The early 1900s saw major advances in transport technology. Mankind welcomed these advances, which made life so much easier, and quickly adapted to them. Less than a century later, jets, high-speed trains and smart cars have all become part of our lives. Journeys, which used to take days are now but a matter of hours. The advances in technology are not limited to modern means of transport. Technological possibilities in many fields, especially in health, information and communications, have assumed giant dimensions. The technology which surrounds all aspects of our lives has made them easier and faster, and has therefore brought with it comfort and time saving. It is hard to say what else will change in our lives in another century. For the moment being, we can only imagine what those years will be like …
In many peoples’ view, the modern buildings they live in, the cars they drive, computers, televisions and all the other countless products of technology are entirely ‘man-made.’ The fact is, however, that if they think a little deeper and engage in a conscious examination they will see that there is a very important truth behind these advances: Technology is also an example of Allah’s blessings to mankind, and thanks must be given to Him for all these things. Let us now embark on that examination together and see why it is that technology is a blessing for which we must give thanks to Allah.
The Secret in Iron
Consider the products of technology we use. Cars, computers, televisions, ovens in our homes, the telephones we use …
All of these products are made of metals such as iron, copper, zinc and aluminum, and plastic, a by-product of oil. In other words, if these raw materials, and particularly metals, did not exist on Earth, or if mankind lacked the means to make use of them, then we would be unable to speak of technology, which makes our lives so much easier, at all.
Technology comes about when man shapes the elements found on Earth in accordance with a specific aim. Looking at just a few of these elements, we shall see what a miraculous structure these substances, with which we are so familiar, possess. Heading the list of these comes an element, which occupies a particularly important place in life as well as in technology: iron!
Iron is one of the most available elements on Earth and comprises some 5% of the Earth’s crust. This element plays a major role in every stage of life, from the fundamental physical balances of the world we live in to our being able to make use of the air we breathe. In his book Nature’s Destiny, which has provoked enormous interest, the famous Australian molecular biologist Michael Denton describes how the laws of nature and elements in the universe are specially tailored for human life. With respect to iron, he writes:
Of all the metals, there is none more essential to life than iron… It was the drawing by gravity of iron atoms to the center of the primeval earth, that generated the heat which caused the initial chemical differentiation of the earth, the outgassing of the early atmosphere, and ultimately the formation of the hydrosphere… (Michael Denton, Nature’s Destiny, The Free Press, New York, 1998, p. 198).
Iron is also of particular importance to our respiratory systems. This substance forms a compound with oxygen in the hemoglobin in human blood. This keeps the exceedingly combustive oxygen atoms under control. Iron directs oxygen, a most valuable source of energy, to the cell’s respiratory mechanism. In other words, even our breathing is made possible by iron.
What if there were no iron atoms? In that event, life would not be possible and the planet we live on would become unable to sustain life. Were there no iron, the primitive Earth would not have warmed up, and the atmosphere and hydrosphere would not have formed.
The magnetic field, which protects the Earth from meteors would not have formed, and there would be no radiation belts or ozone layer.
The Earth would be a dead planet. Iron is also the most important material basis of the civilizations established by human beings. That is because industry exists thanks to iron, and steel is made by iron combining with carbon. All of the products of advanced technology, which make our lives so much easier and so improve the quality of life, are reflections of industry. Were there no iron, then the level of technology on Earth would be no higher than simple wooden tools.
All this shows that the existence of the element known as iron, and its presence in large quantities on Earth, is a major blessing for which we must give thanks to Allah. Indeed, Allah draws attention to this fact in the Qur’an. In the Surat al-Hadid, or “Iron,” He reveals:
Iron, in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind, is one of the most important blessings, which allow mankind to make technological progress. Therefore, everything made from iron and steel once again reminds us of the compassion of Allah. The buildings, cars, airplanes, railways and skyscrapers on Earth may appear to be man-made. In fact, however, they only exist because Allah has created iron and placed it in the Earth.