BARRIER BETWEEN SWEET AND SALT WATERS
Consider the following Qur’aanic verses:
“He has let free the two bodies Of flowing water, Meeting together: Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress.” [Al-Qur’aan 55:19-20]
In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’aan were
unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them. 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. 7 Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas through which water from one sea passes to the other. [7. Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93.]
But when the water from one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a transitional homogenizing area for the two waters. This scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Qur’aan was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay who is a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, U.S.A. The Qur’aan mentions this phenomenon also in the following verse:
“And made a separating bar between the two bodies Of flowing water?” [Al-Qur’aan 27:61]
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Qur’aan speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier.
“It is He Who has Let free the two bodies Of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, And the other salty and bitter; Yet has He Made a barrier between them, And a partition that is forbidden To be passed.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:53]
Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt-water meet, the situation is somewhat different from that 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.” 8
This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water. 9 This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
[ 8 Oceanography, Gross, p. 242. Also see Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301; 9 Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301. ]
DARKNESS IN THE DEPTHS OF THE OCEAN
Prof. Durga Rao is an expert in the field of Marine Geology and was a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He was asked to comment on the following verse:
“Or (the Unbelievers’ state) Is like the depths of darkness In a vast deep ocean, Overwhelmed with billow Topped by billow, Topped by (dark) clouds: Depths of darkness, one Above another: if a man Stretches out his hand, He can hardly see it! For any to whom Allah Giveth not light, there is no light!” [Al-Qur’aan 24:40]
Prof. Rao said that scientists have only now been able to confirm, with the help of modern equipment that there is darkness in the depths of the ocean. Humans are unable to dive unaided underwater for more than 20 to 30 meters, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 meters. This verse does not refer to all seas because not every sea can be described as having accumulated darkness layered one over another. It refers especially to a deep sea or deep ocean, as the Qur’aan says, “darkness in a vast deep ocean”. This layered darkness in a deep ocean is the result of two causes:
A light ray is composed of seven colours. These seven colours are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (VIBGYOR). The light ray undergoes refraction when it hits water. The upper 10 to 15 metres of water absorb the red colour. Therefore if a diver is 25 metres under water and gets wounded, he would not be able to see the red colour of his blood, because the red colour does not reach this depth. Similarly orange rays are absorbed at 30 to 50 metres, yellow at 50 to 100 metres, green at 100 to 200 metres, and finally, blue beyond 200 metres and violet and indigo above 200 metres. Due to successive disappearance of colour, one layer after another, the ocean progressively becomes darker, i.e. darkness takes place in layers of light. Below a depth of 1000 meters there is complete darkness. 10 [10 Oceans, Elder and Pernetta, p. 27.]
The sun’s rays are absorbed by clouds, which in turn scatter light rays thus causing a layer of darkness under the clouds. This is the first layer of darkness. When light rays reach the surface of the ocean they are reflected by the wave surface giving it a shiny appearance. Therefore it is the waves which reflect light and cause darkness. The unreflected light penetrates into the depths of the ocean. Therefore the ocean has two parts. The surface characterized by light and warmth and the depth characterized by darkness. The surface is further separated from the deep part of the ocean by waves. The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. The darkness begins below the internal waves. Even the fish in the depths of the ocean cannot see; their only source of light is from their own bodies.
The Qur’aan rightly mentions: “Darkness in a vast deep ocean overwhelmed with waves topped by waves”.
In other words, above these waves there are more types of waves, i.e. those found on the surface of the ocean. The Qur’aanic verse continues, “topped by (dark) clouds; depths of darkness, one above another.” These clouds as explained are barriers one over the other that further cause darkness by absorption of colours at different levels. Prof. Durga Rao concluded by saying, “1400 years ago a normal human being could not explain this phenomenon in so much detail. Thus the information must have come from a supernatural source”.