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السبت، 25 مايو، 2013

“Who has made the earth a resting place for you??

السبت, مايو 25, 2013

 “Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped)”
 (Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 22)

By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar

This ayah appears towards the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow) which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in Madinah. With 286 ayahs, this is the longest Surah in the Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) praised this Surah saying, “Shaytan runs away from the house in whichSurat Al-Baqarah is recited.” (Sahih Muslim).

Surat Al-Baqarah deals with a number of Islamic laws, issues related to worship, behavioral and moral principles and pillars of faith such as:
1.     Belief in the Oneness of Allah (to whom no partner, equal or rival may be ascribed) and belief in His angels, apostles, Books and the Day of Judgment.
2.     Belief in the unity of the human race regardless of race, ethnicity or any other distinction; all human beings are descendants of Adam and Eve.
3.     Adhering to the pillars of Islam: the shahadah (testimony of faith), offering the five compulsory prayers, zakat, fasting in Ramadan and performing hajj (pilgrimage), for those who are able to.
4.     There is no distinction between any of His Messengers; belief in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as being the “seal” of the Prophethood and that his message was the last divine message to be revealed and is preserved in the Qur’an.

Signs of creation in Surat Al-Baqara:

1.     There is no doubt about any word, letter or sign in the Qur’an as scientific research showed later on (Ayah 2).
2.     Reference to mental disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoia, which were unheard of 1400 years ago (Ayah 10).
3.     The difference between light, fire and sunshine in contradiction to darkness, which was only recently discovered by scientists (Ayah 17).
4.     Storms that normally occur at night and are accompanied by thunder, lightning and violent winds, bringing together different meteorological phenomena: a fact that has only been understood recently (Ayah 19).
5.     Loss of sight by staring at lightning. Light travels faster than sound. (Ayah 20).
6.     Acknowledgement of Allah as the Creator of everything (Ayah 21).
7.     Reference to how the Earth is spread out, how the sky is held up and the celestial bodies that orbit therein, rain falling from clouds causing different kinds of fruits to grow and the prohibition of shirk (ascribing partners to Allah)(Ayah 22).
8.     The example of the gnat and other insects distinguished by their sophisticated bodies (Ayah 26).
9.     Death precedes life and then follows it; Allah created everything on earth, then He rose to the heaven and made it into seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything (Ayah29).
10.            Mention of the historical fact that Allah split the sea into two for the Prophet Musa in order to save him and his followers and drowned Pharaoh and his soldiers (Ayah 50).
11.            Allah caused twelve springs to gush forth with a strike of Prophet Musa’s staff on the eastern bank of the Gulf of Suez in an area known today as Uyun Musa (the Springs of Moses) (Ayah 60).
12.             Using the east and west to denote the whole of the universe (Ayahs 124, 115).
13.             Taking the Ka’ba as the kiblah (direction in which Muslims pray), confirming that Makkah is the center of the world (Ayahs 144, 149, 150).
14.             Reference to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of day and night, ships sailing through the sea in the service of mankind, rain falling from the sky reviving the earth after its death, living creatures scattered throughout the earth, the change in the direction of the wind and the clouds held between the earth and the sky are indeed proofs for men of understanding(Ayah 164).
15.            Assertion of the fact that the lunar cycles are signs to establish the months for people and pilgrimage (Ayah 189).
16.            The harm that results from drinking alcohol and gambling is far more serious than any benefits they may have (Ayah 219).
17.             The dangers associated with having sex during menstruation (Ayah 221).
18.             Heavy rain does not cause damage to a garden or orchard situated on a height because the water subsides once the land takes what it needs. It may even double its harvest yield. If it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices to water the plants and to nourish the fruits. This means that the garden will flourish, whether it receives heavy or light rain. This similitude, comparing pious people who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure to a garden which flourishes no matter how heavy or light the rain it receives, is based on an established scientific fact. (Ayah 265)
As each of these issues need to be dealt with separately, I will limit my discussion to ayah 22 of Surat Al-Baqara, which deals with the following issues:
1.     Acknowledgement of Allah as the Creator of everything.
2.     The spreading out of the earth.
3.     The sky as a canopy governed by its own rules and the orbit of the celestial bodies in it.
4.     Rain falling from the sky.
5.     The production of fruit using rainwater.
Finally, we will conclude with a discussion on shirk (polytheism).  Allah forbids us and warns us against shirk.  But, let us first review some of the interpretations for these two ayahs.


Interpretation of these ayahs by some scholars:

 “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious),  Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah(in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped.)”
(Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 22).
Concerning the interpretation of these ayahs, Fi Zilal Al-Qur’an states, “…it is a call for mankind as a whole to worship their Lord Who created them and those before them. It is He who owns all of creation, thus He must be the only One worthy of worship. Worship has a goal that worshippers wish to achieve; namely, to become devout and righteous people who fear Allah and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds He has forbidden. They hope to become excellent models for mankind. *“Who has made the earth a resting place for you”* is a phrase which refers to the comfortable life of man on earth which was made to be a pleasant dwelling and an adequate retreat for him, like a bed. People forget the allegory of the bed that was made comfortable for them by Allah as they take it for granted.

