Abraham and the Sun

 

Sami Zaatari

 

 

 

The owner of answering-Islam recently came out with what he thinks to be a Qura'nic inconsistency. His article can be located on this link:

 

http://www.answeringislam.net/Quran/Contra/abraham_sun.html

 

With that said let us proceed and see if there are any Quranic problems in the story he cites.

 

For starters, let us all read the passages that are in question. Mr. Katz brings surah 6:74-82 which reads as follows:

 

And when Abraham said to his father Azar, 'Takest thou idols for gods? I see thee, and thy people, in manifest error.' So We were showing Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and earth, that he might be of those having sure faith. When night outspread over him he saw a star and said, 'This is my Lord.' But when it set he said, 'I love not the setters.' When he saw the moon rising, he said, 'This is my Lord.' But when it set he said, 'If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray.' When he saw the sun rising, he said, 'This is my Lord; this is greater!' But when it set he said, 'O my people, surely I am quit of that you associate. I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth, a man of pure faith; I am not of the idolaters.' His people disputed with him. He said, 'Do you dispute with me concerning God, and He has guided me? I fear not what you associate with Him, except my Lord will aught. My Lord embraces all things in His knowledge; will you not remember? How should I fear what you have associated, seeing you fear not that you have associated with God that whereon He has not sent down on you any authority?' Which of the two parties has better title to security, if you have any knowledge? Those who believe, and have not confounded their belief with evildoing -- to them belongs the true security; they are

 rightly guided.

 

So let us see what exactly is the problem, Katz writes:

 

The credibility of this story depends on the "surprise factor", i.e. that Abraham is actually surprised by the fact that the star, the moon and the sun are setting. Does that make sense? What is the probability that this is true?

Depending on where people live and what lifestyle they have, they may not usually be awake when the sun rises. Consequently, experiencing a sunrise may not be a regular event for some, though most people have nevertheless experienced a good number of them. However, nearly all people are awake when the sun sets. Not all are privileged to live in the mountains or at an ocean shore where the surrounding scenery makes a sunset particularly beautiful, but by the time somebody becomes a young adult, he had thousands of sunset experiences (except for very few people who live north of the polar circle, but Abraham lived in the Middle East). Whether or not one has ever seen the full beauty that is possible in a sunset, there are not many things that are as certain every day as the fact that the sun is going to set, and the night will come. And that is not a new development in the 21st Century; it was just the same in Abraham's time.

The Quranic story in S. 6:74-82 presumes that Abraham had never before in his life seen a star, the moon or the sun. Only then could he become so impressed as to worship them immediately at their appearance, and then be surprised and dismayed at their setting after their rising.

RESPONSE

There are no problems here; Katz has just misunderstood the story. Abraham was growing tired of the idols, and he saw how small and useless they were, hence he began to turn away from them. He began to contemplate so he started to look at the heavens above him, the stars, the moons, and even the sun. This began to make him think that there was a greater and All Powerful being out there, the true and Almighty Powerful God.

Yet at this point Abraham didn't know who this God was, so when he saw the greatness of the universe, such as the stars, the moon, and the sun, he began to take them as Lords. This is essentially what you call pantheism, where nature and God are one in the same.

Yet since Abraham for a short time believed the sun was God, this wouldn't satisfy him as he always needs God to be there for him, yet when he turns to the sun, it starts to set, and hence this is a god who cannot be around for his enquiries and prayers. The same goes for the stars, and the moon.

Yes, Abraham used to always see the sun, the star, and the moon set, yet the situation has now changed. In the past Abraham did not take the sun, the star, or the moon as his Lord, now he has. Hence since he believes they are his Lord his perception and expectations of them CHANGED, since he believes they are his Lord he would have assumed and thought that the sun would stick around for him, the same for the star, and the moon.

This is very obvious, but when one is looking for a problem in the Quran, one has to resort to such weak arguments.

Katz continues to write:

this story also poses a theological problem. It is well known that idolatry, worshiping someone or something as god which is not the true God, is considered the worst sin in Islam, some passages in the Qur'an even stating that it is the only sin that will not be forgiven.

RESPONSE

What Katz forgets to tell his reader is that shirk is only unforgivable only AFTER you die, not while you're alive. Humans are always free to repent of shirk during their lifetime, yet when they die, the door of repentance and forgiveness for this sin is gone.

Read this article for further information:

http://muslim-responses.com/Does_Allah_Forgive_Shirk/Does_Allah_Forgive_Shirk_

Katz continues:

Abraham lapsed into idolatry after he had already received revelation from Allah. Even worse, he had been given that revelation for the express purpose that he may have "sure faith".

