Yesterday we examined the remarkable similarity between the pre-Copernican and the Qur'an's view of the cosmos. In particular, we focused on the belief in the seven heavens and the stars' position along with the moon in the lowest of these heavens .
Today we shall look at the idea that the heavens/sky are a dome which Allah prevents from falling on our heads through the use of invisible pillars and how this belief again chimes with ancient superstition.
In surah 22 verse 65 we read the following:
He withholds the sky from falling on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man.And the following two verses make clear that the author of the Qur'an thought the sky is held up with invisible pillars:
13:2Were similar beliefs in pillars holding up the sky, and gods showing us how powerful they were by promising not to let the sky fall on our heads, around prior to Mohammad? And if so, might any reasonable and intelligent reader suppose the author of the Qur'an could have been influenced by these myths?
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that YE CAN SEE... Y. Ali
He created the heavens without any pillars THAT YE CAN SEE... A. Y. Ali
In Eastern religions, the belief in such things was, it seems, widespread. For example...
One Vedic poet writes of a god "by whom the awesome sky and earth were made firm, by whom the dome of the sky was propped up"; and Varuna "pillared both the worlds apart as the unborn supported heaven" (Rig-veda 10.121.5; 8.41.10). "A common cosmology of the ancient world"
The ancient Egyptians, as well, had a similar belief in a sky that was held up by four pillars. In fact one of their Godessess, called Nut (from where, some have suggested, we get our word night and the French their nuit) was believed to arch over the Earth, her arms and legs forming the four pillars that held up the heavens.
And of course there are many biblical references to pillars holding up the heavens: In Job we find that "the pillars of heaven tremble" (26:11) and "Who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble?" ( 9:6);. And in Samuel "the foundations of the heavens tremble" (22:8).
So how do Muslims explain all this? Let's turn to everyone's favourite Islamic apologist, Maurice Bucaille and his infamous book, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science. Apparently the very verses I quoted at the beginning of this post prove that the author of the Qur'an doesn't really believe in the pillars. Really? What, just because Allah has made the pillars INVISIBLE?
"These two verses refute the belief that the vault of the heavens was held up by pillars, the only things preventing the former from crushing the earth" Bucaille (The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, p.154).Or some just quote the verse without the salient section at the end:
Allah is who raised The heavens without any pillar. (Holy Qur'an 13:2)