and so is the case with the prophets: their eyes sleep while their hearts do not sleep. So those angels did not talk to him till they carried him and placed him beside the well of Zam-Zam. From among them Gabriel took charge of him. Gabriel cut open (the part of his body) between his throat and the middle of his chest (heart) and took all the material out of his chest and abdomen and then washed it with Zam-Zam water with his own hands till he cleansed the inside of his body, and then a gold tray containing a gold bowl full of belief and wisdom was brought and then Gabriel stuffed his chest and throat blood vessels with it and then closed it (the chest). He then ascended with him to the heaven of the world and knocked on one of its doors.

The dwellers of the Heaven asked, "Who is it?" He said, "Gabriel." They said, "Who is accompanying you?" He said, "Muhammad." They said, "Has he been called?" He said, "Yes" They said, "He is welcomed." So the dwellers of the Heaven became pleased with his arrival, and they did not know what Allah would do to the Prophet on earth unless Allah informed them. The Prophet met Adam over the nearest Heaven. Gabriel said to the Prophet, "He is your father; greet him." The Prophet greeted him and Adam returned his greeting and said, "Welcome, O my son! O what a good son you are!" Behold, he saw two flowing rivers, while he was in the nearest sky. He asked, "What are these two rivers, O Gabriel?" Gabriel said, "These are the sources of the Nile and the Euphrates."

Then Gabriel took him around that Heaven and behold, he saw another river at the bank of which there was a palace built of pearls and emerald. He put his hand into the river and found its mud like musk Adhfar. He asked, "What is this, O Gabriel?" Gabriel said, "This is the Kauthar which your Lord has kept for you." Then Gabriel ascended (with him) to the second Heaven and the angels asked the same questions as those on the first Heaven, i.e., "Who is it?" Gabriel replied, "Gabriel". They asked, "Who is accompanying you?" He said, "Muhammad." They asked, "Has he been sent for?" He said, "Yes." Then they said, "He is welcomed.'' Then he (Gabriel) ascended with the Prophet to the third Heaven, and the angels said the same as the angels of the first and the second Heavens had said.

Then he ascended with him to the fourth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the fifth Heaven and they said the same; and then he ascended with him to the sixth Heaven and they said the same; then he ascended with him to the seventh Heaven and they said the same. On each Heaven there were prophets whose names he had mentioned and of whom I remember Idris on the second Heaven, Aaron on the fourth Heaven, another prophet whose name I don't remember on the fifth Heaven, Abraham on the sixth Heaven, and Moses on the seventh Heaven because of his privilege of talking to Allah directly. Moses said (to Allah), "O Lord! I thought that none would be raised up above me."

But Gabriel ascended with him (the Prophet) for a distance above that, the distance of which only Allah knows, till he reached the Lote Tree (beyond which none may pass) and then the Irresistible, the Lord of Honor and Majesty approached and came closer till he (Gabriel) was about two bow lengths or (even) nearer. (It is said that it was Gabriel who approached and came closer to the Prophet (Fate Al-Bari Page 263, 264, Vol. 17)). Among the things which Allah revealed to him then, was: "Fifty prayers were enjoined on his followers in a day and a night." … (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 608)

This explains the statement in Q. 41:12 that Allah gave each heaven its commandment, and helps us appreciate the following comments made by the two Jalals and Ibn Abbas:

Then He ordained them (the [suffixed] pronoun refers back to al-sama', 'the heaven', because it [al-sama'] actually denotes that plural [sense] to which it will lead [in the following clause), in other words, He made them to be, seven heavens in two days - Thursday and Friday. He completed them in the last hour thereof, in which He created Adam - which is why He does not say sawa'an, 'evenly' here [as He did earlier]; what is said here concords with those verses in which it is stated that the heavens and the earth were created in six days; and in each heaven He revealed its commandment', that to which He commanded those in it [to follow], in the way of obedience and worship. And We adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, with stars, and [this was also] to guarded them (hifzan is in the accusative because of its implicit verbal sense, in other words, 'We guarded it against the devils lest they try to listen therein [to the angels] by stealth with meteors'). That is the ordaining of the Mighty, in His kingdom, the Knower, of His creatures. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn on 41:12; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(Then He ordained them) He created them (seven heavens) one above the other (in two Days) each day the equivalent of 1,000 years of the years of the life of this world (and inspired in each heaven its mandate) He created for each heaven its inhabitants and commanded it its command; (and we decked the nether heaven) the first heaven (with lamps) with stars, (and rendered it inviolable) and We protected it by means of the stars from the satans, such that some stars are an adornment for the heaven and remain fix, and some of which are used for finding directions in the darkness of land and sea and some are missiles sent against the satans. (That is the measuring) the providence (of the Mighty) in retribution against those who disbelieve in Him, (the Knower) of His providence as well as of those who believe in Him and those who do not. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs on 41:12; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The foregoing conclusively shows that the Quran is not referring to the formation of the earth’s atmosphere into seven layers, but to the entire cosmos, i.e. the outerspace, the constellations etc., as well as to the heavenly abodes which Muhammad allegedly traversed on his night journey. This basically indicates that the author of the Quran actually believed that the earth was created before the heavens, a gross scientific blunder! As one Muslim scholar said in response to this same contradiction:

These objections put by this non-muslim are nothing new. Imam Bukhari mentions that this same objection was made by a person to the illustrious Sahabi Abdullah ibn Abbas (Radhiallahu anhu).

1.Allah first created the earth thereafter He created the heavens. After creating the heavens he then rolled out the earth, placed water on it and created pastures on it. Thus Surah 41 verses 9-12 shows that the earth was created first, while surah 79 verse 30 mentions that the earth was spread out after the creation of the heavens, it does not say that the earth was created after the heavens.

2. Creation took place in six days. In the first 2 days the earth was created, in the next two the heavens were created and in the last two the earth was spread out, mountains were placed on it etc. In surah 41 verses 9-11, where Allah Taalaa mentions that the mountains were placed on the earth, provisions were measured etc. in four days, this is including the 2 days in which the earth was created. Thus the complete creation of the earth including spreading it out, placing mountains on it etc all took 4 days, while the creation of the earth only took 2 days. (Tafsir ibn Kathir vol.7 Pg.125-Maktabah Towfiiyyah)

And Allah knows best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

(Question 10948 from Canada: there are some discrepancies the Quran has concerning the creation, and I would like an explanation, please. first contradiction is evident in the description of what came first, heaven or earth?; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

It is rather interesting to see how this scholar placed the fashioning of the heavens in between the creation of the earth and its sustenance even though Q. 41:9-12 itself places these creative acts before the heavens’ formation! We will show a little later why even this harmonization fails to resolve the Quran’s errors.

And for a more thorough refutation of the assertion that the seven heavens refers to the seven layers we recommend this rebuttal.

The author tries to deal with the Arabic word for day:

2. The word yawm, which has been translated as day can also mean period. It has been explained thoroughly by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Length of God’s Days. If we understand yawm as period, there can be no contradiction because the same action can be measured in different periods of time. Here Allah is providing the details on the stages in the development of the earth and the rest of the universe. These verses demonstrate the design and wisdom in nature, and the bounties Allah has favoured us with. Therefore, Allah has chosen to mention the periods separately in more detail.

All that Mr. Amjad has done is to show that yawm can mean an indefinite period of time, but doesn’t provide any evidence whatsoever as to how he knows that this is what it means in these specific verses that refer to the creation of the cosmos. We have never denied that yawm can refer to an indefinite period of time in specific contexts, so this is essentially a straw man argument. What the author needs to do is provide evidence that this is what yawm means in these particular texts.

Since there is nothing within the Quran itself to suggest that yawm in these verses refers to an unspecified time period, Mr. Amjad and the author turn to the Muslim commentators to prove their case. But even here they are not consistent since they basically reject these scholars’ position that each of these specific creation days was equivalent to a thousand years of our time. Notice what the author goes on to say:

1. The first claim that this indicates a 24-hour period as opposed to an eon or period, is based on the english[sic] translation of the days of the week. But if one analyzes the arabic[sic] text of the hadith, one will notice that in arabic[sic] the names of the days should be literally translated as period one, period two, period three, etc. So this actually does not negate long periods. In fact, many companions understood it as long periods as indicated before by the narration:
It was reported by Ibn Abi Haatim via Sammaak from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbaas: the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Hajj (22) is one of the six days in which Allaah created the heavens and the earth; the day of a thousand years mentioned in Soorat al-Sajdah (32) is the length of time it takes for a matter to go up to Allaah; and the day of fifty thousand years is the Day of Resurrection.
While we have mentioned that the exact length of the periods that they estimated was inaccurate[sic], this narration still proves that many companions regarded the 'days' of creation as referring [sic] to periods.

These scholars were not basing their interpretation on their own understanding, but on the explicit testimony of the Quran which refers to the exact length of years a day can be. Let us quote one of these texts in order to appreciate why these scholars believed that each of the days of creation measured a thousand years in length:

It is God Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of Authority): ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition? He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning. S. 32:4-5 Y. Ali

Here we find the creation days mentioned right alongside a passage that claims that a day equals a thousand years of our human reckoning. As we stated, there is nothing that conclusively shows that these creation days are anything more than literal twenty-four hour periods. The only passage that may suggest that they are is this very specific text, even though the verses do speak of different subjects. At the very least these Muslim scholars saw a connection with Q. 32:5 and the creation days, which led them to conclude that these days were more than twenty-four hours; and yet the author of Load-Islam rejects their interpretation! It is obvious why he does, since their position goes against modern scientific hypothesis regarding the age of the universe.

To put it simply, these Muslims scholars believed that the cosmos was created in approximately six thousand human years as a result of the Quran expressly teaching that a day can measure a thousand years of our reckoning. But since this view clearly contradicts modern scientific theories on the age of the universe the author must reject the position of his own Muslim scholars!

The author has only one more text which he can turn to in order to prove that a day according to the Quran can be more than twenty-four hours:

To Him ascend the angels and the Spirit in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years. S. 70:4 Shakir

The above text says that there is a day which measures fifty thousand years. Even though this has nothing to do with the days of creation, one can argue that this measure of time can be legitimately applied to the days of creation. By multiplying six days by fifty thousand years we end up with three hundred thousand years:

6 x 50,000= 300,000.

Thus, interpreting the Quran in light of itself the most a Muslim can prove is that it took Allah 300,000 years to create the universe, a number that is unacceptable to modern science. The Quran quite clearly contradicts scientific theories on the age of the cosmos.

The author proposes another explanation:

3. The third explanation does not say that the second period includes the first, but instead argues that the last period (mentioned in 41:11-12) of two days, occurs simultaneously in relation to the first two periods. Therefore, the earth was created in two days simultaneously with the creation of the heaven, then the mountains and blessings were added in four days, adding to a total of six days. This explanation translates thumma as moreover instead of then. In other words, the period described in 4:11 is not subsequent to the previous verses, but rather it occurs parallel to the creation of the earth in 4:9. The meaning of Thumma is explained very well by Moiz Amjad in his article entitled The Meaning of "thumma" & "Yawm". Critics argue that when it says God turned towards the heaven, this implies a sequential act. But this is not entirely true, as God could have turned to the heaven at any point in the past, not necessarily after the creation of the heavens.

