Speed of light in Koran: God's day is 1000 of our years


Speed of light in Koran: God's day is 1000 of our years
by Ari Siletz


About 10 years ago Egyptian physicist Dr. Mansour Hassab-Elnaby discovered the speed of light in the Koran. The Holy Book doesn’t exactly say  “And though light hits your eyeballs at 299792.458 kilometers per second, it doesn’t hurt at all.” Instead Sura 32, verse 5 teaches science in a language even a 7th century Bedouin could understand:  "He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him, on a day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years to your reckoning." In other words, one of God’s days is as long as a thousand human years.

With a mathematical poet’s sense of metaphor, Dr. Hassab-Elnaby saw a word problem in the verse, did the arithmetic and came up with 299792.500 kilometers per second for the speed of light. This is in astonishing agreement with the latest scientific measurement. In fact the agreement is terrifyingly close for people who eat pork, drink beer, and have sex outside of marriage. If we take the number as a measure of the precision of the Koran in general, the odds that sinners like me will burn in hell is 299792.458 (the scientifically measured figure) divided by 299792.500 (calculated from Koran theory).  If you don’t have a calculator handy that means that if God is this good with all his calculations, out of every 7 million sinners only 1 person will escape burning in hell due to God making a mistake. Hopefully that one person will be me and not some other blogger who really has it coming.

Let’s move on to how Dr. Hassab-Elnaby nailed the speed of light, thus proving that observation and thinking is a useless human pursuit because we can learn more by carefully studying the Koran. We already know that speed of light is encoded in the Koranic idea that one of God’s days is the same as a thousand of our years. Cleaning up Dr. Hassab-Elnaby’s approach from all the unnecessary debris we could proceed as follows: a year is 365 days, so 1000 years makes 365000 days. If God measures this many human days as only one of His days, then the Divine Rolex must run slow by a factor of 365000 compared to a mortal Rolex. We humans would look very sped up to Allah—like the Keystone Kops except a lot faster--and if God happens to look at one of our Rolexes, the hour hand would look like it’s spinning around like a pinwheel (between 8 and 9 times a (God) second).

All that is left to do is figure out what God would see if He looked at Mohammad’s Rolex. Unfortunately Rolexes were less abundant in Saudi Arabia back then. The Bedouins used something far more precious: the Moon. If God looked at the Moon going around the Earth and pretended it was the tip of a huge Rolex clock arrow, how fast would He see it move? Since the Moon travels around the Earth at about 1 kilometer per second, to God it would look like it is zipping around 365000 times faster, or 365000 kilometers per second.  Not a bad approximation to the speed of light at all! The number is only about 20% too big. By comparison, the earliest measurement of the speed of light by Ole Roemer (1675) gave a figure of 200,000 kilometers per second, which is lower than the real number by more than 30%. Koran scores, but still no Nobel Prize. How can God be wrong by 20 percent?

Dr. Hassab-Elnaby shows that if we corrected some of our assumptions we would get the right number. For example, is the lunar month really about 29.5 days? Depends if you are using the Sun as a reference point or the stars. It turns out a lunar month is about 27.3 days if you reference the stars. The 27-day number lowers the first, rough, calculations to within10% of the real speed of light. Still not Divine accuracy. Then, suddenly in a flash of prophetic brilliance Hassab-Elnaby claims that God intended us to remove the Sun from the center of the Solar System, and if we did this Einstein’s relativity would correct the Moon’s orbit by the remaining 10%, resulting in the extraordinary agreement claimed. This relativistic “correction” factor is irrelevant (removing the Sun would have almost no effect on the Moon’s orbit around the Earth). But the mathematical maneuver is artistically miraculous. Just invoking Einstein’s name (numerous times), Dr. Hassab-Elnaby performed a miracle; imagine what he could have done if he had also used some of Einstein’s ideas.

Still, Dr. Hassab-Elnaby shouldn’t have tried to artificially lower the bigger, more straight forward, number for the Koranic speed of light, because the attempt just makes God look less cool. He should have just mentioned that according to the Koran, God's messenger angels can travel 20% faster than ordinary light. That way the angels could at least violate some physical laws for us and make us clap for them.

Science maktab


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by Ari Siletz on

I checked some of the refrences claiming the Koran suggests a heliocentric world. Specifically, Koran 36:37 and 36:38. Those verses don't imply anything about the issue one way or the other.

36:37 says that God made the night dark and the day bright.

36:38 says that the sun is stable. We can stretch "stable" to mean "fixed" but the lead up from the previous verses suggests an argument to show that the celestial spheres do not behave unpredictably (opposite of stable).

