Caliph Umar Farooq versus Emperor Heraclius: Who gave us our Religious Freedoms?

Epigraph:

There should be no compulsion in  religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to  be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a  strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing,  All-Knowing.  (Al Quran 2:256)

Umar Farooq found the Temple Mount to be a garbage dump for Jerusalem in the 7th century and personally cleaned and restored it!
Umar Farooq found the Temple Mount to be a garbage dump for Jerusalem in the 7th century and personally cleaned and restored it!

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

At the time of advent of Islam there were two Empires, the Roman and the Persian.  The Persian Empire did not survive very long.

So, it may be reasonable to ask, which of the two surviving Empires, the Roman Empire and the nascent Muslim Empire, did the most to give us our vision of the religious freedoms, in the seventh century.

Umar Farooq (born 579 CE – died 6 November 644 CE), a close companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, led the rapidly evolving Muslim Empire from 634-644 CE.

Heraclius (Latin: Flavius Heraclius Augustus, 575 – February 11, 641) was Byzantine (Roman) Emperor from 610 to 641 CE.

Heraclius and Umar Farooq were contemporaries and each stood for his respective cultures and Empires.

By studying the two, we can track the history of religious freedom in organized human thought during the seventh century.

In this short article I want to show that Islam is a religion of peace and that revelation has contributed in a big way to human knowledge and history.

When the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, claimed Monotheism in the polytheistic society of Mecca they turned against him and he and his followers had to face persecution for 13 long years. He migrated to Medina but the Meccans did not leave him alone there and attacked Medina, it was in these circumstances that the following verses were revealed:

Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them — Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques. (Al Quran 22:39-40)

By mentioning Churches and Synagogues before Mosques, the revelation was laying the foundation of genuine religious freedom for the whole of humanity.  These verses were revealed around 624 CE and these teachings through the practices of Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, in Arabia laid foundation of freedoms that were put into action by Umar Farooq, may Allah be pleased with him, in Jerusalem in 638 CE, when he took control of Jerusalem, after a relatively bloodless siege by the Muslim army.

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia: Painting or Fresco of mother Mary and Jesus in the Most Prominent part of the Cathedral, which is now a Museum

I visited Spain with my family during the spring vacation of 2011 CE and went to the central mosque of Cordoba, which was a mosque at least for three centuries, but, it is now a Cathedral. In the year 1492, which is also famous for Columbus having discovered America, not a single Muslim was left alive in Spain, either converted on the point of sword, banished or killed.

Mosque_of_Cordoba
Mosque of Cordoba in Spain

In 2012, we visited Turkey and were very happy to see Hagia Sophia, which is a former Cathedral, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul. From the date of its dedication in 360 CE until 1453 CE, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. The building was a mosque from 1453 until 1931, after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman.

This is what groups did to the places of worship of others, the so called enemies, in medieval ages!

Image (1) Church-of-the-Holy-Sepulchre1-e1328093833394.jpg for post 167722
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher

But, now I want to share something more dramatic with you. I want you to come with me and visit the holy land of Jerusalem. If you have been to Jerusalem you would have visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the Holiest places in Christianity. The site is venerated as where Jesus was put on cross, and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried. It did not suffer the fate of the Mosque of Cordoba or the Hagia Sophia, because of the generosity, wisdom and religious tolerance of one man Umar, who was the second Caliph of Islam and a very close associate of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. Jerusalem was under Muslim rule from 638 until the creation of Israel in 1948, except for a period of 80 years between the First and the Third Crusade.

After a brief and bloodless siege, initiated after the offensives by the Byzantines colonies, Muslims seized control of Jerusalem from the Byzantines in February 638. Caliph Umar Farooq accepted the city’s surrender from Patriarch Sophronius in person. Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was shown the great Church of the Holy Sepulcher and offered a place to pray in it, but he refused. He knew that if he prayed in the church, it would set a precedent that would lead to the building’s transformation into a mosque. He wanted the Christians to have their freedom of religion and their worship places. Therefore, he instead prayed on the steps outside, where Umar Mosque was built centuries later, allowing the church to remain a Christian holy place.

It would take Europe several centuries to catch up with the ideal set by Umar regarding religious tolerance, based on the revelation of the Quran and the actions of the Prophet Muhammad. In the 8th century Charlemagne, Charles the Great was converting Scandinavians on the point of sword to Christianity and during the First Crusade, in the eleventh century each and every Muslim was killed in Jerusalem, according to the Christian sources, some 70,000 Muslims were killed including 10,000 in the Mosque of Umar itself.

Unlike Umar, how the  Emperor Heraclius saw his role in Christendom and how  he converted Jews to Christianity by force, is outlined here from the  pen of Tom Holland, the author of Rubicon:  The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the  Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel  Johnson Prize.  He writes in his other book, In the shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and  the End of the Ancient World:

Clearly, then, urgent as it was to restore to the redeemed provincials the  long-atrophied habits of obedience to Roman rule, more urgent still was the need  to reassure them that the victory won by Heraclius had indeed been a victory won  by God. This was why, in his negotiations with Shahrbaraz, no more urgent demand  had been pressed by the emperor than the return from its ignominious  captivity of the True Cross. On 21 March 630, stripped of all his imperial  regalia and walking humbly on foot, as Christ Himself had done on his way to  Golgotha, Heraclius entered Jerusalem bearing with him the precious relic. Men  reported that the manner of his arrival had been the result of advice given  him by an angel, who had personally instructed him to take off his diadem, and  to dismount from his horse. A supreme honour for Heraclius to receive: orders  direct from the heavens to imitate the last journey of his Saviour.

The restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem was the  profoundest demonstration imaginable of the great victory that had been  won in the cause of Christ. It also served as a ringing statement of  Heraclius’ intent: never again would he permit the Christian empire to  be pushed by its enemies to the edge of oblivion. On his approach to  Jerusalem, he had made a point of stopping off in Tiberias, where he had been  hosted by a wealthy Jew notorious, under the Persian occu­pation, for  his persecution of the city’s churches. Asked by Heraclius why he had so  mistreated the local Christians, the Jew had answered disingenuously, ‘Why,  because they are the enemies of my faith.” Heraclius, grim-faced, had advised  his host to accept baptism on the spot – which the Jew had prudently done. Two  years later, this order was repeated on a far more universal scale. From  Africa to distant Gaul, leaders across the Christian world received news of a  startling imperial decision: all Jews and Samaritans were to be brought  com­pulsorily to baptism. Heraclius, conscious of how close he had come to  defeat, and of the debt he owed to Christ, was not prepared to take any  second chances. From now on, the Roman Empire would be undilutedly, and  therefore impregnably, Christian.[1]

While Heraclius was baptizing all Jews by force in 632 CE,  Umar Farooq in 638 CE was restoring complete religious freedom to not  only all the Jews in Jerusalem, but, also the Christians.  Would it be a  big stretch to say that Umar Farooq gave the modern world our positive  vision of religious freedom, for every one?

No wonder, if we put Umar and Heraclius side by side and analyze what they represent, we realize that we owe our religious freedoms, in our great country of USA, historically speaking, to the revelation of the Quran: “And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques.” (Al Quran 22:40)

This verse from the chapter Al Hajj of the Holy Quran, is perhaps the shining foundation of our religious freedom in our Global Village, with its varied religions, creeds and ideologies.

Reference:

1. Tom  Holland.  In the shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and  the End of the Ancient World.  Little Brown, 2012.  Page 295-296.

Editor’s note: The square minaret of the Mosque of Umar  next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, very powerfully established Islamic belief in  freedom of religion and puts to rest, the accusation, for all periods to come  that Islam was spread with sword. Islam was actually the pioneer of religious  freedoms as I have demonstrated in many of my articles and posts. For the  Muslims the political struggle was always divorced from the freedom of  religion.

umar-mosque-and-the-church-of-holy-sepulcher
Square minaret of the Umar-mosque and the Church of Holy Sepulcher in the fore-ground

 

Is God Alive or Dead: A Metaphor for the Scriptures from the US Constitution?

Collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Growing share of Americans say Supreme Court should base its rulings on what Constitution means today

Source: Pew Research Center

A majority of Americans (55%) now say the U.S. Supreme Court should base its rulings on what the Constitution “means in current times,” while 41% say rulings should be based on what it “meant as originally written,” according to a recent Pew Research Center report on American democratic values.

This represents a shift in public opinion, which was divided on this question for more than a decade. When Pew Research Center last asked the question in October 2016, 46% said the high court should base its rulings on what the document means in current times, while an identical share (46%) said rulings should be based on what it meant when originally written.

Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (78%) now say rulings should be based on the Constitution’s meaning in current times, higher than at any previous point on record and up 9 percentage points from 2016 (69%). Just three-in-ten Republicans and Republican leaners now say the same, an 11-point increase from 2016 but little changed from GOP views in the years prior.

About three-quarters of conservative Republicans (77%) continue to say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on the Constitution’s original meaning rather than its meaning in current times (21%). But moderate and liberal Republicans are more divided: 50% favor an interpretation based on the Constitution’s original meaning, compared with 46% who say the court should base its rulings on a current interpretation.

Ideological differences are less pronounced among Democrats. Liberal Democrats (88%) overwhelmingly say the Supreme Court should base its rulings on the Constitution’s meaning in current times, as do a majority (70%) of conservative and moderate Democrats.

Read further

Suggested reading

The struggle as noted in regards to the US constitution, is what we see in constant debates between the conservative and the progressive believers as well, in their reading of their scriptures, be they Muslims, the Christians or the Jews.

God Is Living, So Why Does Religion Treat God As Dead?

The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors

Islamism — the Political Islam: The Challenge for the 21st Century

Do Muslims Prefer Camels Over Modern Cars?

Kripkean Dogmatism: The Best Metaphor to Understand Religious and Political Debates

Wind Patterns and the Holy Quran

Wind patterns
The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about the holy Quran and religion and science

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Please read the following essay in light of some of the verses of the Holy Quran on the topic of winds. This essay is borrowed from Wiki-source and I have added a few pictures to it.

