88- When you look at the mountains, you think that they
are standing still. But they are moving like clouds. Such is
the artistry of God, who disposes of all things in perfect
order. He is indeed fully aware of what you do.
27-The Ant, 88
The mountains’ features seem to make them the most stationary components of the earth’s surface. The idea of the unattainability of
mountains led certain primitive mentalities to believe in polytheism
and fancy that the mountains were the abode of divinities.
The idea of mountain peaks being beyond man’s reach was an illusion, as was also their stationary aspect. The verse refers to this illusion and speaks of the motion of mountains like clouds. If the mountains that had a stationary aspect did move, it would follow that the
earth itself also moved. The verse thus dismisses the idea of a fixed
world entertained as a consequence of false perception, and informed
the public of the time of the movement of mountains, likening them
In the verse it is stated that men
believe that the mountains are stationary, but this is an illusion. It is
impossible to deduce from the mountains in motion that this is to
take place at the end of the world.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE EARTH
Abdul Aziz Bin Baz from Saudi Arabia. As late as the 1970s, he
claimed that the earth did not move and that anyone who asserted the
contrary was considered to have committed a blasphemy. The Saudi
Sheikh spoke as follows: “Anyone who thinks otherwise would be considered to have gone astray and be called on to repent. If he does repent, so
much the better, if not, he will be declared to have uttered a blasphemy
and be put to death, his estate being forfeited by the treasury of the
Muslim State. If the earth rotated as they asserted, lands, mountains,
trees, rivers and seas would turn into an absolute chaos. The Western
lands would have changed directions and shifted to the East. And the
Eastern lands would shift to the West changing the direction of the K›bla
(Mecca), henceforth impossible to determine. As none of these happenings
are observed, the assertion that the world is in motion is a false statement
for many reasons.”
We see that the opinions entertained about the stationary character of the earth were so firm that bigoted theologians disregarding the
revelations of the Quran could utter that anyone who thought that
the earth moved had to be subjected to capital punishment in the
twentieth century! The Quran is full of miraculous revelations, but
there is no end to the lies concocted in the name of religion. The people who took as their guide such concoctions and merely read the
Quran as a textbook without understanding its meaning have done
the greatest harm to religion. One must understand the reliability of
the Quran and avoid all superstitions.
Though historically it is a rare and anecdotal reaction and not shared
by many Muslim scholars, I mentioned the bigoted reaction of a
scholar who railed against the idea of a rotating earth. The case of
Galileo, however, is known all over the world. Galileo was an Italian
astronomer and physicist, one of the founders of modern science; he
believed that the universe was created by God. His empirical and observational scientific approach enabled him to be a pioneer in many
fields of science. His ordeal is well known. His postulation that the
earth rotated caused him to undergo terrible and painful experiences.
The Church had adopted the views of Aristotle and Ptolemy on the
universe and the world. This conception posited that the earth
remained fixed while the sun revolved around the moon. The Church
adopted this earth-centered view as its official credo. The Church
propounded all its views as the reflection of God’s will; to oppose
them was tantamount to taking a stand against God. We witness once
more that one of the main sources of commentaries trying to show
that religion and science are mutually exclusive were ignorant dogmatic bigots and the religious establishments under their domination.
So has been the case with Islam.
Once man ceases to mix his own ideas with God’s, the problem
will be solved. Otherwise, man will continue committing the sin of
mixing his views with God’s revelations. Galileo Galilei, like
Copernicus and Kepler, argued that the earth moved and the sun
stood in the center. According to their contention, the earth had no
central position. The Church was not as tolerant as it had been in the
case of Copernicus and Kepler. Galileo’s adoption of the Copernican
system was refuted by the Church, and under threat of torture from
the Inquisition, he was forced to publicly recant his heretical views.
This was not the end of the ordeal; he still had to face material and
spiritual tortures. He was forced to spend the last eight years of his
life under house arrest. The story of the Church and Galilei illustrates
best the quarrel between “religion” and science. But the fact remains
that the original religion as such was not to blame, but the so-called
representatives of fabricated religion were. The Quran warns us
against those people who will show up and present themselves as
spokesmen of God’s religion as well as against the ignominies perpetrated for material gains.
34- O believers, many rabbis and priests devour the substance of men and hinder them from the way of God.
We must beware of the class of the unenlightened and opportunistic who call themselves representatives of religion. True enlightenment is possible only by guiding ourselves by the precepts of the Quran. To adopt the Quran as our guide is the remedy against superstitions and the sine qua non of coming face to face with the truth.
MOUNTAINS IN MOTION
The verse we are studying in this chapter may have another sign, as
well. The terrestrial crust moves as if floating on the mantle, which is
denser. This was the reason why the continents, once a whole, were
severed from each other. The ideas posited by German meteorologist
and geologist Alfred Wegener in an article published in 1915 made
him the first serious proponent of the theory of the continental drift.
His theory was not espoused by most geologists of his time. It is,
however, accepted now as correct in principle. The continental drift is
the concept of continent formation by the fragmentation and movement of masses of land on the surface of the earth. The seas and lands
are in collision with each other like floating rafts on a lake, sometime
overlapping each other. Their speeds vary between 3cm and 15cm per
year. Thus, the mountains, that appear stationary to us, are in fact in
motion along with the earth, as well as with the continent of which
they form a part.
The world we inhabit rotates around its axis and revolves about the
sun in its rapid course in space along with the solar system; in addition, we must take into account the world’s movement in relation to
the moon. We shall include also the gravitational force of other planets. Unconscious of all these phenomena, we sleep tightly, enjoy our
meals with relish, and take pleasure in reading and doing sports. A car
is considered super when it does not let us feel we are riding in it. Our
world travels at an immense speed and follows extremely complex
courses unpiloted, without our being consciously affected by them.
The verse we analyzed at the beginning of this chapter is an evidence
of the incontestable perfection of God’s design.