Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islamic Dishonesty At Work!

Rebuttal to A Pseudo-Miracle: Rotation of the Earth

Masud Masihiyyen

Success attained at the expense of honesty is worse than the most bitter failure. People who disregard this principle befriend dishonesty while trying to achieve their goals. Sadly enough, some modern Islamic scholars and commentators derive their power from dishonesty and fabricate pseudo-miracles from the Qur’an to fool and mislead people. In order to win the favor of Muslim crowds who are programmed to believe in the supposed miraculous content and nature of the Islamic scripture and thus gain some material benefits, these kinds of scholars and writers with no fear or hesitation pervert their own scripture through misinterpretation. Their misinterpretation mostly stems from the ignorance of the original context of a verse and its isolation from other thematically associated verses. In a few cases, the peculiarities of Arabic grammar are also ignored and concealed so that people who have no knowledge of Arabic language can be easily convinced of the truth of a miracle claim.

While trying to stigmatize the Jews of Arabia by designating them as treacherous and unreliable people, Muhammad chose to accuse them of distorting the scripture through misinterpretation (Surah 2:75, Surah 3:78). Interestingly, today’s modern Islamic propagandists and writers do the very same thing with their own scripture: they read and understand the Qur’an, but distort its meaning to invent pseudo-miracles for the sake of Islam and some other personal interests. In any case, they disregard honesty and serve the father of lies (John 8:44).

In this study I shall analyze a prominent miracle claim and expose the dishonesty of its inventors by highlighting the strategies of perversion they followed in both the fabrication and promotion of their lies. In the first section, I shall refute an Islamic commentator’s faulty assertions in one of his books whilst in the second section I shall write a point-by-point rebuttal to similar claims propagated by an Islamic academician.


Halûk Nurbaki’s Pseudo-Scientific Miracle: Rotation of the Earth

In his book entitled “Verses From the Glorious Koran and the Facts of Science”1 Dr. Halûk Nurbaki, a Turkish Islamic commentator and writer,2 accomplishes the significant task of declaring to the entire world the amazing revelation of the rotation of the earth by the Qur’an! While the waves of astonishment and awesomeness keep surging through him, he presents the following verse from the Islamic scripture, contending that it is miraculous as it points out a scientific fact:

You see the mountains and think them jamid (lifeless, motionless); yet they progress, just as clouds progress. Such is the handiwork of God, who has disposed of everything in firmness. He is completely aware of all you do. (p.73)

Nurbaki later proceeds to the detailed explanation of the mysterious verse quoted above and concludes that this is a glorious verse through which the rotation of the earth is implied, depending on his argument that the parallel drawn between clouds and mountains in the verse stipulates that mountains also move in a spatial direction and such a movement occurs solely by the hinted motion of the earth (p.75). His statements finally end in the traditional and unsurprising praise of the Islamic scripture: after making a comparison between the way people dealt with the state of the earth and the way the Qur’an approached it, he says: “And this, fourteen centuries ago, in an age when people had many strange notions about the world, and additionally without confusing those people in their elementary mentality and landing them in ruin. Here is the art and here, the miracle of the Qur’an” (p.77).

Unfortunately, this so-called mysterious verse of the Qur’an does not suffice to convince one to endorse the assertion that the rotation of the earth was actually implied through the divine revelation more than a thousand years ago. This is primarily because the reading of some other Qur’an verses related to the state of the earth only increases doubts about the integrity of the Islamic scripture and seems to support the anti-Islamic views and polemics attesting to its contradictory structure. For instance, the verse below taken from the same Qur’an blatantly denies that the heaven and the earth are associated with the concept of motion, consolidating the firmness of both the skies and the earth:

Lo! Allah graspeth the heavens and the earth that they deviate not, and if they were to deviate there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving. (Surah 35:41Pickthall).

Further, there are many verses in the Qur’an that talk about mountains and mark the adjective “firm” as their preliminary characteristic:

And He it is Who spread the earth and made in it firm mountains and rivers, and of all fruits He has made in it two kinds; He makes the night cover the day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. (Surah 13:3 Shakir)

And the mountains hath He firmly fixed (Surah 79:32 Yusuf Ali)

Or, Who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable; and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (can there be another) god besides God? Nay, most of them know not. (Surah 27:61 Yusuf Ali)

And the earth -- We have spread it forth and made in it firm mountains and caused to grow in it of every suitable thing. (Surah 15:19 Shakir)

He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance). (Surah 41:10 Yusuf Ali)

More to the point, there are several Qur’an verses teaching that the mountains essentially function as pegs and prevent the earth from shaking:

And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves. (Surah 16:15 Yusuf Ali)

Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs? (Surah 78:6-7 Yusuf Ali)

He created the heavens without pillars that ye can see, and He threw upon the earth firm mountains lest it should move with you; and He dispersed thereon every sort of beast; and we send down from the heavens water, and we caused to grow therein of every noble kind. (Surah 31:10 Palmer)

And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance. (Surah 21:31 Yusuf Ali)

