Does the Quran really state that the earth is flat? 194

Flat-Earth-SignThe simple one word answer is “Yes”, I was writing about this a few days ago and clarified that the Quran does indeed promote a flat-earth view. There are many verses such as the following …

15:19 And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.

20:53 He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky.” With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.

43:10 (Yea, the same that) has made for you the earth (like a carpet) spread out, and has made for you roads (and channels) therein, in order that ye may find guidance (on the way);

50:7 And the earth- We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)

The above is only a sample, there are lots more similar references.

Does any of this actually matter?

Yes, it truly does, when you believe that the quran is perfect and every word is promoted by a god for you to obey, then you quickly find that you are using it to justify some truly abhorrent stuff such as …

  • Intolerance of all other beliefs and non-belief
  • Homophobia
  • Misogyny
  • Murder
  • Stoning
  • etc…

What is important about the flat-earth statements within the quran is that here we have hard irrefutable proof that this book is not authored by a god and contains stuff that is factually wrong. If it is wrong about the earth being flat then it is clearly crazy to use it to justify all the violence and intolerance.

So what are the counter arguments presented by Islamic Apologists when you point out a flat earth?

It is not really saying the earth is flat?

This is no straw-man, it is an actual quote … (forgive his spelling)

If i Say About 1 Mile Square Area refered “Flat” in My discusion E.g My Best Friend ask me TO have One acre of Area, I Say him loud, ” that , my dear Friend, whole flat Terotery is yours , Dont think in acres, they are Miles” so David Here word Flat Dosnt Mean Whole earth is Flat,as concerned with wiki, so i totaly agree with him, If Tow people listening me and my friend nearby suposed my refred word 4 whole earth, thy may thier own misconception or way of inovation to undrstand. If one person debate and say 4 mile squir is refred flat, and one say whole earth is flat, refring my discusion to My friend, and about thier whole Quaral

The rebuttal to my observation regarding the quran describing the earth as flat is essentially to argue that the references in the quran are relative and localized. He illustrates this by pointing  out that if you take an area of say 1 sq mile, it is flat.

The rather obvious response to that is to point out that the flatness described by the quran is applied to the entire earth and not just a local area.

For example in 20:53 we read …

الذي جعل لكم الارض مهدا وسلك لكم فيها سبلا وانزل من السماء ماء فاخرجنا به ازواجا من نبات شتى

He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky.” With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.

And just to clarify that for you مَهْدًا = mahdan = (Noun) cradle or bed, (verb) flatten, smoothen, smooth, level, cement, grade, ram, plane, roll, flat, level off … is not applied here to a local area, but to the entire earth.

Clearly for this flatness there is no localised qualifier.

The Quran mentions the actual shape of the Earth as round, not flat

He Who has made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels)….” The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 20, Verse 53

Does carpet mean ‘flat’ ? Carpet takes the shape of the surface below. If the carpet is put on a spherical surface then it takes the shape of the sphere, it doesn’t stay flat, does it.

Brother david there was no gramer when quran was written and all gramers are drived from quran. No where in the Quran is it mentioned the Earth is flat. I just queted the example. Actually the Quran specifically mentions the Earth is egg shaped.The Qur’an mentions the actual shape of the earth in the following verse:

And we have made the earth egg shaped“. The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 79, Verse 30.

Taking One Verse as consequence and leaving other Is also an amazing degree of dishonesty.

Humm, the cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

So has anybody seen a spherically shaped area that has had a carpet rolled out on it … ever?

He then quotes a verse that he claims declares the earth is shaped like an egg, so lets take a really close look at that. The claim here is that 79:30 reads “And we have made the earth egg shaped”, but does it?

Nope, it does not, his claimed translation is the true dishonesty here, the quran says no such thing.

Arabic: والارض بعد ذلك دحاها

Transliteration: Waal-arda baAAda thalika dahaha

Literal: And the earth/Planet Earth after that He blew and stretched/spread it.

What is going on here is that a couple of translations have attempted to translate the word dahaha to mean made egg-shaped or like an ‘ostrich egg’, but that is wrong. The attempt to justify this is to claim that the root word for dahaha is duhiya which means ostrich egg, but even that is not correct either.

In Arabic, each word must be derived from its root. The root usually consists of three letters that can be manipulated, by adding vowels, prefixes and suffixes in order to produce different words with different meanings. For example, “ka-ta-ba” (to write) is the root for many words such as kitab (book), maktaba (library), katib (author), maktoob (written), kitabat (writings), etc…

Let’s now take the word mentioned to mean egg of an ostrich, “Duhiya”. This word is not a root. It is a noun and is derived from “da-ha-wa”, the same root that the verb “dahaha” comes from. Furthermore, Duhiya does not even mean the egg of an ostrich.

