1- When the earth is severely quaked.
2- And the earth throws out its heavy burdens.
3- And man enquires, “What has come over it?”
4- On that day, it will tell its information.
99-The Earthquake, 1-4
The Arabic word “zilzal” means “earthquake.” The above verses are
quoted from the sura The Earthquake. These verses are believed to
refer justifiably to the earthquake expected to occur in the end of the
world; however, we should take due notice of its wider sense, depicting earthquakes in general. The fourth verse announces that men will
be informed on that day. A terrible disaster like an earthquake associates in one’s mind destruction in the first place causing material damage and bodily injury, leading to a general terror and panic. This
announcement must have astounded the public.
To establish a link between earthquakes and knowledge of certain
facts seemed inconceivable to people up until the last century. Today
we have a great many data in our possession regarding the ground
beneath our feet, thanks to earthquakes. The shortest radius we could
draw from where we might be to the center of the earth is longer than
6000 km, a distance we can never cover. Yes, an earthquake provides
information about that portion of the earth inaccessible to us.
(During the earthquake to take place at the end of the world, it is possible that men will be further enlightened on subjects beyond His prediction. We certainly do not assert that the verse’s meaning is limited
to our interpretation.)
BURDENS OF THE EARTH
The second verse of the sura Earthquake is interesting in that it refers
to the burdens of the earth. Years have gone by and men have failed
to understand what those burdens might be. The widely accepted
interpretation was that the sura referred to the earthquake that was
going to take place at the end of the world when the dead would be
resurrected and treasures hidden underground would rise to the surface. No one could have guessed that the ground beneath was formed
of dense and heavy matter that would rise to the surface. References
to earthquakes in the Quran contribute to our better appreciation of
them. Let us not forget that people believed at the time that the earth
rested on the horns of an ox or on a fish whose tail, when it moved,
produced earthquakes (The commentary of Ibn Kethir is an example).
The fact that the Quran made no reference to such false beliefs is
another indication of its miraculous character.
The more we know about the contents of the Quran and about the
universe, the more we appreciate God’s artistry and the perfection of
9- Say: “Are those who know equal to those who do not
know? Only men of understanding take heed.”
39-The Throngs, 9