Four Corners of the Earth?
Isaiah 11:12—”This passage indicates that the earth is flat, since otherwise it couldn’t have four corners.”
It is pretty obvious that this is an idiom for the four directions (north, south, east, west). The word translated ‘corner’ is ‘kanaph’ (כּנף), which is also translated “extremity,” “quarter,” “border,” “ends” or even “wing.” Even ancient societies that believed the world was flat thought it was a disc, which wouldn’t fit with four ends or corners. Ancient societies did understand the four primary directions of north, south, east and west, so this is how we must naturally interpret the four ‘kanaph’ . Ironically, even Bible critic Ahmed Deedat inadvertently used this common idiom, saying: “to the four corners of the globe.”1
The Qur’ān also has verses which appear to indicate a flat earth:
“Do they never reflect on .. the heaven, how it was raised on high? The mountains, how they were set down? The earth, how it was made flat?” (Al-Ghashiyah 88:18-20 )
Renowned commentator Al-Jalalayn’s tafseer on this verse reads,
“As for His words sutihat , ‘laid out flat’, this on a literal reading suggests that the earth is flat, which is the opinion of most of the scholars of the Law, and not a sphere as astronomers have it…”2
Likewise, the Egypt Shafi’ie theologian Imam al-Suyuti also taught that the earth is flat.
- In Who moved the Stone? by Shaikh Ahmed Deedat.
- Available online from http://altafsir.com (Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan).