Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Sunday Guardian | Nov 1, 2020
If on a trip away from the city at night, you chance to lift your head up and look at the sky, you will see thousands of stars; beautiful, magnificent, and wonderful stars. If you observe them carefully for some time, you will see that they are slowly moving across the sky. This apparent movement of the stars across the sky is because of the earth’s rotation. This is because of the distance between the stars. This difference in apparent movement is called parallax. In case of stars, this is helpful since it helps us measure the distance between us and the star in question.
Fourteen centuries ago, however, little was known about the stars. The earth was thought to be flat and the heavens a kind of vault resting on the hilltops which provided a roof over the earth. It was generally believed that the earth was stationary and that the sun revolved around it. People believed that the universe had existed since eternity. Even the greatest thinkers of the time believed in a static model of the universe.
At such a time, the Quran said: Do not those who deny the truth see that the heavens and the earth were joined together and that We then split them asunder? (The Quran, 21: 30)
Up to about a hundred years ago, it was generally accepted that the universe existed in infinite time. Only now, we find that modern studies in astronomy have confirmed the truth of this verse in the Quran. According to the prevailing and current scientific view of cosmology, the universe had a distinct and singular beginning about 13.7 billion years ago in what is commonly referred to as the Big Bang. This model of the universe also describes how the universe expanded from a high density and high temperature state. It offered a comprehensive explanation to various natural phenomena including the formation of galaxies, stars and planets, our earth and the elements required to sustain life.