Q u r ' a a n   &   M o d e r n  S c i e n c e

P r i n t  T h i s  A r t i c l e

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 PHYSICS

 THE EXISTENCE OF SUBATOMIC PARTICLES

 In ancient times a well-known theory by the name of ‘Theory of Atomism’ was widely accepted. This theory was originally proposed by the Greeks, in particular by a man called Democritus, who lived about 23 centuries ago. Democritus and the people that came after him, assumed that the smallest unit of matter was the atom. The Arabs used to believe the same. The Arabic word dharrah most commonly meant an atom. In recent times modern science has discovered that it is possible to split even an atom. That the atom can be split further is a development of the 20th century. Fourteen centuries ago this concept would have appeared unusual even to an Arab. For him the dharrah was the limit beyond which one could not go. The following Qur’aanic verse however, refuses to acknowledge this limit:

 The Unbelievers say, ‘Never to us will come The Hour’: say, ‘Nay! But most surely, By my Lord, it will come Upon you – by Him Who knows the unseen – From Whom is not hidden The least little atom In the Heavens or on earth: Nor is there anything less Than that, or greater, but Is in the Record Perspicuous.’” [Al-Qur’aan 34:3]

(A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 10:61.)

 This verse refers to the Omniscience of God, His knowledge of all things, hidden or apparent. It then goes further and says that God is aware of everything, including what is smaller or bigger than the atom. Thus the verse clearly shows that it is possible for something smaller than the atom to exist, a fact discovered only recently by modern science.

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 GEOGRAPHY

 THE WATER CYCLE

 Water Cycle  In 1580, Bernard Palissy was the first man to describe the present day concept of ‘water cycle’. He described how water evaporates from the oceans and cools to form clouds. The clouds move inland where they rise, condense and fall as rain. This water gathers as lakes and streams and flows back to the ocean in a continuous cycle. In the 7th century B.C., Thales of Miletus believed that surface spray of the oceans was picked up by the wind and carried inland to fall as rain. In earlier times people did not know the source of underground water. They thought the water of the oceans, under the effect of winds, was thrust towards the interior of the continents. They also believed that the water returned by a secret passage, or the Great Abyss. This passage is connected to the oceans and has been called the ‘Tartarus’, since Plato’s time. Even Descartes, a great thinker of the eighteenth century, subscribed to this view. Till the nineteenth century, Aristotle’s theory was prevalent. According to this theory, water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Today, we know that the rainwater that seeps into the cracks of the ground is responsible for this. The water cycle is described by the Qur’aan in the following verses:

 Seest thou not that Allah Sends down rain from The sky, and leads it Through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, Therewith, produce of various Colours.” [Al-Qur’aan 39:21]

 He sends down rain From the sky And with it gives life to The earth after it is dead: Verily in that are Signs For those who are wise.” [Al-Qur’aan 30:24]

 And We send down water From the sky according to (Due) measure, and We cause it To soak in the soil; And We certainly are able To drain it off (with ease).” [Al-Qur’aan 23:18]

 No other text dating back 1400 years ago gives such an accurate description of the water cycle.

 WINDS IMPREGNATE THE CLOUDS

 And We send the fecundating winds, Then cause the rain to descend From the sky, therewith providing You with water (in abundance).” [Al-Qur’aan 15:22]

 The Arabic word used here is lawâqih, which is the plural of laqih from laqaha, which means to impregnate or fecundate. In this context, impregnate means that the wind pushes the clouds together increasing the condensation that causes lightning and thus rain. A similar description is found in the Qur’aan:

 It is Allah Who sends The Winds, and they raise The Clouds: then does He Spread them in the sky As He wills, and break them Into fragments, until thou seest Raindrops issue from the midst Thereof: then when He has Made them reach such Of His servants as He wills, Behold, they do rejoice!” [Al-Qur’aan 30:48]

 The Qur’aanic descriptions are absolutely accurate and agree perfectly with modern data on hydrology. The water cycle is described in several verses of the Glorious Qur’aan, including 3:9, 7:57, 13:17, 25:48- 49, 36:34, 50:9-11, 56:68-70, 67:30 and 86:11.

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 GEOLOGY

 MOUNTAINS ARE LIKE PEGS (STAKES)

MOUNTAINS ARE LIKE PEGS (STAKES) In Geology, the phenomenon of ‘folding’ is a recently discovered fact. Folding is responsible for the formation of mountain ranges. The earth’s crust, on which we live, is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It is also known that the stability of the mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding, for it was the folds that were to provide foundations for the relief that constitute the mountains. Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 3,750 miles and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 1 to 30 miles. Since the crust is thin, it has a high possibility of shaking. Mountains act like stakes or tent pegs that hold the earth’s crust and give it stability. The Qur’aan contains exactly such a description in the following verse:

 Have We not made The earth as a wide Expanse, And the mountains as pegs?” [Al-Qur’aan 78:6-7]

 The word awtad means stakes or pegs (like those used to anchor a tent); they are the deep foundations of geological folds. A book named ‘Earth’ is considered as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Frank Press, who was the President of the Academy of Sciences in the USA for 12 years and was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter. In this book he illustrates the mountain in a wedge-shape and the mountain itself as a small part of the whole, whose root is deeply entrenched in the ground. According to Dr. Press, the mountains play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.