If we were to take this proposed interpretation along with what the author had said previously regarding the four days of Q. 41:10 encompassing the two days of Q. 41:9 then we end up with Allah creating the universe in four, not six, days! Recall that the author claimed that Q. 41:9-10 do not refer to six different days of creation but to four, since the two days it took Allah to create the earth are part of the four days it took him to create the earth’s provisions. He now argues that the two days that it took Allah to fashion the heavens are also part of the same days mentioned in Q. 41:9! If we were to break down the author’s arguments one point at a time this is what we end up with:

Now the author will argue that he wasn’t combining these two views together, but proposing them as two alternate explanations. Whatever the case, the very fact that the author has to come with so many explanations is actually an indirect admission and acknowledgement of all the difficulties posed by the Quran.

Moreover, the two days of Q. 41:11-12 cannot be concurrent with the two days of Q. 41:10 and here is why: The reference expressly says that Allah turned to the heaven while it was still smoke and called it together with the earth:

Then HE turned to the heaven, while it was something like smoke, and said to it and to the earth; `Come ye BOTH of you in obedience, willingly or unwillingly.' THEY said, `WE come willingly.' S. 41:11 Sher Ali

The above reference presupposes the existence of the earth at the stage in which the heavens were still smoke (which many feel refer to the gaseous stage of the universe before expanding to form space). Yet at this stage of the universe’s development there would have been no earth to call forward since that came after the formation of the heavens!

As far as Moiz Amjad is concerned we have already addressed his papers, as well as the responses of some others on these very issues (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

The author continues:

4. A similar explanation to the above is that the two days taken to create the heavens are not to be added to the previous days. This argument does not debate the meaning of thumma but instead argues that nowhere in the passage does God mention the creation of the heavens. It only mentions the further development of the heavens. So this can either be taken to refer to the atmosphere or outerspace, as both are compatible with this description. In other words, the earth was created as described in 41:9-10, and the creation of the heaven is not mentioned at all in this passage. The passage only mentions the further perfection and development of the heavens, indicating that they were created while the process described in 41:9-10 was going on. This explanation is also sufficient to explain the allegation.

Here we quote Q. 41:11-12 once again, to see if the author is correct that this doesn’t refer to the creation of the heavens:

Then He Istaw (rose over) towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: "Come both of you willingly or unwillingly." They both said: "We come, willingly." Then He completed and finished from their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days and He made in each heaven its affair. And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard (from the devils by using them as missiles against the devils). Such is the Decree of Him the All-Mighty, the All-Knower. Hilali-Khan

It is clear that when Allah turned to the heaven it was nothing more than smoke, which means that heaven hadn’t been fashioned into anything at this point. In other words, there were no heavens in existence at this stage in the creation process, even though the earth had already been fashioned and set in place!

It is obvious that the author of the Quran erroneously believed that the earth was formed and completely filled while the heaven was still simply smoke! This is in clear contradiction with modern scientific views which teach that the heavens were developed before the earth, not later.

The author resumes his discussion:

Before finishing with this allegation, there is still another issue to comment on. Some people have inquired about some ahadith about creation.
One hadith is as follows:

Sahih Muslim
Book 039, Number 6707:

Abu Haraira reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) took hold of my hands and said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused the animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (peace be upon him) after 'Asr on Friday;the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i. e. between 'asr and night.

First of all, not all scholars are agreed about the authenticity of this hadith. Some regard it as authentic while others regard it as ma'lul (defective). Concerning it, Ibn Taymiyyah said: "Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as al-Bukhari and Yahya b. Ma'in, have criticised it. Al-Bukhari said, 'This saying is not that of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but one of Ka'b al-Ahbar'."

Despite admitting that there were some scholars who acknowledged that this report is sound the author doesn’t present the data which supports the alleged authenticity of this narration.(1) For instance, Ibn Kathir appealed to this report in his explanation on Q. 7:54:

The Universe was created in Six Days

Allah states that He created the universe, the heavens and earth and all that is in, on and between them in six days, as He has stated in several Ayat in the Qur'an. These six days are: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Friday, the entire creation was assembled and on that day, Adam was created. There is a difference of opinion whether these days were the same as our standard days as suddenly comes to the mind, or each day constitutes one thousand years, as reported from Mujahid, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, and from Ibn `Abbas according to Ad-Dahhak’s narration from him. As for Saturday, no creation took place in it since it is the seventh day of (of the week). The word ‘As-Sabt’ means stoppage, or break. Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Huraryah saying: Allah’s Messenger told me …

((Allah created the dust on Saturday, and He created the mountains on Sunday, and He created the trees on Monday, and He created the unpleasant things on Tuesday and He created the light on Wednesday and He spread the creatures through out it on Thursday and He created Adam after 'Asr on between 'Asr and the night.)) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Surat Al-A'raf to the end of Sura Yunus), First Edition: May 200, Volume 4, pp. 76-77; source)

Imam Ahmad is Ahmad ibn Hanbal, a Muslim scholar and hadith compiler who has a school of Islamic jurisprudence named after him. Ibn Kathir was obviously referring to his collection of hadiths known as Musnad Ahmad, as even the translators themselves point out:

Ahmad 2:327 and Muslim no. 2149. (Ibid., fn. 2, p. 77)

Thus, we have two different hadith compilers that transmitted this narration!