The Holy Quran states:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day, and in the ships which sail in the sea with that which profits men, and in the water which Allah sends down from the sky and quickens therewith the earth after its death and scatters therein all kinds of beasts, and in the change of the winds, and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth — are indeed Signs for the people who understand. (Al Quran 2:165)

Dost thou not see that the ships sail on the sea by the favour of Allah, that He may show you of His Signs? Therein surely are Signs for everyone who is patient and grateful. (Al Quran 31:32)

And in the alternation of night and day, and the provision that Allah sends down from the sky, whereby He quickens the earth after its death, and in the change of the winds, are Signs for a people who try to understand. (Al Quran 45:6)

Hast thou not seen that Allah has subjected to you whatever is in the earth, and the ships that sail through the sea by His command? And He withholds the rain from falling on the earth save by His leave. Surely, Allah is Compassionate and Merciful to men. (Al Quran 22:66)

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So, Allah says, more than once, “In the change of the winds, and the clouds pressed into service between the heaven and the earth — are indeed Signs for the people who understand.” These verses may help us better understand this article and vice versa! May Allah Guide us in our pursuit of knowledge and proper understanding of metaphysics and how science and religion relate with each other.

In this image, the tracks of all tropical cyclones between 1985 and 2005 have been overlayed on an image of Earth. Even with only 20 years of data, you can see the patterns of how hurricanes move across the world’s oceans. The track lines in the image are made up of dots representing the position of each hurricane at 6 hour intervals. Each dot is color coded to correspond to the strength of the storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, as shown in the legend in the bottom right corner of the image. Consider how the data shown in this and the image below are related.
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wind patterns on a globe
This illustration from NASA describes the patterns of wind movement on the global scale. The sun heats the air over the equator more than at the poles. This differential heating causes warmer, less dense air near the equator to rise, and cells of convection develop. These are called Hadley cells. At the surface, the cells generate winds. On the image, the large arrows show the directions of surface wind flow in the different zones. Red and blue indicate the relative temperatures of the winds. You can see that global winds point towards the equator in the tropics and towards the poles between 30 and 60 degrees latitude. Use your mental visualization skills to imagine how these surface winds would look on a flat map of the world.

An essay on the winds and the currents of the ocean (1856)

By William Ferrel

Introduction. – The earth is surrounded on all sides by an exceedingly rare and elastic body, called the atmosphere, extending with a diminishing density to an unknown distance into space, but pressing upon the earth with a force equal to that of a homogenous atmosphere five and a half miles high. It is also partially surrounded by the ocean, which is of a very variable depth, and known to be, in many places, more than four miles. If the specific gravity of the atmosphere and of the ocean were everywhere the same, all the forces of gravity and of pressure which act upon any part of them, would be in exact equilibrium, and they would forever remain at rest. But as some parts of the earth are much warmer than others, and air and water expand and become rare as their temperature is increased, their specific gravities are not the same in all parts of the earth, and hence the equilibrium is destroyed, and a system of winds and currents is produced. It is proposed in this essay to inquire into the effects which are produced, both in the atmosphere and in the ocean, by this disturbance of equilibrium, and by means of a new force which has never been taken into account in any theory of winds and currents, to endeavor to account for certain phenomena in their motions, which have been a puzzle to meteorology and hydrology. As there are some uncertain data connected with the subject, such as the amount of the disturbing force, the effects of continents, friction, etc, which render a complete solution of the problem impractible, we shall aim at giving a popular explanation of observed phenomena rather than a complete solution of the problem; yet we shall give the result of some calculations, based upon known date, or at least upon very reasonable hypothesis, which will show that the causes which we have given are adequate to the effects which are attributed to them. We shall divide the subject into two parts, and treat, first, of the winds, and secondly, of the currents of the ocean.

The motions of the atmosphere. – From about the parallel of 28° on each side of the equator the winds on the ocean, where they are not influenced by any local causes, blow steadily towards the equator, having also a western motion, producing what are called the north-east and south-east trades. At the meeting of these currents near the equator there is a calm called the equatorial calm-belt, or the doldrums, where the air rises up and flows in the upper regions towards the poles, until it arrives near the 28°, where it is met by an upper current flowing from the poles. The meeting of these upper currents produces an accumulation of atmosphere from under which the air flows out in both directions on account of the increased pressure; a strong and steady current, as we have seen, towards the equator, and another not so strong and somewhat variable over the middle latitudes, towards the poles, having at the same time an eastern motion, and producing what are called the passage-winds. As this current flows at the surface towards the poles, it gradually rises up and returns in the upper regions towards the equator, meeting the upper current from the equator near the tropics as has been stated.

Such are the general motions of the atmosphere, as laid down by Lieutenant Maury, and as represented in his diagram of the winds.[1] But there are numerous observations which have been made in very high latitudes both in the north and the south, which show that the currents flowing over the middle latitude towards the poles, do not extend to the poles, but that the atmosphere above a certain latitude, has a tendency to flow from the poles, producing another meeting of the air at the surface near the polar circles similar to the one at the equator, except that the currents are comparatively feeble and consequently the belt of meeting not so well defined, and that here also air rises up and flows each way in the upper regions towards the equator and the poles. “Sir J. Ross has shown that there is a large prevalence of north winds over the southern ones in the middle of North America as low down as latitude 70° and longitude 91°58′ west, not merely in winter, but in every month in the year. The northern winds were not only more than double as frequent as the southern, but more than double as strong; and he also found southern winds largely to predominate in latitude 77° south.”[2] If then there were no continents, or other local causes of disturbance, the motions of the atmosphere would be as represented in the following diagram, in which the direction of the wind is represented by the arrows, and the external part of which represents the motion of the air in the plane of the meridan. This system, however, is found to prevail on the ocean only, and is very much interfered with in other parts on account of local causes of disturbance, especially in the northern hemisphere, where the uniformity of the earth’s surface is most interrupted by land.

The pressure of the atmosphere – The atmospere everywhere presses upon the surface of the earth with a force equal to the pressure of a column of mercury of nearly thirty inches in height. This pressure, however, is not the same in all parts of the earth, but varies in different latitudes as well as from an inch lower at the equator, and seems to stand the lowest about the polar circle, where a very remarkable depression has been observed in many places. “It is a singular fact,” says Mrs. Somervill, (page 268) “discovered by our navigators, that the mean height of the barometer is an inch lower throughout the Antarctic ocean at Cape Horn, than it is at the Cape of Good Hope, or at Valparaiso.” A similar depression has likewise been observed near the sea of Okhotsk in eastern Siberia. It also appears from the tables of the South Sea Exploring Expedition, by Captain Wilkes, that the barometer stands lowest near the polar circle, where it stands at a mean of about twentynine inches, and higher both north and south of it. After examining various authorities and all the circumstances connected with this subject, Professor Espy comes to the conclusion, that “there are three belts where the barometer stands below the mean, with almost constant rain and snow – one near the equator, one near the arctic circle, and one near the antarctic circle, and also that there are, certainly two belts in the outer borders of the trade-winds, where the barometer stands above the mean, and almost certainly two regions more – one around the north pole and the other around the south pole – where the barometer stands above the mean.” It also appears for a great many observations made at different places on the Atlantic, at the level of the ocean, that the barometer stands more than half an inch lower at the arctic circle, than it does at the outer limit of the trade winds, and that there is also a considerable depression at the equator. [3]

The forces concerned in producing the motions of the atmosphere. – There are four principal forces which must be taken into account in a correct theory of the winds. The first arises from a greater specific gravity of the atmosphere in some places than others, on account of a difference of temperature and of the dew-point; for, when it becomes heated or charged with vapor in any place to a greater degree than at others, it becomes specifically lighter, and hence, the equilibrium is destroyed. There is a flowing together, then, of the heavier air on all sides, which displaces the lighter air, and causes it to rise up and flow out in a contrary direction. This is the primum mobile of the winds, and all the other forces concerned are dependent on it for their efficiency. A second force arises from the tendency which the atmosphere has, when, from any cause, it has risen above the general level, to flow to places of a lower level. These two preceding forces generally produce counter-currents. Again, when, from any cause, a particle of air has been put in motion toward the north or south, the combination of this motion with the rotatory motion of the earth produces a third force, which causes a deflection of the motion to the east when the motion is to the north, and a deflection to the west when it is toward the south. This is the same as one of the forces contained in La Place’s general equations of the tides, the analytical expression of which is 2 n u r sin.l cos. l; l being the latitude; n, the motion of the earth at the equator; u, the velocity of the particle north or south; and r, the radius of the earth. The fourth and last force arises from the combination of a relative east or west motion of the atmosphere with the rotatory motion of the earth. In consequence of the atmosphere’s revolving on a common axis with that of the earth, each particle is impressed with a centrifugal force, which, being resolved into a vertical and a horizontal force, the latter causes it to assume a spheroidal form conforming to the figure of the earth. But, if the rotatory motion of any part of the atmosphere is greater than that of the surface of the earth, or, in other words, if any part of the atmosphere has a relative eastern motion with regard to the earth’s surface, this force is increased, and if it has a relative western motion, it is diminished, and this difference gives rise to a disturbing force which prevents the atmosphere being in a state of equilibrium, with a figure conforming to that of the earth’s surface, but causes an accumulation of the atmosphere at certain latitudes and a depression at others, and the consequent difference in the pressure of the atmosphere at these latitudes very materially influences its motions. This force is also expressed by one of the terms of La Place’s equations, the analytical expression of which is 2 n v r sin.l; v being the relative eastern or western velocity of the atmosphere.

Hadley’s theory This theory, which is the commonly received theory of the trade-winds, and with which the reader is no doubt familiar, is based upon the first three forces only given above, no account being taken of the fourth. But as it may be seen from the analytical expressions of the last two forces given above, that the latter is greater than the former, and the east and west motion of the atmosphere depends upon the former, we have reason to suppose that the latter also may have a considerable effect, and that it should be taken into account in a correct theory of the winds. Accordingly we see that although Hadley’s theory furnishes an explanation of the trade-winds, yet it does not account for many other remarkable phenomena in the motions of the atmosphere, but even requires motions to satisfy it entirely at variance with them. According to this theory, there should be a current on the surface of the earth from the pole to the equator in a kind of loxodromic spiral, and a similar counter-current in the upper regions from the equator towards the poles. The barometer also should stand highest at the poles where the air is coldest and most dense, and gradually fall as it is brought nearer the equator. But both of these, as we have shown, are contrary to observation. The position also of the exterior limits of the trade-winds near the parallels of 28°, the flowing of the atmosphere in the upper regions from both sides towards these parallels, and a low barometer near the polar circles, cannot be explained by this theory, and have not been satisfactorily explained by meteorologists. It is true Professor Espy says the highness of the barometer near the parallels of 28° is owing to the flowing over of the atmosphere which rises up at the equator; but this overflow of atmosphere could have no tendency to accumulate at these parallels, since it evidently would flow on gradually towards the poles to supply the draught caused by the flow towards the equator, as this theory requires. He also assigns as a cause of the low barometer about Cape Horn and the antarctic circle, the abundant rains which prevail there and the consequent disengagement of caloric, which rarefies the atmosphere there. But, if the belt of calms and rains near the equator is caused by the barometer standing lower there then at the outer limit of the trade-winds, which causes a flow of atmosphere there at the surface, and, if rains generally in any region, according to Professor Espy’s own theory of clouds and rains, is caused by a low barometer there, and a consequent flowing in from all sides and a rising up of the atmosphere, then the lowness of the barometer in those regions must be the cause of the rains, and not the rain the cause of the lowness of the barometer, as will appear for other reasons.