 (* Earth, Press and Siever, p. 435. Also see Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 157.)

 The Qur’aan clearly mentions the function of the mountains in preventing the earth from shaking:

 And We have set on the earth Mountains standing firm, Lest it should shake with them.” [Al-Qur’aan 21:31]

 The Qur’aanic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.

 MOUNTAINS FIRMLY FIXED

 The surface of the earth is broken into many rigid plates that are about 100 km in thickness. These plates float on a partially molten region called aesthenosphere. Mountain formations occur at the boundary of the plates. The earth’s crust is 5 km thick below oceans, about 35 km thick below flat continental surfaces and almost 80 km thick below great mountain ranges. These are the strong foundations on which mountains stand. The Qur’aan also speaks about the strong mountain foundations in the following verse:

 And the mountains Hath He firmly fixed.” [Al-Qur’aan 79:32]

(*A similar message is contained in the Qur'aan in 88:19, 31:10 and 16:15)

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 OCEANOLOGY

 BARRIER BETWEEN SWEET AND SALT WATERS

 Consider the following Qur’aanic verses:

BARRIER BETWEEN SWEET AND SALT WATERS He has let free the two bodies Of flowing water, Meeting together: Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress.” [Al-Qur’aan 55:19-20]

 In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’aan were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them. Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity and density. Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas through which water from one sea passes to the other.

(Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93.)

 But when the water from one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a transitional homogenizing area for the two waters. This scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Qur’aan was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay who is a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, U.S.A. The Qur’aan mentions this phenomenon also in the following verse:

 And made a separating bar between the two bodies Of flowing water?” [Al-Qur’aan 27:61]

 This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Qur’aan speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier.

 It is He Who has Let free the two bodies Of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, And the other salty and bitter; Yet has He Made a barrier between them, And a partition that is forbidden To be passed.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:53]

 Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt-water meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water.

 This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

(Oceanography, Gross, p. 242. Also see Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301.)
(Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301. )

 DARKNESS IN THE DEPTHS OF THE OCEAN

DARKNESS IN THE DEPTHS OF THE OCEAN Prof. Durga Rao is an expert in the field of Marine Geology and was a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He was asked to comment on the following verse:

 Or (the Unbelievers’ state) Is like the depths of darkness In a vast deep ocean, Overwhelmed with billow Topped by billow, Topped by (dark) clouds: Depths of darkness, one Above another: if a man Stretches out his hand, He can hardly see it! For any to whom Allah Giveth not light, there is no light!” [Al-Qur’aan 24:40]

 Prof. Rao said that scientists have only now been able to confirm, with the help of modern equipment that there is darkness in the depths of the ocean. Humans are unable to dive unaided underwater for more than 20 to 30 meters, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 meters. This verse does not refer to all seas because not every sea can be described as having accumulated darkness layered one over another. It refers especially to a deep sea or deep ocean, as the Qur’aan says, “darkness in a vast deep ocean”. This layered darkness in a deep ocean is the result of two causes:

  1.  A light ray is composed of seven colours. These seven colours are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (VIBGYOR). The light ray undergoes refraction when it hits water. The upper 10 to 15 metres of water absorb the red colour. Therefore if a diver is 25 metres under water and gets wounded, he would not be able to see the red colour of his blood, because the red colour does not reach this depth. Similarly orange rays are absorbed at 30 to 50 metres, yellow at 50 to 100 metres, green at 100 to 200 metres, and finally, blue beyond 200 metres and violet and indigo above 200 metres. Due to successive disappearance of colour, one layer after another, the ocean progressively becomes darker, i.e. darkness takes place in layers of light. Below a depth of 1000 meters there is complete darkness.
    (Oceans, Elder and Pernetta, p. 27. 1 2)
     

  2.  The sun’s rays are absorbed by clouds, which in turn scatter light rays thus causing a layer of darkness under the clouds. This is the first layer of darkness. When light rays reach the surface of the ocean they are reflected by the wave surface giving it a shiny appearance. Therefore it is the waves which reflect light and cause darkness. The un-reflected light penetrates into the depths of the ocean. Therefore the ocean has two parts. The surface characterized by light and warmth and the depth characterized by darkness. The surface is further separated from the deep part of the ocean by waves. The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. The darkness begins below the internal waves. Even the fish in the depths of the ocean cannot see; their only source of light is from their own bodies.

 The Qur’aan rightly mentions: “Darkness in a vast deep ocean overwhelmed with waves topped by waves”. In other words, above these waves there are more types of waves, i.e. those found on the surface of the ocean. The Qur’aanic verse continues, “topped by (dark) clouds; depths of darkness, one above another.

 These clouds as explained are barriers one over the other that further cause darkness by absorption of colours at different levels.

 Prof. Durga Rao concluded by saying, “1400 years ago a normal human being could not explain this phenomenon in so much detail. Thus the information must have come from a supernatural source”.

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