Furthermore, the author’s remarks are quite perplexing in light of the fact that in other rebuttals he will cite the articles of Islamic Awareness [IA], but fails to mention that this same site has written an article on the nature of Sahih Muslim’s ahadith collection (*) which refutes his weakening of this particular narration. For example, the IA article provides the following quote from Imam Muslim himself:

Imam Muslim said: "I have not included in my present book any thing BUT WITH PROOF [regarding authenticity], and I have not left out anything but with proof." He also said: I did not include everything that I judge authentic/Sahih, I only included what received A UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT, i.e., WHAT FULFILLED ALL THE CRITERIA OF AUTHENTICITY AGREED UPON [by the scholars].

And Muslim has presented [his collection] TO THE SCHOLARS OF HIS TIME, like Imam Abu Zar`ah, AND RETAINED WHAT WAS VOID OF DEFECT, and left out what had some defect. (Al-Imam Muhyee ad-Din Abi Zakariyya Yahya bin Sharaf al-Nawawi, Sahih Muslim Bi Sharh al-Imam al-Nawawi, Volume I, [Dar al-Khair, 1994 (1414 A.H.)], Volume I, p. 1; capital emphasis ours) (Bold and capital emphasis ours)

And note what the IA team state in reference to the credentials of Kab al-Ahbar:

Ka`b al-Ahbar

Muslim, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi have recorded his hadith.

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said …

53 - Ka`b Ibn Mati` al-Himyari, Abu Ishaq, known as Ka`b al-Ahbar, IS TRUSTWORTHY [thiqah]. He belongs to the 2nd [tabaqah]. He lived during both Jahiliyyah and Islam. He lived in Yemen before he moved to Sham [~Syria]. He died during the Caliphate of `Uthman exceeding 100 years of age. None of his reports are in al-Bukhari. He has one narration in Muslim from Abu Huraira from him on the authority of al-A`mash from Abu Salih.[6]

And he places him in the second category of hadith narrators. (M S M Saifullah, Muhammad Ghoniem, Abu Hudhayfah & Khalid al-Khazraji, On The Transmitters Of Isra'iliyyat (Judeo-Christian Material); source; bold emphasis ours)

The above quote from IA was taken from Ahmad Ibn `Ali Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Taqrib al-Tahdhib, (Al-Maktabat al-‘Ilmiyyah: Al-Madinah, 1960), Volume II, p. 135.

And here is how they conclude their discussion on the Jewish transmitters of the hadith, particularly Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih:

The above discussion is self-explanatory. The obvious conclusion is that each hadith is discussed on the basis of its strengths and weaknesses; whether in chain of narrators (isnad) or the text (matn). We find that Wahb Ibn Munabbih and Ka`b al-Ahbar are considered as trustworthy narrators of hadith because they transmitted the Islamic traditions faithfully along with isra'iliyyat traditions. Just because they had also transmitted isra'iliyyat traditions along with the Islamic ones does not make them 'untrustworthy' or 'fabricators' of hadith because they did not attribute these isra'iliyyat traditions to the Prophet(P). Muslim scholars have rejected the isra'iliyyat traditions on the basis that they do not satisfy the criteria of truthfulness according to the above set of rules.

In a response to an accusation against Ka`b al-Ahbar, Wahb Ibn Munabbih, and others who had knowledge in the previous books and transmitted it in the Islamic literature, Dr. Muhammad Husayn al-Dhahabi says…

As for his saying [i.e., the critic]: "In general they [Ka`b and the others] introduced to the Muslim's creed and knowledge a lot of what had left bad affects." If [the critic] wanted to put the blame of the bad affects upon Ka`b and the others then we don't agree on this, because whatever Ka`b and the others narrated from the People of the Book they didn't say it is from the Prophet, peace be upon him, and [thus] they didn't lie to Muslims about it, but they were only reporting it as the Israelite tradition which existed in their own books. We are not obliged to believe anything of it nor we are requested to trust it...."[10]

Al-Dhahabi’s quotation is from his work, Al-Tafsir wa 'l-Mufassirun, Dar al-Qalam, Beirut, Volume I, p. 192.

Interestingly, the Islamic Awareness team even source this very same narration from Sahih Muslim in their discussion on the science of hadith (*) and mention certain scholars who classified this report as being reliable:

  1. Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu' Fatawa (37 vols., ed. `Abd al-Rahman b. Qasim & his son Muhammad, Riyadh, 1398), 18:18f. Ibn Taimiyyah mentions that Imam Muslim's authentication of this hadith IS SUPPORTED by Abu Bakr al-Anbari & Ibn al-Jauzi, whereas al-Baihaqi supports those who disparaged it. Al-Albani says that it was Ibn al-Madini who criticised it, whereas Ibn Ma'in did not (the latter was known TO BE VERY STRICT, both of them were shaikhs of al-Bukhari). He further says that the hadith IS SAHIH, and does not contradict the Qur'an, contrary to the probable view of the scholars who criticised the hadith, since what is mentioned in the Qur'an is the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, each of which may be like a thousand years, whereas the hadith refers to the creation of the earth only, in days which are shorter than those referred to in the Qur'an (Silsilah al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, no. 1833). (An Introduction To The Science Of Hadith: Appendix & Endnotes; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Here we actually find some of the strictest hadith scholars such as al-Albani accepting and approving this hadith as sound!

The Muslim author continues:

But for the sake of argument, let's agree with those scholars who say it is authentic. One may claim that this hadith seems to indicate that the perception that these days of creation refer to epochs or periods is incorrect. In addition, it also seems to suggest that creation took place over seven days and not six. In response to these claims, we may mention the following points: ...

2. The second claim that these seven days contradict the Qur'anic six days is obviously wrong because one can clearly see that these days include the creation of much that is not mentioned in the Qur'an, including Adam, clay, animals, etc. The Qur'an only specified the time for the creation of the heavens and the earth. Therefore, the question is, "How do these days relate to those of the Qur'an? Is there an overlap?"
Its possible that there is some overlap. These periods may be slightly smaller than those mentioned in the Qur'an. The only creation that they have in common is that of the mountains, but as we know mountains have formed throughout earth's history and therefore it does not have to refer to the exact same creation period.

