ORBITS AND THE ROTATING UNIVERSE
One of the most important reasons for the great equilibrium in the universe is the fact that celestial bodies follow specific paths. Stars, planets and satellites all rotate around their own axes and also rotate together with the system of which they are a part. The universe functions within a finely-tuned order, just like the wheels in a factory.
There are more than 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe and each small galaxy contains approximately a billion stars. Furthermore, each big galaxy contains more than a trillion. 16 Many of these stars have planets and many of those planets have satellites. All these celestial bodies follow the most finely calculated paths and orbits. For millions of years, each one has been moving in its own path in flawless harmony with all the others. In addition to these, there are also a great many comets moving along in their own pre-determined paths.
In addition, the paths in the universe are not restricted to a few celestial bodies. The Solar System and even other galaxies also exhibit considerable motion around other centres. Every year, Earth, and the Solar System with it, move some 500 million km from where they were the previous year. It has been calculated that even the slightest deviation from celestial bodies' paths could have drastic consequences which might spell the end of the entire system. For example, the consequences of the earth's deviating from its course by a mere 3 mm have been described in one source as follows:
While rotating around the sun, the earth follows such an orbit that, every 18 miles, it only deviates 2.8 millimetres from a direct course. The orbit followed by the earth never changes, because even a deviation of 3 millimetres would cause catastrophic disasters: If the deviation were 2.5 mm instead of 2.8 mm, then the orbit would be very large, and all of us would freeze. If the deviation were 3.1 mm, we would be scorched to death.
Another characteristic of heavenly bodies is that they also rotate around their own axes. The verse which reads "[I swear] by Heaven with its cyclical systems," (Qur'an, 86:11) indicates this truth. Naturally, at the time when the Qur'an was revealed, people had no telescopes with which to study bodies millions of kilometres away in space, advanced observation technology or our modern knowledge of physics and astronomy. It was therefore impossible to establish that space had "its oscillating orbits," (Qur'an, 51:7) as described in the verse. The Qur'an however, revealed at that time, provided clear information concerning that fact. This is proof that this book is indeed Allah's Word
THE SUN'S TRAJECTORY
Like many other comets in the universe, Halley's comet, seen above, also moves in a planned orbit. It has a specific orbit and it moves in this orbit in a perfect harmony with other celestial bodies.
All celestial bodies—including planets, satellites of these planets, stars and even galaxies—have their own orbits that have been determined with very delicate computations. The One Who established this perfect order and maintains it is Allah, Who created the entire universe.
It is stressed in the Qur'an that the Sun and Moon follow specific trajectories:
It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Qur'an, 21:33)
The word "swim" in the above verse is expressed in Arabic by the word "sabaha" and is used to describe the movement of the Sun in space. The word means that the Sun does not move randomly through space but that it rotates around its axis and follows a course as it does so. The fact that the Sun is not fixed in position but rather follows a specific trajectory is also stated in another verse:
And the sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. (Qur'an, 36:38)
These facts set out in the Qur'an were only discovered by means of astronomical advances in our own time. According to astronomers' calculations, the Sun moves along a path known as the Solar Apex in the path of the star Vega at an incredible speed of 720,000 kmph. In rough terms, this shows that the Sun traverses some 17.28 million km a day. As well as the Sun itself, all the planets and satellites within its gravitational field also travel the same distance.
THE MOON'S ORBIT
And We have decreed set phases for the moon, until it ends up looking like an old date branch. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon nor for the night to outstrip the day; each one is swimming in a sphere. (Qur'an, 36:39-40)
The Moon does not follow a regular orbit like the satellites of other planets. As it orbits the Earth, it sometimes moves behind it and sometimes in front. As it also moves with the Earth around the Sun, it actually follows a constant pattern resembling the letter "S" in space. This route, traced by the Moon in space, is described in the Qur'an as resembling an old date branch and does indeed resemble the twisted form of the date tree branch. Indeed, the word "urjoon" employed in the Qur'an refers to a thin and twisted date branch and is used to describe that part left after the fruit has been picked. The way that this branch is described as "old" is also most appropriate since old date branches are thinner and more twisted.
Since the Moon revolves around the Sun together with the Earth, it follows a path through space which resembles the letter “S.” The appearance of this orbit resembles the twisted shape of a dry date branch, as is revealed in the Qur’an.
There is no doubt that it was impossible for anyone to have any knowledge about the orbit of the Moon 1,400 years ago. The way that this pattern, identified by modern technology and accumulated knowledge, was revealed in the Holy Book is yet another scientific miracle of the Qur'an.