To daha the earth means to spread it out, there is no egg shape here at all, and that is why most good translations correctly render it as streatched or spread.

We are right back to a flat earth once again.


The Quran does indeed assert that the earth is flat, and this is quite obviously wrong. The claim that the Quran is perfect and never wrong does not withstand any fact-based criticism. This of course is just one example, there are many other similar factual inaccuracies … humans are not made of clay, the moon never split in two, jinns are not real, the sun does not set in a muddy pool when it sets, and thunder is not an angel.

The real issue here is not that a text from the seventh century contains some archaic and factually wrong information, that is exactly what we would expect. Instead, the issue is that this exact same text which is full of mistakes, is claimed to be perfect and must be obeyed. The result of such obedience is homophobia, violence, and intolerance, and that is why the assertion of perfection needs to be challenged, because while this myth of divine unchallengeable scribblings prevails, real harm results.

“The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment.”
Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, 1993

Leave a Reply

194 thoughts on “Does the Quran really state that the earth is flat?

  • Michael Elwood

    Dave, I understand the emotional need some atheists have to think themselves more “rational” or “scientific” than their religious counterparts, but I think they hurt their cause when they engage in these silly polemics.

    For example, suppose a Muslim told an atheist that America stretches, or spreads, from sea to shining sea and that the world is his oyster. And suppose that the atheist accused the Muslim of believing in stuff that’s “factually wrong”. “America isn’t flat,” thunders the atheist, “it’s full of mountains like Mount Everest and canyons like the Grand Canyon”! “Moreover,” says the atheist, “the world isn’t an oyster, everyone knows it’s the third planet from the sun”! Now, who’s the dummy in this scenario, the Muslim or the atheist? Is it the Muslim who has suspect scientific comprehension, or is it the atheist who has suspect English comprehension? When did “stretch” and “spread” become synonymous with “flatten” in the atheist lexicon? Does “critical thinking” or “skepticism” require atheists to take figurative language literally? I find myself asking these types of questions every time I encounter these amusing scientific-errors-in-the-Quran polemics.

    Your blog post seems to be based almost entirely on an article on the polemical website Wikiislam, which makes numerous misleading claims. The article even contains a 1553 AD painting that it says depicts “a traditional Islamic projection of the world as a flat disk surrounded by the sundering seas which are restrained by the encircling mountains of Qaf”. The painting was made some 500 years after the Muslim scientist Al-Biruni measured the circumference of our ROUND earth in 1037 AD, and some 600 years after the Muslim astronomer Abu al-Wafa’ Buzjani used SPHERICAL trigonometry to calculate the direction of prayer from any point on our ROUND earth! It was painted around the same time a famous painting was made (between 1574 and 1595 AD) of the Muslim astronomer, Taqi ad-Din Muhammad ibn Ma’ruf, studying a ROUND earth.

    Your blog post repeats some of the dubious claims from the Wikiislam article. For example, you wrote “And just to clarify that for you مَهْدًا = mahdan = (Noun) cradle or bed, (verb) flatten, smoothen, smooth, level, cement, grade, ram, plane, roll, flat, level off. . .” That’s incorrect. The word mahdan in 20:53 means cradle or abode-habitat. Some translators translate it as the former, some translate it as the latter, but none translate it as flat. It is in the sense of a cradle that it’s used in verse 19:29. And it’s in the sense of an abode-habitat that it’s used in 3:12, where hell is described as a “miserable abode/wabi’sa al-mihad”.

    You wrote, “So has anybody seen a spherically shaped area that has had a carpet rolled out on it … ever?” I don’t think it matters because verses 15:19, 20:53, 43:10, and 50:7, don’t mention carpets. Whatever English translation you’re using does, but the Arabic doesn’t.

    You wrote, “The attempt to justify this is to claim that the root word for dahaha is duhiya which means ostrich egg, but even that is not correct either.” That’s incorrect. I’ve never seen anyone claim that “duhiya” is the root word for “dahaha”. I have seen some claim that both duhiya and dahaha come from the dal-ha-waw root. And they’re right, dahyah does men egg. As you mentioned, Arabic words are derived from roots. For example, verse 39:5 says “He rolls the night over the day and the day over the night/yukawiru l-layla ala n-nar wa yukawiru n-nar ala l-layl”. The word yukawiru comes from the same root as the word kurah, which means ball, sphere, or orb. The dal-ha-waw root has 2 primary meanings: to spread-expand-extend and to be round. Some translators translate dahaha in verse 79:30 in the latter sense, some translate it in the former sense, none translate it as flat. In the past, the Arabic word for egg was dahyah and the word for nest was udhiyyah or madhan (see Lane’s “Arabic-English Lexicon,” pg. 857). This is an old usage, however. Only some North African dialects have retained this usage in the modern period (see “The Arabic Dialect of the Jews in Tripoli (Libya): Grammar, Text and Glossary,” pg. 212, and “A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic,” pg. 280).

