Does Islam Contradict Science?

Question and answer details
There is the Hadith in Volume 6, Book 60, Number 327: Narrated Abu Dharr: I asked the Prophet about the Statement of Allah:-- ‘And the sun runs on fixed course for a term (decreed),’ (36.38) He said, "Its course is underneath Allah's Throne." And another one in Volume 9, Book 93, Number 520: Narrated Abu Dharr: I entered the mosque while Allah's Apostle was sitting there. When the sun had set, the Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this (sun) goes?" I said, "Allah and His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and asks permission to prostrate, and it is allowed, and (one day) it, as if being ordered to return whence it came, then it will rise from the west." Then the Prophet recited, "That: ‘And the sun runs on its fixed course (for a term decreed)," (36.38) as it is recited by ‘Abdullah. My questions are: How does the sun prostrate to Allah? And how can the sun rise from the west? There is also a Hadith that says the sun revolves around the earth by Abu Dharr which defies science. I always held pride of the fact Islam unlike other religions accepts science and encourages search for knowledge, now I'm just crushed... I'm asking a lot and I apologize; but I have no one to turn to for answers.
AAI Editorial Staff

This answer was kindly provided by Brother Maan Khalife, a member of Ask About Islam Editorial Staff.

Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.  Your eagerness to understand the truth makes it possible for others to learn; May Allah reward you.

Islam encourages seeking knowledge and does not contradict science in anyway, on the contrary, many recent scientific discoveries are mentioned in the Quran and hadith, and Muslim scholars have always contributed to science throughout history.

The hadiths that you have quoted are from Sahih Al-Bukhari which is the one of the most authentic collections of hadith.

To answer your first question, prostration of sun, trees, stars, etc… mentioned in the Quran and hadith are unlike our prostration; these objects obey Allah's command regardless since they don't have free will, so their prostration is a form of worship since all creation prostrates before Allah as mentioned in Surah Ar-Rad (chapter 13, verse 15) and stars and trees prostrate as stated in Surah Ar-Rahman (chapter 55, verse 6).  However, the sun prostrates in a way that is suitable for its nature which is unlike our prostration.

As for the sun rising from the west which is a major sign that the Day of Judgment is approaching, it was narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said:

"The Hour will not be established until the sun rises from the west: and when the people see it, then whoever will be living on the surface of the earth will have faith, and that is (the time) when no good will it do to a soul to believe then, if it believed not before." (Bukhari, Book 60, Hadith 159)

If the earth is hit by a large enough meteoroid that could reverse its rotation then the sun will rise from the west as the case of planet Venus. I am quoting from the following article:

"If viewed from above, while most planets rotate the same way on their axes, Venus rotates the opposite way. While on Earth, the sun appears to rise in the east and set in the west, if on Venus, the sun would rise in the west and set in the east

The Venusian year — the time it takes to orbit the sun — is about 225 Earth days long. At the same time, it takes Venus 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis, which normally would mean that days on Venus would be longer than years.”

There is another hadith where it mentions about the length of the day which will be equal to one year; this is talking about the coming of the false messiah (Ad-Dajjal) which is another major sign of the Hour (alamatus-saha al-kubra).  Since this is a long hadith I am only quoting the following from it:

"...We said: Allah's Messenger, how long would he (Ad-Dajjal) stay on the earth? He said.. For forty days, one day like a year and one day like a month and one day like a week and the rest of the days would be like your days. We said: Allah's Messenger, would one day's prayer suffice for the prayers of a day equal to one year? Thereupon he said: No, but you must make an estimate of time (and then observe prayer)..." (Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 7015)

The above hadith seems to imply that the natural phenomenon described is only temporary since there will be a recovery where the days will again be equal to regular days. However, we are not sure if the sun will still rise from the west after this recovery.

Addressing your comment about the hadith which says that the sun revolves around the earth by Abu Dharr, I can assure you that there is no such statement in any sound hadith; neither by the Prophet (peace be upon him) nor by Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him).

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Useful Links:

Islamic Contributions to Science: History

Islam and Science: Compatible or Incompatible?

Islam and Science

Call For Muslim Scientists

The Second Coming of Jesus

The Antichrist and the Second Coming of Jesus