So, no go on the oracular angle where the Koran predicts the future of scientific knowledge. We can however take the verse as an argument for faith in order in the Universe. The takeaway lesson being that if the Koran reader encounters phenomenon that appear to behave without an order, they should have faith that there is a hidden order somewhere that eludes them for the moment. Of course, the  search for this hidden order is nothing but the scientific process.

By the way, this faith in order would be threatened in the case of Quantum Mechanics, but it can be made safe again by redefining the concept of "order."

Also, our most advanced formulation of gravity makes it so that it makes no differene whether the Earth goes around the Sun or the other way around. There are no preferred frames of reference in General Relativity. Insisting that Koran cosmology specifies a heliocentric system dates the Koran to a pre 1925 scientific mindset.


Laboring to squeeze sense out of it.....

by Disenchanted on

      The blogger with Bahaii faith below wrote:

"But there are some verses revealed in the Qur’án contrary to the theory of the Ptolemaic system. One of them is “The sun moves in a fixed place,” which shows the fixity of the sun, and its movement around an axis. 6 Again, in another verse, “And each star moves in its own heaven.” 7 Thus is explained the movement of the sun, of the moon, of the earth, and of other bodies. "

        These are at best vague statements open to wild speculations. Perhaps something lost in translation too!!!

         For God (the one you believe in) sake take a course in Astronomy 101! Are we suppose to take away from this that Sun is fixed in its place and rotate around it's axis?! That is what is boasted here?

 Sun ain't fixed in its position! It goes around the center of the galaxy which itself is moving in cosmos! So should the faithful lose their faith because of this?

       Again, everyone please take a 101 astronomy in a college next to you. Don't try to squeeze astrnomy and physics and chemistry and bilogy out of "holy" books!


The Bahai View of The Prophet Muhammad and The Quran.

by faryarm on


Please excuse this long "paste", as i think it is particularly relevant in balancing some of the opinions expressed here. For those with little patience ,please  jump right to the bold print, as it is directly relevant to a remarkable verse in the Quran about the Sun and its relation to the planets.

For those more curious, and open minded with regard to a less prejudiced  view of Islam, its contributions as well as the Prophet Muhammad and His Book , the Quran, there is more background provided.

M. Saadat Noury

Beautiful English version of Hafez poem

by M. Saadat Noury on

In the tavern of the Magi I see the bright light of Divine
O what a light, such a delight, how can it so brightly shine?
Stop showing off to me, O pilgrim of the House of God
In that place you see the house, while I see God’s grand design.
Secrets of the divine, for myself I wish to define
This is a mindless design, myself I further misalign.
Painful heart, tearful eyes, sigh of the morn, cry of the night
These are the lot of mine, and are favors that Thou assign.
Each moment my fantasies, my phantasm of Thee refine
How could I share my visions? With whom open this heart of mine?
Fragrance of oriental perfumes do not begin to approach
That aromatic breeze, that life-giving morning sign.
Hafiz’s poetic and playful words do not malign
Because I consider him an ardent lover of Thine.

Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, Ca


Science & scritpure don't mix! see how:

by Disenchanted on


Claims of discovery of scientific facts in scriptures are absurd for the following reason:

The absurdity becomes clear when you ask which scientific paradigm was presented in the scriptures. If it was consistent with our current theories it must have sounded outlandish to those who lived at the time of revelations!

    Just imagine Jesus saying, my brethren you are sitting on a ball that is rotating around itself and going crazy around the sun! Well we know what would have become of Christian faith then! He for sure would be put in a mental hospital! As everyone believed the earth is flat and center of the universe!

On the other hand if the so called scientific descriptions of scriptures matched the view of its era, it should look absurd and outdated to us. This conundrum is inevitable for those who strive to find a match between relative and ever changing theories of science and the absolute and constant facts of scriptures.

Of course the third alternative (most likely) scenario is that what amounts to scientific digression in scriptures is either limited to phenomenological aspects of nature that remain the same as far as human perception is concerned or that they are expressed in such vague and poetic manner that are subject to interpretations and in the eye of faithful of any era are considered factual and lend credence to the scripture itself! Needless to say anything that affords that flexibility is void of any value especially scientific value. As Scientific theories have to muster the rigors of experimental tests.

Ari Siletz

Some replies

by Ari Siletz on

Iqbal: Interesting observation regarding blasphemy in "reflected" vs. "source." This is compounded by the Greek Emission Theory of light accepted by many Islamic scientists prior to Al Haytham. The idea of the light of God originating from the human eye would seem even more blasphemous.