    If you want to explore the relationship between Islam and science, I’d recommend reading a good book like “Islam’s Quantum Question” by the Muslim astrophysicist Nidhal Guessoum, instead of reading a polemical website like Wikiislam.

    • Dave Post author

      I appreciate the concern Michael.

      I should perhaps point out a couple of rather important points.
      – The posting is not a claim that all of Islam, or for that matter, all Muslims actually embrace flat earth cosmology as “Truth”. I would in fact be astonished if any variation of Islam today seriously advocated that stance.

      Any who adopt a literal reading of the text, or perhaps simply promote the idea that the text of wholly perfect, divine, and beyond criticism, tend to end up adopting positions that gravitate towards extremism. To provoke a bit of thought I put up a posting that contains the observation that a literal reading will also yield things that are simply not factual (such as flat earth cosmology, moon splitting in two, humans made out of potters clay, etc…). I picked flat earth.

      This of course is not unique to Islam. If you adopt a literal reading of the bible then you also find yourself with a cosmology that reflects the time it was written in, (Hint: no planet earth is not literally 6,000 years old).

      What I have also learned since I posted the article six years ago is that criticism of such texts changes nothing. Those deeply invested in the text at an emotional level are in effect immune to any criticism of the text. The responses tend to flow along the lines of these … not been correctly understood, you used the wrong translation, it is just a metaphor, etc…

      These days, if I’m going to engage in a discussion regarding beliefs, I’d tend to be far more interested in understand what people actually believe, and why they believe it.

  • a muslim

    The quran is written in old english and very hard to decipher also when it says laid out like a carpet it is a simile. I hope allah swt will show you the right path

    • Dave Post author

      // Old English //
      I think you mean an older form of Arabic.

      There are a couple of points here.
      – At the time and place it was written a flat earth cosmology prevailed, and so the text tends to echo that
      – How people read it varies a great deal. For some it is to be interpreted by scholars, but for others it is to be read literally
      – No one single interpretation prevails, but the one to truly argue against are those that interpret it as a text to be read literally because that also results in extremism .. a stance that the vast majority reject.

      Moving on.

      // I hope allah swt will show you the right path //
      Again if I am to interpret this, you are simply wishing me well and hope that I come to terms with the thought that the vast majority of those that believe are decent honourable people … is that correct?

      If it is, then be assured that it is a thought that I do hold.

  • Ramesh Parmar

    And after that He spread the earth. (79:30) ahahaha theres no mention of ostrich egg wtf they’re fucking liars

  • Jennifer

    Dear Dave,

    Understand Quran is too difficult because its not written in English.
    Also we know that the same word has different meaning to project based on the situation or context.

    DONOT FORGET that Quran has been written in Arabic and and this becomes more tough when its in Arabic.
    Many Arabic researcher still are working to analyze the complete Quran.

    Here word the word “Carpet” has a different sense. It means “Land as a base”.
    Kindly donot mislead with irrelevant pics and with cripple knowledge.

    My suggestion is to Master Arabic and try understanding it then come to a conclusion.

    A small glimpse :
    Recently we came to know that there are many galaxies like ours. However this was mentioned in Quran long back.

    May GOD give you the necessary patience & knowledge to understand the Holy Quran.

    • Serm

      Hi Jennifer,
      I speak Arabic and have a good knowledge of the language, I can confirm that Dave’s interpretation is very accurate. A lot of modern religious scholars and believers try to twist Arabic language in order to avoid the reality that Quran says that earth is flat. BTW, a lot of Quran verses mention that Sun moves and not a single one mentions that earth moves. Now some believers would say that Sun moves, which is true in a way, however, earth relatively moves much more but its movement never mentioned in Quran.

  • Va Tu


    The scholars are unanimously agreed that the earth is round, but to human eyes it appears to be flat, because it is very big and its roundness or curvature cannot be seen at close distances. So the one who stands and looks sees it as flat, but when viewed as a whole, in reality it is round.

    Ibn Hazm (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

    The proofs of the Qur’an and Sunnah indicate that it is round. End quote.

