Earth created first, then the heavens, then the earth was spread out
Fatwa No: 285217

Question

Aslamualakaum. Can you please answer this and not refer me to another fatwa. What was created first heaven or the Earth, How do we relates the ayahs 2:29, 79:27-33, 41:9-13. With regards to the creation of the Earth and heaven. Second how do we reconsile with ibn abbas statments in bukarahi that Allah created the Earth then heavens, then he seperated the heavens and then he spread the Earth, with the veres "It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things." In the veres it states that the heavens were spread after the spreading of the Earth, whereas ibn abbas said the oppsite that the heavens were spread then the Earth spread.Please reply back soon as this is confusing me

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Many Tafseer scholars mentioned that the earth was created first and then the heaven was created, and then the earth was spread out, and the mountains, rivers, trees, etc. were created in it. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer: “This is the norm of Allaah concerning construction: He first begins by constructing what is below and then He creates what is above.”

Then Ibn Katheer said after quoting the verses in Soorah Fussilat [Quran 41] and Soorah An-Naazi‘aat [Quran 79]: “This is evidence that the spreading of the earth took place after the creation of the heaven. As for the creation of the earth, it is evidenced by the revealed text that the earth was created before the creation of the heaven. The response of Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him was to the same effect as cited in the Saheeh of Al-Bukhari about the interpretation of this verse.

This confirms that the spreading of the earth happened last, and not the original creation of the earth, which was before the creation of the heavens.

The verse in Soorah Al-Baqarah [Quran 2] in which Allaah says (what means): {It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things.} [Quran 2:29] does not negate that the spreading of the earth took place after the creation of the heavens, because the sequence here is about the creation of the earth; as regards what was created upon the earth, Allaah has mentioned it here as being a favor from Him for His slaves so that they would know His bounty on them and so they would be admonished by it. For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 262609.

The well-versed scholar Muhammad Al-Ameen Ash-Shinqeeti  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his book Daf‘ Eehaam Al-Idhtiraab ‘an Aay Al-Kitaab: “The words of Allaah (which mean) {It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven…} [Quran 2:29]: this verse proves that the creation of the earth was before the creation of the heaven, as evidenced by His saying {Then}, which is used for sequence and distinction, and the verse in Soorah Fussilat [Quran 41] which also proves that the creation of the earth was before the creation of the heaven, because Allaah says in it (what means): {Say, "Do you indeed disbelieve in He who created the earth in two days"} until His saying (which means) {…Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke} [Quran 41:9-12], along with the verse in Soorah An-Naazi‘aat [Quran 79] which proves that the earth was spread after the creation of the heaven; Allaah says (what means): {Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allaah constructed it} [Quran 79:27], and then Allaah says (what means): {And after that He spread the earth.} [Quran 79:30]

Know first that Ibn 'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him was asked about reconciling the verse in Soorah Fussilat and the verse in Soorah An-Naazi‘aat, and he answered that Allaah first created the earth without it being spread and then He created the heaven and made them seven heavens in two days, and then He spread the earth after that and created in it mountains and rivers and so forth. So, the origin of the creation of the earth was before the creation of the heaven, but its spreading with its mountains and trees and so forth was after the creation of the heaven. The evidence for this is that Allaah says (what means): {And after that He spread the earth} [Quran 79:30], and He did not say "created it". Then, Allaah explained how He spread the earth, saying (what means) {He extracted from it its water and its pasture.} [Quran 79:31]

There is no ambiguity about this reconciliation between the two verses by Ibn 'Abbaas, and it is understood from the apparent meanings in the Quran. But there is ambiguity in regard to the verse in Soorah Al-Baqarah [Quran 2]. To explain, Ibn 'Abbaas concluded that the creation of the earth was before the creation of the heaven, but the spreading of it along with everything in it occurred after the creation of the heaven, but this verse (in Al-Baqarah) explicitly indicates that everything on earth was created before the creation of the heaven, as Allaah says (what means): {It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things.} [Quran 2:29].

I stayed at length thinking about how to solve this confusion until Allaah guided me to it one day and I understood it from the Quran. Its explanation is that this confusion is removed in two ways, each of which is indicated by a verse from the Quran:

The first is that what is meant by creating all that is on the earth before the creation of the heaven is the linguistic creation, which is the predestination (or predetermination) and not the actual creation which is the bringing into existence from nonexistence, and the Arabs call predestination creation. The evidence that what is meant by this creation here is the predestination is that Allaah explicitly said this in Soorah Fussilat, as Allaah says (what means): {….and determined therein its [creatures'] sustenance} [Quran 41:10], and then He said (what means): {…Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke.} [Quran 41:12]

The second interpretation is that when He created the earth without it being spread, and it is the origin of everything upon it, it was as if He actually created because of the actual existence of its origin. The evidence from the Quran that it is possible to speak of what is derived from the existence of the origin as creation, even if it did not exist, are the words of Allaah (which mean): {And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then, We said to the angels, "Prostrate to Aadam (Adam)".} [Quran 7:11] Thus, Allaah's words (which mean), {And We have certainly created you} means that "We created and shaped your father, Aadam," who is your origin. Some scholars reconciled the verses by saying that the meaning of "after that" in Allaah’s words {And after that He spread the earth} means "along with that" (or moreover); similarly, Allaah says, {Cruel, moreover an illegitimate pretender}, meaning cruel and an illegitimate pretender [Quran 68:13]. Accordingly, there is no ambiguity or confusion about the verse. This is even supported by a Shaath (irregular) recitation of the above verse in which Mujaahid recited {And along with that He spread the earth} (instead of "And after that", as in more common recitations).” [End of quote]

Allaah Knows best.

Related Fatwa