How Mountains Strengthen the Earth's Crust
The Earth's crust, the surface on which we daily walk and build our houses safely, in fact moves on a layer called the mantle which is denser than the crust. If there was not a system in place to keep this motion under control, continual shocks and quakes would occur on the Earth and the world would be a truly unlivable place. And yet, the mountains and their extensions under the ground greatly decrease underground movements, and hence such shocks.
The Earth's mountains have come about as a result of movements and clashes of huge plates which make up the planet's crust. When two of these plates collide, one usually slides under the other. The plate on top is pushed up and so forms mountains. At the same time, the plate at the bottom proceeds under the ground and forms a deep protrusion. This means that mountains have deep downward protrusions that are as large as those visible on the surface. In other words, mountains are firmly rooted in the Earth's layer called the mantle.
Therefore, mountains effectively clench the Earth's plates by stretching above and below the ground at the conjunctions of these plates. In this way, mountains prevent the crust of the Earth from sliding on the magma layer or between its own layers. In short, we may compare mountains to nails firmly holding pieces of wood together. This characteristic of the mountains, through counteracting the unstable nature of the Earth's crust, prevents shocks to a significant degree.
These magnificent-looking mountains also have other roles to play in maintaining certain balances on the Earth, especially in dispersing heat.
The temperature difference between the equator and the Earth's poles is about 100°C (212°F). If such a difference arose on the surface level, storms at blinding speeds reaching 1,000 km (621 miles) per hour would devastate the Earth. However the uneven surface of the Earth blocks strong air currents that such heat differences could cause. These mountain ranges begin with the Himalayas in China, continue with the Taurus mountain range in southern Turkey, and then again up into the Alps of Europe. The mountain ranges of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans also figure into this equation.
Like all other details on the Earth, what is manifested in the mountains is part of the endless art of Allah. Allah has created the world where we live in a perfect way. Seeing these magnificent examples, what man must acknowledge is that the most important fact of his life is his duty to serve Allah and to work for this and this alone. Because man is in need of countless blessings, whereas Allah is Rich Beyond Need.
The Balance of the Oceans
The rains, the seas, rivers, streams, the oceans, drinkable water that flows when you turn on a faucet… People are so used to the existence of water that they probably never think about the fact that a major part of the Earth's surface -indeed, most of it- is covered with water. However, what is singularly important here is that, among all known celestial bodies, only the Earth provides drinkable water.
Water is a basic condition for life, but it is entirely absent from the solar system's 63 other celestial bodies. However, fully four-fifths of the Earth's surface is covered with water. In addition to large water masses such as oceans, there are various other water sources whose sizes and attributes are different from each other, such as rivers and small lakes. Some of these waters are too salty to be drinkable, but others are fresh. There is a perfect water balance that has been arranged according to the needs of all living things on the Earth.
By virtue of water, millions of species of creatures exist on Earth, and the balances that are necessary for life are preserved. For example, clouds and rain are formed by the evaporation of large water masses. Water has a high capacity for drawing and holding heat. For this reason, the large water masses of the oceans and seas maintain the balance of the world's heat. Therefore, the temperature difference between day and night in regions near the sea is very small. This makes these regions more livable.
The existence of the oceans, a bird's-eye view of which is seen at the top of the picture on the page to the right, is highly significant. Because the oceans reflect the sun's rays less than land does, they receive more sun energy, yet they disperse this heat in a more balanced way. Therefore, the oceans cool the equatorial regions and prevent them from becoming excessively hot, and also warm the waters of the polar regions to prevent them from freezing completely.
Through the transparency of water, water mosses can photosynthesize under the surface of the ocean. Water is one of the few substances in nature that expands when frozen. It is because of this that the seas and oceans do not freeze from bottom to top.
All of the physical and chemical features of water, of which only a few have been given here, show us that this liquid has been specially created for the needs of human life. It is surely no coincidence that such water is not available on any other planet besides the Earth. The Earth, which has been specially created for human life, has blossomed with life through water, which has also been specially created. Allah, Who has created countless blessings for His servants and bestowed on them an easy mode of living, has created water with unique artistry and delicacy. As He maintains in the Qur'an, "It is He Who sends down water from the sky..." (Surat an-Nahl: 10)
The Harmony Between Water And Plants
All plants, large and small alike, from grasses to tall trees and the multitudes of flowers, can transport water and the nutrition they carry from the soil up to their farthermost leaves and branches . Yet, this transportation process is not achieved by means of systems present in the plants only. For this transportation to happen, the characteristics of water itself also need to be in harmony with the structures of the plants.
We can see this harmony by looking at the general structure of water.
It is evident that water, which is indispensable for the survival of the Earth's living things, is a substance that has been especially designed and created. One of the essential features of water is that it possesses a high "surface tension." Surface tension occurs when the molecules on a liquid's surface attract each other, thus creating a barrier between the air and the liquid. Because of this, a water container can carry an amount of water that is slightly higher than its own height without overflowing. Also, a metal needle can float on water without sinking if it is carefully put on the surface in a horizontal position.
The surface tension of water is higher than that of any other liquid, and this has far-reaching biological effects for the Earth. We will begin by examining its effect on plants.
