Due to the domination of the unbelievers in the fields of science over the past few centuries, and the penetration of their speculative theories and ideas—inclusive of terms and labels—into the hearts and minds of Muslims, many things are accepted by us and taken for granted without question or reflection.
One of those issues is referring to the Earth as a “planet” and this piece from Shaykh Ḥamūd al-Tuwayjurī (رحمه الله) is a much needed reminder for all of us.
The seventh angle: That applying the label of “planet” to the Earth is a mistake and misguidance.
Those who apply the label of ‘planet’ to it are the ones who claim that it is in motion just as the planets are in motion and that it orbits the Sun. They are the modern astronomers among the Europeans and those who blindly follow them and take their way from the ignorant Muslims.
This opposes what Allāh called it in His Book and what Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and all of the Muslims called it, save the foolish blind followers of the modern astronomers.
This saying necessitates that the Earth is from the generality of the adornment by which Allāh beautified the lowest heaven and which He made to be missiles for the devils.
[This is] because Allāḥ the Exalted says in His Mighty Book: ( إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا ٱلسَّمَآءَ ٱلدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ ٱلْكَوَاكِبِ وَحِفْظًا مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَٰنٍ مَّارِدٍ ) “Indeed, We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars. And as protection against every rebellious devil.” (37:6-7).
And the Exalted said: ( وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا ٱلسَّمَآءَ ٱلدُّنْيَا بِمَصَٰبِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَٰهَا رُجُومًا لِّلشَّيَٰطِينِ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ ٱلسَّعِيرِ ) “And We have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars and have made [from] them as missiles to drive away the devils.” (67:5).
And the Exalted said: ( وَزَيَّنَّا ٱلسَّمَآءَ ٱلدُّنْيَا بِمَصَٰبِيحَ وَحِفْظًا ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ ٱلْعَزِيزِ ٱلْعَلِيمِ ) “And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps and as protection. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.” (41:12).
It has been established from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that he said: “Between the heaven and the Earth is a distance [traversed in a journey of] 500 years,” and the mention of these ḥadīths has preceded.
When there is between the heaven and the Earth this large distance how can it be said that the Earth is a planet among the planets which Allāh has made to be an adornment for the lowest heaven?
This is from the most futile of falsehoods and no one who has the slightest touch of intellect says this.
Also, Allāh the Exalted has informed in His Mighty Book that He made the Earth to be floor and the heaven to be a construction (over it). He informed in other verses that He made the heaven to be a protected ceiling. And the Exalted said in another verse: (وَٱلسَّقْفِ ٱلْمَرْفُوعِ) “And by the ceiling (of the heaven) raised high.” (52:5).
Thus, the Qurʾān indicates that the Earth is the lowest (portion) of the construction and that the heaven is its ceiling. How can it be said that what is the foundation of the construction and the lowest part of it, that it is a planet among [the planets which comprise] adornment of its raised ceiling?
This is blind wandering, it is not said by anyone who knows what he says.
Al-Rāghib al-Aṣfahānī said that the Earth is a body that is a countepart (opposite) to the heaven and it is an expression for the lowest part of a thing, just as the heaven is an expression for the highest part of a thing.
Abū al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzī said in his tafsīr that the Earth is called an earth due to its vastness, and it has been said due to its declination from the heaven. Everything which is low is an earth and the heaven has been called heaven due to its elevation.
Al-Qurṭubī said in his tafsīr that the heaven to the Earth is like the ceiling of a building.
01 The “Solar System” model of the astrologer-astronomers has been mathematically reverse-engineered upon the assumption that the Sun is stationary relative to the planets and that the planets (into which they include the Earth) orbit the Sun.
This is a philosophically chosen viewpoint and not one informed by the scientific method itself, since it had been established by the late 19th century that the Earth has no detectable motion. This is what led to the crisis in physics and astronomy at the time, leading to the invention of the theory of relativity, not "discovery".
It is readily admitted that any body can be chosen as stationary, such as the moon, or any of the planets, and a model can be formed that can account for all observations and in which there is mathematical coherence. Thus, what you choose as the stationary object is purely a philosophical choice.
Fred Hoyle (1915- 2001), famous English astronomer, wrote:
Let it be understood at the outset that it makes no difference, from the point of view of describing planetary motion, whether we take the Earth or the Sun as the center of the solar system. Since the issue is one of relative motion only, there are infinitely many exactly equivalent descriptions referred to different centers - in principle any point will do, the Moon, Jupiter…. So the passions loosed on the world by the publication of Copernicus’ book, De revolutionibus orbium caelestium libri VI, were logically irrelevant.
George Ellis is a famous theoretical physicist and astronomer who authored books with Stephen Hawking. In a profile in Scientific American W.W. Gibbs quotes Ellis:
People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations... For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations... You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds...
What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.
Famous German physicist Max Born (1882- 1970) wrote:
Thus we may return to Ptolemy’s point of view of a ‘motionless Earth.’ This would mean that we use a system of reference rigidly fixed to the Earth in which all stars are performing a rotational motion with the same angular velocity around the Earth’s axis…one has to show that the transformed metric can be regarded as produced according to Einstein’s field equations, by distant rotating masses.
This has been done by Thirring. He calculated a field due to a rotating, hollow, thick-walled sphere and proved that inside the cavity it behaved as though there were centrifugal and other inertial forces usually attributed to absolute space. Thus from Einstein’s point of view, Ptolemy and Copernicus are equally right. What point of view is chosen is a matter of expediency.
There are many more similar statements from notable physicists and astronomers.
02 In his book on this subject, Shaykh al-Tuwayjurī (رحمه الله) also explains that the Earth is the largest body and the sun, moon and stars are all smaller than it. This means they are closer to the Earth than claimed in the solar system model of the astrologer-astronomers.
03 The word (كوكب) and (نجم) can be used interchangeably, however, as noted by Abū Hilāl al-ʿAskarī (4th century hijrah linguist), the word (كوكب) is used for a large star, and this word itself refers to the largest of things, whereas (نجم) is more general, referring to both large and small.
Thus, the (كواكب) are the planets (the larger bodies in the sky) while all of the bodies (planets and stars) are (نجوم).