The Qur’an on the Origin of Life in Water
“...and We made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” [Qur’an, Surah Al-Anbiya', 21:30]
The origin of life is now such a basic scientific fact that it is accepted without hesitation. This could lessen one’s appreciation for these verses. Yet it must be borne in mind that the Arabian Peninsula is a desert land without a single lake or river, these verses describe something unimaginable to those at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The verse is categorical and states a universal reality – that the source of all ‘life’ and everything ‘living’ is water. Water is the main element of all living organisms. It has been proved that the percentage of water in a human body is 71% in an adult and 93% in an embryo that is a few months old. All vital actions and processes like nutrition, excretion, growth and reproduction cannot be undertaken without water: photosynthesis, the exchange of solutions between cells due to the capillarity of aquatic solutions as they pass through the cell wall [osmosis] and the building of new cells and tissues that help growth and reproduction. The absence of water equates ‘death’ of every living organism.
Scientists, having studied millions of life forms that live in innumerable ecosystems globally, conclude that for any ‘living’ organism to exist, water must be present. Even astronomers, investigating the existence of life forms on other planets, seek the presence of water when considering the possibility of life on that planet.
The Qur’an on Seas and Rivers
Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity, and density. For example, Mediterranean Sea water is warm, saline, and less dense, compared to Atlantic Ocean water. When Mediterranean Sea water enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill, it moves several hundred kilometres into the Atlantic at a depth of about 1000 meters with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics. The Mediterranean water stabilises at this depth
The Mediterranean Sea water as it enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics, because of the barrier that distinguishes between them. Temperatures are in degrees Celsius (C°). (Marine Geology, Kuenen, p. 43, with a slight enhancement).
Although there are large waves, strong currents and tides in these seas, they do not mix or transgress this barrier.
The Qur’an mentioned that there is a barrier between two seas that meet and that they do not transgress. God has said:
He released the two seas, meeting [side by side]; Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.” [Qur’an, Surah Ar-Rahman, 55:19-20]
But when the Qur’an speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier. God has said in the Qur’an:
“And it is He who has released [simultaneously] the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition.” [Qur’an, Surah Al-Furqan, 25:53]
One may ask, why did the Qur’an mention the partition when speaking about the divider between fresh and salt water, but did not mention it when speaking about the divider between the two seas?
Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt water meet, the situation is somewhat different from what is found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” This partition (zone of separation) has a different salinity from the fresh water and from the salt water.
This information has been discovered only recently, using advanced equipment to measure temperature, salinity, density, oxygen dissolubility, etc. The human eye cannot see the difference between the two seas that meet, rather the two seas appear to us as one homogeneous sea. Likewise, the human eye cannot see the division of water in estuaries into the three kinds: fresh water, salt water and the partition (zone of separation).
Light and Levels of Darkness in the Oceans
Studies related to marine sciences and sea depths did not practically start before the beginning of the eighteenth century, when appropriate instruments and techniques were available and when advanced submarines were invented. After many decades of research the following facts were established:
1. The sea divides into two major parts:
- The surface sea that is penetrated by the solar energy and light.
- The deep sea where the solar energy and light are non-existent.
2. The deep sea and surface sea differ in temperature, density, pressure, the amount of sun light and the creatures living in each of them. They are separated by internal waves.
3. Sea internal waves - internal waves cover the deep sea and serve as a boundary between the deep sea and the surface sea. Surface waves cover the sea surface and serve as a boundary between water and air. Internal waves were discovered in 1904. The lengths of internal waves range from tens to hundreds of kilometres. Their height ranges from 10 meters and 100 meters.
4. The deeper the sea the darker it becomes till it gets as dark as pitch from the depth of about (200) meters. At this depth there starts the thermocline that separates the warm surface waters from the cold waters of the deep. In it we find the internal waves that cover the cold water in the depth of the sea. Light disappears completely at the depth of 100 meters. In deep seas there are several layers of darkness, and light is non-existent in them. Living organisms and fish that live in them depend on chemical energy to produce light with which to find their way. Some species are blind and use means other than sight to sense their surroundings. Darkness begins at the depth of about 200 meters, and the entire visible light disappears at the depth of about 1000 meters. The structure of these fish is mostly water to withstand the enormous pressure.
God has said in the Qur’an:
“Or [they are] like darknesses within an unfathomable sea which is covered by waves, upon which are waves, over which are clouds - darknesses, some of them upon others. When one puts out his hand [therein], he can hardly see it.” [Qur’an, Surah An-Nur, 24:40]
This verse mentions the levels of darkness found in deep seas and oceans one on top of the other. Human beings are not able to dive more than forty meters without the aid of submarines or special equipment. Human beings cannot survive unaided in the deep dark part of the oceans, such as at a depth of 200 meters.
Scientists have only discovered this darkness by means of special equipment and submarines that have enabled them to dive into the depths of the oceans.
We can also understand from the following sentences in the previous verse, “...in a deep sea. It is covered by waves, above which are waves, above which are clouds....,” that the deep waters of seas and oceans are covered by waves, and above these waves are other waves. It is clear that the second set of waves are the surface waves that we see, because the verse mentions that above the second waves there are clouds. But what about the first waves? Scientists have recently discovered that there are internal waves which “occur on density interfaces between layers of different densities.” .
The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. Internal waves act like surface waves. They can also break, just like surface waves. Internal waves cannot be seen by the human eye, but they can be detected by studying temperature or salinity changes at a given location.
 Davis, Principles of Oceanography, pp. 92-93.
 Ibid p.93.
 Gross, Oceanography, p. 242.
 Gross, Oceanography, p. 205.
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