This simple reading tells us that the author of the Qur’an and/or Muhammad considered mountains immovable and associated their firmness directly with the firmness of the earth when he taught that mountains had the role of preventing the earth from shaking. What we see here is not only a piece of scientifically inaccurate information regarding the nature and role of mountains, but also an overt contradiction with Nurbaki’s miracle claim. Although Nurbaki promoted the theory that in Surah 27:88 the rotation of the earth was implied through the motion of the mountains with the help of the affiliation between the earth and the mountains, the writer of the Qur’an believed that the firmness of the earth is dependent on the firmness of the mountains! Both these claims cannot be simultaneously true.3

Strikingly, in contrast to some verses designating mountains as firm and motionless geological structures, some other verses in the Qur’an use the word “motion” in the same sentence designating mountains, and this contrast can be regarded at first sight as the paramount example of the Qur’an’s inconsistency. However, a meticulous analysis reveals that all the verses indicating the motion of mountains in the Islamic scripture refer not to the present time, but the distant future and teach that such a movement will occur only at the end of the ages to signal the initiation of the utter destruction of the universe and the final judgment:

When the sun is folded up, And when the stars are obscured, And when the mountains are made to move. (Surah 81:1-3 Sher Ali)

The day when there shall be a blast on the trumpet, and ye shall come in crowds, And the heaven shall be opened and be full of portals, And the mountains shall be set in motion, and melt into thin vapour. (Surah 78:18-20 Rodwell)

On the day when the heaven will heave with (awful) heaving, and the mountains move away with (awful) movement. (Surah 52:9-10 Pickthall)

Then when the Trumpet will be blown with one blowing (the first one), And the earth with the mountains shall be lifted up and crushed with one crash. (Surah 69:13-14 Pickthall)

Apparently, it is implicit in all these statements describing the time of the doomsday that the Qur’an refutes any idea or proposition about a present movement of mountains. It is not difficult to infer that the movement of mountains occurring in the Qur’an is by no means regular and systematic unlike the rotation of the earth. Had the Qur’an really supported that scientific fact, it would not have made use of mountains as prevalent examples to distinguish the present and future states of the world. Consequently, the “Qur’an and science harmonizers” have no textual basis at all for finding the rotation of the earth mentioned or even implied in the Qur’an.

Likewise, another Qur’an verse supposes that mountains set in motion would surely be one of the greatest miracles performed to persuade the unbelievers to profess the glory of the Islamic revelation. This supposition, too, mirrors the Qur’an’s acknowledgement of the impossibility of moving mountains and consequently, of the rotating earth:

If there were a Qur'an with which mountains were moved, or the earth were cloven asunder, or the dead were made to speak, (this would be the one!) But, truly, the command is with God in all things! Do not the Believers know, that, had God (so) willed, He could have guided all mankind (to the right)? But the Unbelievers, - never will disaster cease to seize them for their (ill) deeds, or to settle close to their homes, until the promise of God come to pass, for, verily, God will not fail in His promise. (Surah13:31 Yusuf Ali)

Context of Surah 27:88

If the Qur’an verse presented by Nurbaki as a source of wonder and a means of miracle is scrutinized in the light of the verses depicting the fate of the mountains on the Day of Judgment, the common claim that the Islamic scripture is aware of and implies the rotation of the earth can be readily rebutted, and the last sentence of the so-called miraculous verse speeds up the process of refutation: “He is completely aware of all you do”. When read along with the acknowledgement of the miracle claim and Nurbaki’s peculiar interpretation, this sentence looks awkward and misplaced. Its author also seems alien to the principle of relevance since the supposed rotation of the earth possesses no rational association with God’s awareness of human deeds.

In order to test the pertinence of this sentence to the rest of the verse, it is imperative that the verses preceding and following the 88th verse be read so that the context can be clarified:

And call to mind the day when the trumpet will be blown and whoever is in the heavens and whoever is in the earth will be struck with terror, save him whom ALLAH pleases. And all shall come unto HIM humbled. (Surah 27:87 Sher Ali)

And thou seest the mountains, which thou thinkest to be firmly fixed, pass away as the clouds pass away - the handiwork of ALLAH Who has made everything perfect. Verily, HE is full Aware of what you do. (Surah 27:88 Sher Ali)

Whoever does a good deed shall have a better reward than that, and such will be secure from terror that day. And those who do evil, shall be thrown down on their faces into the Fire; and it will be said to them, ‘Are you not rewarded for what you have been doing?’ (Surah 27:89-90 Sher Ali).

Evidently, the verse held miraculous by Nurbaki (v.88) comes right after the verse relating the blowing of the trumpet, that is, the beginning of the divine judgment on the last day of the world. Similarly, it comes right before the verses indicating the divine punishment or reward that will await humans on the basis of their deeds. Strikingly, the last sentence of verse 88 has the same word “deed”, providing a perfect textual harmony with the verses following it. Thus, Muhammad’s act of seeing the immovable mountains pass away like clouds is understood to occur on the day when the trumpet is blown, that is, in distant future. In short, a verse put forward by interpreters like Nurbaki as a revealer of scientific facts turns out to be a basic statement pertaining to the end of times.

