Mountains to Stabilize the Earth
By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar
On the authority of Anas ibn Malik (A.S.) who said: the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“When Allah created the earth, it started to shake. So He created the mountains, fixing them into it, therefore it stabilized. The angels then wondered about the hardness of the mountains asking: "Allah, is there any thing in Your creation which is harder than the mountains? He said: "Yes, iron ". Then they asked: "O Allah, is there anything in Your creation which is harder than iron?' He said: "Yes, fire." They asked: 'O Allah, is there anything in Your creation which is harder than fire? He said:" Yes, water." They asked: 'O Allah is there anything in Your creation which is harder than water? He said: "Yes, the wind." They then asked:" Is there anything in Your creation which is harder than the wind?" He said: Yes, a man who gives charity with his right hand, concealing it so that no one can see him.”
Explanation of the Hadith
This noble hadith coincides, both in form and in content, with the saying of the Ever-Truthful:
﴾ And the mountains He has fixed firmly ,' to be' provision and benefit for you and your cattle ﴿
(Surat An-Nazi'at (Those Who Pull Out): 32-33)
This context is repeated in nine other verses of the noble Qur'an , (namely ar-Ra'd , 3 , al-Hijr , 19 , an-Nahl , 15 , al-Anbiya’ , 31 , an-Naml , 61 , Luqman , 10 , Fussilat , 10 , Qaf , 7 , and al-Mursalat , 27) which signifies the importance of the preparation of the earth to be populated .
The word ' Earth ' recurs in the Glorious Qur'an and in the Prophet's Ahadith referring to three other meanings according to the context. Sometimes it refers to the whole planet and at other times, to the dry mass on which we live, while at some other times, it indicates the topsoil covering the dry land rocks.
Scientists have differed greatly in their understanding of the role of the mountains in stabilizing the earth. This difference arises because the total agglomerate of the mountains above the earth's surface, gigantic as it is, amounts to nothing when compared to the whole mass of the earth, which amounts to about six million trillion tons. Besides, the length of the mountains, great as it is, does not amount to much in relation to the radius of the earth, as the difference between the highest mountaintop on earth, and the deepest oceanic depression is almost twenty kilometers (19.715 kilometers) while the Hemisphere is 6.378.160 kilometers. Hence, the geomorphology of the earth seems minute in comparison to its radius (19.715), with a percentage not exceeding 0.03%.
A logical question therefore arises: how can the mountains stabilize the earth, while their mass and dimensions are so small when compared to the earth's mass and dimensions?
It was not until the mid sixties that the answer became known. It appeared that the lithosphere runs through a tremendous network of faults that extends for tens of thousands of kilometers, wholly encompassing the earth. They vary between 65 and 150 kms in depth. Therefore, they result in rupturing the lithosphere into a number of isolated plates leveling with these faults. These plates float over a supple, half-molten, highly dense and viscid layer known as the earth's asthenosphere. This layer abounds with active thermal currents taking the form of violent vortexes of convection currents. They drive the plates away from each other, or bring them into collision with such velocities that make it impossible to live on.
The violent motion of these plates is only calmed through the consecutive formation of mountain chains till they reach their final stage. This is achieved by completely consuming the ocean platform that separates two remote continents. One continent pushes the platform under the other continent till the two collide compressing the rock aggregate between them into great mountain chains extending with their wedges, which fasten the rocks of both continents together just like a wedge fastens down a tent .
This process occurred when the Indian Continent moved towards Asia. They collided resulting in the formation of the highest and most recently formed, Himalaya Mountains.
Concerning the earth as a planet, we know that the rotational motion around its axis has changed its completely circular shape into a spheroid, slightly bulging at the equator, and slightly flat at the poles. This equatorial protrusion of the earth caused the rotational axis to change its direction in a slow motion called 'Precession'. The term refers to the slow gyration of Earth's axis around the pole of the ecliptic, caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the sun, moon, and other planets of Earth's equatorial bulge. The mountain chains with their deep roots in the lithosphere , (whose depth comes to about ten to fifteen times their height above the earth's surface) tend to subside these violent motions , lessen the powerful staggering of the earth's rotational axis and make the earth more stable and orderly in its rotation around the axis . The mountains also, attenuate the violent movement of the earth in such a way that a tire attenuates percussion during rotation.
This is a clear example of the scientific inimitability in the Prophet's hadith in which he says: “When Allah created the earth it started to shake. So He stabilized it with mountains”. As it was mentioned before, the noble hadith accords, in form and in content, with ten verses of the noble Qur'an.