We shall now undertake to show, that all these phenomena, and others connected with storms, which have never been accounted for by any theory, may be satisfactorily accounted for by taking into account the fourth force given above.

Why the outer limits of the trade-winds are near the parallels of 28°. – If from any cause the atmosphere receives a motion either towards or from the poles, the action of the third force above, causes a deflection of it towards the east, as it moves towards the poles, and towards the west as it moves towards the equator; and as the prime moving cause of the principal currents of the atmosphere has a tendency to cause it to flow towards and from the poles, the general result is, that towards the poles the atmosphere has a motion towards the east, but near the equator towards the west. But from the principle of the preservation of areas, the sum of the products of all the particles of the atmosphere, multiplied into their velocities and their distances from the axis of revolution, cannot be changed be the action of a central force, or by the mutual action of the particles upon each other; hence the sum of the products of each particle into its distance from the axis, and into its relative eastern velocity, must be equal to the sum of similar products, taken with regards to the particles having a relative western motion. But, as the portion of the atmosphere having a relative eastern motion, is nearer the axis than that which has a relative western motion, and as the part having a western motion, inasmuch as it is further from the axis, must be somewhat less than the part comprised between these parallels, in order to make the products equal, unless the relative velocity of the part having an easterly motion is very much greater. Hence, the dividing lines between the portions of the atmosphere having a relative east and west motion, must be within these parallels; and, as the outer limits of the trade-winds depend upon those lines, they must also fall within these parallels; and they are accordingly found to be about the parallels of 28°.

The cause of high barometer about the parallels of 28°, and the low barometer at the polar circles. – The greater pressure of the atmosphere at the parallels of 28° than at the equator and the polar circles can only be caused by an accumulation of atmosphere there. This accumulation results, necessarily, from the action of the new force which we have introduced into the theory of the winds. For, as we have seen, all the atmosphere between the parallels of 28° and the poles has, and, according to theory, must have, a general eastern motion; and this gives such a value to the analytical expression of the fourth force, enumerated above, as to cause the atmosphere to recede from the poles toward the equator. But the western motion of the atmosphere between the parallels of 28° gives that expression a negative value there; and, hence, this force causes the atmosphere to recede from the equator, also. This force then, has a tendency to cause the atmosphere in the upper regions to recede from both the poles and the equator, and to accumulate about the parallels of 28°, and, as it may seem by merely inspecting the expression of this force given above, that for the same value of v, or motion of the atmosphere east or west, this force is much greater toward the poles than it is near the equator, it causes a considerable depression of the atmosphere at the poles, and only a slight one at the equator, as represented in the diagram. The amount of this elevation and depression is not indicated entirely by the barometer, for the height of the barometer depends upon both the height of the atmosphere and its density. Therefore, as the atmosphere is much denser at the polar circles than at the parallels of 28°, on account of its being much colder, the accumulation of atmosphere at these parallels and its depression towards the poles, must be considerable to cause the barometer to stand higher at these parallels than the polar circles.

We shall now give the results of some calculations, based upon a reasonable hypothesis, which show that this new force introduced is entirely adequate to produce an accumulation of atmosphere at the parallels of 28°, and a depression of it at the poles to such an amount, that the difference in the height of the barometer at the parallels of 28°, and a depression of it at the polar circles, may correspond with observations. As friction is a very important element in calculations of the motion of the atmosphere, and its effect cannot be determined, it would be impossible to calculate the motion of the atmosphere from the forces which act upon it, if they were even accurately known. We will therefore assume certain motions of the atmosphere, which are known not to vary much from observation, upon which we will base our calculations. If we assume that the east and west motions of the atmosphere may be represented by the expression 2sin 3/2 p cos. 3/2 p v, p being the polar distance of the place, it would make these motions vanish at the poles and at the parallels of 30°, and we have reason to think, would pretty well represent the motions of the atmosphere east and west at all latitudes except near the equator, where it would make it a little too great. Upon this assumption it may be shown by calculations, the results of which only can be given here, that if v, or the maximum east or west motion of the atmosphere, were only ten miles per hour, it would cause a heaping up of the atmosphere near the parallels of 28° which would make the barometer, if the atmosphere were everywhere of the same density, stand two inches higer here than at the poles. The same hypothesis would also make the depression at the equator only one-ninth that at the poles. If we now suppose that the greater specific gravity alone of the atmosphere at the poles, is sufficient to cause the barometer to stand one inch higher there than at the equator, which would only require a difference of temperature of about 16°, it would still leave a difference in the height of the barometer between the poles and the equator about equal to the observed difference in the southern hemisphere. It would also add a little to the depression of the baromter at the equator, which would make it a little more than one-ninth of that at the poles, and consequently make it correspond with observation. We think therefore it is evident that the observed difference in the height of the barometer in difference latitudes, is owing to the joint effect of a gradual increase of specific gravity from the equator to the poles, and of a heaping up of the atmosphere near the parallels of 28°, caused by the action of this new force that we have taken into account.

Explanation of the passage-winds and calm-belts at the limits of the trade-winds. – As the pressure of the atmosphere, on account of its accumulation there, is greatest about the parallel of 28°, this pressure has a tendency to cause it to rush out from beneath both, towards the poles and the equator. If the motions of the atmosphere were as great at the surface of the earth as in the upper regions, the force which causes a heaping up of the atmosphere about the parallels of 28°, would be as great below as in the upper regions, and would prevent the flowing out of the air below towards the poles. But, on account of friction, the eastern motion of the atmosphere cannot be so great at the surface of the Earth as above, and consequently the accumulation of atmopshere mentioned above, is caused principally by the upper currents, and the pressure wich causes it to flow out below towards the poles, where the barometer, as we have seen, stands much lower, is greater than the force below which causes the accumulation of atmosphere. The lateral pressure then of the atmosphere, and its horizontal motion which has a tendency to cause it to flow at the surface of the Earth, from the poles towards the equator; and secondly, the heaping up of the atmosphere at the outer limits of the trade-winds, which causes it to rush out below, both towards the equator and the poles; thirdly the action of the force depending upon the east or west motion of the atmposphere, wich we have seen, must be greater above than at the surface of the Earth. Between the parallels of 28° and the equator, the first two forces combine against the latter, which is small near the equator, and produce a strong and steady current at the surface of the Earth towards the equator, which, being combined with the rotatory motion of the Earth, gives rise to the tradewinds. Beyond these parallels, the first and third forces are opposed to the second, but it may be seen from the analytical expression of this second force, obtained from our preceding assumption, and which cannot be given here, that this force is very great in the middle latitudes, and consequently it prevails over the two, causing a current towards the poles, which combined with the rotatory motion of the Earth, produces the southwest winds in the northern hemisphere, and northwest winds in the southern hemisphere, called passage-winds. This force has its maximum about the parallels of 48°, and above these decreases rapidly, so that at the polar circles the other two forces begin to prevail over it, and cause a current from the poles. The forces then acting upon the atmosphere at the surface of the earth, causes it to flow in opposite directions, from the parallels of 28° and the poles, and to flow together near the equator and the polar circles. Hence, there is a rising up of the atmosphere at the latter places, and a flowing thence in the upper regions to the former places, where it descends, and thus a system of current is produced as represented by the arrows in the external part of the diagram, which represents a meridional vertical section of the atmosphere. It was shown that about the parallel of 28°, the atmosphere can have no motion east or west, and it has now been shown that these are the parallels also of greatest pressure, whence the currents flow both towards the equator and the poles, consequently there must necessarily be here calm-belts, such as are well-known from observation to exist.

We think now, it is manifest, that the introduction of our new force into the theory of the winds, exactly accounts for all the principal motions of the atmosphere, and clears up the difficulties which have heretofore puzzled meteorologists.

Maury’s theory of the crossing of the winds. In order to account for the motions of the winds and other phenomena, Lieutenant Maury advances the theory that there is a crossing of the winds or currents at the calm-belts of the equator and the parallels of 28°; that the currents flowing at the surface towards the equator, cross there, each becoming the upper current in the other hemisphere after it crosses the calm-belt at the equator, and then flowing towards the poles until it meets the upper current flowing toward the equator about the parallel of 28°, where there is supposed to be another crossing, each current then becoming again the surface current, and flowing in the same direction as before.[4] He also makes, by his arrangement, the rains in each temperate zone depend upon the vapor received by the winds in their passage to the equator as a trade-wind in the opposite hemisphere. We think there is no necessity for resorting to such an argument to account for the phenomena of the winds, but that they all are satisfactorily accounted for, as above, by tracing out the effects of well known forces without resorting to the mysterious agents of magnetism and electricity. Besides, there is no known principle by which two currents can interpenetrate and cross each other without mingling together, and, especially, is there none by which a current saturated with vapor can pass through a dry current and each one after afterwards retain its distinctive character of a moist or dry current, which this theory requires.

