Speed of Light in the Qur'an?
By Ali Sina
Muslims are hard at work trying to find miracles in the Qur'an and
each day they "find" something new. They gloat about it and pump themselves,
spread the glad tiding across the Internet, publish it in their newspapers,
and challenge others to disprove that miracle, until someone shows their error and
deflates them like a punctured balloon. This does not slow them.
Since they are eager to find miracles, and since there is no end to human
gullibility, especially when one WANTS to believe, they find a new
miracle every day.
Today I received a request to clarify the claim that the
Qur'an has disclosed the speed of light more than a thousand years before it was calculated by
In an article
published in Islamicity.com Dr. Mansour Hassab-Elnaby claims the verse
32.5 reveals that light in one day travels a distance equal
to 12,000 lunar orbits, and upon
calculating that distance we find the exact speed of light.
is verse 32:5 translated by Shakir: “He
regulates the affair from the heaven to the earth; then shall it ascend to Him
in a day the measure of which is a thousand years of what you count..”
According to Dr. Hassab-Elnaby, "affairs"
mentioned in this verse is "light." So this verse reveals that light can travel in
one day the distance that will take the Moon, 1000 years to span.
It takes a Muslim's imagination to think this verse has
anything to do with the speed of light. There is no mention of moon, light or
even distance in this verse. However, let us agree with this assumed interpretation
for now and see whether Dr. Hassab-Elnaby has his math right.
1- Wrong Calculation
The average center-to-center distance from the Earth
to the Moon is 384,403 km. The orbit of the Moon is nearly circular. (That
is why we see the Moon always with the same size)
This means for the Moon to go a full circle around the
Earth it must travel a distance of 2,415,273
(Circumference of the lunar orbit = 2r π = 2 x 384,403 x 3.14159)
To orbit the earth 12,000 times the Moon must travel 28,983,278,898
km (2.415,273 x 12,000). This is how much the moon travels in 1000
Light travels at a constant speed of 299,792.458 km. per
There are 86,400 seconds in one day
In 24 hours, light travels a distance of 25,902,068,371
km (299,792.458 x 86,400).
These two numbers are not the same. They are not even
close. There is a difference of
3,081,210,527 km (28,983,278,898 - 25,902,068,371)
between the distance traveled by the Moon in 1000 lunar years and the distance
traveled by light in one day.
This difference is over twenty times the distance between the Earth
and the Sun. So clearly Dr. Hassab-Elnaby got it wrong. The two numbers do not match.
That is not all. There is a difference between lunar month (phases) and
lunar orbit. The Moon makes a complete orbit around the Earth every
27.3 days, (siderial month) while the periodic variations in the geometry of the Earth–Moon–Sun system
are responsible for the lunar phases that repeat every 29.5 days (synodic
month). There is
a difference of 2.2 days between the lunar month and the lunar orbit. (Wikipedia)
In one lunar year the Moon revolves around the Earth
12.967 times (29.5 x 12 / 27.3) and not 12 times. So the distance that the Moon travels in 1000 lunar years is
actually 32, 045,078,461 km (
The difference between this distance and the distance traveled
by light in one day is 6,143,010,090 km (32, 045,078,461 -
would take light, another 5 hours 41 minutes to travel this extra distance.
Alternatively we can say that the Moon revolves around the
Earth 10,724 times to cover the distance that the light travels in 24
hours. (Distance traveled by light in one day 25,902,068,371
km / The orbit of the Moon 2,415,273 km).
It takes only 827 lunar years for the Moon to go this
distance and not 1000 lunar years. (10,724 revolutions of the Moon around the
Earth x 27.3 days that takes for each revolution / 354 days that exist in
each lunar year).
No matter how you look at it Dr. Hassab-Elnaby's
calculations are wrong. The distance traveled by the Moon in 1000 years and the
distance traveled by light in one day are NOT the same.
We are not even considering the orbit of the Earth
around the Sun, which inevitably the Moon must also thread. Taking that into account
Dr. Hassab-Elnabi's calculations are 36.6 times
2 - Wrong Translation
Which part of this verse talks about light or its speed?
Dr. Hassab-Elnany writes: "Thus we conclude that the cosmic affair,
mentioned in the previous Quranic verse, is identical to LIGHT and all similar
cosmic affairs travelling in vacuum with this maximum speed such as: all types
of electro magnetic waves propagating between the heavens and the earth, the
expected Gravitational waves spreading all over the universe, and all particles
travelling in this cosmic greatest spead such as neutrinos."
What a load of nonsense! All Muhammad is saying in this verse is
that a day of Allah is 1000 years long. This is his way of saying Allah is
big, everything about him is big, and even his days are big. Muhammad repeated the
same thing in the verse 22.47
“Verily a day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your
reckoning.” There is no mention of affairs going up and down, light,
magnetic waves, particles and neutrinos
length of the day is determined by how fast a planet revolves around its axis
and it has nothing to do with the size of its inhabitants. All
we can understand from this verse is that the creator of the world lives in a
very slow revolving planet.
