In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Life on Earth

The theories that account for the formation of the planets have changed radically. Today most astronomers believe that the Earth and the other planets originally formed out of a nebula that surrounded the Sun. This is thought to have occurred five billion years ago. Studies of radioactive material on earth show that it could not be much older than this, for if it were, that material would have all decayed and turned into lead by now. This estimation of the age of the earth is also confirmed by studies of the ages of rocks on earth. The oldest rocks, at Isua in Greenland and on the river Limpogo in South Africa, were formed at least 3.8 billion years ago. (New views on an old planet, Tjeerd H. Van Andel.)

This theory is known as the 'Modern Nebular Hypothesis' after the modification of the old 'Nebular Hypothesis'. But since the nebula consisted primarily of hydrogen and helium, this hypothesis does not seem to offer a satisfactory explanation as to how the heavier elements have formed on earth and also on the other rocky inner planets (Mercury, Venus and Mars). Certainly the outer gaseous planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus) are very similar in composition to the sun. The major proportion of their mass, like the sun, consists of hydrogen and helium and thus their formation is in line with the 'Nebular Hypothesis'. It is the presence of the heavier elements on the rocky planets that is still not satisfactorily explained.

The Quran presents a truly remarkable piece of information concerning the formation of these heavier elements. This information seems to account for the puzzle that remained unsolved by the 'Nebular Hypothesis'

In the Quran it is stated that iron was introduced on earth at a later stage than when the earth was initially formed.

[57:25] …….and We have sent down iron, in it is great strength.

The words "sent down" clearly indicate the prior existence of the earth . This startling information confirms the 'Nebular Hypothesis' and solves it's remaining puzzle. The remarkable fact here is that the Quran not only is an agreement with a modern theory, but that the modern theory itself depends on the Quran for it's validity !

The formation of the heavy elements poses further intriguing questions. The atoms of these elements, like other elements, are comprised of a nucleus orbited by a number of electrons. The nucleus contains a number of protons, which are positively charged, and a number of neutrons which are neutral. But since like charges repel each other while opposites attract, we might expect the nucleus to split apart, with every proton trying to get away from every other proton. What is it then that holds them together ? Gravity, due to the mass of the protons and neutrons, is certainly insufficient. It is believed that there is a strong binding force, a thousand times a million multiplied by itself six times, stronger than gravity. In numerical terms it is 10 followed by 39 zeros ! This binding force gets larger the heavier the element is to the extent that it is believed that the binding force inside the atoms of iron is larger than the free energy available in the solar system! Again this seems to suggest that these heavier elements could not have been formed in the solar system, and thus is in line with the information contained in the Quran.

These sub-atomic particles are also mentioned in the Quran:

[34:3]...Not even the equivalent of an atom's weight is hidden from Him, be it in the heavens or the earth. Not even smaller than that, or larger (is hidden). All are in a profound record."

This Quranic verse clearly indicates that the atom is not the smallest form of substance but that there are particles smaller than the atom. This might seem common knowledge today but was not so in the 7th century.

The 'Modern Nebular Hypothesis' like previous theories, has also faced difficulties in determining how the planets received enough angular momentum, that is, sufficient energy to set them orbiting around the sun at the speeds they do. When a man-made satellite is placed into orbit a series of precise adjustments have to be executed in order to induce a balance between the acting forces (gravity, centrifugal force , distances, speed……… etc. ). This balance is essential in order to place the satellite into orbit. Without these very precise adjustments, and if the satellite is left unguided, it would either fall back to earth or be lost forever into outer space.

When we think of the orbits of the planets, the orbits of the infinite number of the stars and all the galaxies, we realise that they are all the result of immaculately precise balances. These very accurate balances are clear indications of the existence of a supreme governing power that is responsible for creating as well as sustaining the universe. The Quran speaks of these fine balances:

[55:7] He constructed the sky and established the law.

The earth, having been formed, was ordained to very precise specifications; those necessary for the development and support of life on earth. The following are examples:

  1. If the size of the earth was somewhat less than it's present size, say the size of the moon, it's gravity would have been much weaker. This would result in the failure of the earth to retain it's atmosphere or water vapour, and thus no life would have been possible. If the size of the earth, on the other hand was larger than it's present size, say the size of Saturn or Jupiter, the gravity would have been too strong. This would cause the atmosphere to be compressed to much lower heights resulting in much higher air pressure. This would also abolish life on earth.
  2. If the sun was closer to the earth (present distance being 93 million miles) the temperature on earth would rise sharply causing the evaporation of oceans and rivers and the extermination of all life. If the sun was much further away the earth would freeze to death.
  3. If the moon was closer to the earth, the tides would rise causing gigantic waves that would destroy life on islands and coastal areas. If the moon was further away from the earth the tides would come to a standstill leading to the stagnation of seas , the result of which would be grave damage to marine life. These very precise measurements of such variables as distance, mass, speed………..etc. are referred to in the following verse:
  4. [55:5] The sun and the moon are perfectly calculated.

