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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 27, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 09
It's official: Sun revolves around Earth, Saudi cleric rules
Section One
ALL STORIES
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It's official: Sun revolves around Earth, Saudi cleric rules

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A prominent Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa - a binding religious ruling - that the Sun rotates around the Earth.

In a video of a lecture released February 16, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari explains how he came to his conclusion:

'We have a brain as Muslims. First of all, where are we? If we go to Sharjah Airport and want to go to China Airport, in an airplane - is this clear? I want you to focus with me...

'This is the Earth [holding an object in his hand], if you claim that it rotates, if we leave Sharjah Airport on an international flight to the China Airport, and the Earth is rotating, right? So if the plane stops in the sky, won't China come to it? Right or wrong? If it rotates, will China come or not?

'If the Earth rotated like this, and the airplane is flying, you will never reach China, because China is rotating and you are rotating. How will you ever reach China?'

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, ran the story after it went viral on Arab social media. Translations are from Al Arabiya.

The video also stirred up a controversy on Twitter, under the hashtag #cleric_rejects_Earth_rotation.

One blogger, Naifco from Saudi Arabia, noted that al-Khaibari was simply repeating a previous fatwa from the Fatwa Permanent General Secretariat of Saudi Arabia - the government office charged with documenting religious rulings.

'According to the fatwa,' Naifco says, 'which comes in response to a question poised by a teacher, it is the Sun which rotates around the Earth, and not the other way around:

'Question 3: In a science class I teach: The Earth rotates around the Sun and since I have heard from Sheikh Abu Bakr Al Jazaeri that the sun is the one which rotates around the Earth, those who teach this subject should fear Allah. This is a danger to his faith as this matter makes him an apostate. I explained this to my students after teaching the class. Is this correct or am I wrong in this? Please let me know, may Allah reward you.

Answer 3: What Sheikh Abu Bakr has said is correct. The Earth is stationary and it is the Sun that rotates around it.'

Naifco was, however, ridiculed by many of his readers.

Akram Wadidi was surprised that people on Twitter defended al-Khaibari's statement.

'What is strange is that there are people defending the cleric who said that Earth is stationary and doesn't rotate. Not one or two ... a lot of people,' Wadidi wrote.

Hazza Al Marri of Dubai added that 'Earth is stationary and does not rotate around the Sun and whoever says anything other than this is 'a rational man, no one pays attention to'!!'

On the other hand, Musfer ben Ali of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, explains that 'For your information, the official Sharia-compliant opinion of Saudi Arabia is that the Earth does not spin. This man just repeated what he was taught.'

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