The fact that Ehrenberg has discovered South American infusoria in the blood-rains and “sea-dust” of the Cape Verde Islands and other places, does not prove the crossing of the winds; for, according to the explanation of the winds given above, there are two curents flowing into each calm-belt, and also two flowing out in opposite directions, as it were from a common reservoir, and, consequently, whatever is carried into these belts from either side down flow out again in each direction; and so infusoria in one hemisphere can easily pass to the other without a distinct crossing of the currents. And it even the moist current of the torrid zone could pass though the dry ones to the temperate zones, they could not produce rain there; for Professor Espy has conclusively shown that no descending current, however saturated with moisture, can ever produce rain. [5]

Explanation of the winds at the peak of Tenerife. – We have stated that the greatest atmospheric pressure is about the parallels of 28°, but these cannot be accurately the parallels of the greatest accumulation, for this pressure depends both upon the height of the atmosphere and its density, and, as the density increases gradually with the latitude, there must be an increase of pressure beyond the parallel of greatest accumulation, until the decrease of pressure from the one cause equals the increase from the other. But, as the calm-belts in the upper regions must be where the currents meet, and consequently where there is the greatest accumulation of atmosphere, it follows that the calm-belts are not exactly at the same parallels at the surface of the Earth as in the upper regions, but that they incline above toward the equator, as represented in the diagram. And this explains the peculiarity in the winds at the Peak of Tenerife. This peak stands near the outer limits of the trade-winds, and, as this limit moves north an south with the seasons, the northeast and southwest winds are found to prevail at the base alternatively. But at the top of the peak the southwest winds always prevail, because, when the calm-belt is furthest north, it still leaves the top of the peak north of it, where the southwest winds prevail, where the northwest trades are blowing below. When this belt occupies its most southern position, it leaves both at the top and the bottom of the peak north of it, and, consequently, the southwest wind blows both at the top and the bottom. In the fall, as the calm-belt moves south, more of the peak gradually becomes north of the calm-belt, and hence the southwest winds, which always prevail at the top, should gradually descend lower on the peak until they reach the base, which is exactly in accordance with observation.

The effect of continents – If the surface of the earth were all covered by the sea, uninterrupted by continents, the tradewinds and passage-winds, and also the calm-belts, would extend, without any interruption, entirely round the earth. But continents, and especially high mountain ranges, seem to have a very material effect in changing this regular system of winds. Thus the high table-lands and mountain ranges in Mexico and the western part of the United states, seem to turn the westward current of the trade-winds on the Caribbean sea and the Gulf of Mexico northward over the parallel of the calm-belt into the Unites States, where it arrives at the latitudes where the atmosphere has a general tendency to flow eastward, and thus a kind of aerial gulf-stream is produced. This is evident not only from observations on the general directions of the winds in the Guld of Mexico and the United States, but also from the observed routes of storms, which must be governed very much by the general movements of the part of the atmosphere in which they occur. Instead of the regular trade-winds from the northeast in the Caribbean sea, the prevailing cours of the lower current, is from a point south of east instead of north of east. [6] It is also found from observations at Barbedoes that, while the eastern winds are most prevalent, the southeast winds greatly predominate over the northeast ones. Of a great many hurricanes, also, which had their origin in the Atlantic, east of the Caribbean sea, and whose routes have been determined, by Mr. Redfield, nearly all moved in a direction north of west, until they arrived at the longitude of Florida or the Gulf of Mexico, where they curved around towards the north, and after passing the parallel of the calm-belt, towards the northeast, in the direction of Newfoundland and the northern part of the Atlantic. And this is exactly the route we would suppose the westward currents of the lower part of the atmosphere, interrupted by the high mountain ranges of Mexico, would take. But on the west coast of North America, the eastward current of the northern part of the Pacific, impinging against the range of the Rocky mountains, is turned down towards the equator, and hence the prevailing direction of the wind on the Pacific, west of Mexico, is from the northwest. The eastern coast of Africa also seems to have a similar effect upon the westward current of air in the Indian ocean; for the hurricanes which orginate in that ocean, on approaching that coast, are turned southward and finally towards the southeast into the southern ocean. The typhoons, also, of the China sea seem to be influenced in a similar manner by the eastern part of Asia. These changes of the general direction of the wind which prevail on the open ocean must be caused by the continents.

Hurricanes and storms. – Hurricanes are generally supposed to be produced by the meeting of adverse currents, which produce gyratory motions of the atmosphere at the place of meeting. That they may receive their origin and first impulse in this way, we think is very probable; but that violent hurricanes, extending over a circular area nearly one thousand miles in diameter, and continuing for ten days, and proceeding with increasing violence from the torrid zone to high northern latitudes, depends upon any primitive impuls alone, we think is very improbable. For if even any part of the atmosphere should receive such an impulse as to pruduce a most violent hurricane, friction would soon destroy all motion and bring the atmosphere to rest. Besides, no gradually accelerated motion can depend upon a primitive impulse alone, even where there is no friction. Hurricanes then, and all ordinary storms, must begin and gradually increase in violence by the action of some constantly acting force, and when this force subsides, friction brings the atmospher to a state of rest. This force may be furnished by the condensation of vapor ascending in the upward current in the middle of the hurricane, in accordance with Professor Espy’s theory of storms and rains. According to this theory, all storms are produced by an ascending current of warmer atmosphere above by means of the caloric given out of the vapor which is condensed as it ascends to colder regions above. Therefore, as long as this ascending current can be supplied with air saturated with vapor this continual rarefaction must take place, and also the ascent of the air from all sides to supply its place. If, then, all the lower stratum of atmosphere over a large district were saturated with vapor, without some disturbing cause, it might remain undisturbed; but if from any cause an ascending current is produced, either by local rarefaction of air my means of heat, or by the meeting of two adverse currents, which produces a gyratory motion and consequent rarefaction in the middle on account of the pressures being taken away by the centrifugal force, as soon as the air below, saturated with vapor, ascends to the colder regions above, the vapor is condensed and the caloric given out continues to rarefy it so long as the ascending column is supplied with moist air, and consequently the surrounding colder air presses in below from all sides, and thus a hurricane of more or less violence is produced and kept up for ten or twelve days, moving with the general direction of the motion of the atmosphere where it occurs. The violence then of the hurricane, and also its duration, depends upon the quality of vapor supplied by the currents flowing in below. Hence, it is, that the tropical hurricanes which originate in the Atlantic, east of the Caribbean sea, do not abate their violence until they reach a high northern latitude where the atmosphere is cold and dry.

The cause of the gyratory motions of hurricanes. – It has been established by Redfield, Reid, Piddington, and others, that all hurricanes and ordinary storms have a gyroatory motion around a center, and that these gyrations in the northern hemisphere, ar from right to left against the hands of a watch, but in the southern hemisphere from left to right with the hands of a watch. There are some however, amongst whom is Professor Espy, who deny the gyratory character of storm entirely, and contend that there is only a rushing of the air from all sides below towards a centre, without any gyration. We think this gyratory character of storms has been too well established to admit of any doubt. No one, however, has ever given any satisfactory reason why these gyrations in the one hemisphere are always sinistrorsal and in the other dectrorsal. It is true, Mr Redfield [7] endeavors to account for the sinistrorsal gyrations of the hurricanes and storms which proceed from the Gulf of Mexico towards Newfoundland, by means of the pecularities of the aerial currents in the region of the Gulf and the adjacent coast of the Pacific. But if there are the same kind of gyrations over the whole hemisphere, it is evident that the cause which produces them must be as extended as the hemisphere itself. It has also been suggested that this tendency to a distinct kind of gyration in each hemisphere, may be owing to the magnetism of the air. [8]

We shall now undertake to show that there cannot be a rushing of air from all sides towards a center, on any part of the earth except at the equator, without producing a gyration, and that the tendency to a distinct kind of gyration in each hemisphere, is owing, neither to any pecularities of the winds or aerial currents, nor to the mysterious agent of magnetism, bu that it results, as a necessary consequence, form the action, upon the atmosphere, of the four forces which we have taken into consideration in the first part of this essay.

It has been shown that when a particle of air receives a motion toward the poles it is deflected toward the east, as in the passage-winds, but when it revieves a motion toward the south, there is a force which also turns it toward the west, as in the tradewinds. It has likewise been shown that when the air has a relative motion east, it has a tendency, on account of the greater centrifugal force, to move also towards the south, but that when it has a relative motion west, it has a tendency, on account of the diminished centrifugal force, to move also towards the north. If, then, we suppose that the air at M, N, O and P on the diagram (page 8), has a tendency, on account of rarefaction or for any other reason, to flow towards c, from what has been stated, the air at M would not move equally towards c, but would be deflected northward a little towards m. In like manner the air at N when there is any force which tends to make the surrounding air flow towards a center, the resultants of all the forces which act upon it must cause it to receive a gyratory motion, and that this motion in the northern hemisphere must be sinistrorsal, but in the southern hemisphere the contrary.

It may be observed here that these gyrations are not cucular but spiral, gradually approaching the center; for the forces which tend to produce these gyrations depend for their efficacy upon a motion from all sides towards the center. First, the force of which we have already treated tends to give the atmosphere a gyratory motion, as soon as it begins to converge towards a center; and secondly, these gyrations, however slight, being once produced, the centripetal force, which causes the air to flow towards the center, accelerates these gyrations as they approach the center, upon the principle by means of a string, are rapidly accelerated as the string becomes shorter. Hence if the first of these forces be only sufficient to produce a very slight gyration, the latter or centripetal force may cause very rapid gyrations near the center. And it is only upon this principle that the rapid motion of the air in a hurricane can be produced, and any theory which does not take this principle into account is defective. This centripetal force is caused by the superior pressure of the denser atmosphere on the borders of the hurricane or storm, and consequently prevails only in the lower part of the atmosphere. In the upper regions it has a tendency to recede from the center for two reasons; first, on account of the gyratory motion wich it has received below in appraoching the center, which it still, in some measure, retains after ascending to the regions above, where the surrounding pressure does not prevail, and consequently the centrifugal force resulting from the gyrations, causes it to recede from the center; secondly, because the ascending current causes an accumulation of atmosphere above the general level, which gives it a tendency also to flow out in all directions form the center. These motions however, are not distinctly towards and from the center, but in spirals, so that the currents below may be at right angles with the currents above; and hence it is that in our ordinary storms attended with rain, the clouds in the lower part of the atmosphere frequently move in a direction at right angles with the direction of those above.

It has been stated that the gyrations below approach the center in a spiral, but this approach must be slow towards the center; for, at a certain distance from the center, the gyrations becoms so rapid that the centrifugal force nearly equals the centripetal, produced by the external pressure of the atmosphere, and then the further appoach towards the center in a great measure ceases,and consequently the force which produces the gyrations. Hence, at a certain distance from the center the hurricane has the greatest violence, and within this circumference, friction in a great measure destroys the gyrations, so that the middle of our most violent hurrianes is a calm. The extent of this calm is a circle, varying generally from five to thirty miles in diameter.

If we examine the analytical expressions of the forces which produce these gyrations, we will see that at the equator they have no value, and hence no hurricane can have its origin exactly on the equator. Accordingly, of all the hurricanes which have originated within the tropics, none have been traced back to the equator, but always to some region from 10° to 20° from it.

