Do You Know what is the shape of the Earth?
THE SHAPE OF THE EARTH IS SPHERICAL
In early times, people believed that the earth was flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, for fear of falling off the edge! Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597.
Consider the following Qur’anic verse regarding the alternation of day and night: “Sees thou not that Allah merges Night into Day And He merges Day into Night?”
[ Al-Qur’an 31:29]
Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes into day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.
The following verse also alludes to the spherical shape of the earth:
“He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night.”
[ Al-Qur’an 39:5]
The Arabic word used here is Kawwara meaning ‘to overlap’ or ‘to coil’– the way a turban is wound around the head. The overlapping or coiling of the day and night can only take place if the earth is spherical.
The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical, i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:
“And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped.” [ Al-Qur’an 79:30]
The Arabic word for egg here is dahaaha which means an ostrich egg. The shape of an ostrich egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth.
Thus the Qur’an correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’an was revealed was that the earth was flat.
When has science been established? MOONLIGHT IS REFLECTED LIGHT
It was believed by earlier civilizations that the moon emanates its own light. Science now tells us that the light of the moon is reflected light. However, this fact was mentioned in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago in the following verse:
“Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, and placed therein a Lamp and a Moon giving light.”
[ Al-Qur’an 25:61]
The Arabic word for the sun in the Qur’an, is shams. It is also referred to as siraaj which means a ‘torch’ or as wahhaaj meaning ‘a blazing lamp’ or as diya which means ‘shining glory’. All three descriptions are appropriate to the sun, since it generates intense heat and light by its internal combustion. The Arabic word for the moon is qam ar and it is described in the Qur’an as m uneer which is a body that gives noor i.e. reflected light. Again, the Qur’anic description matches perfectly with the true nature of the moon which does not give off light by itself and is an inactive body that reflects the light of the sun. Not once in the Qur’an, is the moon mentioned as siraaj, wahhaaj or diya nor the sun as noor or muneer. This implies that the Qur’an recognizes the difference between the nature of sunlight and moonlight.
The following verses relate to the nature of light from the sun and the moon:
“It is He who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light ( of beauty).”
[ Al-Qur’an 10:5]
“See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, “And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp?”
[ Al-Qur’an 71:15-16]
The Glorious Qur’an and modern science, are thus in perfect agreement about the differences in the nature of sunlight and moonlight.
THE SUN ROTATES
For a long time, European philosophers and scientists believed that the earth stood still in the center of the universe and every other body including the sun moved around it. In the West, this geocentric concept of the universe was prevalent right from the time of Ptolemy in the second century B.C. In 1512, Nicholas Copernicus put forward his Heliocentric Theory of Planetary Motion, which asserted that the sun is motionless at the center of the solar system with the planets revolving around it.
In 1609, the German scientist Yohannus Keppler published the ‘Astronom ia N ova’. In this he concluded that not only do the planets move in elliptical orbits around the sun, they also rotate upon their axes at irregular speeds. With this knowledge, it became possible for European scientists to explain correctly many of the mechanisms of the solar system, including the sequence of night and day.
After these discoveries, it was thought that the Sun was stationary and did not rotate about its axis like the Earth. I remember having studied this fallacy from Geography books during my school days.
Refer the following Qur’anic verse:
“It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.”
[ Al-Qur’an 21:33]
- The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahoon . This word is derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes from any moving body. If you use this word for a person on the ground, it would not mean that he is rolling but would imply that he is walking or running. If you use this word for a person in water, it would not mean that he is floating but would imply that he is swimming.
- Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun, it would not only mean that it is flying through space but would also mean that it is rotating as it goes through space. Most school textbooks have now incorporated the fact that the sun rotates about its axis. The rotation of the sun about its own axis can be proved with the help of equipment that projects the image of the sun on the top of a table so that one can examine the image of the sun without being blinded. It is noticed that the sun has spots that complete a circular motion once every 25 days i.e. the sun takes approximately 25 days to rotate around its axis.
