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Bahamut: The Enormous Fish or Whale Supporting the Earth in Islamic Cosmology


Imagine a creature of unimaginable size, so massive it supports the very foundation of the Earth. This is Bahamut, a mythical being deeply embedded in Islamic cosmology, a realm of intricate beliefs and intricate symbolism. Bahamut’s story transcends simple mythology, becoming a powerful metaphor for divine power, knowledge, and the order of the universe. This blog post aims to unravel the mysteries surrounding Bahamut, exploring its origins, its role in Islamic literature and art, and its profound significance within the broader Islamic worldview.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Bahamut
  2. Bahamut and the Structure of the Universe
  3. Bahamut: Symbolism and Metaphor
  4. FAQs
  5. Conclusion

Understanding Bahamut

Bahamut’s story begins in ancient Mesopotamian mythology, where tales of leviathan-like creatures supporting the Earth were prevalent. This concept later transitioned into Islamic cosmology, finding its place within the intricate tapestry of beliefs and narratives woven through the Quran and other religious texts.

The Origin of Bahamut

The idea of a cosmic fish or whale supporting the Earth is a recurring theme in ancient mythologies worldwide. In Mesopotamian mythology, the primordial goddess Tiamat was often depicted as a sea serpent, embodying chaos and the formless void before creation. The Babylonian creation myth describes how the god Marduk slew Tiamat, using her body to create the heavens and Earth. These ancient myths laid the groundwork for the concept of a powerful, often monstrous creature holding up the world, which would later be adopted into Islamic cosmology.

Bahamut in Islamic Literature

Bahamut’s presence in Islamic literature is primarily found in the Quran and Hadith. However, the Quran itself does not explicitly mention Bahamut by name. Instead, it refers to a vast, awe-inspiring creature known as the “Great Fish” or “Whale” (Hūt), residing in the depths of the ocean. Some interpretations link this creature directly to Bahamut, seeing it as a metaphorical representation of the divine power supporting the Earth.

The Hadith, collections of sayings and actions attributed to Prophet Muhammad, provides more specific details about Bahamut. One prominent hadith describes a giant fish named Bahamut, carrying on its back a massive stone, upon which rests another creature named “The Bull,” and on The Bull’s back sits the Earth. This description reinforces the concept of a hierarchical structure within the universe, with Bahamut serving as the ultimate foundation for the entire creation.

Bahamut in Islamic Art and Culture

Despite the Quran’s lack of a direct mention, Bahamut’s influence on Islamic art and culture is undeniable. Throughout history, artists have depicted Bahamut in various forms, from majestic fish with flowing scales to colossal whales with towering dorsal fins. These depictions often reflect the awe-inspiring nature of Bahamut and the divine power it represents.

Bahamut’s influence extends beyond visual art, playing a significant role in Islamic folklore and storytelling. Stories about Bahamut often emphasize its size, strength, and unwavering loyalty to Allah. These tales illustrate the profound respect and reverence held for this creature within Islamic culture, solidifying its place as a symbol of the divine.

Bahamut and the Structure of the Universe

To understand Bahamut’s role in Islamic cosmology, it’s essential to grasp the Islamic concept of creation and the structure of the universe.

The Islamic Concept of Creation

Islamic cosmology presents a complex and multifaceted worldview, describing a universe with seven heavens and seven earths, each distinct and hierarchically organized. This concept of layers and hierarchies reflects the divine order and the intricate nature of creation. The Earth, according to this cosmology, is a small part of a vast and interconnected universe, held in place by divine will and power.

Bahamut’s Role as the Earth’s Support

Within this cosmological framework, Bahamut takes on a crucial role as the ultimate foundation for the Earth. The idea of Bahamut carrying the Earth on its back underscores the power and stability of the divine creation. The image of this colossal creature supporting the planet represents a tangible manifestation of Allah’s power and the unwavering nature of his creation.

