Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
9.5 The Earth in the Quran
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The Spherical Earth
The Earthís Atmosphere
Electricity and Lightening
The earth is mentioned in the Quran about 450 times! The Quran devotes many verses to the signs of God on the earth. Because we live on this planet, we are supposed to look for signs of its Creator. Also, scientists know about our beautiful planet more than any other object in the universe. They are on hand to experiment directly, to interpret the evidences and to draw conclusions. The verses of the Quran that describe the earth are quite astounding. As in the case of any other scientific miracle, these verses are scattered throughout the Quran. They are presented in the context of spiritual enlightening for someone who looks around for the signs of Allah.
Mountains affect life on earth in many ways. Apart from the obvious mineral, forest, agricultural, and recreational resource values, they have a significant influence on climate, economy, and history. Humans enjoy the glorious scenery of mountains, and many sometimes feel humbled in front of these gigantic structures. How and when did they form? What are they for? What is the mechanism of keeping them on the earthís crust, in spite of their huge weight?
The first question is answered by geologists, who presented three ways of forming mountains:
By crustal uplift, that is, folding, faulting, or arching of the earthís crust.
By differential erosion or land sculpturing.
By volcanic activities.
The Creator of the mountains reveals:
Surah 78, Ayah 6-7 "Have we not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?
Allah states that the mountains are similar to pegs or wedges. A peg is used to fasten things so they cannot move, like the peg that is used to fix the ropes of a tent. Or, you can imagine the crust of the earth as a carpet, and the mountains as the nails that hold the carpet in place. It is now known that the crust of the earth is much deeper under the mountains, which indicate the existence of a root system under high mountains. According to recent measurements, the depth of a mountainís roots can reach 40 miles underground, while the highest known mountain reaches only 5.6 miles above ground.
The similarity between mountains and pegs is quite obvious. Pegs sink underground by the force of a hammer, while mountains sink underground by the force of gravity. Pegs hold and fix the tent. Mountains hold and fix the earthís crust. The thickness of the fabric of a tent is small compared to its size. The crust of the earth is no more than 1 percent of the radius of the earth. Therefore, one can conclude that describing the mountains as pegs is a perfect description. Muhammad used to worship Allah in a cave in a mountain near Mecca, but he certainly did not take measuring instruments to get information about the underground structure of the mountains. There is just no way that Muhammad could have established this description on his own. No one can explain the mountains with such accuracy except the Designer and Creator of the mountains themselves.
The balance and the stability of mountains are also explained in the Quran as follows:
Surah 16, Ayah 15 "And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you."
Surah 21, Ayah 31 "And We have set on earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them."
Think about the similarity of the above verses! Other verses in the Quran also give the same meaning (Surah 31, Ayah 10; Surah 79, Ayah 32). When the meaning of a verse is repeated like that, then this is an invitation to mankind to take these words and examine them carefully. It should be also an invitation to scientists to examine each verb, each noun, and each letter in the scientific verses of the Quran, since that could well direct them to an explanation to an existing fact. The Arabic verb that describes the standing of the mountains indicates stability of ships in the sea as they dock alongside a pier. Ships in this case do not go down because of the upward buoyant force that acts upon the ship. This upward buoyant force is equal to the downward gravitational force; hence the ship stays in equilibrium. The choice of the Arabic verb that indicates the stability of mountains, and its similarity to docking ships, is just beyond human comprehension.
In another Ayah, Allah states that the mountains move:
Surah 27, Ayah 88 "Thou see the mountains and think them firmly fixed, but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away. (Such is) the artistry of Allah, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for he is well acquainted with all that ye do."
In the above Ayah, Allah states clearly that mountains move like clouds. However, people think that mountains are firmly fixed to the earth. So if the mountains move, so does the earth. This is an obvious reference to the motion of the Earth, and this information was not available in the seventh century.
What do you think of Muhammadís knowledge about mountains, ships, Archimedesí principle, density of the earth, density of mountains, and motion of mountains and earth? If you think that he knew about any of these subjects, then he must have been a great geologist. But if you think that he had no information about these subjects, then it must be considered factual that the Quran is the authentic Words of God.
Humans stand helpless in front of a devastating earthquake. All the wealth and power of a human cannot help avoid the consequences of any natural catastrophe. In this case, all people are equal, and earthquakes do not differentiate between poor or rich, powerful or humble, or sick or healthy. A violent earthquake is a terrifying experience in its suddenness and its power of destruction to shake or uproot the strongest buildings. With all our amazing technologies and power to solve complicated equations, yet no scientist is capable of predicting the place and time of the next earthquake.
The immediate cause of earthquakes is fracturing of crustal rocks. The earthquake map of the earth shows a strong concentration around the whole Pacific Ocean, in the middle of Atlantic Ocean, south of Europe in the Mediterranean Sea, and in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Statistics show the extent of destruction and consequences of major earthquakes in highly populated areas. In most cases earthquakes last from few seconds to one minute and half. But the suddenness of the earthquakes and their short time still represent a major puzzle to seismologists.
The Glorious Quran addresses the subject of earthquakes in many places, and one chapter has the earthquake as its title, Surah 99:
Surah 99, Ayah 1-2 "When the earth is shaken to her utmost convulsion (earthquake), and the earth throws her burden (weights) from within."
The above Surah refers to the tremendous earthquake and the uprooting that will take place when the present order of the world is dissolved and the new world of Justice and Truth takes its place. The sign used is that of an earthquake which will shake our present material and phenomenal world to its very foundation. This overwhelming event, before the Day of the Judgment, will be a bigger and more far-reaching convulsion than any earthquake we have ever known.