Just to show the absurdity and the confusion in the Qur'an let us see the verse
angels and the spirit ascend unto him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty
This verse has a similar content of the verse 32:5, but here
it says that the length of the day of God is 50,000 years.
This is a clear contradiction. Is a day of God 1000 years or is it 50,000
Does it mean that it takes 50,000 years for angels and spirits to
reach God? That is awfully slow. Then how could Angel Gabriel take Muhammad to
heaven and back in one night? The Qur'an is replete with contradictions and
absurdities. Muhammad had found a gullible audience who gobbled everything he
told them uncritically. He never thought one day his words will be scrutinized
by people smarter than his benighted followers and his lies will be exposed.
3 - Wrong Parameters
I am not done yet! There is still more problem with this claim. The speed of
light is constant while the rotation of the Earth, thanks to losing its kinetic
energy, is slowing down. Therefore, the days of the Earth are becoming longer. Also the Moon is getting
away from the
Earth and its orbit is widening. To orbit the Earth, the Moon has to travel a
little more each time. This means that the length of the lunar months are
increasing. How can one measure
something that is constant with things that are variable?
believe that when the Earth was young, it span ten times faster around its axes
than it is spinning today. Since the speed of light has remained the same
all along, 4.5 billion years ago, in one day light traveled one tenth of the
distance that it travels today.
There are nearly 4.5 million thousand years
since the Moon is orbiting the Earth. As the Moon distances from the Earth it is slowing down.
Since each millennium the orbit of the Moon and the Length of the day change, in which one of these 4.5 million millennia the Moon traveled the
same distance that the light travels in one day? The claim is wrong, but even if
true, only one time out of 4.5 million times the two numbers could match.
Then again even a broken watch is right twice every day.
The very notion of
measuring the speed of light with the orbit of the Moon or the length of the day
is a fallacy, that is because the yardstick is constantly changing. Such
an error only reveals the lack of understanding of Dr. Hassab-Elnaby of the
basic principles of science.
4 - Wrong Interpretation
The verse talks about the “affairs of God”
being sent to Earth and then ascending to Him in one day, the length of which is 1000 years. How on Earth this educated
slave of Allah has determined that "affairs" means
light? The word used in Arabic is Amr.
It means commandment, order, cause, and affair. This is an allusion to God’s
religion and not to light. Amrullah means the Cause of God. A more accurate translation of this verse is,
God sends his Cause to Earth, which will return to Him, i.e. it will be
revoked in one day, the length of which is equal to 1000 years.
This is how Sheikh
Ahmad Ahsai (1753 -1826), founder of Shiite Sheikhieh school and his disciple
Kazim-i-Rashti (1792- 1843) interpreted this verse. They claimed
Islam does no longer meet the needs of the time and since it does not allow reform, it must
be abrogated. However, since no one can abrogate the word of God but God
himself, this task rests on the shoulders of the awaited Mahdi,
the Promised One of the Shiites. Ahsai and Rashti said the end of Islam
and the appearance of Mahdi has already been foretold in the Hadith and the
Qur'an, and verse 32:5 gives the exact date.
According to these eminent scholars, Amrullah, the
cause of God, was completed when the last intermediary between God and Mankind,
Imam Hassan Askari died. Hassan Askari died
in the lunar year 260 Hijra. Ahsai believed that since, according to the
verse 32:5, one thousand years after the communication between God and mankind
is interrupted the cause of God (Islam) would be revoked يَعْرُجُ
إِلَيْهِ , Mahdi
should manifest himself in the year 1260 Hijra (1844 EC)
||The room where The Báb declared his mission
on May 23, 1844 in his house in Shiraz. Exactly 1000 lunar years after the
death of the last Shiite imam.
Seyyed Kazem Rashti died one year before the expected year.
He, was so sure that Mahdi would manifest himself in the coming year that he did
not appoint any successor. He dissolved the Sheikhieh school ordering his disciples
to scatter around Persia to find him. It was in this heightened atmosphere of expectation
that the 26 year old Seyyed Ali Mohammad, native of Shiraz, claimed to be the
Bab, the Gate to
divine understanding, the Promised One. Thanks to his sincerity
and Christ like innocence he attracted most of the
students of Seyyed Kazem and in a short time the Babi movement became so popular
that it took the
country by storm. The amazing success of the Babis in converting the Iranians
was seen as a threat by the clergy who instigated
the young and inexperienced king, Nasereddin Shah to execute the Bab. They started a brutal campaign of
persecution of Babis and subsequently Bahais that has lasted till this day.
I am not an apologist for Babism. I do not
believe in Islam and do not think the Qur'an contains any prophecy. Anyone can
interpret the Qur'an in anyway he pleases. I do not believe the Bab was
a messenger of God. According to this author, that young man suffered from temporal lobe
epilepsy, the evidence of that is in his prolific, verbose, and incoherent writings.