  5. The earth spins on it's axis once every 24 hours. If it didn't spin, the oceans would empty all their waters and if it spun much faster it would disperse into empty space.

    The spinning movement is also responsible for the night and day, without which one half of the earth would be under continuous sunlight and heat up excessively while the other half would be submerged in total darkness and freeze to death.

    The Spinning of the earth is also mentioned in the Quran:

    [39:5] He created the heavens and the earth truthfully. He rolls the night over the day, and rolls the day over the night....

    The use of the word "coils" was once thought to be a purely poetic one, but today's astronomical knowledge confirms that the word "coils" is scientificallly very accurate in describing the spinning movement of the earth.

  6. Today we know that the Earth is oval shaped, bulging at the equator. Thirteen centuries ago it was thought that the earth was flat. It was not known then that the earth was round, let alone oval.

    The Quran again states that the earth is oval:

    [79:30] He made the earth egg-shaped.*

    The word "deheya" in Arabic means an egg, hence the oval shape. But the verse also includes a further remarkably accurate scientific fact. The words 'after that' clearly indicate that the earth acquired the oval shape at a later stage to it's formation. Modern science will testify that the bulging of the earth at the equator is a result of the continuous spinning of the earth on it's axis, and thus had to occur sometime after the formation of the earth. The earth spins on it's axis at a speed of one thousand kilometres per hour.

  7. The earth rotates round the sun once every 365.25 days. Whilst doing so it is tilted on it's axis at an angle of 33 degrees. As a result , the seasons occur making it possible for the habitation of the planet. If the earth was not tilted on its axis the poles would have been submerged in continuous cold darkness preventing the seasonal thaw of the polar ice. The accumulating ice would eventually result in non shifting frozen poles and little water elsewhere.

    The rotation of the earth around the sun was not known in the 7th century. At that time it was still thought of the earth as a non moving planet at the centre of the universe. Due to the apparent movement of the sun, moon and stars in the sky, it was thought that they are moving around the earth.

    The movement of the earth in space is confirmed in the following verse:

    [27:88] When you look at the mountains, you think that they are standing still. But they are moving, like the clouds. Such is the manufacture of GOD, who perfected everything. He is fully Cognizant of everything you do.

    Since the earth is moving in space thus everthing on earth is moving with it, including the mountains.

  8. If the earth's crust had been thicker than it's present thickness all the oxygen would have been absorbed into the earth. Without oxygen no life would be possible. Similarly, if the oceans were much deeper, all the oxygen and carbon dioxide would have been absorbed into the oceans with similar results.

All these precise specifications were referred to in the following verse:

[6:73] He is the One who created the heavens and the earth, truthfully. Whenever He says, "Be," it is. His word is the absolute truth. All sovereignty belongs to Him the day the horn is blown. Knower of all secrets and declarations, He is the Most Wise, the Cognizant.


The Earth's atmosphere, so vital to life on the planet, extends one thousand kilometres into space. The following are some of its numerous functions :

  1. The atmosphere acts as a protective shield that absorbs and disperses the continuous shower of meteors that fall into the Earth's gravitational field. If the atmosphere was thinner than it's present thickness these meteors would find their way to the surface of the earth causing fires and widespread damage. The Quran asserts this function:

    [21:32] And we rendered the sky a guarded ceiling. Yet, they are totally oblivious to all the portents therein.

    The words "Samaa" and "Samawaat" are used in the Quran in different meanings. The word "Samawaat" (skies), which is the plural of "Samaa" (sky) is always used to denote the heavens or the universe as a whole. The word "Samaa" is usually used to denote our immediate sky or the earth's atmosphere.

    As an example of the two uses, we read:

    1. "God created the 'samawat' (heavens) and the earth, truthfully. This provides a sufficient proof for the believers." 29:44

      Here the word "samawat" (plural) means heavens or universes.

    2. "He (God) sends down from the 'samaa' (sky) water for your drink, and to grow trees for your benefit." 16:10

      Here the word "samaa" (singular) is used to mean our immediate sky.

  2. The atmosphere contains the gases necessary for sustaining the life of all animals and plants, namely oxygen and carbon dioxide.