Scientific implications in these ayahs:

The surface area of the earth is estimated to be about 510 million km2; 29% (149 million km2) is land (lithosphere) and 71% (361 million km2) is water (hydrosphere). About half of the surface (173 million km2) is made up of epi-continental shelves submerged underwater. These vast dimensions make the earth (land surface) seem to be flat to man.
The land surface and the marine (sea and ocean) subsurface are not entirely flat but rise and fall in areas. Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, is 8,848m, whereas the lowest one (400 below sea level) lies at the Dead Sea Basin. However, the Dead Sea which in part reaches to 800 m below sea level is considered to be a point on land as it is a landlocked sea. The level of the deepest region in the oceans is the Mariana Trench, which lies in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines; it is 11,033km deep. The difference between the highest and the lowest point on earth is less than twenty kilometers (19,881 km). Comparing the radius of the earth (which is estimated to be about 6371 km on average), it seems that the difference between the highest and the lowest point on earth is no more than 0.3 % of the earth’s radius.
The difference between the average height of land (estimated to be about 840m above sea level) and the average depth of seas and oceans (which is estimated to be 3729m) comes to about 4500m. If you compare this to the radius of the earth, the resulting ratio would be about 0.007 %. This averaging technique helps us to understand how Allah leveled and spread out the surface of the earth. Initially, the Earth’s surface was formed from hardly high relief lands from mountains and plateaus. By the will of Allah, through various factors of erosion (weathering, friction, transportation and sedimentation), these mountains have been weathered to form smooth moderate to low height relieves from hills and plains. Moreover, the transportation factors as waters flow through rivers to transport the weathered detrital sediments from high lands to basins, oceans and seas forming great deltas. Once the high relief surface of the earth becomes level with the sea bottom taking the shape of a flat plain, the erosion affecting it ceases.
The struggle between the orogenic movements and the erosion is ongoing; the destructive processes try to make the high relieves of the land surface at the same height of the sea level through successive cycles known as ‘the Earth’s varied landscapes or the Earth’s erosional system. These cycles have been active from about least 4.6 billion years ago, to make the land surface flat and spread in order to make it suitable for man and other creatures. Mountain passes were formed; rivers, lakes, and plains were made. These types of interactions between land and water (continents and oceans), highlands and lowlands, rock cycles and all other processes of earthly equilibrium were created by Allah to give the earth a life-friendly environment and shall continue until the Day of Judgment. Thanks to these reciprocal cycles of construction and deconstruction, fertile plains, flourishing soil, various kinds from ore deposits and country rocks which had been accumulated through millions of years. Generally, the rate of sedimentation needs from 100 to 200 years to form one centimeter from sediments, in other hand erosion of one centimeter from rocks ranges from 3 to 300 years.  Therefore, mankind would never have been able to undertake the task of flattening the land surface which is a time and energy consuming activity; Allah the Almighty has done this for us already when He says, *“Who has made the earth a resting place for you”*; these words are proof of His divinity, Oneness and the fact that He is the Creator.
Allah has favored us with the sophisticated construction of the sky in its immense dimensions, with the countless celestial bodies, and the different types of matter and energy found there. Allah has given each and every molecule in the heavens a number of forces, such as:
1)     Strong nuclear force: The force which holds the basic components of matter inside the nucleus. Without this nuclear force, atomic nuclei would never be formed and the universe would be filled worthless primary components of matter.
2)    Weak nuclear force: The force which holds the basic components inside the atoms, without atoms of matter would not exist and the universe would be filled only with the nuclei of atoms.
3)    Electromagnetic force: The force which holds atoms of matter together inside every molecule or compound. This force leads to electromagnetic radiation in the shape of photons. Without this kind of force, the universe would be filled with atoms of loose compounds and light and heat molecules would not exist and life would be impossible.
4)    Gravitational force: The force that holds together all the regions of the sky, the stars and heavenly objects. Without this connecting bond that Allah has given every object in the universe, the earth and the sky would be unheard of. Once this bond vanishes, the universe and all its components would scatter. That is why we owe so much to Allah for His grace of making the sky like a canopy.