Here is another verse in the Qur’an that is identical with Surah 27:88 in context but with slight differences in formulation:

They ask thee concerning the Mountains: say, "My Lord will uproot them and scatter them as dust; He will leave them as plains smooth and level; Nothing crooked or curved wilt thou see in their place." On that Day will they follow the Caller (straight): no crookedness (can they show) him: all sounds shall humble themselves in the Presence of (God) Most Gracious: nothing shalt thou hear but the tramp of their feet (as they march). (Surah 20:105-108)

According to these verses, the only information granted to the Muslims by the Creator about mountains is that their existence in the world will come to an end simultaneously with the gathering of the human race before God, who demonstrates his power by setting mountains in motion. Consequently, Surah 27:88 is only one of several verses in the Qur’an that associate the word “mountain” with the word “motion” so as to proclaim the might of the Creator on the Day of Judgment, with no hint of the rotation of the earth. Metaphorically speaking, what appears to move in the view of Nurbaki’s arguments is neither the mountains nor the earth as it is claimed, but a single Qur’an verse that departs from its context and causes the rotation of some ludicrous assumptions in Islamic circles.

The origin of Surah 27:88

It is evident that the author of Surah 27 intended to refer through verse 88 to the end of times and basically repeated what he generally taught about the state of mountains on the Day of Judgment: immovable mountains would be set in motion as soon as the Trumpet was blown and the human race was gathered before God. In order to express the same idea, the writer of the Qur’an worked out different analogies while associating the mountains with things that pass away. For instance, he sometimes likened mountains to scattered flakes of wool (Surah 70:9 and Surah 101:5) and sometimes to heaps of sand (Surah 73:14). In Surah 27:88 he devised a similar parallelism between mountains and clouds most likely because he thought that clouds, as large units/blocks passing away, would be fitting for this description. Above all, we know that this analogy once caused him to use the word “mountain” while referring to clouds:

Hast thou not seen how Allah wafteth the clouds, then gathereth them, then maketh them layers, and thou seest the rain come forth from between them; He sendeth down from the heaven mountains wherein is hail, and smiteth therewith whom He will, and averteth it from whom He will. The flashing of His lightning all but snatcheth away the sight. (Surah 24:43 Pickthall)

Grammatical Issues

It must be born in mind that what instigates some Islamic propagandists like Nurbaki to discover verses in the Qur’an that are supposedly compatible with scientific facts and help them to sound convincing is actually the misunderstanding of some rare examples of odd grammatical usage in the Islamic scripture. For example, the preliminary motive that enables Islamic interpreters to support their presumptions in the exposition of Surah 27:88 is that the tense of the verse is simple present although it obviously gives an account of the things that will happen in the future. Rather interestingly, some translators of the Qur’an modify the tense of the verse in view to simple future in order to conform it to its context as well as hamper the prospect of misinterpretations. To compare and contrast:

And thou seest the hills thou deemest solid flying with the flight of clouds: the doing of Allah Who perfecteth all things. Lo! He is Informed of what ye do. (Pickthall)

Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of God, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for he is well acquainted with all that ye do. (Yusuf Ali)

And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allah, Who perfected all things, verily! He is Well-Acquainted with what you do. (Hilali-Khan)

And you see the mountains, you think them to be solid, and they shall pass away as the passing away of the cloud -- the handiwork of Allah Who has made every thing thoroughly; surely He is Aware of what you do. (Shakir)

And thou seest the mountains, which thou thinkest to be firmly fixed, pass away as the clouds pass away - the handiwork of ALLAH Who has made everything perfect. Verily, HE is full Aware of what you do. (Sher Ali)

When you look at the mountains, you think that they are standing still. But they are moving, like the clouds. Such is the manufacture of GOD, who perfected everything. He is fully Cognizant of everything you do. (Khalifa)

And thou shalt see the mountains, that thou supposest fixed, passing by like clouds -- God's handiwork, who has created everything very well. He is aware of the things you do. (Arberry)

And thou shalt see the mountains, which thou dost deem solid, pass away like the passing of the clouds;- the work of God who orders all things; verily, He is well aware of what ye do! (Palmer)

And thou shalt see the mountains, which thou thinkest so firm, pass away with the passing of a cloud! 'Tis the work of God, who ordereth all things! of all that ye do is He well aware. (Rodwell)

And thou shalt see the mountains, and shalt think them firmly fixed; but they shall pass away, even as the clouds pass away. [This will be] the work of God, who hath rightly disposed all things: And he is well acquainted with that which ye do. (Sale)

Apart from a few translators who follow a literal translation and attach a present tense marker to both verbs (see and pass away), most translators demonstrate the eschatological sense of the verse by adding a future tense marker to one (“will pass away”) or both the verbs (“will see” – “will pass away”).  This sort of a modification in the tense of the verb/verbs does not indicate the translators’ wish to distort the Islamic scripture, but rather their awareness of the fact that Arabic does not have a future tense and in many cases verbs are given in simple present tense although they express the things to occur a considerably long lime later. For example, let us analyze a verse with its Arabic transliteration that has the same grammatical structure and verb in its first sentence as Surah 27:88:

And thou (O Muhammad) seest the angels thronging round the Throne, hymning the praises of their Lord. And they are judged aright. And it is said: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds! (Surah 39:75 Pickthall)

Watara almala-ikata haffeena min hawli alAAarshi yusabbihoona bihamdi rabbihim waqudiya baynahum bialhaqqi waqeela alhamdu lillahi rabbi alAAalameena (Arabic transliteration)

And thou seest the hills thou deemest solid flying with the flight of clouds: the doing of Allah Who perfecteth all things. Lo! He is Informed of what ye do. (Surah 27:88 Pickthall)

Watara aljibala tahsabuha jamidatan wahiya tamurru marra alssahabi sunAAa Allahi allathee atqana kulla shay-in innahu khabeerun bima tafAAaloona (Arabic transliteration)

While translating Surah 39:75, Yusuf Ali puts all of the verbs into future tense although in the Arabic original they are given in present tense:

And thou wilt see the angels surrounding the Throne (Divine) on all sides, singing Glory and Praise to their Lord. The Decision between them (at Judgment) will be in (perfect) justice, and the cry (on all sides) will be, "Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds!" (Surah 39:75)

Yusuf Ali considers this grammatical formulation in English crucial as he knows that this verse is about the end of times and talks about the things that will take place only in distant future. Angels surrounding the throne cannot be seen everyday, nor are they judged every second. Actually, the verses 68 through 75 concern the Day of Judgment, and this is made clear with the help of a reference to the blowing of the trumpet in verse 68:

And the trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth swoon away, save him whom Allah willeth. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! (Surah 39:68 Pickthall)

Note that this verse is analogous to Surah 27:87 in both form and content. This is another factor that prompts us to conclude that seeing/observing the mountains in Surah 27:88 was meant by the author of the Qur’an to be a future act too.

Finally, there is a Qur’an verse that is very similar to Surah 27:88 in both form and content:

And (bethink you of) the Day when we remove the hills and ye see the earth emerging, and We gather them together so as to leave not one of them behind. (Surah 18:47 Pickthall)

Wayawma nusayyiru aljibala watara al-arda barizatan wahasharnahum falam nughadir minhum ahadan (Arabic transliteration)

We wonder how Nurbaki and other miracle inventors would interpret this particular verse talking about the motion of the mountains and the observation of the result of this incident by the addressee. If we follow a literal translation of this verse, we must conclude that everyday people can witness the removal of the mountains and consequently see the earth as a plain having nothing on it. Since such a thing never happens, should we add a new item to the failed prophecies in the Qur’an? Or should we bind this problem to the lack of future tense in Arabic and the awkward literal translation of the verse?

What is more interesting is that some translators insist on maintaining the present tense in the translation of Surah 27:88 although they feel free to put the verbs in Surah 18:47 into future tense:

The day will come when we wipe out the mountains, and you will see the earth barren. We will summon them all, not leaving out a single one of them. (Surah 18:47 Khalifa)

When you look at the mountains, you think that they are standing still. But they are moving, like the clouds. Such is the manufacture of GOD, who perfected everything. He is fully Cognizant of everything you do. (Surah 27:88 Khalifa)

Why does Khalifa fall into inconsistency by changing the tense of the verbs although in the Arabic original of the Qur’an the verb “see” occurs in both Surah 18:47 and Surah 27:88 in identical form (tara)? If the verb “see” pertains to a future act in Surah 18:47 in association with the reference to that “Day”, how fair and honest is it to ignore that Surah 27:88 is directly connected with Surah 27:87, which similarly talks about that specific Day when the trumpet will be blown to declare the beginning of the Judgment?

And (remind them of) the Day when the Trumpet will be blown, and all who are in the heavens and the earth will start in fear, save him whom Allah willeth. And all come unto Him, humbled. (Surah 27:87 Pickthall)

A Few Concluding Questions and Remarks

Halûk Nurbaki’s miracle claim concerning the rotation of the earth turns out to be fallacious when the context of Surah 27:88 is scrutinized carefully and compared to some other verses talking about the state of mountains on the Day of Judgment. However, there are other ways of exposing Nurbaki’s hoax. For example, we could focus on Nurbaki’s selectivity and ask the question why the author of the Qur’an talked only and specifically of mountains if he wanted to imply the rotation of the earth. Why did he not say that the rivers, roads and everything on earth moved? Why did he confine the rotation of the earth to the motion of mountains? After all, the rotation of the earth takes with it the deep valleys between the mountains, the hills and the plateaus, the rivers, the lakes and the oceans, and even trees in exactly the same way as the moutains. There is no difference. In regard to the rotation of the earth, there is nothing that distinguishes mountains from other areas or entities on the surface of our planet.