Will humans remember the frightful events of the Day of Judgment? Will they continue to neglect the purpose of their creation? How long will they persist in discrediting God and attach human attributes to Him? How long are they going to keep arguing about His Existence and His Unlimited Power? How long are they going to ignore the Quran and the message of Muhammad? Canít we look at earthquakes and other natural catastrophes in their right prospective? Read what Allah says:
Surah 22, Ayah 1 "O mankind! Fear your Lord! For the convulsion (earthquake) of the Hour (of Judgment) will be a terrible thing."
The Spherical Earth
At a time when it was held that the earth was fixed at the center of the world, and that the sun moved around the earth, the Quran approached the motion of the earth by the above-mentioned Ayat of mountains, and by the following Ayat about day and night:
Surah 31, Ayah 29 "Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night"
Surah 39, Ayah 5 "He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions). He makes the night overlap the day and the day overlap the night"
The above two Ayat provide interesting material on the process of interpretation and especially on winding the night upon the day and the day upon the night in the second Ayah. The literal Arabic text for the verb "to overlap" above is "to make a sphere." This is an astounding use of this verb that refers to the earth as a sphere.
Astronauts have seen and photographed what happens from their space ships especially at great distances from the earth. They saw how the sun permanently lights up (except in the case of an eclipse) half of the earthís surface that faces the sun, while the other half is in darkness. The earth then turns on its axis, and the light from the sun stays the same, so that an area of another half a sphere is subjected to light. The light makes one revolution around the earthís surface in twenty-four hours. This perpetual rotation of night and day is quite clearly described in the above Ayah. It is easy to grasp this notion in the present time and age, because we know the solar system and the orbit of the earth.
Further to the above reflection on the sequence of night and day, one must also mention, with quotation of some Ayat from the Quran, the idea that there is more than one east and one west. For example, God refers to Himself as:
Surah 70, Ayah 40 "Lord of Easts and Wests"
Surah 55, Ayah 17 "Now I do call to witness the Lord of the two Easts and the two Wests."
Anyone who carefully watches the sunrise and sunset knows that the sun rises at different points in the east, and sets at different points in the west, according to the season. Each of the points of the east and the west are limited between two extreme points for the east and the west. The two extreme points of the east and the west are those that are referred to in the above second Ayah. Allah swears by the Lord of the two easts and the two wests. He swears by His Creation, and whatever He swears with represents an object of great significance. That is why keeping all the points of the east and the west between two limits represents one marvelous Creation of the Lord of everything.
The Earthís Atmosphere
In addition to many Ayat specifically related to the sky, the Quran contains many passages dealing with phenomena that occur in the atmosphere. The comparison between these Ayat and the present scientific data proves without any shadow of doubt that the Quran is the authentic Words of God.
It is a known fact that discomfort is experienced by man in high altitude, which increases the higher one climbs. As altitude is increased, the atmospheric density and pressure decrease. Humans cannot survive, or at least be comfortable, for a long period of time in atmospheric conditions higher than 8,000 feet. It has been also established that most humans could not survive atmospheric conditions equivalent to altitude of about 40,000 feet for more than a very short period of time. This experience is expressed in the Quran as follows:
Surah 6, Ayah 125 "Those whom Allah willeth to guide, He open their chests to Islam: Those whom He willeth to leave straying, He make their chests close and constricted as if they had to climb up in the skies"
Some commentators explain the above Ayah as related to the will of God to guide one to the Truth. The above Ayah also means that in spiritual and physical worlds, there are laws of justice, mercy, grace, penalty, etc., which work surely as anything we know. If, then, a man refuses the guidance of God and becomes a rebel, then with each step he goes further and further astray, and his pace will be accelerated. He will scarcely be able to take a spiritual breath, and his recovery, in spite of Allahís mercy that he rejected, will be difficult as if he had to climb up to the skies.
Electricity and Lightening
Electricity in the atmosphere is a result of lightening and hails as referred to in the following Ayat:
Surah 24, Ayah 43 "Seest thou not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap? - Then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases, the vivid flash of His lightning well-nigh blinds the sight"
Surah 13, Ayah 12-13 "It is He Who doth show you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope: It is He Who doth raise up the clouds, heavy with (fertilizing) rain! Nay, thunder repeateth His praises, and so do the angels, with awe: He flingeth the loud-voiced thunder-bolts, and therewith He striketh whomsoever He will. Yet these (are the men) who (dare to) dispute about Allah, with the strength of His power (supreme)!"
Clouds form from existing water vapors in the atmosphere. As the height of the clouds increases, water vapors are then condensed into raindrops, hail, and freezing rain, due to the motion of air currents inside the clouds. Small raindrops move up and down in the cloud, until they become bigger and heavier. When their weights exceed the aerodynamic forces, rain falls down. Some clouds exceed high mountains reaching a height of 6,500 feet. They look dark and usually produce rain, hail, or freezing rain.
The verb "join" in the above first Ayah indicates assembling or overcoming repulsion due to the different electrostatic charges that exist in these high clouds. It is not known exactly how electrostatic charges form in the clouds, because some clouds may have positive charges at the top, negative charges in the middle, and positives charge at the bottom. With these different charges, the significance of the word "join" can be seen in spite of the repulsive forces between positive and negative charges.
The description of high and heavy clouds in the first Ayah is accurate. This Ayah also shows a relationship between forming hailstorms and lightening. Moreover, it indicates that hail is quite a local phenomenon. You see hail on one street while on the neighboring one, there is no sign of it! Sparks between positive and negative charges cause lightening. The temperature at the spark may reach 1,000 degrees, and that expands the air rapidly causing the air to explode as in a thunderstorm.
Heavy thunderstorms and hailstorms are quite frightening. There is no telling of what may happen to any person or any property during these storms. It may be that someone may remember his Creator during these frightening moments. It fascinating that thunder, that sends shivers to our hearts due to its suddenness, praises the glory of Allah, while some people deny His existence!