Allah sends down water from the clouds where the rain is the source of all pure water on the earth’s surface. Initially, water comes from inside the earth in the form of vapor which travels upwards with volcanic eruptions and is condensed in the earth’s atmosphere which is cooler at higher altitudes. The earth then receives this water in the form of rain which follows in the ground surface to form seas and oceans. The water cycle thus starts in the earth. The amount of water that goes from the earth to the atmosphere is estimated to be about 380,000 km3, most of which is evaporated from sea and ocean surfaces (320,000 km3). The remainder is evaporated from land, around 60,000 km3. By Allah’s will, every drop of water which has evaporated from the earth comes back onto the land (96,000 km3) and into the seas and oceans (284,000 km3).
Thanks to this miraculous water cycle, water vapor travels into the earth’s atmosphere purifying itself of all salts and contaminants in order to come back to earth in a pure form. This cycle takes place between one kilometer below sea level and 15 km above sea level. It helps to clean water, moderates the weather and provides different levels of humidity, satisfies the thirst of man and animals, waters plants, fills rivers and springs and nourishes the soil and underground aquifers. Continuously, all of these are renewed, increased and refreshed by water cycle. It also helps to substitute the amounts of water it usually pumps out onto the land surface. Moreover, the water grinds up the rocks through weathering processes to form new soil, sedimentary rocks ore deposits and economic metals.
Though rainwater holds much good and mercy, Allah the Almighty can also use it as a punishment, as is the case with torrents and flash floods which can result in massive destruction, such as mudslides and overflowing rivers which damage property and cultivated land as well as killing people.
Thanks to the water cycle, the sedimentary cover, whose volume is estimated to be more than 360,000 km3, was formed. It contains salt evaporates which weigh millions of tons. These salts, which were originally leached by rain from the rocks, deposited through evaporation processes for sea water in lagoons and enclosed lakes. Afterwards, they were carried through the water cycle to seas and oceans so that they returned to earth through the reciprocal cycles between the oceans and continents when they are transformed from one into the other.

In this ayah, fruit production is the fourth of the mentioned blessings that Allah Has bestowed on His servants. The life of men, animals and plants depend on this blessing and everything produced from them is linked to life, especially fruits of higher plant orders. Thus, we can clearly see Allah’s wisdom as He created plants before He created animals; after all, creation was made perfectly and the Earth was prepared to receive man. Allah created man and made him the most favored of all creatures.
The production of fruit is mentioned in a nice logical sequence; first the ayah refers to the formation of the earth through various processes of erosion (such as weathering, friction, removal and sedimentation) causing rocks to crumble and flat plains and rich soil necessary for cultivation to be formed making the earth a comfortable environment for human, animal and plant life. Secondly, it refers to the construction of the sky, starting with the atmosphere surrounding the earth and the clouds which act only within the rules determined by Allah the Almighty, i.e. the clouds are cooled at the highest altitudes till they carry all the condensed vapor that originates from earth and, with Allah’s will, fall back to earth in the form of rain. This is the reason the ayah refers to rain falling from the sky for Allah to bring forth different types of fruits from the earth as a provision for His servants. This but a drop in an ocean of countless blessings Allah has bestowed upon man and all creatures.
The name “fruit” is often applied loosely to all edible plant products--be it roots, stems leaves or flowers. Fruits fall into two types; real and accessory fruits. “Real fruits” include all kinds of plants whose fruits develop from the ovaries after they are fully fertilized by pollen. The embryo of the plant, which lies inside the seed, is covered with a number of sheaths which serve to protect and nourish the embryo throughout the germination period. Whereas, in some other examples, the fruit could be the seeds themselves as is the case with legumes and grains. The basic function of fruits is to preserve the embryos inside the seeds, nourish them throughout the germination period and to help propagate the plant species. Without these functions, higher plants would become extinct. As for the other functions of fruits, they serve as food for humans and animals.
Real fruits fall into three types: they are either simple (like apples), aggregate (like strawberries) or multiple (like berries). Accessory fruits are those which are formed by parts other than the ovary, such as figs or the fleshy cones of juniper trees. Some fruits are considered to be a basic food for man, some are used by different kinds of animals, and many of them are used to produce oil, spices, and colorings which man uses for cooking. They have various other purposes, like medicinal use, which both man and animals need to cure their illnesses and ease their pain. This is why fruit production is a great blessing from Allah acting as a witness to Allah’s divine omnipotence, which manifests itself in the variety and complexity of His creation.

After examining an aspect of Allah’s blessings upon His servants, there is a divine order making shirk as haram (unlawful), forbidding mankind to set up partners to His divinity, partners who can neither harm nor benefit anyone and who have no power over anything. Every rational person realizes that Allah alone is the Creator, the Sustainer with great might and that all of creation is His servants. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked, “What sin does Allah consider to be the greatest?” He replied, “Making partners with Allah when He created you”. He said to Mu’adh Ibn Jabal, “do you know what Allah’s right is on His servant? That he worships Him and does not make partners with Him”.
These scientific facts were unknown to man until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. That they were present in Allah’s divine scripture 1400 years ago proves that it is the word of Allah, the Creator, and confirms the Prophethood and message of Muhammad (PBUH), to whom these words were revealed. It is also a proof of tawhid (Islamic monotheism) which calls for worshipping the One God who has neither a rival nor opponent.
I bear witness that there is no God other than Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger and servant (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, his family, Companions and all those who have followed his guidance and footsteps until the Day of Resurrection) and praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

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