Further, Nurbaki’s analogy between the motion of the clouds and that of the mountains is scientifically inaccurate. The observable movement of the clouds is relative to the surface of the earth. The mountains only move together with (the surface of) the earth, they do not move / glide “over the earth” like the clouds. If the Qur’an had stated that the mountains also move “with another kind of movement”, it would perhaps have been acceptable, but to say that the mountains pass “just as the clouds progress” is a clear scientific error. Thus, Nurbaki’s “scientific miracle” is derived from a comparison that is definitely incorrect.4

Finally, while talking of the motion of mountains, the author of the Qur’an drew a parallelism between mountains and clouds and contended that the mountains pass away as clouds do. If he really meant that the mountains always moved, why did he liken this phenomenon to the observable movement of the clouds? Why can we not see the supposed constant movement of the mountains although we can observe the movement of the clouds?


Rebuttal to Websites Propagating the Pseudo-Miracle of the Rotating Earth

The pseudo-scientific miracle regarding the announcement of the rotation of the earth in the Qur’an more than a thousand years ago is unsurprisingly promoted by other people than Nurbaki and sometimes with variations.5 Since all of these miracle hunters make use of the same strategy of distortion, our rebuttal to Nurbaki above is equally applicable to them. However, while doing my research on this hoax, I came across a website where the author did not only repeat the miracle claim fabricated from the misinterpretation of Surah 27:88, but also made some attempts to defend his faulty conclusions with more false assertions and fallacies. This is why I have considered his arguments worthy of further rebuttal. His erroneous assertions appear on a website although they seem to have been copied there from a book entitled “The Quran, The Unchallengeable Miracle”. The content of the site and the book is identical, although the site is ascribed to a certain "Qur’an Science Group" while the book gives only the name Caner Taslaman as the sole author (*).6

Under the title “The Earth does rotate even though we are not conscious of it”, Caner Taslaman introduces his argument:

The mountains’ features seem to make them the most stationary components of the earth’s surface. The idea of the unattainability of mountains led certain primitive mentalities to believe in polytheism and fancy that the mountains were the abode of divinities. The idea of mountain peaks being beyond man’s reach was an illusion, as was also their stationary aspect.7

It seems that the author of the Qur’an was influenced by the same illusion because he wrote that mountains were cast onto the created earth as pegs and their primary function was to prevent the land from shaking (Surah 16:15, Surah 31:10).

After quoting Surah 27:88 from a literal translation, he continues:

The verse refers to this illusion and speaks of the motion of mountains like clouds. If the mountains that had a stationary aspect did move, it would follow that the earth itself also moved. The verse thus dismisses the idea of a fixed world entertained as a consequence of false perception, and informed the public of the time of the movement of mountains, likening them to clouds.

If this conclusion is true and if the writer of this particular verse really aimed to propagate the idea of a rotating earth through the supposed motion of the mountains like clouds, we have a serious contradiction in the allegedly divine revelation given to Muhammad. As we said earlier, the Qur’an contains several verses referring to the stationary aspect of mountains and designates them as pegs created for the purpose of fixing the earth (Surah 13:3, Surah 27:61, Surah 21:31). Once we apply the writer’s inference and interpretation to such verses, we reach the contradictory conclusion that the Qur’an promotes the idea of a fixed world and denies its rotation.

This sign, beyond the grasp of the public contemporary with the Prophet, led people to believe that it was a premonitory sign foretelling the end of the world.

The writer exhibits “signs” of arrogance and claims that the people of Muhammad’s period failed to understand this supposed scientific information in the verse and its miraculous nature! The reason underlying this alleged failure was that this piece of information was beyond the grasp of those people. This assertion prompts one to pose the question “How come a book claimed to appeal to all people and times with clear teachings contained a code-like sign that was misunderstood until the era of the modern Islamic propagandists/miracle hunters?” A similar question is “What is the point of giving some scientific information to people that cannot understand and interpret it accurately?”

Besides, the writer’s statement implicitly holds Islam’s prophet responsible for this failure as Muhammad seems not to have revealed the correct meaning of the verse to his contemporaries despite the divine guidance. We cannot stop wondering how the prophet of Islam did not teach his followers the supposed scientific information given in the verse and try to dismiss its misinterpretations. How come he did not see anything wrong with leaving Muslims in ignorance although his role as a prophet was the accurate explanation of the Qur’an to both immediate and future generations? The analysis of the traditional commentaries (tafsir) on this Qur’an verse shows that neither Muhammad nor the first Muslims were aware of this scientific miracle promoted by a bunch of modern Islamic writers. For example, Ibn Kathir made the following commentary on Surah 27:88:

And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds.) (27:88) meaning, you will see them as if they are fixed and as if they will remain as they are, but they will pass away as the passing away of the clouds, i.e., they will move away from their places. This is like the Ayat: (On the Day when the heaven will shake with a dreadful shaking, And the mountains will move away with a (horrible) movement.) (52:9-10) (And they ask you concerning the mountains: say, "My Lord will blast them and scatter them as particles of dust. Then He shall leave them as a level smooth plain. You will see therein nothing crooked or curved.") (20:105-107), (And (remember) the Day We shall cause the mountains to pass away, and you will see the earth as a leveled plain.) (18:47). (The work of Allah, Who perfected all things,) means, He does that by His great power. (Source)

How certain propagandists like Nurbaki, Yahya, and Taslaman attained the knowledge of the original and intended meaning of the verse in our time is a mystery. They must be elected and divinely inspired people as they claim to have manifested something unknown to commentators like Ibn Kathir and even to Muhammad!8

Even someone who had no knowledge of the Arabic language could see that this interpretation was groundless and conflicting with the Quran.