    Another scientific knowledge that was referred to in the Quran centuries before man's actual discovery of it relates to the composition of the atmosphere. It is now known that the higher we ascend in the sky the less air we would find, and thus the less oxygen so vital for respiration. A person flying at great heights in aircraft or air balloon would feel a sharp contraction of the lungs causing pain.

    [6:125] Whomever GOD wills to guide, He renders his chest wide open to Submission. And whomever He wills to send astray, He renders his chest intolerant and straitened, like one who climbs towards the sky.* GOD thus places a curse upon those who refuse to believe.

    At the time of the revelation of the Quran in the 7th century, no one would have known that ascending in the sky would cause constriction and pain in the chest, simply because it was way before the age of air flight (ascending in the sky).

  3. The atmosphere acts as an air-conditioner that helps regulate the temperature on the surface of the earth so as to remain within the levels necessary to sustain life.
  4. The atmosphere acts as a medium for the movement of clouds to supply rain to all the corners of the globe and maintain all types of vegetation.

    [24:43] Do you not realize that GOD drives the clouds, then gathers them together, then piles them on each other, then you see the rain coming out of them? He sends down from the sky loads of snow to cover whomever He wills, while diverting it from whomever He wills. The brightness of the snow almost blinds the eyes.

    [35:9] GOD is the One who sends the winds to stir up clouds, then we drive them towards barren lands, and revive such lands after they were dead. Thus is the resurrection.

  5. The atmosphere acts as a medium in which sound can travel. Without the atmosphere we would not hear any sounds. That is because sound, unlike light, does not travel through vacuum.
  6. Without the atmosphere there would be no air pressure. Without air pressure blood would explode out of our bodies.
  7. The earth's atmosphere acts as a high altitude mirror that returns what is useful back to the surface of the earth like:
    1. The intra-red radiation is reflected back which provides global warmth.

    2. Water vapour which rises and forms clouds is returned as useful rain.

    3. Tele-communication waves (Radio, T.V., …etc) are reflected back making it possible for someone , say in London, to receive signals transmitted in Tokyo. The Quran asserts this function of the atmosphere: "and the sky that returns"

  8. The atmosphere contains the Ozone layer which is so vital to our existence.

The Ozone Layer

The sun, like any other star, radiates at a wide range of wavelengths. The visible waves, which we call sunlight, are only a portion of that radiation, and that light lies between the ultra-violet and the infra-red rays. The sun also radiates at wave lengths longer than what the human eye can see and that is in the infra-red and the radio wave regions, and also in wavelengths shorter than we can see in the ultra-violet, X-ray and Gamma Ray regions.

These short waves ( X-ray and Gamma rays ) are completely blocked off in the upper layers of the earth's atmosphere. While most of the ultra-violet rays are absorbed in the ozone layer. Only a small amount of ultra-violet rays can penetrate, and these are the rays that cause us sunburn, and in excess, are said to cause skin cancer.

The ozone layer ( ozone is a form of oxygen ) lies at about 50 kilometres above the earth's surface and works as a natural shield to protect us from harmful sun rays.

The detailed composition of the earth's atmosphere and the discovery of the ozone layer took place many centuries after the Quran was revealed, nevertheless, there is mention in the Quran about this protective layer that shields us against the sun's harmful rays:

[18:90] When he reached the far east, he found the sun rising on people who had nothing to shelter them from it.

Five implications are drawn from this verse:

  1. The word "shield" implies that there is something harmful from the sun, because if there was no harm to come from the sun, there would be no need for a shield.
  2. In earlier interpretations of the Quarn the word "shield" was taken to mean mountains or hills, but mountains and hills do not shield us from the sun's rays ultra violet rays unless we live all our lives inside one!
  3. The phrasing of the verse indicates that the people mentioned as having no shield are in fact the exception and that for the rest of mankind there exists a shield.
  4. The words "We had provided no shield" indicate that the shield is a natural one ( of God's making ) and not a man-made one. This automatically eliminates the suggestion of houses and other man-made shelters.
  5. The verse indicates the presence of a people, and thus areas, that are not shielded. This is in line with the current knowledge concerning the existence of holes in the ozone layer. It is generally thought that these holes have always existed. The matter has suddenly acquired an alarming nature because the size of these holes are greatly being enlarged as a result of man's pollution of the planet.

The only phenomenon that is able to accommodate all these five implications is the ozone layer.

If we trace the early stages of the development of the earth we find that the contracting nebula caused the earth to be very hot in the initial stages. As it slowly began to cool the heavier elements like iron fell to the centre whilst the lighter compounds like granite and oxides surfaced at the top. The cooling continued and a thin crust formed. The layer immediately beneath the crust eventually started to solidify giving rises and depressions above it leading to the formation of mountains and valleys. When the surface cooled further, to below 100 degrees centigrade, liquid water ( which before then was still trapped inside the earth ) began to form and fill the depressions that are now the oceans and seas.