CALCULATING THE LUNAR YEAR
It is He Who appointed the sun to give radiance, and the moon to give light, assigning it phases so you would know the number of years and the reckoning of time. Allah did not create these things except with truth. We make the Signs clear for people who know. (Qur'an, 10:5)
And We have decreed set phases for the moon, until it ends up looking like an old date branch. (Qur'an, 36:39)
In the first of the above verses, Allah has clearly revealed that the Moon will be a means of measurement for people to calculate the year. Furthermore, our attention is also drawn to the fact that these calculations will be performed according to the positions of the Moon as it revolves in its orbit. Since the angles between the Earth and Moon and the Moon and Sun constantly change, we see the Moon in different forms at different times. Furthermore, our ability to see the Moon is made possible by the fact that it is illuminated by the Sun. The amount of the lighted half of the Moon we see from Earth changes. Bearing in mind these changes, a number of calculations can be made, making it possible for human beings to measure the year.
In former times a month was calculated as the time between two full moons, or the time it took the Moon to travel around the Earth. According to this, one month was equal to 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes. This is known as the "lunar month." Twelve lunar months represent one year, according to the Hijri calendar. However, there is a difference of eleven days between the Hijri calendar and the Gregorian calendar, in which a year is the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun. Indeed, attention is drawn to this difference in another verse:
They stayed in their Cave for three hundred years and added nine. (Qur'an, 18:25)
We can clarify the time referred to in the verse thus: 300 years x 11 days (the difference which forms every year) = 3,300 days. Bearing in mind that one solar year lasts 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.5 seconds, 3,300 days/365.24 days = 9 years. To put it another way, 300 years according to the Gregorian calendar is equal to 300+9 years according to the Hijri calendar. As we can see, the verse refers to this finely calculated difference of 9 years. (Allah knows best.) There is no doubt that the Qur'an, which contains such pieces of information, which transcended the everyday knowledge of the time, is a miraculous revelation.
THE FORCE OF GRAVITY AND ORBITAL MOVEMENTS
No! I swear by the planets-that recede, that ride their course [and] hide themselves. (Qur'an, 81: 15-16)
The word "khunnas" in Surat at-Takwir 15 bears such meanings as shrinking and cowering, retracting and turning back. The Arabic expression translated as "hide themselves" in the 16th verse is "kunnas." The word "kunnas" is the plural form of "kanis" and refers to a specific path: entering a nest, the home of a body in motion or things entering their homes and hiding there. Again in verse 16, the word "aljawari," the plural form of the word "jariya" which means one that moves and flows, is translated as "that ride their course." Bearing in mind the meaning of these words, it is very possible that these verses refer to the gravitational forces of the planets and their movements around their orbits.
These words in the above verses fully describe orbital movements stemming from the force of gravity. Of these, the word "khunnas" refers to the planets' attraction towards their own centres and also their attraction towards the Sun, which is the centre of our Solar System. (Allah knows best.) The force of gravity already existed in the universe-although it was only possible to reveal this attractive force with mathematical formulae with Sir Isaac Newton, who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. The word "aljawari" in the following verse emphasises the orbital movements that arise as a result of the centrifugal force that opposes this attractive one. There is no doubt that the use of the word "aljawari" together with "khunnas" (attraction towards the centre, shrinkage) and "kunnas" (path, entering the nest, the home of a body in motion) indicates an important scientific truth that nobody could have known about 1,400 years ago. (Allah knows best.) Moreover, these verses, one of the subjects sworn on in the Qur'an, are another indication of the importance of the subject.
THE ROUNDNESS OF THE EARTH
He has created the Heavens and the Earth for Truth. He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night.
In the Qur'an, the words used for describing the universe are quite remarkable. The Arabic word which is translated as "to wrap" in the above verse is "takwir." In English, it means "to make one thing lap over another, folded up as a garment that is laid away." For instance, in Arabic dictionaries this word is used for the action of wrapping one thing around another, in the way that a turban is put on. The information given in the verse about the day and the night wrapping each other up includes accurate information about the shape of the world. This can be true only if the Earth is round. This means that in the Qur'an, which was revealed in the 7th century, the roundness of the world was hinted at.
However, it should be remembered that the understanding of astronomy of the time perceived the world differently. It was then thought that the world was a flat plane and all scientific calculations and explanations were based on this belief. However, the Glorious Qur'an has employed the most definitive words when it came to describing the universe. These facts, which we could only correctly fathom in our century, have been in the Qur'an for a vast length of time.
