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“Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped)”
(Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 22)
By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar
This ayah appears towards the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow) which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in Madinah. With 286 ayahs, this is the longest Surah in the Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) praised this Surah saying, “Shaytan runs away from the house in which Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.” (Sahih Muslim).
Surat Al-Baqarah deals with a number of Islamic laws, issues related to worship, behavioral and moral principles and pillars of faith such as:
1.Belief in the Oneness of Allah (to whom no partner, equal or rival may be ascribed) and belief in His angels, apostles, Books and the Day of Judgment.
2.Belief in the unity of the human race regardless of race, ethnicity or any other distinction; all human beings are descendants of Adam and Eve.
3.Adhering to the pillars of Islam: the shahadah (testimony of faith), offering the five compulsory prayers, zakat, fasting in Ramadan and performing hajj (pilgrimage), for those who are able to.
4.There is no distinction between any of His Messengers; belief in the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as being the “seal” of the Prophethood and that his message was the last divine message to be revealed and is preserved in the Qur’an.
1.There is no doubt about any word, letter or sign in the Qur’an as scientific research showed later on (Ayah 2).
2.Reference to mental disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoia, which were unheard of 1400 years ago (Ayah 10).
3.The difference between light, fire and sunshine in contradiction to darkness, which was only recently discovered by scientists (Ayah 17).
4.Storms that normally occur at night and are accompanied by thunder, lightning and violent winds, bringing together different meteorological phenomena: a fact that has only been understood recently (Ayah 19).
5.Loss of sight by staring at lightning. Light travels faster than sound. (Ayah 20).
6.Acknowledgement of Allah as the Creator of everything (Ayah 21).
7.Reference to how the Earth is spread out, how the sky is held up and the celestial bodies that orbit therein, rain falling from clouds causing different kinds of fruits to grow and the prohibition of shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) (Ayah 22).
8.The example of the gnat and other insects distinguished by their sophisticated bodies (Ayah 26).
9.Death precedes life and then follows it; Allah created everything on earth, then He rose to the heaven and made it into seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything (Ayah29).
10.Mention of the historical fact that Allah split the sea into two for the Prophet Musa in order to save him and his followers and drowned Pharaoh and his soldiers (Ayah 50).
11.Allah caused twelve springs to gush forth with a strike of Prophet Musa’s staff on the eastern bank of the Gulf of Suez in an area known today as Uyun Musa (the Springs of Moses) (Ayah 60).
12.Using the east and west to denote the whole of the universe (Ayahs 124, 115).
13.Taking the Ka’ba as the kiblah (direction in which Muslims pray), confirming that Makkah is the center of the world (Ayahs 144, 149, 150).
14.Reference to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of day and night, ships sailing through the sea in the service of mankind, rain falling from the sky reviving the earth after its death, living creatures scattered throughout the earth, the change in the direction of the wind and the clouds held between the earth and the sky are indeed proofs for men of understanding (Ayah 164).
15.Assertion of the fact that the lunar cycles are signs to establish the months for people and pilgrimage (Ayah 189).
16.The harm that results from drinking alcohol and gambling is far more serious than any benefits they may have (Ayah 219).
17.The dangers associated with having sex during menstruation (Ayah 221).
18.Heavy rain does not cause damage to a garden or orchard situated on a height because the water subsides once the land takes what it needs. It may even double its harvest yield. If it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices to water the plants and to nourish the fruits. This means that the garden will flourish, whether it receives heavy or light rain. This similitude, comparing pious people who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure to a garden which flourishes no matter how heavy or light the rain it receives, is based on an established scientific fact. (Ayah 265)
As each of these issues need to be dealt with separately, I will limit my discussion to ayah 22 of Surat Al-Baqara, which deals with the following issues:
1.Acknowledgement of Allah as the Creator of everything.
2.The spreading out of the earth.
3.The sky as a canopy governed by its own rules and the orbit of the celestial bodies in it.
