This sentence can have two meanings and both are correct. (1) The sun does not have the power that it should draw the moon into itself, or enter its orbit and collide with it.
(2) The sun cannot appear in the times which have been appointed for the rising and appearing of the moon. It is not possible that the sun should suddenly appear on the horizon when the moon is shining at night.
Nor does this happen either that the night should approach before the appointed period of the day comes to an end, and should start spreading its darkness suddenly during the time when the day is meant to spread its light.
The word falak in Arabic is used for the orbit of the planets, and it gives a different meaning from the word sama (sky). The sentence, “Each in an orbit is floating” points to four realities.
(1) That not only the sun and the moon but all the stars and planets and celestial bodies are moving.
(2) The falak, or orbit, of each one of them is separate.
(3) That the orbits are not moving with the stars in them, but the stars are moving in the orbits.
(4) That the movement of the stars in their orbits is similar to the floating of something in a fluid.
These verses are not intended to describe the realities of astronomy, but are meant to make man understand that if he looks around himself, with open eyes, and uses his common sense, he will find countless and limitless proofs of the existence of God and His Unity, and he will not come across a single proof of atheism and shirk. The vastness of the solar system in which our earth is included is such that its parent body, the sun, is 300,000 times bigger than the earth, and its farthest planet Neptune is at least 2,793 million miles distant from the sun. However, if Pluto is taken as the farthest planet, it revolves 4,600 million miles away round it. Notwithstanding this vastness, the solar system occupies a very insignificant part of a huge galaxy. The galaxy which includes our solar system has about 3,000 million suns in it, and its nearest sun is so distant from our earth that its light takes about four years to reach us. Then this galaxy also is not the whole universe. According to the investigations made so far, it has been estimated that it is one of about 2,000,000 spiral nebulae, and the nearest nebula is about a million light years away from the earth. As for the farthest celestial bodies which are visible through the modern instruments, their light reaches the earth in about 100 million years. Even now it cannot be claimed that man has seen the whole universe. It is a small part of the Kingdom of God which man has yet been able to observe. It cannot be predicted how far and deep man will yet be able to see with greater and more efficient means of observation at his disposal.
All the information that has been gathered so far about the universe proves that this whole world is made up of the same substance of which our tiny earthly world is made, and the same law is working in the universe which is working in the world of our earth; otherwise it was not at all possible, that man should have made observations of the very distant worlds from the earth, measured their distances and estimated their movements. Is it not a clear proof of the fact that this whole universe is the creation of One God and the Kingdom of One Ruler? Then from the order and the wisdom and the excellence of workmanship and the deep relationships which are found in the hundreds of thousands of the galaxies and in the millions and billions of the stars and planets revolving in them no sensible person can imagine that all this has come about automatically. Is it possible that there should be no administrator behind this order and system, no sage behind this wisdom, no designer behind this design and work of art, and no planner behind this planning?
When the night comes, light disappears and darkness spreads: this is something everyone sees every day in every corner of the world, except for polar areas, for which rules of ijtihad are applicable for praying & fasting. Despite its daily occurrence, it is a remarkable sign that deserves contemplation. The Qur’ānic description here is unique as it shows the day intertwined with the night and then God strips the day off the night to let darkness spread.
Indeed every planet and star has its own orbit which it follows accurately.
Stars and planets are so far apart that the distances separating them are huge. Our planet earth is approximately 93 million miles away from the sun, while the moon is around 240,000 miles away from us. Hardly imaginable as these distances are, they are nothing compared to the distance between our solar system and the nearest star to us outside it, which is estimated to be four light years. We should remember that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second.
God, the Creator, willed that such distances should separate the orbits of stars and planets, and He planned the universe according to this design in order to prevent any collision, until a time He has set and that is known only to Him. Therefore, the sun will not overtake the moon, and the night cannot outrun the day, because the cycle of day and night never fails.