First, a careful reading of the hadith actually shows that it took Allah more than seven days to create the cosmos. Notice that the narration claims that Allah created the clay of the earth on Saturday which presupposes the prior existence of the earth in some form, perhaps as gaseous matter. After all you cannot have the clay of the earth without first having an earth from which to fashion clay!

Second, it is obvious that the author hasn’t pondered over the Quran carefully since it clearly says that Allah created everything in six days:

Who created the heavens and the earth AND ALL THAT IS BETWEEN THEM IN SIX DAYS. Then He Istaw (rose over) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). The Most Beneficent (Allh)! Ask Him (O Prophet Muhammad SAW), (concerning His Qualities, His rising over His Throne, His creations, etc.), as He is Al-Khabr (The All-Knower of everything i.e. Allh). S. 25:59 Hilali-Khan

GOD is the One who created the heavens and the earth, AND EVERYTHING BETWEEN THEM IN SIX DAYS, then assumed all authority. You have none beside Him as Lord, nor do you have an intercessor. Would you not take heed? S. 32:4 Khalifa

We created the heavens and the earth AND ALL BETWEEN THEM IN SIX DAYS, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us. S. 50:38 Y. Ali

The foregoing makes it rather apparent that the Quran does teach that Allah created the entire cosmos and everything within it in six days, which expressly contradicts the narration of Sahih Muslim that it took more than seven days for him to do so.

The author refers to scientists who condense the events of earth history’s into a single year:

3. Interestingly, this hadith is not that inaccurate. Many scientists have made comparisons of earth's history by likening it to a single year…

And then says:

Interestingly, the hadith mentioned compares creation to a week, and specifically points out Adam's creation at the end of the last day in the final moments of the day. In the muslims tradition, sunset is often regarded as the end of the day, and therefore 'Asr is just before the end of the day. One may ask about the other creation mentioned in the hadith. Nur (light) here obviously does not refer to the actual creation of light, but perhaps the development of the atmosphere allowing light to reach the planet. Or it may refer to the creation of the moon as the Qur'an says:
10:5 It is He Who made the sun to be a Diyaa (Shining glory) and the moon to be a Nur (light)…
Therefore, the creation of nur may refer to the creation of the moon.

The author again makes it obvious that he hasn’t read his sources carefully since the narration expressly says that light was CREATED on Wednesday, after the creation of the earth:

… and created light on Wednesday…

In fact, it is safe to say that the Islamic traditions are virtually unanimous that the sun, moon and stars were all created after the earth. Note for instance the following narrations which are taken from the English translation of the monumental work of the renowned Sunni Muslim historian and commentator Al-Tabari, titled The History of Al-Tabari. All bold and capital emphasis ours:

We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere.

Now then, this being so, there is (also) A SOUND TRADITION FROM THE MESSENGER OF GOD told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr) - Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash - Abu Sa'd al-Baqqal – ‘Ikrimah - IBN ‘ABBAS: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur'an): "Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking"- for those who ask. ON THURSDAY, HE CREATED HEAVEN. ON FRIDAY, HE CREATED THE STARS, THE SUN, THE MOON, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: "Then He sat straight upon the Throne." The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: "We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say." (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 I, pp. 187-188)

According to al-Muthanna - al-Hajjaj – Hammad – ‘Ata’ b. al-Sa'ib – ‘Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God's rest (ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: "We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us." (Ibid., p. 190)

Al-Tabari commented on which narrations he felt were most sound:

The two reports transmitted by us FROM THE MESSENGER OF GOD have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created AFTER God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE MESSENGER OF GOD indicates that God created the sun and the moon ON FRIDAY. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created BEFORE God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and the what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith OF ABU HURAYRAH reported ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE MESSENGER OF GOD: God created light on Wednesday - MEANING BY ‘light’ THE SUN, if God wills. (Ibid., pp. 190-191)

Notice that al-Tabari says that the light referred to in the hadith of Muslim is the sun, which he clearly states was created after the earth!

He continues:

Reports similar to the one that has come down on the Prophet's authority, that God created the sun and the moon AFTER His creation of the heavens and the earth and other things, have come down from a number of early (scholars) as follows:

According to Abu Hisham al-Rifa’i - Ibn Yaman - Sufyan- Ibn Jurayj - Sulayman b. Musa – Mujahid - Ibn Abbas, commenting on: "And He said (the heaven) and the earth: Come willingly or unwillingly! They said: We come willingly,' as follows: God said to the heavens: Cause My sun and My moon to rise and cause My stars to rise, and the earth He replied: Split your rivers and bring forth your fruit. Both replied:

"We come willingly."

