In the first versee of Surah al-Takwir, regarding the issue of Resurrection, we read:
إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ
“When the sun is covered” (81:1).
وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انْكَدَرَتْ
“And when the stars darken” (81:2).
In view of the above verses, the question that looms up is: Is the dying out of the sun and … consistent with the present day knowledge?
Primarily it ought to be realized that although the sun, a life-giving hub of this system of ours, is a mediocre and average star in comparison to other celestial stars per se, and in comparison to the earth, it is extraordinarily gigantic - its volume, according to studies conducted by the scientists, being one million and three hundred thousand times that of the earth. However, since it is at a distance of one hundred and fifty million kilometres from us, it is seen in its present size.
It is sufficient, for the purpose of personifying the greatness and expansiveness of the sun, to know that if the earth and the moon were to be placed within the sun at the same distance as they presently possess, the moon would very comfortably revolve around the earth without even moving out of the periphery of the sun!
The surface temperature of the sun is said to be in excess of six thousand degrees centigrade while its internal temperature is determined to be several million degrees!
If we wish to mention its weight in terms of tonnes, we would have to follow up the figure '2' with twenty seven zeroes (two billion billion billion tonnes)!
Towering flames leap outwards from the surface of the sun to a distance of more than one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres - a distance within which the earth could easily get lost, since the diameter of the earth is no more than twelve thousand kilometres.
The source of heat and light energy of the sun, contrary to what some imagine, is not due to burning; according to George Gamuf, as stated in his book (translated in Persian in the name of) Paidaish Wa Marg al-Khurshid, had the sun been created entirely of anthracite and had it been set alight during the time of the first Pharaoh of Egypt, it should have been totally burnt up by now, leaving behind nothing but ashes. Assume any other fuel in place of anthracite and you would be facing this same dilemma.
The reality is that it is incorrect to associate the concept of 'burning' with the sun; its energy is obtained by means of atomic fission and we are aware that this energy is extraordinarily intense and great. Thus, the atoms of the sun are in a state of perpetual decomposition, radiation and transformation into energy, and, according to the calculations of scientists, every passing second reduces it by four million tonnes! However, its volume is so monumental that the passage of thousands of years has not affected it in the least and apparently, not the slightest change occurs in its state.
However, it ought to be realized that in the long run, this very aspect would lead to its extinction; this gigantic mass would eventually become smaller and less bright until finally it would lose all its light - this being true for all the other stars too.1
Thus, what has been mentioned in the above verses, in connection with the dying down of the sun and the annihilation of the stars, is a reality which is entirely consistent with present day knowledge; and the Qur’an mentioned these realities at a time when none knew of these issues - neither in the Arabian Peninsula nor in the then- scholarly circles of the world.2