    See also the answers to questions no. 201530 and 118698


    The verse (interpretation of the meaning) “And Allah has made for you the earth wide spread (an expanse)” [Nooh 71:19] indicates that it is spread out and shaped so that people can feel settled in it and be able to live and prosper in it. Ibn Katheer said:

    That is, He spread it out, prepared it, made it stable and made it firm by means of the mountains.

    Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 8/247

    Similarly, the verse (interpretation of the meaning) “Have We not made the earth as a bed” [an-Naba’ 78:6] means that it is spread out and prepared for you and for your benefit, so that you can cultivate it, build dwellings in it and travel through it.

    Ibn Katheer said:

    That is, it is prepared for people in such a way that they can live in it, and it is firm, stable and steady.

    Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 8/307

    And the verse (interpretation of the meaning) “And the earth We spread out, and placed therein firm mountains, and caused to grow therein all kinds of things in due proportion” [al-Hijr 15:19] means We spread it out and placed firm mountains therein. This is like the verse in which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And it is He Who spread out the earth, and placed therein firm mountains and rivers” [ar-Ra‘d 13:3].

    There is no contradiction between saying that it is round and saying that it was spread out, because in fact in its totality it is round, but to the one who stands on it and looks at it, it appears flat, as it appears to everyone.

    Ar-Raazi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

    If it is said: Do the words “And the earth We spread out” indicate that it is flat?

    We would respond: Yes, because the earth, even though it is round, is an enormous sphere, and each little part of this enormous sphere, when it is looked at, appears to be flat. As that is the case, this will dispel what they mentioned of confusion. The evidence for that is the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “And the mountains as pegs” [an-Naba’ 78:7]. He called them awtaad (pegs) even though these mountains may have large flat surfaces. And the same is true in this case.

    End quote from Tafseer ar-Raazi, 19/131

    Shaykh ash-Shanqeeti (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

    If the scholars of Islam affirm that the earth is round, then what would they say about the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Do they not look at the camels, how they are created?

    And at the heaven, how it is raised?

    And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm?

    And at the earth, how it is spread out?”

    [al-Ghaashiyah 88:17-20].

    Their response will be the same as their response concerning the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water” [al-Kahf 18:86] – that is, as it appears to be in the eye of the beholder, because the sun sets on one country, but remains up in the sky for another, until it rises from the east on the following morning. So the earth looks flat in every region or part of it, because of its immense size.

    This does not contradict its real shape, because we may see a very high mountain, but if we climb it and reach its summit we may find a flat surface there, and find an entire nation living there, and some of the people there may not know anything about the rest of the world, and so on. End quote.

    Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 8/428

    Shaykh Rafee‘ ad-Deen ibn Waliyullah ad-Dahlawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his book at-Takmeel:

    Some may understand words such as “made the earth as a bed” [an-Naba’ 78:6], “He spread the earth” [an-Naazi‘aat 79:30] and “…how it is spread out…” [al-Ghaashiyah 88: 20] as meaning that it is flat, whereas the scholars affirm that it is round on the basis of sound evidence, so it is thought that there is a conflict. That may be refuted by the fact that the visible part of it (for a person standing on it) appears flat, because the larger a circle is, the more spread out it is, so we may say that it is flat on the basis of that part of it that is visible to us, and it is round in its totality, on the basis of rational thinking.

    Quoted from him by Siddeeq Hasan Khan in his tafseer, Fath al-Bayaan, 15/208

  • Jim Cramer

    Lines mentioned here (15:19, 20:53, 43:10, 50:7), It doesn’t seems describing the Shape. Like someone says “Our Playground is like ocean, its lawn grasses like foam. In this particular example, it is not discussing the shape of the playground at all. It seems to me describing something big and comfortable rather than shape.

  • kruger

    So shallow. When the quran speaks about earth moon planets sun it doesnt waste time to talk about its shape. The doesnt talk about the earth as a planet but the word Al-Ard is about the ground and land. Nobody in the islamic world since muhammad until today has had any problem understanding the verse. We dont believe the eart is flat either because the muslims are very wise to observe the shape of sun and moon. The quran speaks about greater subjects than what you are able to perceive.

  • kruger

    The problem is with your understanding. Is the piece of land you make your home is flat or curved? If you still dont understand that god has made the land flat then there is something wrong with you.

  • Anonymous

    Do you not know that when you use ‘like’ in a sentence, it becomes a simile? Quranic verses can be direct or indirect, so a phrase like ‘earth like a carpet’ is figurative. A direct verse would be ‘earth is egg-shaped’ and this is true due to the centrifugal force, hence the earth is not exactly spherical in nature. The earth is not flat and the Quran has proven it.