Taslaman ignores the fact that his innovated interpretation is groundless and in clash with the Qur’an verses emphasizing the firmness of mountains.

In the verse it is stated that men believe that the mountains are stationary, but this is an illusion. It is impossible to deduce from the mountains in motion that this is to take place at the end of the world.

These comments are hard evidence for the writer’s acts of manipulation and distortion. In the first place, the writer is trying to force the word “illusion” into the original text. Second, the people who have knowledge of Arabic language know well that the personal pronoun in the first sentence of this verse is singular whereas the pronoun in its last sentence is plural. In other words, the verse first talks about a single man’s observation, and then addresses all men by reminding them that God is aware of all their deeds. Third, Taslaman’s final sentence is devoid of logic, having been based on a straw-man argument. No one argues that it is possible to deduce from the mountains in motion that this incident is going to take place at the end of the world. Actually, Taslaman closes his eyes to the fact that the conclusion concerning the time of this event is reached through the analysis of the context of the verse and its comparison with similar verses in the entire Qur’an. Instead of following this strategy, he unreasonably ignores the relation of the verse to the preceding and following verses in addition to disregarding the particular verse below:

And (bethink you of) the Day when we remove the hills and ye see the earth emerging, and We gather them together so as to leave not one of them behind. (Surah 18:47 Pickthall)

This proves that what caused people of Muhammad’s time to regard the idea of moving mountains as a premonitory sign foretelling the end of the world was the author of the Qur’an! Since the person who wrote this article believes Allah to be the sole author of the Islamic scripture, we can conclude that Allah is first to blame for this supposedly fallacious interpretation as he first taught people through this verse that in Surah 27:88 the mountains in motion signaled the end of times.

We see that the opinions entertained about the stationary character of the earth were so firm that bigoted theologians disregarding the revelations of the Quran could utter that anyone who thought that the earth moved had to be subjected to capital punishment in the twentieth century!

We see that many Islamic writers’ and theologians’ opinions about the stationary character of the earth were so firm because of several Qur’an verses supporting this teaching. We also see that some modern propagandists (like Taslaman!) disregard the context of Surah 27:88 in addition to the other Qur’an verses that emphasize:

  1. The mountains are firm and static.
  2. They will only move at the end of times as a sign of the Judgment Day.

Taslaman later says:

The Quran is full of miraculous revelations, but there is no end to the lies concocted in the name of religion. The people who took as their guide such concoctions and merely read the Quran as a textbook without understanding its meaning have done the greatest harm to religion. One must understand the reliability of the Quran and avoid all superstitions.

The Qur’an actually has no miracles, but there is no end to the lies fabricated by a bunch of miracle hunters in the name of Islamic science. These modern commentators, as inventors of pseudo-miracles, spread lies and deliberately distort the Islamic scripture for the sake of defending it. A person who gives priority to honesty and who is in favor of the truth must be aware of such lying scholars and their dishonest tactics in order to avoid fallacious interpretations.

Once man ceases to mix his own ideas with God’s, the problem will be solved. Otherwise, man will continue committing the sin of mixing his views with God’s revelations.

Here Taslaman ignores that he mixes his own ideas and inventions with the ideas of the Qur’an’s human writer. He is still guilty of perversion and dishonesty although the book he distorts and misinterprets is not divinely inspired or dictated.

Galileo Galilei, like Copernicus and Kepler, argued that the earth moved and the sun stood in the center. According to their contention, the earth had no central position. The Church was not as tolerant as it had been in the case of Copernicus and Kepler. Galileo’s adoption of the Copernican system was refuted by the Church, and under threat of torture from the Inquisition, he was forced to publicly recant his heretical views. This was not the end of the ordeal; he still had to face material and spiritual tortures. He was forced to spend the last eight years of his life under house arrest. The story of the Church and Galilei illustrates best the quarrel between “religion” and science. But the fact remains that the original religion as such was not to blame, but the so-called representatives of fabricated religion were.

Here, as a desperate author, Taslaman commits a logical fallacy when he supposes that making a subjective distinction between original and fabricated religion will contribute to the discussion concerning the relation between religion and science. More, he does not take into account the fact that even the true representatives of the true religion are not automatically authorized to make correct and reliable interpretations. Liars are liars anywhere and anytime. The origin of a religion or faith does not necessarily prevent its followers from practicing dishonesty. Still, it must be clear that we do not accuse all Muslim scholars of dishonesty, but only certain people who invent pseudo-miracles by perverting the Qur’an and claim to know what even the writer of the Qur’an was by no means aware of!

A related Pseudo-Miracle: Mountains in Motion

After making efforts to endorse his peculiar interpretation of Surah 27:88, Caner Taslaman manages to fabricate a second pseudo-miracle from the same verse.