- The sun travels through space at roughly 240 km per second and takes about 200 million years to complete one revolution around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.
“It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day:
Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).” [ Al-Qur’an 36:40]
- This verse mentions an essential fact discovered only recently by modern astronomy, i.e. the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion.
- The ‘fixed place’ towards which the sun travels, carrying with it the solar system, has been located preirsely by modern astronomy. It has been given a name, the Solar Apex. The solar system is indeed moving in space towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules (alpha Lyrae) whose exact location is now firmly established.
- The moon rotates around its axis in the same duration that it takes to revolve around the earth. It takes approximately 29½ days to complete one rotation.
- One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Qur’anic verses. Should we not ponder over the question: “What is the source of knowledge contained in the Qur’an?”
Where Sun will go after dooms day ? THE SUN WILL EXTINGUISH
The light of the sun is due to a chemical process on its surface that has been taking place continuously for the past five billion years. It will come to an end at some point of time in the future, when the sun will be totally extinguished, leading to extinction of all life on earth. Regarding the impermanence of the sun’s existence, the Qur’an says: “And the Sun runs its course for a period determined for it; that is the decree of (Him) the exalted in Might, the All-Knowing.”
- The Arabic word used here is mustaqarr, which means a place or time that is determined. Thus the Qur’an says that the sun runs towards a determined place, and will do so only up to a pre-determined period of time – meaning that it will end or extinguish.
WHAT IS INTERSTELLAR MATTER
- Space outside organized astronomical systems was earlier assumed to be a vacuum. Astrophysicists later discovered the presence of bridges of matter in this interstellar space. These bridges of matter are called plasma, and consist of completely ionized gas containing equal number of free electrons and positive ions. Plasma is sometimes called the fourth state of matter (besides the three known states viz. solid, liquid and gas).
- The Qur’an refers to the presence of this interstellar material in the following verse: “He Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between.” [ Al-Qur’an 25:59]
- It would be ridiculous for anyone to even suggest that the presence of interstellar galactic material was known 1400 years ago!
IS THE UNIVERSE EXPANDING? Yes
In 1925, American astronomer Edwin Hubbe, provided observational evidence that all galaxies are moving away from one another, which implies that the universe is expanding. The expansion of the universe is now an established scientific fact. This is what the Qur’an says regarding the nature of the universe:
“With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: For it is We Who create the vastness of Space.” [ Al-Qur’an 51:47]
- The Arabic word musioon is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe.
- One of the greatest astrophysicists Stephen Hawking, in his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, says, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the 20 the century.” The Qur’an mentioned the expansion of the universe before man even learned to build a telescope!
- Some may say that the presence of astronomical facts in the Qur’an is not surprising since the Arabs were advanced in the field of astronomy. They are correct in acknowledging the advancement of the Arabs in the field of astronomy. However they fail to realize that the Qur’an was revealed centuries before the Arabs excelled in astronomy. Moreover many of the scientific facts mentioned above, such as the origin of the universe with a Big Bang, were not known to the Arabs even at the peak of their scientific advancement. The scientific facts mentioned in the Qur’an are therefore not due to the Arabs’ advancement in astronomy. Indeed, the reverse is true: they advanced in astronomy, because astronomy occupies a place in the Qur’an.
3 . PHYSICS and Quran
CAN ITOMS ATOMS BE DIVIDED ?
- 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 scholar 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 ancient Arabs used to believe the same. The Arabic word zarrah 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 zarrah was the limit beyond which one could not go. The following Qur’anic 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’an 34:3]1
- This verse also 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.
- A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 10:61.
4 . WHAT IS HYDROLOGY ?
THE WATER CYCLE
- In 1580, Bernard Palissy was the first person 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 do 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 still prevalent. According to this theory, water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Today, we have come to know that the rainwater that seeps into the cracks of the ground is responsible for this. This is described by the Qur’an 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 colors.” “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.” “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).”