According to Bishr b. Mu’adh – Yazid – Sa’id - Qatadah, commenting on: "And He revealed in every heaven its command": He created in it its sun, its moon, and its stars, and what is good for it. (Ibid., pp. 192-193)

After citing these traditions, al-Tabari concludes:

These reports, mentioned to us on the authority of the Messenger of God and those who mentioned them on his authority, have made it clear that God created the heavens and the earth BEFORE He created time, day and night, the sun and the moon. God knows best! (Ibid., p. 193)

Ibn Kathir basically concurred with al-Tabari since this is what the former wrote concerning Q. 41:9-12:

Some Details of the Creation of this Universe Here

Allah denounces the idolators who worship other gods apart from Him although He is the Creator, Subduer and Controller of all things. He says…

<Say: "Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days And you set up rivals with Him"> meaning, ‘false gods whom you worship alongside Him’ …

<That is the Lord of the that exists.> the Creator of all things is the Lord of all the creatures. Here the Ayah

<Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days> (7:54). is explained in more detail; the creation of the earth and the creation of the heaven are discussed separately. Allah says that He created the earth FIRST, because it is the foundation, and the foundation should be built first, then the roof. Allah says elsewhere…

<He it is Who created for you all that is on the earth. Then He rose over (Istawa ila) the heaven and made them seven heavens> (2:29). With regard to the Ayat

<Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed He raised its height, and has perfected it. Its night He covers with darkness and its forenoon He brings out (with light). And after that He spread the earth, And brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture. And the mountains He has fixed firmly, (to be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.> (79:27-33) This Ayah states that the spreading out of the earth came after the creation of the heavens, but the earth itself was created before the heavens according to some texts. This was the response of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, as recorded by Al-Bukhari in his Tafsir of this Ayah in his Sahih. He recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "A man said to Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, saying: ‘I find some things in the Qur'an which confuse me… And Allah says…

<Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed> until…

<And after that He spread the earth.> (79:27-30) So He mentioned the creation of the heavens before the earth, then He said…

<Say: "Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days…"> until…

<We come willingly.> Here He mentioned the creation of the earth before the creation of the heavens. And He says…

With regard to the Ayat… Allah created the earth in two days, then He created the heavens, then He (Istawa ila) the heaven and gave it its shape in two more days. Then He spread the earth, which means that He brought forth therefrom its water and its pasture. And He created the mountains, sands, inanimate things, rocks and hills and everything in between, in two more days. This is what Allah says…

<(He) spread (the earth)> (79:30) And Allah’s saying…

<(He) created the earth in two Days> So He created the earth and everything in it in four days, and He created the heavens in two days…

<(He) created the earth in two Days> means, on Sunday and Monday

<He placed therein firm mountains from above it, and He blessed it,> means, He blessed it and gave it the potential to be planted with seeds and bring forth produce…

<And measured therein its sustenance> means, what its people need of provision and places in which to plant things and grow crops. This was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which together with the two previous days add up to four days…

<Then He rose over (Istawa ila) towards the heaven when it was smoke,> i.e., steam which arose from it when the earth was created…

<and said to it and to the earth: "Come both of you willingly or unwillingly."> meaning, ‘respond to My command and be subjected to this action, willingly or unwillingly…

<They both said: "We come willingly."> meaning, ‘we will respond to You willingly and everything that You want to create in us -- angels, Jinn and men -- will all be obedient to You.’ …

<Then He completed and finished their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days> means, He finished forming them as seven heavens in two more days, which were Thursday and Friday

<and He decreed in each heaven its affair.> means, He placed in each heaven whatever it needs of angels and things which are known only unto Him

<And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps> means, the stars and planets which shine on the people of the earth… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) (Sura Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan), First edition: September 2000, Volume 8, pp. 517-523; source; underline emphasis ours)

And this is how another source interpreted Q. 41:9-12:

Kaab al-Ahbar said: When God wished to create the dry land, He commanded the wind to churn up the waters. When they had become turbulent and foamy, wave swelled and gave off vapor. Then God commanded the foam to solidify, and it became dry. In to days He created the dry land on the face of the waters, as He hath said: Say, do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days? (41:9). Then He commanded these waves to be still, and they formed the mountains, which He used as pegs to hold down the earth, as He hath said: And we placed stable mountains on the earth lest it should move with them (21:31). Were it not for the mountains, the earth would not have been stable enough for its inhabitants. The veins of these mountains are connected with the veins of Mount Qaf, which is the range that surrounds the earth.

Then God created the seven seas. The first is called Baytush and surrounds the earth from behind Mount Qaf. Behind it is a sea called Asamm, behind which is a sea called Qaynas, behind which is a sea called Sakin, behind which is a sea called Mughallib, behind which is a sea called Muannis, behind which is a sea called Baki, which is the last. These are the seven seas, and each of them surrounds the sea before it. The rest of the seas, in which are creatures whose number only God knows, are like gulfs to these seven. God created sustenance for all these creatures on the fourth day, as He hath said: And he provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask (41:10).

There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are BLACK and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them.

And the earth was tossed about with its inhabitants like a ship, so God sent down an angel of extreme magnitude and strength and ordered him to slip beneath the earth and bear it up on his shoulders. He stretched forth one of his hands to the East and the other to the West and took hold of the earth from end to end. However, there was no foothold for him, so God created from an emerald a square rock, in the middle of which were seven thousand holes. In each hole was a sea, the description of which is known only to God. And He commanded the rock to settle beneath the angel's feet. The rock, however, had no support, so God created a great bull with forty thousand heads, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and legs and commanded it to bear the rock on its back and on its horns. The name of the bull is al-Rayyan. As the bull had no place to rest its feet, God created a huge fish, upon whom no one may gaze at because it is so enormous and has so many eyes. It is even said that if all the seas were placed on one of its gills, they would be like a mustard seed in the desert. This fish God commanded to be a foothold for the bull, and it was done. The name of this fish is Behemoth. Then He made its resting place the waters, beneath which is the air, and beneath the air is the Darkness, which is for all the earths. There, beneath the Darkness, the knowledge of created things ends. (Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Kisa'i, Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-10; bold emphasis ours)

The above reference moves on to discussing the formation of the heavens:

IBN ABBAS SAID: Then God commanded the vapors emanating from the waters to rise up into the air. In two days He created from them the firmament. In four days He created what is between the sea and the firmament. Then the heavens WERE RIPPED APART FROM THE EARTH out of fear of the majesty of God. And there were seven heavens and seven earths, as He hath said: Do not the unbelievers therefore know, that the heavens and the earth were solid, and we clave the same in sunder (21.30). And, as He hath said: And he formed them into seven heavens, in two days (41.12), from the rising of the sun and moon and stars.

