North

History - Intermediate

Standard for directions.


Historically several conventions were used to set directions on maps. Different conventions pointed to different directions. This is an old compass and an old map:

However all the ancient conventions faded except one. Today all maps use the same standard: Up is North, right is East, left is West and down is South. This means if you are standing then the sun rises to your right and the sun sets to your left, you are facing North and behind you is South. However 1400 years ago this was portrayed in the Quran:


Quran 18:17

You would have seen the sun, when it rose, veering away from their cave towards the right, and when it sets, it lends them from the left, as they lay in the midst of the cave. That was one of Allah’s wonders. He whom Allah guides is truly guided; but he whom He misguides, for him you will find no directing friend.


١٧ وَتَرَى الشَّمْسَ إِذَا طَلَعَتْ تَزَاوَرُ عَنْ كَهْفِهِمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَإِذَا غَرَبَتْ تَقْرِضُهُمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَهُمْ فِي فَجْوَةٍ مِنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ مَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ ۖ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُرْشِدًا


If the sun rises to your right and the sun sets to your left then definitely you are facing North, and behind you is South. This is the same convention used today in all maps.

How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known that you should face North?

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