The verse we are studying in this chapter may have another sign, as well. The terrestrial crust moves as if floating on the mantle, which is denser. This was the reason why the continents, once a whole, were severed from each other. The ideas posited by German meteorologist and geologist Alfred Wegener in an article published in 1915 made him the first serious proponent of the theory of the continental drift. His theory was not espoused by most geologists of his time. It is, however, accepted now as correct in principle. The continental drift is the concept of continent formation by the fragmentation and movement of masses of land on the surface of the earth. The seas and lands are in collision with each other like floating rafts on a lake, sometime overlapping each other. Their speeds vary between 3cm and 15cm per year. Thus, the mountains, that appear stationary to us, are in fact in motion along with the earth, as well as with the continent of which they form a part.

The world we inhabit rotates around its axis and revolves about the sun in its rapid course in space along with the solar system; in addition, we must take into account the world’s movement in relation to the moon. We shall include also the gravitational force of other planets. Unconscious of all these phenomena, we sleep tightly, enjoy our meals with relish, and take pleasure in reading and doing sports. A car is considered super when it does not let us feel we are riding in it. Our world travels at an immense speed and follows extremely complex courses unpiloted, without our being consciously affected by them. The verse we analyzed at the beginning of this chapter is an evidence of the incontestable perfection of God’s design. (Source)

Sadly, Taslaman’s efforts to convince us by writing these long paragraphs are futile and do nothing more besides contributing to the absurdity of his essential claims. The theory of continental drift he talks of is not even implied in the entire Qur’an. In contrast, the author of the Islamic scripture considers the motion of mountains impossible to happen before the end of ages. The verse below consolidates this conclusion:

Had it been possible for a Lecture to cause the mountains to move, or the earth to be torn asunder, or the dead to speak, (this Qur'an would have done so). Nay, but Allah's is the whole command. (Surah 13:31 Pickthall)

Obviously, the person devising this verse would not have regarded the idea of moving mountains as something unthinkable or miraculous if he had been aware of the continental drift discovered by scientists. When compared with the scientific discovery in view, Surah 13:31 remains alien to science and this particular natural phenomenon.

A Contradictory Hoax About Mountains

On his website Taslaman presents another pseudo-miracle related to mountains:

Mountains are often mentioned in the Quran. The simile of pegs seems to be preternatural in the light of geological findings of the last century. The mountains we observe on the surface of the earth rest on immense strata that may be ten to fifteen times as deep as the portion remaining on the surface of the earth. For instance, the highest mountain on earth, whose peak attains an altitude of 9 km from the ground, possesses a substratum that goes about 125 km into the depths of the earth. For a peg to be able to fulfill its function, the length of the portion stuck in the earth is important. The same holds true for the mountain.

Have We not made the earth habitable? (78:6)
And the mountains as pegs? (78:7)

There also exist mountains rising from the bottom of seas that also possess substratum. These substrata support the visible portion of the mountains in accordance with the Archimedean principle. These substrata were unknown until a few centuries back, let alone during the time of the Prophet. The simile in the Quran is once again a miraculous statement. (Source)

Every careful reader and observer can notice that this particular pseudo-miracle overtly contradicts the miracle hoax concerning the rotation of the earth, which was born of the false analogy between mountains and clouds in Surah 27:88 and its misinterpretation. How is it possible for Taslaman and other miracle hunters to reconcile the portrayal of mountains as pegs in the Qur’an with the assertion that mountains are in motion and pass away like clouds? How can mountains function as pegs and stabilize the earth if they are in motion? Did the author of the Qur’an want us to believe that mountains are moving pegs that stabilize the earth while they themselves are in motion like clouds? Evidently, by isolating the Qur’an verses and sticking to dishonesty, Muslim propagandists can fabricate several pseudo-miracles that are contradictory and mutually exclusive.

As for the miracle claim above, it has nothing to do with scientific teachings regarding the role of mountains.9 Let’s see how Taslaman becomes manipulative and misleading once more:

In geology textbooks that have not been updated, information is not available about the role the mountains play, the role of stabilizing the crust of the earth. However, there are some publications on this issue.

First, we would like Taslaman to show us the phrase “crust of the earth” in the Qur’an.

The book entitled “Earth” is one of the many now on the market. Frank Press, author of this book, is the president of the Academy of Sciences, adviser to Jimmy Carter, ex-President of the USA. This author likens the mountains to wedges, the greater part of which remain underneath the surface of the earth. In this book, Dr. Press explains the functions of mountains, drawing special attention to their important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth. This information exactly matches the statement in the Quran:

“And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm lest it should shake with them.” (21:31)

Again, Taslaman ignores the fact that the Qur’an does not talk about “the crust of the earth”. He simply forces a word into the Islamic scripture to prove a pseudo-miracle through the distortion of the original text.

Actually, the crust of the earth floats on a liquid. This outermost layer of the earth extends 5 km from the surface. The depths of the mountain strata go as far down as 35 km. Thus, the mountains are sort of pegs driven into the earth. Just like the pegs used to stabilize a tent on the ground, so these pegs stabilize the crust of the earth.

