Before discovered about the Earth's orbit and astronomical neighbors were confirmed by scientific advancement, humans learned about these facts by reading the Islamic holy book, the Quran, (also spelled Koran and Qu'raan) which revealed today's astounding discoveries around 1,400 years ago before we had the science to prove them.
The scientific explanations present in the Quran are numerous, but here are three astronomical ones from that selection!
1. Sun and Moon — Day and Night
Unlike any other book before it, the Quran differentiates between the lamp light of the sun (siraaj) and the reflective light of the moon (noor). This distinction between the celestial body of the sun and the inert body of the moon was an unprecedented assumption, and considering the times, it was impossible to scientifically prove what we today know to be true. The miraculous nature of the sun and moon intrigued many.
As it says in the Quran:
“Did you see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other, and made in them the moon a light and the sun a lamp?” — Qur’an, 78:12-13
Day and night, on the other hand, were compared to coils of winds that wound themselves around one another, with the day slipping into a burst of blazing orange against azure, bleeding through diffused ink blots of the darkening sky, whereas the twinkling, black canvas of the night becomes awash in a blushing blur of color cast beneath the soaring orb of light.
As day and night slip into one another, they paint a similar picture to that of winds:
2. Stars and Planets
"The word ‘star’ (najm) in the Qur’an ( 86:3 ) is accompanied by the adjective thaaqib which indicates that it burns and consumes itself as it pierces through the shadows of the night," says Dr. Maurice Bucaille in his book, "The Quran and Modern Science." The science behind the star also confirms this Quranic explanation in a similarly titled book by Dr. Zakir Naik.
This knowledge was not available to man from any other source till centuries later. Planets are referred to as "kawkab," for they do not reflect burning light like the sun. Rather, the Quran reads,
The planets orbit around a "settled sun," translated from the word "mustaqaar," referring to both an appointed place and time. Modern science confirms this point to be the solar apex, which we now know to be the movement of our solar system at 12 miles per second towards alpha lyrae, an exact point located in the Hercules constellation.
The Quran stressed this exactness with the following verse:
“The sun runs its coarse to a settled place That is the decree of the Almighty, the All Knowing.” Qur’an, 36:38
Today, we take for granted the fact that we exist in a solar system and galaxy. Due to great leaps in modern science, many verses of the Quran that may not have been understood at the time are now common facts, such as:
“(God is) the one who created the night, the day, the sun and the moon. Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion.” Qur’an,21:33
The motion is specified to that of a moving body through the use of the word "yasbahoon," which is comparable to the movement produced by legs when running or by arms when swimming. These movements have since then been given a new name: orbits.
Orbital motions are widespread knowledge across the globe today, particularly the orbit of the Earth around the sun, but even centuries after the Quranic revelation of this fact, many still insisted that the sun orbited around the Earth. This misguided assertion was particularly upheld and imposed by the Catholic church — insisting that this scientific discovery went against the word of the Bible. Their demand escalated to a dangerous point in 1633 when Galielo, who published a book confirming the heliocentric theory, was tortured. 350 years later in 1992, the Catholic church finally publicly cleared Galileo of wrongdoing for sharing his scientific discovery.
Incidents like the death of Galileo paint a negative, close-minded picture of religions as a whole due to the actions of some people. This may be why some people feel that religions impede scientific discovery and suppress facts under misconstrued labels to further their agenda, which in many cases like that above of the Catholic church, the agenda is their religious text. The Bible, for instance, has been revised a countless number of times to the point where there are hundreds of sects in Christianity today (217 in the U.S. alone, as recorded in 2006) with nearly all of them claiming to follow the true version of the Bible, which still undergoes new revisions with every passing day.
This is not to bash Christianity, but rather, it is to draw a distinction between the two Abrahamic religions so that there is a better understanding overall of how the Quran differs.
The Quran is one book — the exact same one book, written and read in the Arabic language, reprinted in various formats and published all over the world. In fact, you can google "Quran" right now and click practically any reputable link like the very first two that pop up: "quran.com," or "quranexplorer.com," (the second link comes with English translations) or any other site, and you will find they literally have the exact same text. You could visit your local library or religious bookstore and compare copies of the Quran. They will always be exactly the same. It's nothing short of a miracle.
That is why all factual truths of the Quran, which were once or are denounced as lies by other religions, groups or people, have eventually been or are now being proven true with the turn of every scientific discovery. The three astronomy facts above are just a fragment of the treasure trove of scientifically proven revelations.