RESPONSE

I want everyone to notice the deception and games that are going on with Katz. For starters NO WHERE do the Quranic passages say that Allah gave a revelation to Abraham, in fact I challenge Katz to show us any of these passages saying Allah gave Abraham a revelation.

All the passage says is that Allah was showing Abraham the heavens, it says nothing about giving him a revelation, or speaking to him, Katz made this up.

Secondly, what does it mean that Allah showed Abraham the heavens? Since no where does it say that Allah talked with Abraham, or came to Abraham, we know that it doesn't mean that Abraham was consciously aware of the fact that God was guiding him during this moment. As Ibn Kathir writes:

(Thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth...) [6:75], means, when he contemplated about the creation of the heaven and earth, We showed Ibrahim the proofs of Allah's Oneness over His dominion and His creation, which indicate that there is no god or Lord except Allah.

Hence Katz' argument holds no water as he has made it all up!

At this point when Allah began to guide Abraham, Abraham was STILL NOT a full monotheist and was still searching for the answers, yet it was not complete. Allah himself says that he will be there for those who seek the truth; Abraham was a man who was seeking the truth, so Allah showed him the heavens, so that Abraham could contemplate.

The end result out of all of this was that Abraham became a pure monotheist, and one of the greatest Prophets of God, even being called God's friend.

Katz then tries to cite some scientific errors, which are hilarious at best, he writes:

There is yet another scientific and common sense reason why it could not have happened this way. Granted, there is a certain logic behind the sequence of (1) star, (2) moon, and (3) sun: these three are sorted according to the increasing brightness of their appearance on the sky. However, even under the already impossible assumption that Abraham had not seen either one of these before, this is not the sequence in which he could have encountered them.

Stars are only visible at night. Thus, Abraham saw that star rise on the night sky. However, the moon outshines every star. Just step outside at night and take a look the next time the sky is clear. If brightness is the argument, how could Abraham have chosen a little twinkling star as his Lord when the moon was shining so much larger and so much brighter? It does not make sense. Some may reply: "But there are nights when we do not see the moon!"

RESPONSE

This is one of the most beautiful strawmans I have ever seen in my entire life. Where in the world does the Quran say that Abraham choose these celestial bodies according to their brightness?

Katz tries to find a reason for the sequence of the star, moon, and sun. He even admits he doesn't know the reason for this sequence, but then goes on to assume it has to do with the levels of brightness, and then he goes to attack a lovely straw man!

The sequence is very simple, there is no hidden meaning behind it, this is the simple truth of the story, Abraham choose this route, he first took the star, then the moon, then the sun!

The Quran is not like your gospels Mr. Katz, to change stories around to make them look better, the Quran unlike your gospels report the stories as they are.

So notice the irony, Katz in trying to show the Quran to be wrong, shows himself to be a Satan in disguise! He essentially wants the Quran to change a true event and change the sequence of events to fit Jochen's own mind! Essentially this all means that Jochen wants the Quran to change a truthful story! This shows he is a little devil, and shows why the gospels are so corrupt, because many evil men thought like Katz and began to change true stories and make up false stories to fit their own flimsy desires.

What makes this funnier is that Katz even refutes himself, he writes:

Some may reply: "But there are nights when we do not see the moon!"

Exactly! On the first night that Abraham did this he did at night, and there was NO MOON IN THE SKY! Hence he chose a star. Then on the second night the moon appeared, and he took the moon. Then on the third day he finally took the sun! Katz then makes another argument up when he writes:

That is correct, but in that case, what celestial body is Abraham going to see after the star has set? If it is a night where the moon is not visible, then Abraham would first have seen the sun during the next day before he could encounter the moon in one of the following nights. The sequence in the Qur'an simply does not work.

RESPONSE

The straw man continues! Who says that just because the sun would come up after the stars means that Abraham would then choose to worship the sun?! See, Katz continues to attack straw man in assuming Abraham was following a sequential order of celestial bodies, this is Katz's assumption!

In fact it makes more sense that he didn't worship the sun after the stars, but rather went to the moon, because as we know the stars come in the night, hence if Katz wants the sequential order, Abraham was acting on a sequential order of celestial bodies of the night. Starting with the stars, then the moon, and then he lost hope with celestial bodies of the night, and went to the celestial body of the day, THE SUN!

So no matter what angle you look at it, Katz has been refuted. I really suggest that Katz brings some better arguments than this nonsense.

And Allah the Lord of Abraham Knows Best!

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