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Sura 36
Aya 38
وَالشَّمسُ تَجري لِمُستَقَرٍّ لَها ۚ ذٰلِكَ تَقديرُ العَزيزِ العَليمِ

Ali Unal

And the sun runs the course appointed for it for a term to its resting-place, for the stability of it(s system).1 This is the measured determining of the All-Glorious with irresistible might (to Whose omnipotent ordering the whole universe is submitted), the All-Knowing.
  • The original of this statement is comprised of four words. The phrase translated as “the course appointed for it for a term to its resting-place for the stability of it(s system)” is, li-mustaqarrin lahā. Mustaqarr means course or orbit, stability, and the place and time of stability; the preposition li indicates both reason or aim (“for”), the course of a movement (“in or along”), and destination (“to” or “towards”). So the phrase li-mustaqarrin lahā points out four facts concerning the sun or its system: it moves for a certain (appointed) term, along a course appointed for it, to its resting-place, for the sake of the stability of the system. We understand from the statement in its context that the sun is not motionless and has a vital function in the universal order.
    In recent decades, solar astronomers have been able to observe that the sun is not, in fact, motionless. It quivers and shakes and continually rings like a well-hit gong. These vibrations of the sun reveal vital information about the sun’s deep interior, its hidden layers, and this information affects calculations of the age of the universe. Also, knowing exactly how the sun spins internally is important in testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Like so many other significant findings in astronomy, this discovery about the sun was totally unexpected. Having discovered the quivering and ringing sun, some astronomers have commented that it is as if the sun were a symphony orchestra, with all the instruments being played simultaneously. All the vibrations combine at times to produce a net oscillation on the solar surface that is thousands of times stronger than any individual vibration (Bartusiac, M., 61–68).
    Commenting on this Qur’ānic verse several decades before this totally unexpected discovery in astronomy, Said Nursi wrote in Muhakemat (“Reasonings”), 68–69:
    As the word tacrī (“runs”) points to a style, the phrase li-mustaqarrin lahā (“the course appointed for it for a term to its resting-place for the stability of it(s system)” demonstrates a reality. The sun, like a vessel built of gold, travels and floats in the ocean of the heavens comprised of ether and defined in a hadīth as a stretched and tightened wave. Although it quivers and shakes in its course or orbit, since people see it moving, the Qur’ān uses the word travel or float. However, since the origin of the force of gravity is movement, the sun moves and quivers in its orbit. Through this vibration, which is the wheel of its figurative movement, its satellites are attracted to it and preserved from falling and scattering. When a tree quivers, its fruit fall. But when the sun quivers and shakes, its fruit – its satellites – are preserved from falling.
    Again, wisdom requires that the sun should move and travel on its mobile throne – its course or orbit – accompanied by its soldiers – its satellites. For the Divine Power has made everything moving and condemned nothing to absolute rest or motionlessness. Divine Mercy allows nothing to be condemned to inertia that is the cousin of death. So, the sun is free; it can travel provided it obeys the laws of God and does not disturb the freedom of others. So, it may actually be traveling; or its traveling may also be figurative. However, what is important according to the Qur’ān is the universal (or solar system’s) order, the wheel of which is the sun and its movement. Through the sun, the stability and orderliness of the system are ensured.