The Earth


Although these verses provide arguments intended to lead man to meditate on the Beneficence of God towards His creatures, here and there they contain statements that are interesting from the point of view of modern science. They are perhaps especially revealing by virtue of the fact that they do not express the varied beliefs concerning natural phenomena that were current at the time of the Qur’anic Revelation. These beliefs were later to be shown by scientific knowledge to be mistaken. On the one hand, these verses express simple ideas readily understood by to those people to whom, for geographical reasons, the Qur’an was first directed: the inhabitants of Makka and Madina, the Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula. On the other hand, they contain reflections of a general nature from which a more cultivated public of any time and place may learn something instructive, once it starts to think about them: this is a mark of the Qur’an’s universality.

As there is apparently no classification of such verses in the Qur’an, they are presented here in the numerical order of the suras:
–sura 2, verse 22:
“(God) is the One who made the earth a couch for you and the heavens an edifice, and sent down water from the sky. He brought forth therewith fruits for your sustenance. Do not join equals with God when you know.”
–sura 2, verse 164:
“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, In the disparity of night and day, In the ship which runs upon the sea for the profit of mankind, In the water which God sent down from the sky thereby reviving the earth after its death, In the beasts of all kinds He scatters therein, In the change of the winds and the subjected clouds between the sky and earth, Here are Signs for people who are wise.”
–sura 13, verse 3:
“(God) is the One who spread out the earth and set therein mountains standing firm and rivers. For every fruit He placed two of a pair. He covers the day with the night. Verily in this there are Signs for people who reflect.”
–sura 15, verses 19 to 21. God is speaking:
“The earth, We spread it out and set thereon mountains standing firm. We caused all kind of things to grow therein in due balance. Therein W e have provided you and those you do not supply with means of subsistence and there is not a thing but its stores are with Us. We do not send it down save in appointed measure.”
–sura 20, verses 53 and 54:
“(God is) the One Who has made for you the earth like a cradle and inserted roads into it for you. He sent water down from the sky and therebyWe brought forth pairs of plants, each separate from the other. Eat! Pasture your cattle ! Verily in this are Signs for people endued with intelligence.”
–sura 27, verse 61:
“He Who made the earth an abode and set rivers in its interstices and mountains standing firm. He placed a barrier between the two seas. Is there any divinity besides God? Nay, but most people do not know.”

Here a reference is made to the general stability of the Earth’s crust. It is known that at the early stages of the Earth’s existence before its crust cooled down, the latter was unstable. The stability of the Earth’s crust is not however strictly uniform, since there are zones where earthquakes intermittently occur. As to the barrier between the two seas, it is an image which signifies that the waters of the great rivers and the waters of the sea do not mix at the level of certain large estuaries.
–sura 67, verse 15:
“(God is) the One Who made the earth docile to you. So walk upon its shoulders! Eat of His sustenance! Unto Him will be the Resurrection.”
–sura 79, verses 30-33:
“After that (God) spread the earth out. Therefrom He drew out its water and its pasture. And the mountains He has firmly fixed. Goods for you and for your cattle.”

In many such verses, emphasis is laid upon the importance of water and the practical consequences of its presence in the earth’s soil, i.e. the fertility of the soil. There can be no doubt that in desert countries, water is the most important element governing man’s survival. The reference in the Qur’an however goes beyond this geographical detail. According to scientific knowledge the character the Earth has of a planet that is rich in water is unique to the solar system, and this is exactly what is highlighted in the Qur’an. Without water, the Earth would be a dead planet like the Moon. The Qur’an gives first place to water among the natural phenomena of the Earth that it refers to. The water cycle is described with remarkable accuracy in the Qur’an in the following note.

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