Plants, by means of surface tension, can carry water found in the depths of the soil up to heights meters above the surface, all without having a pump or muscle system. In the realm of human-designed structures, air pressure tanks, very complicated systems indeed, are required to carry water to the upper floors of apartment houses. Plants, however, have no such system. Water reaches the farthest points of the plant purely by means of surface tension. The tubes in the plants' roots and veins are designed in such a way as to make use of the surface tension of water. Going upwards, these tubes become narrower and narrower and so enable water to "climb" upwards. If the surface tension of water were at a low level, as in most other liquids, then land plants would be utterly unable to survive. This would negatively effect all living things on the planet. However, due to the perfect creation of both water and plants, such problems never arise.
The compatibility between the high surface tension of water and the structure of plants which make use of this property indicates the perfect creation of Allah. These constitute an important piece of evidence for the fact that nature and living things came into being not by chance, but through Allah's creation.
The Design of Snowflakes
Anyone who takes a close look at snowflakes can see that they come in a variety of shapes. It is estimated that a single cubic meter of snow holds about 350 million snowflakes! These flakes are all hexagonal and have crystal-like structures. However, each one of them possesses a unique shape. For years, scientists have been searching for answers to such questions as how these shapes ever came about, how it is that each one of them has a different shape and what provides their symmetry. Every bit of information that is gained reveals another magnificent mastery present in the snowflakes. The variety and perfection of the hexagonal structure of snowflakes is a manifestation of Allah's status as the Originator (al-Badi). Allah is the One Who made good everything that He has created. The formation of snowflakes constitutes yet another aspect of Allah's endless artistry.
These thin, small flakes look like multi-pointed stars or tiny needle heads. The formation of the snowflakes in the pictures is truly amazing. For years, the orderly structure of snowflakes has caught people's attention. Since 1945, research has been carried out in a quest to discover which factors give the final shape to the crystals. A single snowflake is a pile of crystals consisting of more than 200 ice crystals. Snowflakes are made up of water molecules that are shaped in a perfect order. Snowflakes, one of nature's true architectural wonders, are shaped when water vapor gets cold while passing through clouds. This takes place like so:
Passing through the clouds, water molecules scattered everywhere in a disorganized way throughout water vapor begin to lose their random movement due to the fall in temperature. After a while, the water molecules, moving more slowly, begin to form groups and consequently become solid. Yet, there is no disorder whatsoever in their groupings. On the contrary, they always unite as microscopic hexagonal forms that look similar to each other. Each snowflake at first consists of a single hexagonal water molecule, then other hexagonal water molecules come and attach to this first piece. According to experts on the subject, the basic factor that determines the shape of a snowflake is that these hexagonal water molecules are joined together just like links in a chain. In addition, the pieces of crystals, which normally should look alike, take on very different shapes according to the temperature and level of moisture.1
Why is it that there is a hexagonal symmetry in all snowflakes and why is each of them different from the others? Why are their edges angled rather then straight? Scientists are still trying to find answers to these questions. Yet, this much is evident: Allah is the One Who has no partners in creation, is the Possessor of an endless power and the Originator of everything.
The Unique Artistry of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables spring from the same soil and are watered with the same water, yet they come in a dazzling variety. When we consider the multitude of different tastes and smells of fruits and vegetables, the question of how such a variety ever came about in the first place comes to mind. What causes this miscellany of the tastes and fragrances of grapes, melons, kiwis, pineapples and the like, using the same water and minerals for centuries on end, yet without ever mixing them up with each other and without ever getting them confused? Allah gives them their matchless tastes and appearances.
Both animals and humans obtain the energy they need to survive through nutrition which is produced by plants. In other words, plants have been created as a blessing to benefit all living things. Most of these blessings have been designed especially for humans. Let's take a look at our surroundings, at what we eat, and then think. First let's look at the bone-dry stalk and very thin roots of a grape vine. This bone-dry structure, one that seems so fragile that it could be broken with the slightest pull, can produce dozens of kilos of juicy grapes whose color, smell and taste have been designed especially to give pleasure to man. Now let's think about watermelons. This juicy fruit, which again comes out of dry soil, develops precisely in the season when people begin to feel the need for it, that is, in summer. Let's think about the marvelous smell of the melon that has been provided since it first came into existence, without any deterioration in its quality, and about its famous taste. When fragrances are produced in factories, people use complex quality controls and take great pains to produce a uniform odor that mimics nature; but there is no need for quality checks to preserve the natural odor of fruits.
In addition to their enticing smells, each fruit also contains ingredients that are suitable to the season. In winter, for example, we have tangerines and oranges, which are full of vitamin C and energy. Vegetables also possess any and all kinds of vitamins and minerals that living things may need.
By thinking in this manner, we could examine in turn all the plants present in nature. And at the end of this examination, we would have learned that the plants around us have been especially designed for human beings and all other creatures, in other words they have been created. Allah, Who is the Lord of the worlds, has brought into existence all nutrition for living things and has created them in such a way that the taste, smell and use of each one of them is wonderfully varied. This reveals His might and matchless artistry in creation. He informs us of this in the Qur'an:
And also the things of varying colors He has created for you in the earth. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who pay heed. (Surat an-Nahl: 13)
1- Roger Davey, David Stanley, "All about ice," New Scientist, September 6, 1993.