4.Rain falling from the sky.
5.The production of fruit using rainwater.
Finally, we will conclude with a discussion on shirk (polytheism).Allah forbids us and warns us against shirk.But, let us first review some of the interpretations for these two ayahs.
“O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious),Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah(in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped.)”
(Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 22).
Concerning the interpretation of these ayahs, Fi Zilal Al-Qur’an states, “…it is a call for mankind as a whole to worship their Lord Who created them and those before them. It is He who owns all of creation, thus He must be the only One worthy of worship. Worship has a goal that worshippers wish to achieve; namely, to become devout and righteous people who fear Allah and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds He has forbidden. They hope to become excellent models for mankind.*“Who has made the earth a resting place for you”*is a phrase which refers to the comfortable life of man on earth which was made to be a pleasant dwelling and an adequate retreat for him, like a bed. People forget the allegory of the bed that was made comfortable for them by Allah as they take it for granted.
The surface area of the earth is estimated to be about 510 million km2; 29% (149 million km2) is land (lithosphere) and 71% (361 million km2) is water (hydrosphere). About half of the surface (173 million km2) is made up of epi-continental shelves submerged underwater. These vast dimensions make the earth (land surface) seem to be flat to man.
The land surface and the marine (sea and ocean) subsurface are not entirely flat but rise and fall in areas. Mount Everest, the highest peak on earth, is 8,848m, whereas the lowest one (400 below sea level) lies at the Dead SeaBasin. However, the Dead Sea which in part reaches to 800 m below sea level is considered to be a point on land as it is a landlocked sea. The level of the deepest region in the oceans is the Mariana Trench, which lies in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines; it is 11,033km deep. The difference between the highest and the lowest point on earth is less than twenty kilometers (19,881 km). Comparing the radius of the earth (which is estimated to be about 6371 km on average), it seems that the difference between the highest and the lowest point on earth is no more than 0.3 % of the earth’s radius.
The difference between the average height of land (estimated to be about 840m above sea level) and the average depth of seas and oceans (which is estimated to be 3729m) comes to about 4500m. If you compare this to the radius of the earth, the resulting ratio would be about 0.007 %. This averaging technique helps us to understand how Allah leveled and spread out the surface of the earth. Initially, the Earth’s surface was formed from hardly high relief lands from mountains and plateaus. By the will of Allah, through various factors of erosion (weathering, friction, transportation and sedimentation), these mountains have been weathered to form smooth moderate to low height relieves from hills and plains. Moreover, the transportation factors as waters flow through rivers to transport the weathered detrital sediments from high lands to basins, oceans and seas forming great deltas. Once the high relief surface of the earth becomes level with the sea bottom taking the shape of a flat plain, the erosion affecting it ceases.
The struggle between the orogenic movements and the erosion is ongoing; the destructive processes try to make the high relieves of the land surface at the same height of the sea level through successive cycles known as ‘the Earth’s varied landscapes or the Earth’s erosional system. These cycles have been active from about least 4.6 billion years ago, to make the land surface flat and spread in order to make it suitable for man and other creatures. Mountain passes were formed; rivers, lakes, and plains were made. These types of interactions between land and water (continents and oceans), highlands and lowlands, rock cycles and all other processes of earthly equilibrium were created by Allah to give the earth a life-friendly environment and shall continue until the Day of Judgment. Thanks to these reciprocal cycles of construction and deconstruction, fertile plains, flourishing soil, various kinds from ore deposits and country rocks which had been accumulated through millions of years. Generally, the rate of sedimentation needs from 100 to 200 years to form one centimeter from sediments, in other hand erosion of one centimeter from rocks ranges from to 300 years.Therefore, mankind would never have been able to undertake the task of flattening the land surface which is a time and energy consuming activity; Allah the Almighty has done this for us already when He says,*“Who has made the earth a resting place for you”*;these words are proof of His divinity, Oneness and the fact that He is the Creator.
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