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For a Cleric From Saudi Arabia, Earth Does Not Spin. For Others, the Sun Rotates Around Earth

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Humor, Religion, Science
Saudi cleric Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari says the Earth is stationary and doesn't rotate around the sun. Photo source: screenshot of Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV [1]

Saudi cleric Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari says in a video on YouTube that the Earth is stationary and doesn't rotate around the sun. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV picked on the story after it went viral on social media, airing it to viewers around the world. Photo source: Screenshot of the video from Al Arabiya TV

There is no way the Earth can rotate on itself, says Saudi cleric Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari, who insists our planet is stationary. His explanation comes in a video recording, in what appears to be from a lecture, where he says if the Earth really rotated, how could anyone ever reach China in a plane.

His exact words are:

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?

On YouTube, Ahmed Zayed shares the video here [2]:

And Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, which ran the story after it went viral on social media, has translated the video here [3] (check it out for English subtitles).

On Twitter, Saudis battled it out on whether the Earth rotates around itself or the sun, under the hashtag #داعية_ينفي_دوران_الأرض [4], which translates to #cleric_rejects_Earth_rotation.

But the debate went further, with many claiming that the Sun even rotated around the stationary Earth.

From Saudi Arabia, Naifco digs up and shares on Twitter this fatwa (religious edict), which says the Earth is also stationary, and the sun rotates around it. This tweet has been shared more than 500 times so far:

According to the fatwa, [by the Fatwa Permanent General Secretariat in Saudi Arabia], 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 head 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.

As a result of sharing this fatwa, this microblogger has come under an attack by readers, who hurled insults at him for poking fun at religion, when all he did was tweet the fatwa which spells out the Saudi theology's rejection of the fact that the Earth rotates around the sun.

From Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Musfer ben Ali reminds his 8.5K followers:

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

Despite this, Akram Wadidi is surprised that there are people on Twitter defending the cleric'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

And from Dubai, Hazza Al Marri remarks to his 1,200 followers:

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”!!

Rest in peace Galileo Galilei [12] — the Italian astronomer found “vehemently suspect of heresy” and forced to recant, who spent the last nine years of his life until his death in 1642 under house arrest for championing heliocentrism [13].