The knowledge that all the water was once trapped inside the earth and then was drawn out is mentioned in the Quran:

[79:31] From it, He produced its own water and pasture.

An interesting geographical fact, relating to high and low land on earth, is mentioned in the following verse

[30:2-3] Certainly, the Romans will be defeated. In the nearest land. After their defeat, they will rise again and win.

It is now known that the area near the Dead Sea, which was the scene of these battles, is the lowest spot on earth below sea level!

The Dead sea is also referred to in the Quran in a different context and that is in connection with the story of Lot.

Lot, who was a nephew of Abraham, was a believer and follower of Abraham. When Abraham left his home in Chaldoea and migrated to Syria and Palestine, Lot accepted voluntary exile to follow him. The people of Lot who were indulging in grave immorality ridiculed him saying:

[29:29] "You practice sex with the men, you commit highway robbery, and you allow all kinds of vice in your society." The only response from his people was to say, "Bring to us GOD's retribution, if you are truthful."

The Quran relates the story by indicating that God undertook to destroy the people of that town except Lot and the believers who followed him:

[29:34] We will pour upon the people of this town a disaster from the sky, as a consequence of their wickedness.
[29:35] We left standing some of their ruins, to serve as a profound lesson for people who understand.

The punishment was a rain of brimstone, which completely overwhelmed the towns, with possibly an earthquake or volcanic eruptions. Today, the whole tract on the east side of the Dead Sea where the towns were situated, is covered with sulphurus salts and is deadly to animal and plant life. The Dead Sea itself is called "Bahr Lout" in Arabic which means the Sea of Lot. It is a scene of utter desolation that stands as a permanent symbol of the destruction.

The mountains that were formed, as the earth's crust cooled, play a major role (as modern geological theories indicate). They contribute to affixing the continents in place. These continents are virtually floating on melted layers that lie beneath. In general, the thickness of the earth's crust is about five kilometres. However , the thickness directly beneath mountains extends up to thirty five kilometres. That is because beneath every mountain lies a reversed shaped mountain root below the surface. These reversed mountains do the job of pegs in affixing the land. This is very accurately stated in the Quran:

[78:6] Did we not make the earth habitable? And the mountains stabilizers?

Modern geological theory also states that the area of dry land is not stable. That is due to two factors:

  1. The shifting of the tops of landscape due to running water, winds or ice. Running rivers, for example, shift millions of tons of earth to the seas. Strong winds erode the mountain tops while the thawing of ice shifts enormous material in its path.
  2. The area of land also diminishes due to regression, that is, the submerging of coastal land under sea level.

    The diminishing size of dry land is mentioned in the Quran :

    [21:44] We have provided for these people and their ancestors, up until an old age. Do they not see that every day on earth brings them closer to the end? Can they reverse this process?

The water that condensed at the early stages of the development of the earth and formed the seas oceans mixed with the dirt to form mud. Out of the molding mud was born the simplest living organisms in the shape of bacteria and single cell organisms. From this common origin of both plants and animals was developed two types of microscopic organisms. The first type gave birth to all plants while the second type developed into animals. The first of these primitive organisms is thought to have come to exist around 2.7 billion years ago. All these organisms originated from water then gradually developed into more complex living creatures that moved to land. This fact is also started in the Quran:

[21:30] Do the unbelievers not realize that the heaven and the earth used to be one solid mass that we exploded into existence? And from water we made all living things. Would they believe?

It is indeed interesting, and along the same lines, to note that it was found that all liquid in our bodies ( blood, saliva, tears, sweat….etc ) contain the same percentage of salt as is found in the oceans.

From the early organisms that moved to land developed the first reptiles around 200 million years ago. The first birds flew around 130 million years ago and the first man, Homo Habilis, walked on earth one million years ago. The first Homo Sapiens, who are thought of as our direct ancestors, walked on earth a mere 15,000 years ago.

Today, when human tissue is analysed, it is found to contain exactly the same eighteen most abundant elements in the earth's crust. These are:

Oxygen, Silicon, Aluminium, Iron, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Hydrogen, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Phosphorous, Lead, Copper, Silver, Carbon and Zinc.

The Quran very accurately instates that fact with the following words:

[23:12] We created the human being from a certain kind of mud.

The fact that we are created from clay is indeed mentioned in the Scripture preceding the Quran, however, it is the word 'sulalah' which literally means (an active representative sample) that includes the biological fact that coincides with modern knowledge.