The Qur’an on Seas and Rivers

Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity, and density.10 For example, Mediterranean sea water is warm, saline, and less dense, compared to Atlantic ocean water. When Mediterranean sea water enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill, it moves several hundred kilometers into the Atlantic at a depth of about 1000 meters with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics. The Mediterranean water stabilizes at this depth [see Figure 1].

Figure 1: The Mediterranean sea water as it enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics, because of the barrier that distinguishes between them. Temperatures are in degrees Celsius (C°). (Marine Geology, Kuenen, p. 43, with a slight enhancement.)

Although there are large waves, strong currents and tides in these seas, they do not mix or transgress this barrier.

The Qur’an mentioned that there is a barrier between two seas that meet and that they do not transgress. God has said:

Surah Ar-Rahman Verse 19 & 20 (55:19-20)

“He released the two seas, meeting [side by side]; Between them is a
barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.”

But when the Qur’an speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier. God has said in the Qur’an:

Surah Al-Furqan Verse 53 (25:53)

One may ask, why did the Qur’an mention the partition when speaking about the divider between fresh and salt water, but did not mention it when speaking about the divider between the two seas?

Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt water meet, the situation is somewhat different from what is found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” (reference: Gross, Oceanography, p. 242)

This partition (zone of separation) has a different salinity from the fresh water and from the salt water [see Figure 2].

Figure 2: Longitudinal section showing salinity (parts per thousand ‰) in an estuary. We can see here the partition (zone of separation) between the fresh and the salt water.
(Source: Thurman, Introductory Oceanography, pp. 300-301.)

This information has been discovered only recently, using advanced equipment to measure temperature, salinity, density, oxygen dis-solubility, etc. The human eye cannot see the difference between the two seas that meet, rather the two seas appear to us as one homogeneous sea. Likewise,
the human eye cannot see the division of water in estuaries into the three kinds: fresh water, salt water and the partition (zone of separation).

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Categories: Islam, Reading Notes

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