No other evidence text dating back 1400 years ago gives such an accurate description of the water cycle.
WHAT IS EVAPORATION
“By the Firmament which returns (in its round),”
[ Al-Qur’an 86:11]
WINDS IMPREGNATE 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’an 15:22]
- The Arabic word used here is lawaaqih 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 following verses of the Qur’an:
“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 there with whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases. the vivid flash of His lightning well-nigh blinds the sight.” “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!”
Modern data on Hydrology agrees perfectly with the Qur’anic description on the same subject.
- The water cycle is described in several other verses of the Glorious Qur’an, including 7:57, 13:17, 25:4849 , 35:9, 36:34, 45:5, 50:9-11, 56:68-70 and 67:30.
5 . GEOLOGY
WHAT ARE MOUNTAINS? MOUNTAINS ARE LIKE TENT PEGS
- 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 reliefs that constitute the mountains.
- Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 6,035 km and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 2 to 35 km. 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’an contains exactly such a description: “Have we not made the earth as a wide expanse, and the mountains as pegs?” [ Al-Qur’an 78:6-7]
- The word awtaad means stakes or pegs ( like those used to anchor a tent); they are the deep foundations of geological folds.
- A book entitled ‘Earth’ is regarded as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Dr. 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 J immy 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.
- The Qur’an 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’an 21:31]
The Qur’anic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.
WHO MADE 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 asthenosphere.
- 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’an refers to the strong mountain foundations in the following verse:
“And the mountains hath He firmly fixed.” [Al-Qur’an 79:32]1
- Thus, the information contained in the Glorious Qur’an about the nature of mountains is in perfect agreement with recent discoveries in geology. A similar message is contained in the Qur’an in 88:19.
6 . OCEANOLOGY
WHAT ARE THE BARRIER BETWEEN SWEET AND SALT WATERS?
“He (God) has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress.” [ Al-Qur’an 55:19-20]
- In the Arabic text, the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier, however, is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’an 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. Scientists 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. 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 phenomenon is also mentioned in the following verse of the Qur’an:
“And made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water?” [ Al-Qur’an 27:61]
- This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. A white bar can also be clearly seen at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, South Africa where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.
- But when the Qur’an 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’an 25:53]
- Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and saltwater meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two saltwater seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from saltwater in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” This partition (zone of separation) has a salinity different from both fresh water and saltwater.
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.These scientific phenomena mentioned in the Qur’an was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay, a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, U.S.A.
WHAT IS IN DEPTHS OF THE OCENS ? DARKNESS
Prof. Durga Rao is a world renowned 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 doesn’t give light, there is no light!” [ Al-Qur’an 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 metres, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 metres. 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’an 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 colors seen in the rainbow. These seven colors are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red (VIBGYOR). The light ray undergoes refraction when it hits the water. The upper 10 to 15 meters of water absorb the red color. Therefore, if a diver is 25 meters underwater and gets wounded, he would not be able to see the red color of his blood, because the red color does not reach this depth. Similarly, orange rays are absorbed at 30 to 50 meters, yellow at 50 to 100 meters, green at 100 to 200 meters, and finally, blue beyond 200 meters, and violet and indigo above 200 meters. Due to successive disappearance of color, 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.
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 that reflect light and cause darkness. The unreflected light penetrates into the depths of the ocean. Thus, the ocean has two parts. The surface is characterized by light and warmth and the depth is 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’an describes this aptly:
“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’anic 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”.
1 The reference for this statement is the videotape titled ‘This is the Truth’. For a copy of this videotape contact the Islamic Research Foundation.
“It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power ( over all things).” [ Al-Qur’an 25:54]
Was it possible 14 centuries ago for any human being to guess that every living being was made from water? Moreover, would such a guess be conceivable by a human being in the deserts of Arabia where there has always been a scarcity of water? Please Think