THE SUN ROTATES
For a long time European philosophers and scientists believed that the earth
stood still in the centre of the universe and every other body including the sun
moved around it. In the West, this geocentric concept of the universe was
prevalent right from the time of Ptolemy in the second century B.C. In 1512,
Nicholas Copernicus put forward his Heliocentric Theory of Planetary
Motion, which asserted that the sun is motionless at the centre of the solar
system with the planets revolving around it.
In 1609, the German scientist Yohannus Keppler published the ‘Astronomia
Nova’. In this he concluded that not only do the planets move in elliptical
orbits around the sun, they also rotate upon their axes at irregular speeds.
With this knowledge it became possible for European scientists to explain
correctly many of the mechanisms of the solar system including the sequence
of night and day.
After these discoveries, it was thought that the Sun was stationary and did not
rotate about its axis like the Earth. I remember having studied this fallacy
from Geography books during my school days. Consider the following
Qur’aanic verse: “It is He Who created The Night and the Day, And the
sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) Swim along, each in its
Rounded course.” [Al-Qur’aan 21:33]
The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahûn . The word yasbahûn is
derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes
from any moving body. If you use the word for a man on the ground, it would
not mean that he is rolling but would mean he is walking or running. If you
use the word for a man in water it would not mean that he is floating but
would mean that he is swimming.
Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun it
would not mean that it is only flying through space but would mean that it is
also rotating as it goes through space. Most of the school textbooks have
incorporated the fact that the sun rotates about its axis. The rotation of the sun
about its own axis can be proved with the help of an equipment that projects
the image of the sun on the table top so that one can examine the image of the
sun without being blinded. It is noticed that the sun has spots which complete
a circular motion once every 25 days i.e. the sun takes approximately 25 days
to rotate around its axis.
In fact, the sun travels through space at roughly 150 miles per second, and
takes about 200 million years to complete one revolution around the center of
our Milky Way Galaxy.
“It is not permitted To the Sun to catch up The Moon, nor can The Night
outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along In (its own) orbit (According to
Law).” [Al-Qur’aan 36:40]
This verse mentions an essential fact discovered by modern astronomy, i.e.
the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their
journey through space with their own motion. The ‘fixed place’ towards,
which the sun travels, carrying with it the solar system, has been located
exactly by modern astronomy. It has been given a name, the Solar Apex. The
solar system is indeed moving in space towards a point situated in the
constellation of Hercules (alpha Layer) whose exact location is firmly
The moon rotates around its axis in the same duration that it takes to revolve
around the earth. It takes approximately 291⁄2 days to complete one rotation.
One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Qur’aanic
verses. Should we not ponder over the question: “What was the source of
knowledge contained in the Qur’aan?”