Beyond the Literal Interpretation

While the image of Bahamut supporting the Earth may appear literal, it’s essential to consider its deeper metaphorical significance. The vastness of Bahamut embodies the immeasurable power and wisdom of Allah. It represents the unseen forces that hold the universe together, emphasizing the role of faith and belief in understanding the divine creation. Bahamut becomes a symbolic representation of the divine order, reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things and the power of the unseen forces that guide the universe.

Bahamut: Symbolism and Metaphor

Bahamut, with its awe-inspiring size and symbolic significance, transcends a simple mythological creature. It becomes a powerful metaphor, representing key concepts within the Islamic worldview.

Representing Divine Power

Bahamut’s immense size and strength serve as a tangible representation of the divine power and majesty of Allah. The sheer magnitude of this creature evokes a sense of awe and wonder, highlighting the incomprehensible power that governs the universe. The image of Bahamut holding up the Earth emphasizes that even the seemingly immovable Earth is subject to the will of Allah, signifying his ultimate control over all creation.

Stability and Balance

The image of Bahamut supporting the Earth also symbolizes stability and balance within the universe. It signifies a divine order and harmony, a testament to Allah’s meticulous planning and execution of creation. Bahamut, with its steadfast presence, represents the enduring nature of the universe and the unwavering stability of the divine plan.

Knowledge and Revelation

Bahamut, with its vast size and mysterious nature, embodies the vastness of divine knowledge and the mysteries of the universe. The fact that this immense creature is unseen, operating outside of human perception, reflects the hidden depths of Allah’s knowledge and the limitations of human understanding. Bahamut becomes a symbol of the ultimate source of knowledge, reminding us that the true nature of creation remains largely unknown and that seeking knowledge is a continuous journey towards understanding the divine plan.


Is Bahamut a real creature?

No, Bahamut is not a real creature but a mythical being that exists within Islamic cosmology. The stories surrounding Bahamut are meant to convey deeper symbolic meanings and illustrate important concepts within the Islamic faith.

Where in the Quran is Bahamut mentioned?

The Quran itself does not explicitly mention Bahamut by name. Instead, it refers to a vast, awe-inspiring creature known as the “Great Fish” or “Whale” (Hūt), residing in the depths of the ocean. Some interpretations link this creature directly to Bahamut, seeing it as a metaphorical representation of the divine power supporting the Earth.

What is the difference between Bahamut and Leviathan?

Leviathan is a similar mythical creature, often depicted as a monstrous sea serpent, appearing in both the Bible and Jewish folklore. While both Bahamut and Leviathan represent powerful, often destructive forces, their specific roles and symbolic meanings within their respective belief systems differ.

How does Bahamut fit into the broader Islamic worldview?

Bahamut embodies several key concepts within the Islamic worldview, including:

  • Divine Power: Bahamut’s size and strength symbolize the immense power of Allah.
  • Divine Order: Its role as the Earth’s foundation highlights the order and stability of the universe.
  • Divine Knowledge: Bahamut’s vastness and mystery represent the depth of Allah’s knowledge.

Are there any alternative interpretations of Bahamut’s role?

While the common interpretation of Bahamut as the Earth’s foundation is prevalent, there are alternative interpretations that emphasize the metaphorical aspect of Bahamut. Some scholars see Bahamut as a symbol of the invisible forces that hold the universe together, representing the divine will and the interconnectedness of all things.


Bahamut, a mythical creature deeply ingrained in Islamic cosmology, serves as a potent symbol for understanding the divine power, knowledge, and order that govern the universe. Its story transcends simple mythology, becoming a complex metaphor that reflects the awe-inspiring nature of Allah and the intricate workings of creation. By exploring Bahamut’s role in Islamic literature, art, and culture, we gain a deeper appreciation for the richness and depth of Islamic belief and the profound symbolic language that shapes its worldview. Bahamut, though a mythical being, offers valuable insights into the essence of faith and the enduring mystery of the divine.