MM: Surah 32 is Sajdah (prostration). To my mind, the most interesting statement in this Surah is the following: "If We had so willed, We could certainly have brought
every soul its true guidance: but the Word from Me
will come true, "I will fill Hell with Jinns and men
all together."
God could have made it so we could all go to Heaven, but chose not to. Any idea why?

SK: Looking forward to your Science/Koran findings. Wear your blogging armor.

Anahid: The problem is simpler in reverse: by what factor would the moon have to speed up to match the speed of light. This is close to the ratio of a thousand years to one day.


Dr. Saadat Noury: Thank you for the beautiful and insightful Hafez verse. The last beit is noteworthy as it shows Hafez too had problems with commenters.

AO: I agree. In fact I overagree. Creating meaning and significance by adding the human interpretation factor is the very stuff of artistic talent. Religious interpretation may not be valuable as science but satisfies all the criteria of art...and then some. 

Disenchanted: Fun observation regarding God residing in a deep gravity well. All this time I thought the Jamkaran well was a hoax.





Science and scriptures!

by Disenchanted on


        Interesting find Ari!

        I think I settled the issue in this blog pretty much! ( My friend Soosan Khanom specially make a note please)

        By the way, I am not sure why the Egyptioan decided to go by speed of light etc to pursue his absurd goal! The better choice would have been GRAVITY!

       General Releativity has it that: the clock that is closer to the gravitational mass, appears to go slower than the clock that is more distant from the mass ! That must be telling you GOD resides near a very MASSIVE OBJECT! :-)

Anonymous Observer

Trying to find scientific evidence in the Quran or any other

by Anonymous Observer on

"holy" book is kind of like a Rorschach test. You can find whatever you want in those books by interpreting vague, often contradictory and meaningless sentences any way you want. Once you master that art, you can explain, and more importantly, justify anything, from having sex with a nine year old to ethnic cleansing, to mass murder. You can even explain the speed of light. And if all of that fails, you can always write a poem about God!

On another note, I find all these references in ancient books to beings controlling things from the sky quite fascinating. I think these ancient astronaut theorists may not all be nut jobs after all.


 Theory of relativity and

by vildemose on

 Theory of relativity and a few other things were written in Torat according to the philosopher Mamonides. These were probably copied from the Torat.

Reform requires the consent of the corrupt

M. Saadat Noury

این عجب بین که چه نوری ز کجا می‌بینم

M. Saadat Noury



این هم شاهدی از حافظ قرآن

در خرابات مغان نور خدا می‌بینم
این عجب بین که چه نوری ز کجا می‌بینم 
جلوه بر من مفروش ای ملک الحاج که تو
خانه می‌بینی و من خانه خدا می‌بینم 
خواهم از زلف بتان نافه گشایی کردن
فکر دور است همانا که خطا می‌بینم 
سوز دل اشک روان آه سحر ناله شب
این همه از نظر لطف شما می‌بینم 
هر دم از روی تو نقشی زندم راه خیال
با که گویم که در این پرده چه‌ها می‌بینم
کس ندیده‌ ست ز مشک ختن و نافه چین
آن چه من هر سحر از باد صبا می‌بینم 
دوستان عیب نظربازی حافظ مکنید
که من او را ز محبان شما می‌بینم 

Anahid Hojjati

Interesting blog Ari

by Anahid Hojjati on

i am not god so i have to read your blog again to understand how his highness did it.

Soosan Khanoom

Giving the fact that Quran

by Soosan Khanoom on

was written 14 centuries ago, when it comes to Quran and science, there are several verses that really leave one speechless. 

No explanation as how these facts got there but just simple amazement.   We do not know more than what is written in there. Besides what is written may have not been seen, for example fifty years ago, as we see it today beause scientific discoveries are happening as we speak.  So any interpretation can be changed later. But the fact that there are verses which talk about certain scientific facts is something that can not be denied.  

As a scientists I am entitled to read these verses and examined them. Actually, I have done that on a few verses which I would not mind to bring it up later .... I just do not have time right now ....

This is, actually, a very thought provoking blog Ari. I hope this is not going to be turned to another Quran bashing blog by the commentators... I certainly hope we can examine the verses with the scientific facts and just accept or reject our own findings instead.     I think we should not see it as a holly book but rather as an old book with some scientific points in it that can be discussed. You can be an atheist but still study these verses scientifically and see how it goes ...   We should not let the only benefit we get from this ancient book be in its denial. 


I expected these calculations in the Noor sureh

by MM on

Is Noor=32?

But first, the light had to be invented and controled under the turbins before its speed could be measured.


Iqbal Latif

Pillars of creation destroy all perverted logic!

by Iqbal Latif on

Hi this is a very good article, very thought provoking.