The first heaven is of emerald and is called Birqi’: its inhabitants are angels shaped like cows. God made one angel, named Ismael, the guardian. The second heaven is of ruby and is called Faydum: its inhabitants are angels shaped like hawks; the angel in charge of them is named Michael and is the guardian of this heaven. The third heaven is of topaz and is called Awn: its inhabitants are angels in the shape of eagles, and the angel responsible for them is named Saadiael. The fourth heaven is of silver and is called Arqlun: its inhabitants are angels shaped like horses, and the angel in charge of them is named Salsael. The fifth heaven is of red gold and is called Ratqa: the inhabitants are angels that look like the houris, and the angel in charge of them is called Kalkael. The sixth heaven is of white pearl and is called Rafqa: its inhabitants are angels that look like children, and the angel responsible for them is named Shamkhael. The seventh heaven is of light that glows like pearl and is called Gharibya: its inhabitants are angels in the form of men and their warden is called Razqael… Ibn Abbas said: Above the veils are angels whose legs have pierced as far as a five hundred years’ journey below the seven heavens and earths. Their feet extend like white banners below the seventh and lowest earth. (Ibid., pp. 11-12; capital emphasis ours)

It then concludes with the creation of the sun and moon:

Wahb said: Then God created the sun and the moon. The sun, He created from the light of the Throne, and the moon He created from the light of His veil.

Kaab used to say that on the Day of Resurrection the sun and the moon will be led like bulls and hurled into Hell. When Ibn Abbas heard this, he grew angry and said, "Kaab has lied. God praised the sun and the moon, saying, He likewise compelleth the sun and the moon, which diligently perform their courses, to serve you (14.33). How then can they be cast into Hell?"

Wahb ibn Munabbih said: God entrusted the sun and the moon to angels who send them out for a while and draw them back for a while, as He hath said: God causeth the night to succeed the day, and the he causeth the day to succeed the night (22.61). Therefore, what is subtracted from one period is added to the other.

The people of the Torah say that God began to create on a Sunday and finished on a Saturday, whereupon He sat on the Throne; therefore, they have adopted that day as a holiday. The Christians say that the beginning fell on a Monday and the end on a Sunday, whereat He sat upon the Throne; therefore they have adopted that day as a holiday.

Ibn Abbas said: The beginning was on Saturday and the end on Friday. God rested on Friday, so for that reason we have made it a holiday.

The Prophet said that Friday is the mistress of the days of the week and is greater in God’s view than id al-Fitra and Yawm al-Adha. Friday has five significances: on that day Adam was created, the spirit was breathed into him, he was married on that day, and on that day he took him unto Himself. Also on that day is a time during which God’s servants ask their Lord for nothing He does not grant (a variant report adds: …so long as it not be a thing forbidden).

And on that day will Doomsday commence. (Ibid., pp. 15-16; bold emphasis ours)

Even though some of these narrations contradict Sahih Muslim regarding the exact day in which Allah created the light, the one consistent point that all these reports have in common is that all of them cite narratives on the authority of Ibn Abbas which place the creation of the heavens, the sun, moon, stars etc. AFTER THE FORMATION OF THE EARTH.

The author concludes by noting:

Now both the hadith and the Qur'anic verses have been explained.

Indeed they have been explained, and yet the exegesis of the Quranic passages concerning the creation of the cosmos do not support the author’s view that the Quran is free from errors.

________________________________________________________________________

In some of the commentaries the readers may have noticed that the exegetes raised the problems caused by Q. 79:27-33 and how they attempted to reconcile this passage with the other Quranic statements regarding the creation order. This particular reference reverses the order of Q. 41:9-12 by placing the creation of the heavens before the earth! Q. 79:27-33 reads:

Are you the harder to create or the heaven? He made it. He raised high its height, then put it into a right good state. And He made dark its night and brought out its light. And the earth, He expanded it AFTER THAT. He brought forth from it its water and its pasturage. And the mountains, He made them firm, A provision for you and for your cattle. Shakir

The commentators tried to harmonize these discrepancies by arguing that passages such as Q. 2:29 and 41:9-12 which both say that the earth was created before the heavens are referring to the earth in its pre-biotic stage. They claim that these texts are referring to the earth before it was spread out in order to make life possible. Afterwards Allah created the heavens and then spread out the earth so as to make its provisions. The problem with this assertion is that both Q. 2:29 and 41:10-12 clearly state that Allah created the nourishments of the earth such as the mountains before he created the heavens:

It is He who created for you ALL THAT IS IN THE EARTH, THEN He lifted Himself to heaven and levelled them seven heavens; and He has knowledge of everything. S. 2:29 Arberry

Here we are told that Allah created everything that is in the earth before he created the heavens. And:

And He made in it mountains above its surface, and He blessed therein and made therein its foods, in four periods: alike for the seekers. THEN He directed Himself to the heaven and it is a vapor, so He said to it and to the earth: Come both, willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly. So He ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heaven its affair; and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars and (made it) to guard; that is the decree of the Mighty, the Knowing. S. 41:9-12 Shakir

Contrast the above statements with the assertion of Q. 79:27-33 that the earth’s sustenance along with its mountains were created only after Allah had already formed and raised the heavens!

Thus, no matter how hard a Muslim tries to reconcile these texts together the contradictions still remain.

________________________________________________________________________


Endnotes

(1) During the time it has taken to publish this response some changes were made to the original Muslim rebuttal. In the current version the Muslim author has expanded his section on the narration from Sahih Muslim:

There are numerous criticisms against it.