The reason why the hurricanes which originate east of the Caribbean sea pass northward to the east of the United States, may be owing to the direction of the wind here and on the Caribbean sea, which generally blows north of west, as has been observed in the former part of this essay. If the general direction of the trade-winds prevailed here, they would be carried on towards the equator, as those without doubt are which originate at other places in the same latitude.

We come now ot the second part of our subject, the currents of the ocean.

The general motions of the ocean. – Inasmuch as the atmosphere and the ocean are both fluids somewhat similarly situated, except that there is a similarity of their general motions. This is known from observation to be the case, except that the continents interfere more with the motion of the ocean than with those of the atmosphere. The general motion of the ocean in the torrid zone, where it is not interrupted by continents, is toward the west with an average velocity of about ten miles in twenty-four hours. Towards the poles the motion, in general, is towards the east, which is a necessary consequence of the preservation of areas; for if one part have a western motion, another part must have an eastern one, as was shown with regard to the atmosphere. If, then, there were no continents, there would be a general flowing of all the tropical parts of the ocean westward, and of the remaining parts toward the east. But when the tropical or equatorial current impinges agains the eastern sides of the continents as in the Atlantic, a part is turned along the eastern side towards each pole. Likewise, when the eastern flow towards the poles, strikes against the western sides of a continent, it is deflected towards the equator. Hence the northern parts of both the Atlantic and Pacific, have a tendency to a vortical motion, their tropical parts moving westward, and then turning northward on the eastern sides of the continents and joining the eastern flow, and south again towards the equator on the western sides of the continents. And it is evident from observation, that the southern parts of these oceans, and also the Indian ocean, have a tendency, in some measure, to the same kind of motions, except that the continents do not extend so far south, and consequently only a part of the eastern flow is turned towards the equator, the rest flowing on and producing the general eastern motion of the waters observed in the southern ocean.

The forces which produce the motions of the ocean – The primum mobile of the motions of the ocean, as of the atmosphere, depends principally upon the difference of temperature between the equatorial and polar regions. The temperature of the ocean, on the surface at the equator, is about 80°, and it has a temperature above the mean temperature of the earth, which is 39°.5, to the depth of 7200 feet. Towards the poles it is below the freezing point, and continues below the mean temperature at the parallel of 70°, to the depth of 4500 feet.* As water expands about 0.000455 of its bulk for every degree of increasing tempeature, and sea-water contracts down to the temperature of 28°, calculations based upon these data, supposing the temperature to increase or decrease in proportion to the depth, make the specific gravity of the part at the equator, so much less than that at the poles, that it would have to rise about ten feet above the general level of the equator to be in equilibrium at the bottom of the sea, with the part at the poles. But then the equilibrium at the surface would be destroyed, and the waters would flow there towards the poles, where the superior pressure at the bottom over that of the equator, would cause a current to flow back at the bottom of the sea, towards the equator. Hence, if this cause of disturbance existed alone, ther would be a current at the bottom of the sea from the poles to the equator, moved by a force equal to the pressure of a stratum of water of about five feet, and one at the surface from the equator towards the poles, moved by an equal force. But this motion, combined with the rotatory motion of the earth, gives rise to other forces, just as in the case of the atmosphere, which greatly modify these motions, as will be shown hereafter.

The preceding are the principle forces concerned in giving motion ot the waters ofthe ocean. Lieutenant Maury, however, lays little stress upon these, and seems to think that the principle agencies concerned in these motions, arise from evaporation, the saltness of the ocean, galvanism, &c.* But we think it may be shown that these agencies can have no perceptible effect.

First, Lieutenant Maury supposes excessive evaporation to take place within the tropics and this vapor to be carried away and precipitated in extra-tropical regions, and infers that this would have, at least, a very sensible effect in producing the currents of the ocean. He puts the amount of evaporation of a stratum of one-half of an inch per day. Now if a stratum of water one-half of an inch in thickness is evaporated in twenty-four hours in one place and precipitated in another, it produces a difference of level of one inch between the two places, and the currents which it produces must be such as are sufficient to restore this level in the same space of time. Now we may judge how exceedingly small a current this would produce when we consider that there is a rise of about two feet in the open ocean at one place and a fall of the same amount at another every six hours, caused by the tides, and yet the flowing of the water from the one place to the other place to produce this rise at one place, and fall at the other, it is well known does not produce any sensible currents in the open sea. Again, this matter can be easily reproduced by calculation. If a stratum of water, one-half of an inch in thickness were taken up by evaporation from the torrid zone, and none of it precipitated there but all conveyed to the temperate and polar zones, it may be demonstrated upon the supposition that the ocean is four miles in depth, that the flow of water towards the equator to restore the equilibrium in the same time would not amount to a velocity of one foot per hour.

We think it may be likewise shown by calculations based upon reasonable hypothesis, if not entirely upon well-known data, that the salts of the sea also can have but little influence in producing currents. Lieutenant Maury makes a similar hypothesis in treating of the influence of the salt of the ocean, which he does in treating of the influence of evaporation, and supposes that the excess of salt left in the torrid zone by the excess of evaporation there, and the great precipitation in the temperate and polar regions produces such a difference in the specific gravity as to destroy the equilibrium of the sea, and to have a very sensible influence in producing current, and especially the Gulf-stream.

With regard to the latter, he supposes that the water of the Gulf of Mexico has a much greater specific gravity than the water in the Atlantic, on account of the great evaporation to which it has been exposed in its passage from the coast of Africa across the Atlantic ocean and through the Caribbean sea, and that, consequently, it is forced out into the Atlantic by its greater pressure. Now, suppose it takes the water a year, which is about the actual time, to pass from the coast of Africa tothe Gulf of Mexico; in this time, according to the hypothesis, there is evaporated a stratum of water fifteen feet in depth, and, as the salt contained in this stratum cannot be evaporated, it remains in the part left, and increases it saltness. But sea-water contains only about three per cent of saline matter, and consequently the amount of salt contained in this stratum of fifteen feet only increases the weight of the rest to an amount equal to the weight of a stratum of water about six inches deep. Hence, it only gives the water of the Gulf a tendency to flow out into the Atlantic with a force equal to the force with which a homogenous fluid would flow out with its surface six inches above the general level of the Atlantic. This is much less than the opposing force arising from the great specific gravity of the water in the northern part of the Atlantic on account of its lower temperature, as we have shown by calculations. The same reasoning may be applied to any other part of the ocean; for, if the salt of the ocean has any influence in producing currents, it must be to produce an undercurrent from the torrid zone, where evaporation is supposed to be in excess, toward the poles, and consequently, a counter-current at the surface from the poles toward the equator. But, upon any reasonable hypothesis, the water at the surface cannot lose by evaporation in passing from the poles to the equator, a stratum of water of such a depth, that the amount of salt contained in it can increase the specific gravity at the equator as much as the lower temperature increases it toward the poles; hence, if the salt of the sea has any sensible influence, it is only in opposition to a greater influence, and, consequently, it has a tendency to diminish, rather than increase, the currents of the ocean. We think it, therefore, manifest that neither evaporation nor the salts of the sea can have much influence in producing currents, even upon Lieutenants Maury’s hypothesis, that evaprotation is greatly in excess of precipitation in the torrid zone. But is this a true hypothesis? Although there is a great evaporation in the torrid zone, there is also great precipitation; for, with few exception, more rain falls at the equator than in any other part of the earth, and it is only the amount of evaporation over precipitation that should be taken into account, which we have reason to think is very small, and, if professor Espy’s theory is correct, it can not be anything; for, according to this theory, no vapor can pass from the torrid to the temperate zones and produce rain, since the current bearing it there would be a descending current, and consequently could not produce it.

The ocean not level. – As it has been shown in the case of the atmosphere, that the resultant of the forces causes an accumulation about the parallels of 28°, so as the motions of the ocean are somewhat similar, and it is acted upon by the same forces, it may be shown that there must be a slight accumulation about those parallels in the ocean also. Whatever may be the causes of the motion of the ocean, we know that in the torrid zone it has a small western motion, and in the other parts a slight motion towards the east. The great equatorial current of the Atlantic moves about ten miles in twenty-four hours, but if we suppose that the average motion of the water in the torrid zone is five miles only per day, and that the mximum velocity of the water eastward in the extra-tropical regions is the same, using the same hypothesis we did with regard to the atmosphere, the forces which result from these motions must cause an accumulation of more than forty feet about the parallel of 28°, above the level of the sea at the poles, and about five feet above the level of the equator. This however, would be the amount of accumulation to produce an equilibrium of the forces at the surface, but as this accumulation would then produce greater pressure there upon the bottom than towards the poles and at the equator, it would produce, as in the case of the atmosphere, a flowing out from beneath this accumulation towards the poles and the equator, and settling down of the surface above, below the state of equilibrium, sufficient to cause a counter-current at the surface from the poles and the equator to supply the currents below. The accumulation there would be only about one-half that stated above, and there would be a flowing of water at the surface from both sides towards the parallel of 28°, and below a current in both directions from these parallels, similare to the motions in the atmosphere.

That the water of the ocean has such a motion as has been stated, appears from observations of its motions and other circumstances. Says Lieutenant Maury, “There seems to be a larger flow of polar water into the Atlantic than of waters from it, and I cannot account for the preservation of the equilibrium of this ocean by any other hypothesis than that which calls in the aid of undercurrents.” It is well-known that in Baffin’s bay there is a strong surface-current running south, and a strong counter-current beneath running north. Another evidence of this general tendency of the waters, is, that icebergs, in both hemispheres, are drifted from the poles towards the equator, and in the south Atlantic and Pacific oceans,there are large collections of drift and sea-weed about the parallels of 28°, so thickly matted that vessels are retarded in passing through them.[9]

These collections can only be formed by the flowing of the water at the surface from both sides to these parallels. It has been supposed that these collections are owing to the slight vortical motion of these oceans, it being supposed that any floating substances on the surface would have a tendency to collect at the vortex. This, however, would not be the case, for on account of friction at the bottom, the surface would have a greater vortical motion than the bottom, and consequently the water would be driven very slowly at the surface by the centrifugal force towards the sides, where it would cause a slight elevation and increase of pressure, which would cause the water to return towards the vortex at the bottom and not at the top; and hence floating substances at the surface could have no tendency to collect at the vortex.