THE EARTH'S DIRECTION OF ROTATION
You will see the mountains and reckon them to be solid; but they go past like clouds-the handiwork of Allah Who gives to everything its solidity. He is aware of what you do. (Qur'an, 27:88)
The above verse emphasises that the Earth not only rotates but that it also has a direction of rotation. The direction of movement of the main cloud masses at 3,500-4,000 metres high is always from West to East. That is why it is generally the state of the weather in the West which is looked at in meteorological forecasts.
The main reason why cloud masses are pulled from West to East is the direction in which the Earth rotates. As we now know, our Earth spins from West to East. This scientific fact, only recently established by science, was revealed 1,400 years ago in the Qur’an, at a time when the Earth was believed to be flat, and to be resting on the back of an ox.
THE EARTH'S GEOID SHAPE
After that He smoothed out the earth. (Qur'an, 79:30)
In the above verse, the word "daha" is used in the original Arabic. It, translated as "smoothed out," comes from the word "dahv," meaning "to spread." Although the word "dahv" also means to cover or to set out, the meaning of the verb is more than just a prosaic setting out, since it describes setting out in a circle.
The concept of roundness is also present in other words derived from "dahv." For example, the word "dahv" also refers to children dropping a ball into a hole in the ground, games involving throwing stones into holes and games played with walnuts. Words derived from that root are also used for an ostrich making a nest, cleaning stones from where it is about to lie down, the place where it lays its eggs and the egg itself.
Indeed, the Earth is round, in a manner reminiscent of an egg. The slightly flattened spherical shape of the Earth is known as geoid. From that point of view, the use of the word "daha" contains important information about the shape that Allah has given to the Earth. For hundreds of years, people imagined the Earth to be completely flat and only learned the truth thanks to technology. Yet, this fact was revealed in the Qur'an fourteen centuries ago.
THE DIAMETERS OF THE EARTH AND SPACE
Company of jinn and men, if you are able to pierce through the confines of the heavens and earth, pierce through them. You will not pierce through except with a clear authority. (Qur'an, 55:33)
The Arabic word translated as "confines" in the above verse is "aqtar." This is the plural form of the word "qutr," meaning diameter and refers to the skies and the Earth having many diameters. It is possible in Arabic to tell from the form in which a word is used whether it is singular, plural (more than two), or employed in a dual form. Therefore, the form of the word used here, the plural, refers to another piece of miraculous information.
A three-dimensional body can only be said to have a single diameter if it is perfectly spherical. The term "diameters" can only refer to an irregular but basically spherical shape. This word chosen in the Qur'an-diameters-is important from the point of view of indicating the geoid shape of the Earth. The second noteworthy subject in the verse is that the Earth and the heavens are mentioned separately in reference to diameters.
According to Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the universe is expanding. But this does not mean that the galaxies and other heavenly bodies are being dispersed in space. This means that space is expanding and that the distance between the galaxies is increasing.
The definition of the "confines of the heavens" in Surat ar-Rahman 33 indicates the spherical structure of space. (Allah knows best.) In the same way that the diameters of space will be different from different points in space, so the diameters of a constantly expanding space will also display differences. From that point of view the use of the plural form of the word confine is full of wisdom, and is one of the indications that the Qur'an is the revelation of our Omniscient Lord.
THE LAYERS OF THE ATMOSPHERE
One fact about the universe revealed in the verses of the Qur'an is that the sky is made up of seven layers:
It is He Who created everything on the earth for you and then directed His attention up to heaven and arranged it into seven regular heavens. He has knowledge of all things. (Qur'an, 2:29)
Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke. In two days He determined them as seven heavens and revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate. (Qur'an, 41:11-12)
The word "heavens," which appears in many verses in the Qur'an, is used to refer to the sky above the Earth, as well as the entire universe. Given this meaning of the word, it is seen that the Earth's sky, or the atmosphere, is made up of seven layers.
Today, it is known that the world's atmosphere consists of different layers that lie on top of each other.19 Based on the criteria of chemical contents or air temperature, the definitions made have determined the atmosphere of the earth as seven layers.20 According to the "Limited Fine Mesh Model (LFMMII)," a model of atmosphere used to estimate weather conditions for 48 hours, the atmosphere is also 7 layers. According to the modern geological definitions the seven layers of atmosphere are as follows:
The Qur'an says, "[He] revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate," in Surah Fussilat 12. In other words, Allah is stating that He assigned each heaven its own duty. Truly, as will be seen in following chapters, each one of these layers has vital duties for the benefit of human kind and all other living things on the Earth. Each layer has a particular function, ranging from forming rain to preventing harmful rays, from reflecting radio waves to averting the harmful effects of meteors.
