Errors in English Translations of the Quran


Is the Earth Flat?

The Quranic description of the earth, the solar system, the cosmos and the origin of the universe is centuries ahead of the time of its first revelation. For instance, the Quran, delivered in the seventh century C.E., states or implies that:

  • Time is relative (70:4; 22:47).
  • God created the universe from nothing (2:117).
  • The earth and heavenly bodies were once a single point and they were separated from each other by an explosion (21:30).
  • The universe is continuously expanding (51:47).
  • The universe was created in six days (stages) and the conditions that made life possible on earth took place in the last four stages (50:38; 41:10).
  • The stage before the creation of the earth is described as a gas nebula (41:11).
  • Planet earth is floating in an orbit (27:88; 21:33).
  • The earth is round like an egg (10:24; 39:5; 79:30).
  • Earth’s atmosphere acts like a protective shield for the living creatures (21:32).
  • Wind also pollinates plants (15:22).
  • The creation of living creatures follows an evolutionary system (15:28-29; 24:45; 32:7-9; 71:14-7).
  • The earliest biological creatures were incubated inside flexible layers of clay (15:26).
  • The stages of human development in the womb are detailed (23:14).
  • Our biological life span is coded in our genes (35:11).
  • Photosynthesis is a recreation of energy stored through chlorophyll (36:77-81).
  • The atomic number, atomic weight and isotopes of Iron are specified (57:25).
  • Atoms of elements found on earth contain a maximum of seven energy layers (65:12).
  • The sound and vision of water and the action of eating dates (which contain oxytocin) reduce labor pains (19:24-25).
  • There is life (not necessarily intelligent) beyond earth (42:29).
  • The word Sabbath (seventh day) occurs exactly 7 times.
  • The number of months in a year is stated as 12, and the word Month (shahr) occurs exactly twelve times.
  • The number of days in a year is not stated, but the word Day (yawm) occurs exactly 365 times.
  • A prophetic mathematical structure based on the number 19 implied in chapter 74 of the Quran was discovered in 1974 by the aid of computer shows that the Quran is embedded with an interlocking extraordinary mathematical system (I have written several Turkish and yet-to-be-published English books on this subject).

And there’s more – much more. Many of the signs/miracles mentioned in the Quran, for instance, represent the ultimate goals of science and technology. The Quran relates that matter (but not humans) can be transported at the speed of light (27:30-40); that smell can be transported to remote places (12:94); that extensive communication with animals is possible (27:16-17); that sleep, in certain conditions, can slow down metabolism and increase life span (18:25); and that the vision of blind people can be restored (3:49).

Does it make sense, then, that a book that displays such astonishing knowledge of the physical universe would declare that the earth is flat?

As for the shape of the earth, Yusuf Ali extends, Pickthall spreads, and Shakir expands. Other traditional translations are essentially no different. They extend, expand, or spread the earth.

! Disputed passage: Traditional translations extend and spread the egg-shaped earth.

Yusuf Ali Pickthall Shakir Reformist
And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse); (79:30) And after that He spread the earth, (79:30) And the earth, He expanded it after that. (79:30) And the earth afterwards, he made it round like egg. (79:30)


Almost all English translations of the Quran mistranslate the word DaHY, a word that is still used for “egg” among Arabic-speaking populations in North Africa. Why? The answer can be found in the footnotes of some classic commentaries of the Quran, which were written centuries ago.

Early commentators and translators of the verse were stuck on the word DaHY, since it means (as we have translated) egg. In the verse it is used as a transitive verb with the third person pronoun Ha, which means “made it round like egg” or literally “egged it.” But, the commentators thought that the earth was flat!

Since they knew God’s word could not contain errors or contradiction, they assumed their understanding of the verse must have been wrong. Thus, they tried to interpret the description. They argued that the word DaHY (egg) must have implied maDHY (nest), and inferred that God meant “nest” by the word “egg.” Therefore, the earth is extended like a nest.

Early commentators had an excuse for reaching such a conclusion, since they did not know that the earth was spherical and slightly distended (like an egg); however, modern commentators of the Quran have no excuse to parrot this medieval misunderstanding. They should have known that the verse means what it says: the earth is shaped like an egg. The external physical appearance of planet earth is like an egg, and its cross-section displays geological layers similar to egg. Not only is the earth egg-shaped and resembles an egg regarding its layers, but so is its orbit around the sun. In fact, this is Kepler’s famous First Law of Planetary Motion: the orbit of a planet about a star is an ellipse, as opposed to a perfect circle.

Is it Obvious OR is it Darkening, Scorching, Shriveling, and Burning?

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