We have corroborated these deductions from theory by numerous experiments made with a vessel of water with light substances on the surface. When the vessel is first receiving a vortical motion, the substances collect in the middle; for, as it is the vessel which gives motion to the water by means of the friction, the vessel, and consequently the bottom of the water, has then a greater motion than the top; and hence the reverse of what is stated above takes place; but, if the vessel is now stopped, and the water within allowed to continue its motion, the vortical motion at the bottom is retarded faster than at the top, and soon has a slower motion there, when the light substances on the surface are seen to recede from the vortex towards the sides, and if there are any light substances on the bottom they collect in the centre, all of which proves, that the water recedes from the middle at the surface, and returns to it at the bottom, and exactly agrees with the deductions from theory. These collections of sea-weed, then, cannot be caused by the vortical motions of the ocean, but must be the result of a general tendency of the surface water, to flow from both the equator and the poles towards these parallels; and, as it is prevented from collecting on these parallels near either side, on account of the slight vortical motion of the ocean, it collects only in the middle.

Explanation of the Gulf-stream – We come now to the Gulf-stream, which has been a puzzle to philosophers ever since it was discovered. Many explanations have been given, and all known forces which can have any influence, have been brought in to account for this wonderful phenomenon. The most usual explanation is, that it is the escaping of the waters which have been forced into the Caribbean sea and the Gulf of Mexico by the trade-winds, which have been supposed to raise their surface above the general level, and thus afford a head as it were for the stream. This, without doubt, has a very considerable effect, but it has not generally been deemed adequate alone to account for the phenomenon, nor does it, in connection with all other known influences, afford a satisfactory explanation. “What is the cause of the Gulf-stream.” says Lieutenant Maury, “has always puzzled philosophers. Modern investigations are beginning to throw some light upon the subject, though still all is not yet clear.”

We shall now endeavor to show that the additional force which we have taken into account in explaining both the winds and the currents of the ocean, and which seems to have been overlooked heretofore, will at least throw much additional light upon the subject, if not afford a complete explanation. We have shown that this force, which results form the eastward flow of the water in extra-tropical regions, and from the western motion within the tropics, has a tendency to drive the water from the poles towards the equator, and also slightly from the equator towards the poles, and to produce an accumulation of at least twenty feet on the parallel of 28° above the level at the poles, upon the supposition that the maximum of this east and west flow is only five miles per day. But if, from any cause, the force which results from this eastward flow should be cut off at any place, the water would flow northward at that place with a force equal to that which would result from a head on the parallels of 28°, at least twenty feet above the level towards the poles. Now, it may be seen from the configuration of the coast of the United States, that this force is actually cut off along that coast; for this force depends upon the eastward flow of the water there, which it cannot have, inasmuch as it must flow in both ways along the coast to fill up the vacuum which such a motion would produce. As the Gulf of Mexico, therefore, and the adjacent parts of the Atlantic, lie in the parallel of greatest accumulation, the water must flow from these parts along the coast with a force equal to that stated above. In addition to this, the momentum of the water flowing westward in the torrid zone, with a motion depending upon the prime moving course, due to a difference of specific gravity between the poles and the equator, in connection with the rotatory motion of the earth, and being independent of the effect of the trade-winds, must force the water in the Caribbean sea and the Gulf of Mexico considerably above the general level and add to the preceeding force. When we consider that the motion of the water which produces tides on our coasts, is in general imperceptible in the open ocean, and yet, on account of the sloping bottom of the ocean, which causes a smaller volume of water to receive the momentum of a larger one, it causes considerable rise of the water along the coast, we have reason to think that the general tendency of water westward in the torrid zone may keep the water in the Gulf considerably above the general level, since its water and that in the Caribbean sea, if the bottom of the ocean be sloping, must in great measure receive the momentum of the whole body of the water moving westward in the adjacent part of the Atlantic. The eastern tendency of the water in the northen part of the north Atlantic, due to the prime moving force mentioned above and independent of the winds which prevail there, causes the surface of the ocean in the latitude of Newfoundland to be somewhat depressed below the general level next to the coast, which also adds to the force of the Gulf-stream. All these forces, taken in connection withthe influence of the trade-windst, to which this phenomenon has been mainy attributed, we think, furnish a complete and satisfactory explanation of that great wonder and mystery of the ocean, the Gulf-stream.

The Greenland and other currents. – The general eastward motion of the waters of the ocean in the northern part of the Atlantic, and consequent depression next the coast of North America, also furnish an explanation of the cold current of water flowing between the Gulf-stream and the coast of the United States, called the Greenland current. On account of the rotatory motion of the earth, the water of the Gulf-stream in flowing northward, tends to the east, and for the same reason the water flowing from Greenland and Baffin’s bay to supply the eastern flow, tends towards the west, and consequently flows in between the Gulf-stream and the coast of the United States.

There must be a motion of the waters somewhat similar to that of the Gulf-stream and the Greenland current, wherever the great equatorial current impinges against a continent, and the eastward flow towards the poles is cut off. Hence, on the eastern coast of South America, there is a warm Brazilian current towards Cape Horn, and on the eastern coast of Africa, the Mozambique current which at the Cape of Good Hope is called the Agulhas current. Also, on the eastern coast of Asia, there is the warm China current, flowing towards the north, similar to the Gulf-stream, and the cold Asiatic current, insinuating itself between it and the coast, like the Greenland current.

On the western side of the continents a motion somewhat the reverse of this must take place. Hence, instead of a warm stream flowing towards the north, there is a cold current flowing towards the equator. On the west of Portugal, and the northern part of Africa, there is a flow of colder water towards the equator, both to join the great equatorial current flowing across the Atlantic. On the west coast of South America, is Humboldt’s current, 8° or 10° colder than the rest of the ocean in the same latitude, both tending towards the equator to there join the great western current across the Pacific, and to fill up, as it were, the vacuum which this current has a tendency to leave about the equator, on the western coast of America.

NASHVILLE, October 4, 1856.

  1. Physical Geography of the sea, page 70.
  2. Professor Espy’s Third Report on Meterology, § 101.
  3. See Kaenitz’ Meteorology. by C. Walker, page 277.
  4. See “Physical geography of the Sea” § 106.
  5. Third report on Meteorology §§ 68, 69.
  6. See W. C. Redfield Esq. on three several hurricanes, etc., in Silliman’s Journal, second series, vol. I., page 13.
  7. Silliman’s Journal, second series, Vol II., page 325.
  8. Maury’s Physical Geography of the Sea § 224.
  9. Humbold’s Cosmos, Vol. 2 page 278
PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

The Quran Gives Principles of Justice, But No Judicial System

scales of justice
The Muslim Times is promoting secularism in every country of the world. We also have the best collection for balanced understanding of the holy Quran

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The Supreme Court of USA during the time of President Obama made several decisions in favor of the Muslims, showing to the world that scales of justice are blind and don’t tilt towards the religion of the majority. But, within two years of election of President Trump, with his nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch and changing political climate, we have seen the court moving away from the highest standards of justice and all of us read headlines like Trump’s Travel Ban Is Upheld by Supreme Court – The New York Times and U.S. top court upholds Trump travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations.

If the Supreme Court of USA, comprising of nine Justices, who have life time appointment, no pressing financial worries, no higher status they can achieve and they have never been involved in bribery scandals cannot deliver justice always, who can?

Does the Quran prescribe, how to set up a better court and a better set of Justices?

The Quran has given us ever lasting principles of justice. Let us take the example of sanctity of life. The holy Quran prescribed infinite value of each and every human life and mentioned that it is not a new observation, rather has been the case since the time of the Prophet Adam, Moses and all the Jewish prophets. The Quran says:

We prescribed for the children of Israel that whosoever killed a person — unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land — it shall be as if he had triggered a genocide; and whoso gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. (Al Quran 5:32/33)

Having described the sanctity of life the Quran goes on to prescribe the principles to enforce this in a society:

O ye who believe! equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you: the free man for the free man, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if one is granted any remission by one’s brother, then pursuing the matter for the realization of the blood money shall be done with fairness and the murderer shall pay him the blood money in a handsome manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. And whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment.

And there is life for you in the law of retaliation, O men of understanding, that you may enjoy security. (Al Quran 2:178-179/179-180)

And:

And kill not the soul which Allah has forbidden save for just cause. And whoso is killed wrongfully, We have surely given his heir authority to demand retaliation, but let him not exceed the prescribed bounds in slaying; for therein he is helped by law. (Al Quran 17:33/34)

Proportionate punishment was prescribed in the Torah and quoted in the Quran:

And in Torah, We prescribed for them: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and for other injuries equitable retaliation. And whoso waives the right thereto, it shall be an expiation for his sins; and whoso judges not by what Allah has sent down, these it is who are wrongdoers. (Al Quran 5:45/46)

The Quran did not believe in retaliation for the sake of retaliation, rather to set up a system of checks and balances and to cause reformation in the guilty. The Quran states:

And the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoso forgives and his act brings about reformation, his reward is with Allah. Surely, He loves not the wrongdoers. (Al Quran 42:40/41)

The above principles have been almost universally recognized in each and every country of the world, regardless of religion today, 1400 years after the revelation of the Quran, except in the case of war. The humanity is still struggling with the concept of “Just War” and how to best implement the above principles.

Did the Quran prescribe, how to set up courts or judges, who would successfully deliver justice based on these principles?

I am afraid not!

The Quran did not say what kind of judicial system would be closest to upholding the above principles. Would it be something like the constitution of USA or what ever has been set under the theocracies of Saudi Arabia or Iran? The Quran is silent. The Quran, however, did say that Islam is a religion most true to human psychology and basic human nature and human conscience.

Pew Research Center in a recent poll found the varying support for the ‘Shariah Law’ in different Muslim majority countries.

Shariah Law or sharia is different things for different people. For the Islamophobes, it is bogeyman for fear mongering, to stir up support for the right wing agendas in the Western countries. For the religious parties in the Muslim majority countries it is get the vote out slogan, by appealing to the religious sentiments. For the Mullahs it is a tool to gain political influence and maintain their street power by controlling the mobs. For the average Muslim, who is religious in personal life but naive about the ways of politics and governance, it is an amorphous concept that is never well defined. It is perhaps his or her desire for utopia, for a better world with greater justice, prosperity and happiness. It is a dream like in America what has been described by the political leaders in their stump speeches as the “American Dream!”

According to a detailed survey of the Muslim populations by the Pew Research Center:

Overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many countries want Islamic law (sharia) to be the official law of the land, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center. But many supporters of sharia say it should apply only to their country’s Muslim population.