He certainly believed in his cause and refused to recant in order to save his life.
In all fairness, one can see that
Ahsai and Rashti have given a much more logical interpretation to the Quranic verse 32:5 than
Dr. Hassab-Elnaby, with his ludicrous claim that the verse reveals the speed of light.
5 - Stolen Miracle
The funny thing is that the verse 32:5 is plagiarized from the Bible.
Here are the original Biblical verses:
For a thousand years in your sight are like a
day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Psalm
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With
the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.2
When the Psalmist says a thousand years for God is like a
watch in the night, he means God is timeless. In those days people used
sundials to measure the time. It only worked in sunshine. This is a beautiful
poetic way to say time does
not exist for God. This thousand years should be taken allegorically and
Peter understood that. He said with Lord not only a
thousand years is like one day, also one day is like a thousand years. What that
humble fisherman was saying is that Time is irrelevant for God. Compare that
with the pathetic attempt of Muslim doctors and scholars who take this allegory literally and try to find scientific equations in
it. Taken poetically, this example is beautiful; taken literally, it
Assuming there is a miracle in this allegory, shouldn't the credit
go to the Bible? Isn't
it interesting that neither the Jews nor the Christians make the claim that
these verses reveal scientific information, but Muslims make that claim even though
the verse is stolen from the Bible? What this tells us about the state of the
mind of Muslims? Doesn't this show they are insecure and desperate to validate
their illogical faith by clinging to any straw?
6 - Does the Qur'an distinguish synodic and
Dr. Mansour Hassab-Elnaby claims, "Quranic verse
(10:5) discriminates between the synodic period for knowing the number of
years and the real sidereal period for reckoning in scientific calculations."
Here is the verse in question:
It is He Who made the sun to
be a shining glory and the moon to be a light [wrong. Moon is not a
source of light], and measured out stages for her; that
ye might know the number of years and the count. 10:5
This verse in no way discriminates between synodic and
siderial months. Dr. Hassab-Elnaby is engaging in wishful thinking.
7 - The Islamic Divine Comedy
In their quest to find miracles in the Qur'an,
Muslims unwittingly make, not only Islam, but the entire Divine system look like
a joke. Our good doctor says, "The verse begins with a reference to a
certain "cosmic affair" which GOD creates and commands. This affair
travels, permanently through the whole universe between the heavens and the
Earth, so speedily that it crosses in ONE DAY a maximum distance in space
equivalent to that which the moon passes during ONE THOUSAND LUNAR YEAR (i.e.
during 12000 Sidereal months)."
This erudite Muslim is wrong again. Arabs count the synodic
months that are 29.5 days and not the siderial months that are 27.3
days. The Qur'an is clear that these thousand years are "of what you
count." Only synodic months can be observed and counted.
Siderial months are not observable and as the doctor himself rightly points out
they are "for reckoning in scientific calculations." As
I showed in section 1, in 1000 lunar years the Moon orbits the Earth 12,967
times and not 12,000 times. Dr. Hassab-Elnaby makes many deliberate errors to
doctor his miracle.
"Affairs traveling permanently through the whole universe
at speed of light?" Is he talking about UFOs?
Now, when it comes to the Universe, the speed of light is not really that fast.
It is a very slow way for God to run his affairs. These "cosmic affairs"
traveling at the speed of light take one full day to reach
the Earth. If you are in peril,
forget about asking Allah for help. By the time he sends you his succor,
a day is passed and that is often too late.
Consider yourself lucky because Allah is only one
light day away from the Earth (I thought Muhammad said he is closer to us than
our jugular vein). He lives just around
the corner of our solar system. Think of other poor creatures that live hundreds or thousands
light years away, or those who live in galaxies that are millions or billions light years away from God.
How can God run his affairs in those galaxies when the communication is so slow?
For all intent and purposes, as far as those far away galaxies are concerned God does not exist.
Just as their light hardly reach us, and when it does it is after millions of years
the "affairs of Allah" can hardly reach them.
his zeal to ascribe miracles to the prosaic book of Muhammad, Dr. Hassab-Elnaby
throws out of the window the concept of omnipresence of God altogether. The
maker of the Universe, according to this Muhammadan, depends on the speed of
light to manage his affairs.
It is pathetic that in this day of science and enlightenment, over a billion otherwise
normal people, many of whom doctors and educated, should still follow an ignoramus
of the seventh century and waste
their time trying to find meaning and even miracles in his asinine balderdash.
This should tell you everything you need to know about Muslim intelligentsia.
The fact that Islamicity.com, arguably the most prestigious Islamic site has
published this gobbledygook proves the intellectual bankruptcy of the ummah.
Islam is a joke. It is an irony that so many smart people have reduced themselves
into jokers and laughing stocks for mankind. The more Muslims try to make Islam
look logical and scientific the more ridiculous THEY look.
More Miracles in the Quran