Say, ‘Just think: if all your water were to sink deep in the earth who could give you flowing water in its place?’ (Al Quran 67:30)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Allah sent some one hundred and twenty four thousand prophets to establish His Divinity. As, the human mind was being slowly polished under Divine guidance, even the top ranking prophets like Moses, had to show temporary, almost magical miracles, like turning staff into snake and make his hand shine and glow to plead his case. Eventually, the time was ripe in the 7th century that Allah decided to send His final scripture, the holy Quran, as the final message for the whole of mankind. The prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, who was the recipient of this final book, called it his biggest and everlasting miracle. Miracle indeed it is!
The Quran appeals to the study of nature and laws of nature that were to be understood centuries later as it pleads its case for Monotheism, not once, not twice, not three times, but almost in every Surah of the Quran.
Dr. Abdus Salam, who received Nobel Prize in physics in 1979, said the following in his Banquet speech:
The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says
“Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary.” (67:3-4)
This in effect is, the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze.
I am saying this, not only to remind those here tonight of this, but also for those in the Third World, who feel they have lost out in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, for lack of opportunity and resource.
Allah was declaring His creativity in the creation of the universe, as proof enough for his Divinity and Monotheism, in a pithy language in the above quoted verses of Surah Al Mulk, in Salam’s speech.
Going to the main theme of this article, which is water, there are at least 85 mentions in the Quran of water. The Quran calls water a great blessing and says, “And We send down from the sky water which is full of blessings, and We produce therewith gardens and grain harvests.” (Al Quran 50:9) The Quran also says that Allah created human kind from water (25:54), not only that, the Quran adds, all life forms were created from water (21:30 and 24:45).
Water is a part of the photosynthetic process that is energy supply for the whole of the plant kingdom and eventually indirectly for all the animals as well on our planet earth. In the past we knew it only in the form of a chemical equation. In a recent publication in Nature that is nicely covered by National Geographic, Kern and his team extracted the protein structure that splits water, to provide electrons for the whole process, known as Photosystem II, from bacteria to study how it behaves. By bombarding these structures with lasers and x-rays, they were able to take snapshots of the process at an atomic scale, as described in the journal Nature. These techniques revealed that water-splitting takes place in multiple steps, which had never been observed before.
Water has a very strange chemical property. The anomalous expansion of water is a strange and an abnormal property of water whereby it expands instead of contracting when the temperature goes from 4 degree centigrade to zero degree, and it becomes less dense. The density is maximum at 4C and decreases below that temperature. the less dense ice rises to the top in a frozen lake or sea and there is liquid water underneath for all the water life and fish to survive. The anomalous expansion of water helps preserve aquatic life during very cold weather.
Water has many other strange chemical properties that are examined in an article by Thomas David Parks, who was professor of chemistry in Illinois University in 1950s: Provident God of the Abrahamic Faiths: Plain Water will Tell you the Story.
Now, I go to Dr. Maurice Bucaille, who wrote a wonderful section on water cycle, in his epic making book, The Bible, the Quran, and Science. He writes:
When the verses of the Qur’an concerning the role of water in man’s existence are read in succession today. they all appear to us to express ideas that are quite obvious. The reason for this is simple: in our day and age, we all, to a lesser or greater extent, know about the water cycle in nature.
If however, we consider the various concepts the ancients had on this subject, it becomes clear that the data in the Qur’an do not embody the mythical concepts current at the time of the Revelation which had been developed more according to philosophical speculation than observed phenomena. Although it was empirically possible to acquire on a modest scale, the useful practical knowledge necessary for the improvement of the irrigation, the concepts held on the water cycle in general would hardly be acceptable today.
Thus it would have been easy to imagine that underground water could have come from the infiltration of precipitations in the soil. In ancient times however, this idea, held by Vitruvius Polio Marcus in Rome, 1st century B.C., was cited as an exception. For many centuries therefore (and the Qur’anic Revelation is situated during this period) man held totally inaccurate views on the water cycle. Two specialists on this subject, G. Gastany and B. Blavoux, in their entry in the Universalis Encyclopedia (Encyclopedia Universalis) under the heading Hydrogeology (Hydrogéologie), give an edifying history of this problem.
“In the Seventh century B.C., Thales of Miletus held the theory whereby the waters of the oceans, under the effect of winds, were thrust towards the interior of the continents; so the water fell upon the earth and penetrated into the soil. Plato shared these views and thought that the return of the waters to the oceans was via a great abyss, the ‘Tartarus’. This theory had many supporters until the Eighteenth century, one of whom was Descartes. Aristotle imagined that the water vapour from the soil condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. He was followed by Seneca (1st Century A.D.) and many others, until 1877, among them O. Volger . . . The first clear formulation of the water cycle must be attributed to Bernard Palissy in 1580. he claimed that underground water came from rainwater infiltrating into the soil. This theory was confirmed by E. Mariotte and P. Perrault in the Seventeenth century.
In this day and age when humanity is looking for water and life on planet mars, the last verse of Surah Mulk, which was mentioned as an epigraph, becomes even more poignant: “Say, ‘Just think: if all your water were to sink deep in the earth who could give you flowing water in its place?'” (Al Quran 67:30) For additional details, I refer you to another of my articles on this theme: The holy Quran and the Water Stores of Our Planet.
In a long passage of Surah Al Waqiah, as Allah talks about His Providence and Creativity in creation of different things, there is a special mention and challenge about water: “Reflect on the water which you drink? Is it you who send it down from the clouds, or do We? If We so pleased, We could make it bitter. Why, then, are you not grateful?” (Al Quran 56:67-69)
Water is not the only miracle of Allah’s creativity, rather: Everything is a Miracle According to the Holy Quran and Albert Einstein.
In keeping with the Quranic verdict in our age of science, we should stop hoping for miracles like those of Moses and enjoy and celebrate the Quranic study in the light of modern science: How science polishes our understanding of the Quran.
We, in the Muslim Times, have hundreds, if not thousands of articles on the theme of Religion and Science.
One thought on “The Miracle of Water and the Miracle of the Quran”