Al-Bukhr writes in al-Trkh al-Kabr:

"Some of them have said that it is from Ab Hurayrah who took it from Ka`b al-Ahbr. This is the most correct view."

Ibn Kathr, in his commentary of the Qur’n writes:

This hadth is one of the unusual hadth found in Sahh Muslim. `Al al-Madn, al-Bukhr, and a number of other leading scholars of hadth have criticized it, saying that it is the statement of Ka`b and that Ab Hurayrah merely heard it from Ka`b al-Ahbar and some narrators merely got confused and attributed it to the Prophet (peace be upon him). This has been thoroughly researched by al-Bayhaq.

We have already addressed the attempt of Muslims to weaken the validity of this specific report due to it being narrated from Kab al-Ahbar. But what makes this criticism rather amusing is that the Muslim writer is forced to admit that many scholars have classified this narrative from Muslim as authentic:

What he is saying is that even if we regard the hadth as authentic – AS A NUMBER OF SCHOLARS DO – there remains the problem that there is too much incoherence in its many conflicting narrations to provide evidence for the order of events. (Capital and underline emphasis ours)

How interesting. A number of scholars have graded this story from Sahih Muslim as sound despite the fact that it was transmitted by Kab! Doesn’t the difference among Muslims regarding the validity (or lack thereof) of this report from Sahih Muslim simply provide more proof that the religion of Islam is based on shaky foundations and that its sources are filled with mass confusion and contradictions?

The writer then goes on to say:

… As far as the text of the narration itself is concerned, since we know that the arabic term yawm can refer to either a day or a period of time, then the only point in the narration which would appear to conflict with science is the saying that light was created on the fourth day. Concerning this part of the narration, it is interesting to read the commentary of Sahih Muslim written by Imaam Abu Zakariyya An-Nawawi (d. 1300CE):

The Messenger's Saying (peace be upon him): "And He created light (ar. Noor) on the fourth day"

This is how it has been narrated in Sahih Muslim as noor but in the transmission of Thabit ibn Qaasim it says noon with the letter 'Nn' at the end. Al-Qaadi said "It refers to the fish". (Saheeh Muslim Bi-Sharh An-Nawawi, 4997)

This seems to suggest the creation of aquatic life before that of humans.

The author conveniently fails to mention what this fish happens to be according to the Muslim expositors.

It was said that "Nun" refers to A GREAT WHALE that rides on the currents of the waters of the great ocean AND ON ITS BACK IT CARRIES THE SEVEN EARTHS, as was stated by Imam Abu Jafar Ibn Jarir. Narrated by Ibn Bashar, narrated by Yahya, narrated by Sufyan al-Thuri, narrated by Sulayman Al-Amash, narrated by Abu Thubian, narrated by Ibn Abbas who related, "The first thing that Allah created was the pen and He said to it ‘Write’. The pen asked, ‘What shall I write?’ Allah said, ‘Write (the) fate (of everything).’ So the pen wrote everything that shall be from that moment until judgment day.

Then Allah created the "Nun" and He caused steam to rise out of which the heavens were created AND THE EARTH WAS THEN LAID FLAT ON THE NUN’S BACK. Then the Nun became nervous and (as a result) the earth began to sway, but (Allah) fastened (the earth) with mountains lest the earth should move ...

It was narrated by Ibn Jarir, narrated by Ibn Hamid, narrated by Ata’a, narrated by Abu al-Dahee, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated, "The first thing my Lord created, may He be Exalted and Glorified, was the pen and He said to it, ‘Write.’ So the pen wrote all that will be until judgment day. Then Allah created the Nun (the whale) above the waters AND HE PRESSED THE EARTH INTO ITS BACK.

Al Tabarani narrated the same hadith above (from the prophet Muhammad) who narrated from Abu Habib Zaid Al-Mahdi Al Marouzi, narrated by Sa’id Ibn Yaqub al-Talqani, narrated by Mu’amal Ibn Ismail, narrated by Hamad Ibn Zaid, narrated by Ata’a Ibn Al Sa’ib, narrated by Abu Al Dahee Muslim ibn Subaih, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated that the prophet – may peace and blessing be upon him and his family - said, "The first things Allah created were the pen and the whale and He said to the pen ‘Write.’ The pen asked, ‘What shall I write?’ Allah replied, ‘Everything that shall be until judgment day.’ Then He said ‘Nun. By the Pen and by what they write.’ So Nun is the whale and al-Qalam is the pen" ...

Ibn Abu Nujaih stated that Ibrahim Ibn Abu Bakir was informed by Mujahid who said, "It was said that Nun is the great whale WHO IS UNDERNEATH THE SEVEN EARTHS." Furthermore, al-Baghawy – may Allah rest his soul - and a group of commentators stated that on the back of this whale there is a great rock whose thickness is greater than the width of the heavens and the earth and above this rock is A BULL THAT HAS FORTY THOUSAND HORNS. On the body of this bull are placed the seven earths and all that they contain, and Allah knows best. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 68:1; source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And:

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)

Hence, the fish that Allah supposedly created on the fourth day happens to be the creature upon which the earth is situated and kept in place by mountains! It is little wonder that the Muslim writer didn’t bother to quote any Islamic report explaining what or who this fish is since he seems aware of the huge embarrassment and gross problems the Islamic sources pose against his attempting of trying to make Islam compatible with modern science. He may have presumed that by not mentioning such embarrassing tales he could get away with duping the people into actually believing that this specific variant supported the view that Allah created aquatic life before he fashioned man.

For more on the subject of the fish we recommend the article The Quran and the Shape of the Earth.


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