Moreover, Muslims are not equally comfortable with all aspects of sharia: While most favor using religious law in family and property disputes, fewer support the application of severe punishments – such as whippings or cutting off hands – in criminal cases. The survey also shows that Muslims differ widely in how they interpret certain aspects of sharia, including whether divorce and family planning are morally acceptable.

shariah-law-of-the-land

Support for making sharia the official law of the land varies significantly across the six major regions included in the study. This in itself is proof enough that Shariah Law is not fundamental to Islam or a necessary part of faith or religion for the Muslims. The wide range of support for it in different countries from 8% to 99% shows it is not like 5 daily prayers for all Muslims or fasting in the month of Ramadan where one will find shared ideas among all Muslims all over the world. Shariah Law perhaps is a socio-cultural construct evoking different ideas and feelings among the masses of specific countries based on their history and life experiences.

In countries across South Asia, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East-North Africa region most favor making Sharia Law their country’s official legal code. By contrast, only a minority of Muslims across Central Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe want sharia to be the official law of the land.

If by ‘Shariah Law’ the Muslims mean upholding the principles of justice, discussed above then I am all for it. But, if by ‘Shariah Law,’ they mean some archaic set of laws or any specific political or justice system that is autocratic or theocratic, without transparency, openness to reason and logic and without checks and balances then I beg to differ.

There is no Judicial System prescribed in the holy Quran. We will need to learn from all the systems all over the world and keep changing as the societies and circumstances change.

The holy Quran is the final guidance and a great blessing for all of humanity from God Almighty, Who is also All Knowing. He wants to guide us but not box us into fixed systems that become counter productive over time. So, He has left it to our wisdom to device judicial and political systems to best ensure the guiding principles that He has provided for our prosperity, survival and salvation.

Quran does not cause terrorism and is no more violent than the Bible, expert says

Quran and bible
The Muslim Times has the best collection about the Quran, the Bible and counter terrorism

Source: Independent

By Lizzie Dearden; @lizziedearden

“The source of the problem is the Quran itself…anyone who reads it either leaves it or becomes a terrorist.”

That claim, made on a Facebook page supporting Pegida, is one of countless similar allegations being circulated on the internet by anti-Islam and far-right groups.

But is the Quran actually any more violent than the Bible or Torah? Not according to Dr Ed Kessler, the founding director of the Woolf Institute of interfaith relations.

Read further

Suggested reading

Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words

Video: Here’s What Happens When People Think Bible Passages Are From The Quran

You don’t need to look much further than the Quran for proof that Islam is a peaceful religion

Is Every Human Life Sacred or Could it be Merely Collateral Damage?

4 Responses to the Problem of Violence in the Bible

Violence in the Bible and Jihad in the Quran

‘Violence more common’ in Bible than Quran, text analysis reveals

French call to change Quran aims to promote antagonism toward Muslims

Non-Sectarian Islam: The Proportionate Faith

Aerial View of Mecca
The Hajj is a symbol of universal brotherhood and every time we visit Mecca or look at a picture of Kaaba or face towards it for Salat, it should remind us of this fundamental non-sectarian Islamic teaching

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The Muslim Times is the Mecca for interfaith tolerance and non-sectarian understanding of Islam.

Almost every sect in Islam, historically, has declared every other as Kafir and non-Muslim. Different sects may not be wearing such Fatwas on their sleeves these days, but, most have not clearly distanced themselves from their past history. Many save the worst condemnation for those closest in belief to them, lest the others gain favor in the eyes of the public. I am not going to document that reality here, I am going to just accept it on face value, and philosophically and religiously expose the fallacy of such professions, beliefs, claims or insinuations.

Any Muslim, be he or she a Sunni, a Shiite, an Ahmadi or an Ismaili or anyone who chooses not to have any such label, who believes that God prohibits alcohol, will not fall prey to the general 10% risk of alcoholism and all the catastrophic consequences that go with it.

Any Muslim, be he or she a Sunni, a Shiite, an Ahmadi or an Ismaili and anyone who chooses not to have any such label, who believes that God prescribes chaste life, will not fall prey to HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and broken homes, and all the catastrophic consequences that go with these maladies.

Laws of nature or the Laws of God, don’t seem to make any distinction based on the sect of the person.

Any Muslim, be he or she a Sunni, a Shiite, an Ahmadi or an Ismaili or anyone who chooses not to have any such label, who starts lying or cheating and keeps on doing it, will eventually become a liar or a cheat.

Our goodness or evil is not just defined by our denomination, even though it may have some small role depending on what the sect or denomination is believing, doing or emphasizing.

Depending on our sect or our belief in any infallible divinely inspired leader or a scholar, we will falter, every time the leader falls down or gives us a wrong idea. This is where rubber meats the road and ideas and beliefs begin to affect our actions and our lives.

Take the example of the magical belief in Jinns, those who believe in them for one reason or the other, fall prey to all the psychological diseases and irrational and superstitious thinking that follows suit. I suggest, a couple of articles: Jinns and Demons: A Rational Islamic Perspective, Possessed by Jinns: Many Medieval Muslim Scholars Need Exorcism and Reading the Quran and the Bible Literally Means Demons and Jinns Will Rule Humans.

I believe the term Jinn has been used for different meanings in the holy Quran and the Hadith, but, the most common meaning is powerful men. In Sura Saba we read:

On the day when He gathers them all together, He will ask the angels: Was it you that these people worshipped? They will reply: Holy art thou! Thou art our Protector against them. They worshipped Jinns; it was in them that most of them believed. (Al Quran 34:40-41/41-42)

Every one knows from daily life experiences that most people, at least most Muslims, don’t believe in imaginary beings instead of God, but, they do believe in powerful men, sometimes the so called scholars, who distract them and misguide them.

No where the Quran says that we will be questioned about our choice of religious leaders, but we are reminded time and again that we will be accountable for those of our ideas that materialize into actions and deeds.

Our ideas and beliefs have magical powers only as far as they affect our actions and our life.

I believe that the most fundamental or profound verses of the Quran in relation to our accountability here and in the Hereafter are:

Then whoso does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoso does an atom’s weight of evil will also see it. (Al Quran 99:7-8/8-9)

In the grand scheme of things every action carries a reward or a punishment, based on the intentions behind it. But, God of Islam is the Most Merciful and the Most Forgiving, so He multiples the goodness at least ten fold and punishment carries only a single multiple, according to a verse in Surah Anaam.

Belief in One God and our accountability in the Afterlife have very profound influence on our thinking and actions. But, no other set of ideas or beliefs, neither has an overriding influence on our earthly lives nor on our salvation in the Hereafter, as it would be very much against the concept of a Just and the Most Merciful God. He has said in the above quoted verses from chapter 99 that He will take the totality of our actions in judging us and the final verdict will be rendered based on our scales:

Then, as for him whose scales are heavy, he will have a pleasant life. But as for him whose scales are light, hell will be his nursing mother. (Al Quran 101:6-9/7-10)

Even the belief in the holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, is not absolutely necessary for salvation, in all circumstances, according to the holy Quran. So, we can stop quibbling and debating about our pet ideas and beliefs and live a more tolerant and brotherly life among the Muslims. Salvation cannot be monopolized as the Quran states:

Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:62/63)

And:

Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:69/70)

And:

As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians and the idolaters, verily, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; surely Allah is Witness over all things. (Al Quran 22:17/18)

If we allow religious leaders or writers to act as argumentative lawyers, then any good lawyer, using legalistic jargon, can construct a myopic and narrow exclusive reality, to the exclusion of other sects or groups. We should be wise enough to look through such intolerant and myopic leaders.

If the following poetic parable about Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt is conveying a very important truth, the emphasis on sectarianism in many if not most Muslim societies cannot be true:

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

I conclude my presentation to my Muslim brethren and sisters, with a heartfelt appeal, to create a more inclusive faith and vision and live a more blessed and loving life and suggest three additional articles to achieve such a goal: Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran, ‘Love Hormone’ Oxytocin May Enhance Feelings Of Spirituality and Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living.

Surah Talaq: Compassion in Divorce

Introduction

The Catholic Church is still struggling with allowing divorce and it is still not allowed in the Vatican city and Philippines.  Islam, though discouraged divorce, but allowed it 14 centuries ago and laid down compassionate rules for it.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in the introduction to this surah:

The surah can be divided into two main sections. The first (vv. 1-7) provides details regarding the waiting period to be observed in cases of divorce, especially for women who are not menstruating, and the manner in which the husband is to provide for the wife, especially if she is pregnant or suckling. The second section (vv. 8-12) admonishes Muslims to observe these laws by providing reminders of previous peoples who failed to follow the laws revealed by God.

The verses 222-242 of Surah Baqarah also deal with divorce and other related gender issues.  To fully appreciate the wisdom and compassion of the Quranic teachings on this subject, one merely needs to search and review the word divorce in the Old and the New Testaments and read the short articles: Vatican Recognizing Divorce, 1400 Years after Islam Did and Divorce: Islam Versus Christianity.

As we look at each individual tree, or every specific teaching, let us not lose sight of the forest or the big picture.

When practical and profound boundaries are defined for both love and divorce in a marriage then it not only creates harmony and peace in the family, but, also in the larger society that is made of family units. This is what the holy Quran has given to the humanity.

In the seventh century Arabia the men were the bread winners in almost all the cases and child custody issues were described in that paradigm. If women become equal or greater bread winners in the 21st century, then those issues should be adjusted to the new economic realities.

These constraints are due to human limitations and not any deficiency in the knowledge of All-Knowing God, as becomes amply clear from the very last verse of this surah.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

65:1. Prophet, when any of you intend to divorce women, do so at a time when their prescribed waiting period can properly start, and calculate the period carefully: be mindful of God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes, nor should they themselves leave, unless they commit a flagrant indecency. These are the limits set by God, whoever transgresses God’s limits wrongs his own soul, for you cannot know what new situations God may bring about.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ وَأَحْصُوا الْعِدَّةَ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ رَبَّكُمْ ۖ لَا تُخْرِجُوهُنَّ مِن بُيُوتِهِنَّ وَلَا يَخْرُجْنَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ لَا تَدْرِي لَعَلَّ اللَّـهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرًا

65:2. When they have completed their appointed term, either keep them honorably, or part with them honorably. Call two just witnesses from your people and establish testimony for the sake of God. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should pay attention: God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him,

 فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ فَارِقُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَأَشْهِدُوا ذَوَيْ عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ وَأَقِيمُوا الشَّهَادَةَ لِلَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَن كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا

65:3. And will provide for them from an unexpected source; God is enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose and He has set a due measure for everything.

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

65:4. If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not yet had their monthly courses; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy by defining for those who are mindful of Him.

وَاللَّائِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ ۚ وَأُولَاتُ الْأَحْمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا

65:5. This is God’s commandment, which He has sent down to you. God will remove the ills and increase the rewards of anyone who is mindful of Him.

ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرُ اللَّـهِ أَنزَلَهُ إِلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يُكَفِّرْ عَنْهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِ وَيُعْظِمْ لَهُ أَجْرًا

65:6. House the wives you are divorcing according to your means, wherever you dwell yourselves, and harass them not that you may make their lives difficult.

If they are pregnant, maintain them until they are delivered of their burdens; if they suckle your infants, give them their due recompense and settle the matters between yourselves equitably.  However, if you encounter difficulty from one another, then another woman may suckle the child for the father,

 أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ وَلَا تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن كُنَّ أُولَاتِ حَمْلٍ فَأَنفِقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ ۚ فَإِنْ أَرْضَعْنَ لَكُمْ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ ۖ وَأْتَمِرُوا بَيْنَكُم بِمَعْرُوفٍ ۖ وَإِن تَعَاسَرْتُمْ فَسَتُرْضِعُ لَهُ أُخْرَىٰ

65:7. And let one who is in easy circumstances spend according to his means. But let him whose provision is restricted spend according to what God has given him: God does not burden any soul with more than He has given him. After hardship, God will bring ease.

 لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا ۚ سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّـهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا

65:8. Many a town that insolently opposed the command of its Lord and His messengers, We have brought sternly to account: We punished them severely.

 وَكَأَيِّن مِّن قَرْيَةٍ عَتَتْ عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهَا وَرُسُلِهِ فَحَاسَبْنَاهَا حِسَابًا شَدِيدًا وَعَذَّبْنَاهَا عَذَابًا نُّكْرًا

65:9. To make them taste the ill consequences of their conduct, the end result of their conduct was ruin.

 فَذَاقَتْ وَبَالَ أَمْرِهَا وَكَانَ عَاقِبَةُ أَمْرِهَا خُسْرًا

65:10. God has prepared a severe torment for them.  So, you who have understanding, you who believe, beware of God. He has sent you the Quran, a source of honor.

  أَعَدَّ اللَّـهُ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۚ قَدْ أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ إِلَيْكُمْ ذِكْرًا

65:11. And a messenger, reciting to you God’s revelations that make things clear, to bring those who believe and do righteous deeds out of darkness into light. God will admit those who believe in Him and do righteous deeds into Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will remain for ever. He has indeed made excellent provisions for them.

 رَّسُولًا يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ مُبَيِّنَاتٍ لِّيُخْرِجَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۚ وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّـهِ وَيَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ قَدْ أَحْسَنَ اللَّـهُ لَهُ رِزْقًا

65:12. Allah is He, who created seven heavens and a similar number of earths. His command descends in their midst. So you should realize that He has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses everything.

 اللَّـهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا

Commentary

65:1

“Prophet, when any of you intend to divorce women, do so at a time when their prescribed waiting period can properly start, and calculate the period carefully: be mindful of God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes, nor should they themselves leave, unless they commit a flagrant indecency. These are the limits set by God, whoever transgresses God’s limits wrongs his own soul, for you cannot know what new situations God may bring about.”

The verse is addressed to the prophet but is implied for every believer.  It provides for home and shelter for the divorcee and defines the process, which should not be driven by the heat of the angry moments but a deliberate, slow process, so better angels in our spirits can prevail and divorce becomes a rarity and only when absolutely necessary.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues:

The waiting period refers to the three courses of menstruation discussed in 2:228. If, however, the marriage were not consummated, no waiting period would be enforced, as stipulated in 33:49: O you who believe! If you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, there shall be no waiting period for you to reckon against them. But provide for them and release them in a fair manner. In the present verse, for the waiting period can also be read to mean ‘during the waiting period,’ in which case it is understood to indicate that a man cannot divorce his wife while she is menstruating, but must wait until her  menstruation is finished.

65:2

“When they have completed their appointed term, either keep them honorably, or part with them honorably. Call two just witnesses from your people and establish testimony for the sake of God. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should pay attention: God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him.”

The Quranic verse inspires believers to be just and generous to each other as it creates hope in Allah’s Providence by stating: “God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him.” This not only means economic difficulties but also social and other difficulties. It also implies that marital difficulties may subside and lead to reconciliation during the process of waiting period suggested by the Divine command.

65:3

“And will provide for them from an unexpected source; God is enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose and He has set a due measure for everything.”

Allah’s Providence is often beyond our limited imagination and this verse serves for the audacity of hope, no matter what the circumstances.

65:4

“If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not yet had their monthly courses; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy by defining for those who are mindful of Him.”

If we contrast the Quranic teachings with those of the Bible, we realize that it is the Quran that has set the standards for family values for humanity and boundaries for marriage and divorce.

For 2000 years the Catholic Church prohibited divorce based on some of the verses of the New Testament and in the last century or more has come around to what can be considered as an Islamic standard. Suggested reading: Vatican Recognizing Divorce, 1400 Years after Islam Did and Divorce: Islam Versus Christianity.

65:5

“This is God’s commandment, which He has sent down to you. God will remove the ills and increase the rewards of anyone who is mindful of Him.”

Following the eternal principles mentioned in the Quran leads to countless blessings and removal of many a hurdles and road blocks in our personal, social and spiritual development.

65:6

“House the wives you are divorcing according to your means, wherever you dwell yourselves, and harass them not that you may make their lives difficult.

If they are pregnant, maintain them until they are delivered of their burdens; if they suckle your infants, give them their due recompense and settle the matters between yourselves equitably.  However, if you encounter difficulty from one another, then another woman may suckle the child for the father.”

This is certainly a message of compassion and kindness towards women the husbands are going to divorce, especially if they are pregnant or suckling, a special consideration not only for the mothers but also the children.

However, what was a very compassionate message in the context of seventh century Arabia may seem a sexist message in favor of fathers in the 21st century in the Western countries, as the Quran is giving the child’s custody to the fathers.

In the seventh century Arabia the men were the bread winners in almost all the cases and child custody issues were described in that paradigm. If women become equal or greater bread winners in the 21st century, then those issues should be adjusted to the new economic realities.

Many Western countries have ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention deals with the child-specific needs and rights. It requires that the “nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law”. Ratifying states must act in the best interests of the child. In all jurisdictions implementing the Convention requires compliance with child custody and guardianship laws as that every child has basic rights, including the right to life, to their own name and identity, to be raised by their parents within a family or cultural grouping, and to have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated.

The details of custody differ from country to country or state to state in USA.  For example, in New York, children under the age of 18 must be supported by both parents to the extent that they are able to support the children under the provisions of the Child Support Standards Act.  The holy Quran for the seventh century Arabia laid the responsibility squarely on the fathers. But, we don’t have to read this literally in different circumstances.  The well being of the children is of fundamental focus and it cannot be divorced from the happiness of the parents. The Quran even describes the suckling needs of the infants and suggests a duration of 2 years (2:233) and goes as far as establishing maintenance and compensation for the nursing mother. As regards the sensibilities and emotions of the mothers and the fathers the Quran states: “No one should be burdened with more than they can bear: no mother shall be made to suffer harm on account of her child, nor any father on account of his.” (2:233)

65:7

“And let one who is in easy circumstances spend according to his means. But let him whose provision is restricted spend according to what God has given him: God does not burden any soul with more than He has given him. After hardship, God will bring ease.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues, in commentary of this verse:

Some interpret this verse to mean that the amount  paid by the husband to his former wife depends upon both her needs and his circumstances, while others maintain that the amount the wife must be paid is to be limited to her immediate needs (Q). This verse is also viewed as evidence for the position that the husband is solely responsible for providing provisions for the child whether the couple is married or divorced (Q). The last sentence indicates that if one finds it difficult to meet these obligations, God will ease one’s circumstances, either in this life by providing additional means or in the Hereafter by easing one’s way into the Garden for striving to observe the Command of God even when it was difficult. Regarding the relationship between hardship and ease, see 94:5-6c.

We agree with most of what has been said in the above quote, but we feel, in the present day circumstances, when both women and men are bread winners, at least in the West, both of them can enjoy the perks and the responsibilities arising from that blessing.

65:12

“Allah is He, who created seven heavens and a similar number of earths. His command descends in their midst. So you should realize that He has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses everything.”

The Quran talks about multiple earths as the number seven in this context in the Quran is generally read as metaphorical and as a large number. For the Quran to talk about multiple earths in the context of seventh century Arabia is fantastic and miraculous to say the least and establishes along with so many other Quranic verses, talking about modern scientific facts: Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature, that it is a revelation from the All Knowing God.

As we stand in awe of the eternal message of the Quran, which impresses us in the 21st century, we should not forget that sometimes certain verses are best understood, at least in their literal message in a more limited context: The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors.

Here we would also like to present an excerpt form the chapter on extraterrestrial life,  from a book by Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth:

The vision of the universe that the Quran presents is poles apart from the one held by the philosophers and sages of all the past ages. At the time of the Quranic revelation, it was Greek astronomy which dominated the minds of men everywhere in the world and all civilizations seemed to have been influenced by the same. This domination continued uninterrupted until the time of Copernicus. It was universally believed that the heavens consisted of layer upon layer of some transparent plastic material, studded with bright heavenly bodies we know as stars. To be more specific, the following was the sum total of the entire knowledge of the people of that age:

  1. The earth was composed of a mass of dust, rock, water, air and minerals. It was a stationary mass, with a near flat surface neither rotating around itself nor revolving around any other heavenly body.
  2. The earth occupied a unique position in the cosmos, the like of which did not exist anywhere else in space. It remained fixed and stationary in its mooring while the Heavens perpetually revolved around it.

Evidently, this concept of the universe eliminated the possibility of the existence of life elsewhere. The only habitat for life the people of that age knew, was this earth—suspended as they thought it was in mid-space. Contrary to this, the Quran admits neither the uniqueness of the earth nor its being stationary. On the issue of the number of earths, it declares:

Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof…1

It needs to be explained here that the figure ‘seven’ can be treated as a specific term of the Quran in this verse and many other similar ones. As such it would mean that the universe comprises many units of heavens, each divided into groups of seven (a perfect number), each having at least one earth to it which will be supported by the entire system of that heaven (galaxy).

The book is available online in PDF format: Revelation – Rationality – Knowledge and Truth.