The verses below inform us about the appearance of the seven layers of the atmosphere:
Do you not see how He created seven heavens in layers? (Qur'an, 71:15)
He Who created the seven heavens in layers… (Qur'an, 67:3)
The Arabic word "tibaqan" in these verses, translated into English as "layer" means "layer, the appropriate cover or covering for something," and thus stresses how the top layer is well suited to the lower. The word is also used in the plural here: "layers." The sky, described in the verse as being in layers, is without doubt the most perfect expression of the atmosphere. It is a great miracle that these facts, which could not possibly be discovered without the technology of the 20th century, were explicitly stated by the Qur'an 1,400 years ago.
THE PROTECTED ROOF
In the Qur'an, Allah calls our attention to a very important attribute of the sky:
We made the sky a preserved and protected roof yet still they turn away from Our Signs. (Qur'an, 21:32)
This attribute of the sky has been proved by scientific research carried out in the 20th century: The atmosphere surrounding the Earth serves crucial functions for the continuity of life. While destroying many meteors-big and small-as they approach the Earth, it prevents them from falling to Earth and harming living things.
In addition, the atmosphere filters the light rays coming from space that are harmful to living things. The most striking feature of the atmosphere is that it lets only harmless and useful rays-visible light, near ultraviolet light and radio waves pass through. All of this radiation is vital for life. Near ultraviolet rays, which are only partially let in by the atmosphere, are very important for the photosynthesis of plants and for the survival of all living beings. The majority of the intense ultraviolet rays emitted from the Sun are filtered out by the ozone layer of the atmosphere. Only a limited and essential part of the ultraviolet spectrum reaches the Earth.
The protective function of the atmosphere does not end here. The atmosphere also protects the earth from the freezing cold of the space, which is approximately -270oC.
It is not only the atmosphere that protects the Earth from harmful effects. In addition to the atmosphere, the Van Allen Belt-the layer caused by the magnetic field of the Earth-also serves as a shield against the harmful radiation that threatens our planet. This radiation, which is constantly emitted by the Sun and other stars, is deadly to living things. If the Van Allen belt did not exist, the massive outbursts of energy called solar flares that frequently occur in the Sun would destroy all life on Earth.
The magnetosphere layer, formed by the magnetic field of the Earth, serves as a shield protecting the Earth from celestial bodies, harmful cosmic rays and particles. In the above picture, this magnetosphere layer, which is also named Van Allen Belts, is seen. These belts at thousands of kilometres above the Earth protect the living things on the Earth from the fatal energy that would otherwise reach it from space.
All these scientific findings prove that the world is protected in a very particular way. The important thing is that this protection was made known in the Qur'an in the verse "We made the sky a preserved and protected roof" fourteen centuries ago.
On the importance of the Van Allen Belt, Dr. Hugh Ross says:
In fact, the Earth has the highest density of any of the planets in our Solar System. This large nickel-iron core is responsible for our large magnetic field. This magnetic field produces the Van-Allen radiation shield, which protects the Earth from radiation bombardment. If this shield were not present, life would not be possible on the Earth. The only other rocky planet to have any magnetic field is Mercury-but its field strength is 100 times less than the Earth's. Even Venus, our sister planet, has no magnetic field. The Van-Allen radiation shield is a design unique to the Earth.21
The energy transmitted in just one of these bursts detected in recent years was calculated to be equivalent to 100 billion atomic bombs, each akin to one dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. Fifty-eight hours after the burst, it was observed that the magnetic needles of compasses displayed unusual movement and 250 kilometres above the Earth's atmosphere, the temperature suddenly increased to 2,500oC.
In short, a perfect system is at work high above the Earth. It surrounds our world and protects it against external threats. Centuries ago, Allah informed us in the Qur'an of the world's atmosphere functioning as a protective shield.
Most people looking at the sky do not think about the protective aspect of the atmosphere. They almost never think what kind of a place the world would be like if this structure did not exist. The above photo belongs to a giant crater caused by a meteor that fell in Arizona, in the USA. If the atmosphere did not exist, millions of meteoroids would fall to the Earth and the Earth would become an inhabitable place. Yet, the protective aspect of the atmosphere allows living things to survive in safety. This is certainly Allah's protection of people and a miracle proclaimed in the Qur'an.
to be continue........