Where is this scientific piece of information about the crust of the earth floating on a liquid explicitly stated or even implied in the Qur’an? Actually, the author of the Qur’an did not explain why mountains were made to function as pegs on earth, opening the door to speculations. For instance, Islamic commentator Ibn Kathir reported that the earth would keep shaking without mountains because of waters rather than because the crust of the earth floated on a liquid:

(And has set on the earth firm mountains) means, the mountains which stabilize and lend weight to the earth, lest it should shake with its water. Allah says: (lest it should shake with you.) (Source)

Taslaman continues quoting some scientific data:

Mountains are the outcome of collisions between strata of the earth’s crust; the result of the encroachment of a given stratum on another one. These strata that go deeper and deeper enable the crust layers to integrate.

Where is this information given in the Qur’an? Most probably, the author of the Qur’an did not know how mountains were formed. In sharp contrast to the scientific information quoted above, the writer of the Qur’an always considered mountains as external structures later attached to the earth. This is why he said that mountains were cast into the earth after the earth’s creation and considered them similar to rivers and roads. In other words, he thought that the plain earth was later decorated with mountains, rivers and roads:

And He cast on the earth firm mountains, lest it shake with you, and rivers and ways; so haply you will be guided. (Surah 16:15 Arberry)

And we set mountains on the earth lest it should move with them, and we made on it broad passages between them as routes for their guidance. (Surah 21:31 Rodwell)

He created the heavens without pillars that ye can see, and He threw upon the earth firm mountains lest it should move with you; and He dispersed thereon every sort of beast; and we send down from the heavens water, and we caused to grow therein of every noble kind. (Surah 31:10 Palmer)

My rebuttal in the above section was of an exegetical nature, i. e. focusing on the proper interpretation of the Qur’an. Andrew Vargo’s article, Are Mountains “Pegs” Which Prevent the Earth from Shaking?, exposes how Muslim propagandists are not honest in their use of scientific textbooks and misquote them to support their miracle claims.

Note: I want to thank Jochen Katz (*) for his contributions to this article.


While commenting on Surah 27:88, famous miracle hunter Harun Yahya makes efforts to improve the well-known hoax with the addition of a new claim:

You will see the mountains and reckon them to be solid; but they go past like clouds-the handiwork of Allah Who gives to everything its solidity. He is aware of what you do. (Qur’an, 27:88)

The above verse emphasises that the Earth not only rotates but that it also has a direction of rotation. The direction of movement of the main cloud masses at 3,500-4,000 metres high is always from West to East. That is why it is generally the state of the weather in the West which is looked at in meteorological forecasts. (Source)

He argues that not only the rotation of the earth, but also its direction was revealed in Surah 27:88 when the motion of mountains was likened to that of clouds. Obviously, Yahya is reluctant to admit that the verse neither contains the word “direction” nor teaches in what direction the clouds pass away. Thus, humanity owes the scientific information about the direction of the world’s rotation not to the Qur’an, but to scientific studies. Modern Islamic propagandists’ and writers’ lies are always to be exposed and refuted as long as truth prevails.

It is noteworthy that Yahya’s assertion quoted above is not only alien to the Qur’an, but his claims are also nonsense scientifically. The scientific aspects of his statements are examined in detail in Jochen Katz’ article, Harun Yahya’s “Science” Fiction – Part 2.



1 Published in 1989 by Ankara Diyanet Vakfi (Foundation for Religion).

2 Halûk Nurbaki was an oncologist who can be considered the Turkish equivalent of Maurice Bucaille in terms of his approach to the relation between the Qur’an and science.

3 Being unaware or ignorant of this fact, Nurbaki contradicts himself when he invents another pseudo-miracle from the Qur’an verses that designate mountains as pegs preventing the land from shaking (pages 224-226). According to him, the Quranic description of mountains as pegs is compatible with the scientific information related to the role of mountains in the stabilization of the earth’s crust. However, this pseudo-miracle is obviously not compatible with Nurbaki’s other miracle claim related to the cloud-like motion of mountains. When we put these two hoaxes together, we get the awkward picture of mountains in constant motion although their role is said to be stabilizing the earth.

4 I thank Jochen Katz, who informed me of Nurbaki’s false analogy.

5 For instance, Harun Yahya argues that Surah 27:88 miraculously teaches not only the rotation of the earth, but also its direction of rotation. For more information on this claim, see the Appendix.

6 Perhaps "Qur’an Science Group" is a kind of "plural of majesty" for Caner Taslaman?

7 This miracle claim can also be found on page 109 of the book.

8 Of course, these miracle hunters owe their peculiar interpretation to scientific discoveries and developments. Thus, the key to their understanding/interpretation is not the Qur’an text, but advancements in the field of scientific studies. It is the desperate attempt to find modern scientific insights reflected at least “somewhere in the Qur’an”.

9 Actually, the Quranic teaching that the mountains are pegs preventing the earth from shaking is a clear scientific error. For a detailed analysis of this error, I recommend the relevant section of Dr. Campbell’s book.

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