Earth was created before heaven but spread out after creation of heaven
Fatwa No: 342076

Question

I find in the Quran 67:5 and other locations that it states that the stars are in the lowest heaven. Allaah says that He created Earth before the heavens, which means before the stars. However, some stars are older than Earth. Is this a mistake?

Answer

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

There is no mistake in the Book of Allah; Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {(All) praise is (due) to Allah, Who has sent down upon His Servant the Book and has not made therein any deviance.} [Quran 18:1]

As-Sa‘di  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on the verse saying, “The negation of deviance entails that it is free of lies and that its commands and prohibitions are free of injustice or uselessness...” It is a hideous mistake, dear brother, to ask if there is a mistake in the Book of Allah. Instead, you should have asked about a solution for the problematic understanding that you have of the verses.

The answer to this problematic aspect is in two respects:

Firstly, saying that some stars are older than Earth cannot be decisively stated; we did not witness the creation of the heavens and Earth. Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {I did not make them witness to the creation of the heavens and the earth or to the creation of themselves, and I would not have taken the misguides as assistants.} [Quran 18:51] Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The pronoun 'them' in the verse refers to the disbelievers and to all people in general. The verse refutes the claims of astrologers, anthropologists, doctors, and the like of people who wade (into such topics)...

What the astronomers say in this regard are mere estimates or theories and personal reasoning; they have often presented information and considered them to be theories and admissible facts and then discovered that they were not later on!

Secondly, even if we, hypothetically speaking, accepted the claim that some stars were created before Earth, then that would mean that they were created before the spreading out of Earth, and not before its creation. It has been stated in the Quran that Earth was created before the heaven and that the spreading out of Earth was done after the creation of the heaven.

Allah, The Exalted, 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] This verse proves that the creation of Earth was before the creation of the heaven, as evidenced by His saying {Then}, which is used for sequence and distinction.

The verse in Soorah Fussilat (no. 41) also proves that the creation of Earth was before the creation of the heaven, because Allah says in it (what means): {Say, “Do you indeed disbelieve in He Who created the earth in two days and attribute to Him equals? That is the Lord of the worlds.” And He placed on the earth firmly set mountains over its surface, and He blessed it and determined therein its (creatures') sustenance in four days without distinction - for (the information) of those who ask. Then He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, “Come (into being), willingly or by compulsion.” They said, “We have come willingly.”} [Quran 41:9-11]

The verse in Soorah An-Naazi‘aat (no. 79) proves that Earth was spread out after the creation of the heaven; Allah says (what means): {Are you a more difficult creation or is the heaven? Allah constructed it.} [Quran 79:27], and then Allah says (what means): {And after that He spread the earth.} [Quran 79:30]

These verses prove that the spreading of the earth was done after the creation of the heaven.

Ash-Shinqeeti  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah 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 Allah first created Earth without it being spread out, and then He created the heaven and made them seven heavens in two days, and then He spread out Earth after that and created in it mountains and rivers and so forth. So the creation of Earth was before the creation of the heaven, but its spreading out with mountains and trees and so forth was after the creation of the heaven. The evidence for this is that Allah says (what means): {And after that He spread the earth} [Quran 79:30], and He did not say ‘created it’. Then Allah explained how He spread 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 and indications of the Quran.” [Adh-Dhwaa' Al-Bayaan]

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 302260.

Allah knows best.

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