Common Misconceptions About Islam, Muslims and The Quran

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Misconception: The Quran says the Earth was created in 6 days

Verses such as 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 50:38, 57:4 are often cited, e.g.

50:38 And We have created the heavens and the Earth and what is between them in six periods/days and no fatigue touched Us.

Whilst the Arabic word "yawm" (plural "ayyam") is commonly translated as "day" (as in 24 hour period) this is not its only meaning in The Quran. It has been used to mean: "event, a moment in time" (1:4, 2:48, 2:85, 2:254 etc), "today, this/that day/moment" (2:249, 3:167, 12:54, 5:3, 40:17 etc), "unspecified length of time, days, period, era" (3:24, 14:5, 3:140, 45:14, 69:24 etc). In classical Arabic dictionaries, such as Lane's Lexicon, it is said its primary meaning is "time" (whether little or not).

It should be noted that a 24 hour day is only possible AFTER the earth and sun have been created, not prior, so this interpretation does not fit from the outset.

Also, The Quran clearly implies time is relative [22:47, 32:5, 70:4] and these verses use the word "yawm", confirming this word does not represent a fixed length of time.

An interesting, albeit speculative, argument has been made that despite not knowing the length of time "yawm" refers to in the earth/heavens creation verses, The Quran implies the creation of the earth took two of these periods/yawm [41:9] thus making the age of the earth 2/6 (i.e. one third) of the total age of the universe. The latest scientific estimate of the age of the universe is approximately 13.8 billion years and the earth 4.54 billion years. If we divide these values (4.54/13.8) it results in 0.33 (i.e. one third), which is a good fit.


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