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ARTESIAN WELLS May 21, 2008

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We divided them up into twelve tribes-communities. We revealed to Musa, when his people asked him for water: “Strike the rock with your staff.” Twelve fountains flowed out from it, and all the people knew their drinking place. And We shaded them with clouds and sent down manna and quails to them: “Eat of the good things We have provided for you.” They did not wrong Us; rather, they wronged themselves. (Qur’an, 7:160)


A closed artesian aquifer is confined by an overlying impermeable body of rock, which prevents any water from filtering down into the aquifer. Instead, water enters the tilted aquifer layer through a recharge area, where the aquifer rock is exposed at higher elevations. The flow in an artesian aquifer resembles water flowing through a J-shaped tube. Water added on the tube’s long side provides enough pressure to drive the water upward on the tube’s shorter side.

The above verse describes how Prophet Musa’s (as) people asked him for water and how he provided places where each tribe could drink. Clearly, his people were suffering from a shortage of water. Such shortages still exist, for more than 1 billion people today lack access to clean water, and 2.4 billion still live without improved sanitation. According to projected estimates, by 2025 about 5 billion people will not have access to sufficient amounts of water.190 Every year, some 12 million people die from water scarcity; 3 million of whom are children who die from waterborne diseases.191

Today, 31 countries, comprising 8 percent of the world’s population, face chronic freshwater shortages. By 2025, this number is expected to rise to 48 countries.192 According to UN predictions, renewable freshwater will become an even more limited resource by 2025, and the number of 131 million people experiencing water problems will rise to either 817 million (according to low population growth projections) or 1.079 billion (according to high population growth projections).193

Groundwater, the largest source of fresh water on Earth, represents more than 90 percent of the readily available freshwater reserves194 and is therefore of vital importance to meeting the water needs of up to 2 billion people.195 It constitutes the primary source of water for up to 50 percent of the American population, a figure that rises to 95 percent in rural areas.196Groundwater is also the safest and most reliable source of fresh water. At the same time, this water can be used to produce geothermal energy and save energy by using heat pumps.

When the water sucked up from the soil meets an impermeable underground layer, it collects there and forms a water source. This water is then brought to the surface by the artesian method. Artesian springs are formed by sedimentary rocks that can store underground water.

The fact that artesian wells are drilled in rocky areas runs parallel to the description in the Qur’an. Given that Allah commanded Prophet Musa (as) to strike the rock, Surat al-A`raf 160 may be indicating this method. (Allah knows best.) The verb idrib, translated as “strike,” can also mean “to raise, to open.” Thus, this verse may be describing a water source being opened by the raising of the rock. As a result, pressurized water may have emerged, as described in the verb inbajasat (to pour out, flow freely, bubble up, flow), just as happens with artesian wells. If sufficient pressure forms, water can continue to flow to the surface without the need for a pump.

Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and sends down water from the sky and by it brings forth fruits as provision for you… (Qur’an, 14:32)

It is particularly striking that current solutions for dealing with water scarcity use underground water resources. In fact, one of the most effective methods of doing so is the artesian well. In other words, we might be copying Prophet Musa’s (as) example of striking or lifting the rock without even knowing it. Surat al-A`raf 160 may therefore be a reference to artesian wells, the first of which was opened in 1126 in the French region of Artois. (Allah knows best.)

 

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THE TROUBLES WHICH AFFLICTED PHARAOH May 21, 2008

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Pharaoh and those people close to him were so devoted to their polytheistic system and pagan beliefs that not even message of the Prophet Musa (as), armed with wisdom and spectacular miracles, could soften their hearts and thus turn them away from baseless superstitions. They also openly stated this fact:

They said, “No matter what kind of Sign you bring us to bewitch us, we will not believe in you.” (Qur’an, 7:132)

Because of their haughty attitude, Allah sent to them afflictions, described as “Signs, clear and distinct” in one verse, in order to punish them for their haughtiness. (Qur’an, 7:133) The first of these was drought. As a result, there was a fall in production. The relevant verse of the Qur’an states:

We seized Pharaoh’s people with years of drought and scarcity of fruits so that hopefully they would pay heed. (Qur’an, 7:130)

The Egyptians’ agricultural systems depended on the River Nile and changes in natural conditions did not therefore generally affect them. However, Pharaoh and those around him suffered greatly because of their pride and refusal to recognise Allah’s Messenger. Yet instead of “paying heed,” they regarded these events as bad luck caused by the Prophet Musa (as) and the Tribe of Israel. Following that, Allah sent a series of tribulations. We are told of these in the Qur’an:

So We sent down on them floods, locusts, lice, frogs and blood, Signs, clear and distinct, but they proved arrogant and were an evildoing people. (Qur’an, 7:133)


In the early 19th century a papyrus dating back to the Middle Kingdom was discovered in Egypt. The papyrus was taken to the Leiden Museum in Holland and translated by A.H. Gardiner in 1909. The entire text appears in the book Admonitions of an Egyptian from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, and describes major changes in Egypt; famine, drought, the slaves’ flight from Egypt with their assets, and death all over the nation. The papyrus was written by an Egyptian called Ipuwer and it appears from its contents that this individual personally witnessed the disasters that struck Egypt. This papyrus is a most significant hand-written description of the catastrophes, the death of Egyptian society and the destruction of Pharaoh.

The details in the papyrus regarding the disasters that struck the people of Egypt are just as described in the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, we are told about these catastrophes. This Islamic account of this period of human history has been confirmed by the discovery in Egypt, in the early 19th century, of the Ipuwer papyruses dating back to the Middle Kingdom. After the discovery of this papyrus, it was sent to the Leiden Dutch Museum in 1909 and translated by A. H. Gardiner, a prominent scholar of ancient Egypt. In the papyrus were described such disasters in Egypt as famine, drought and the fleeing of the slaves from Egypt. Moreover, it appears that the writer of the papyrus, one Ipuwer, had actually witnessed these events. This is how the Ipuwer papyrus refers to these catastrophes described in the Qur’an:

Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.205

The river is blood.206

Forsooth, that has perished which yesterday was seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.207

Lower Egypt weeps… The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong (by right) wheat and barley, geese and fish.208

Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.209

The land-to its whole extent confusion and terrible noise… For nine days there was no exit from the palace and no one could see the face of his fellow… Towns were destroyed by mighty tides… Upper Egypt suffered devastation… blood everywhere… pestilence throughout the country… No one really sails north to Byblos today. What shall we do for cedar for our mummies?… Gold is lacking…210

Men shrink from tasting-human beings, and thirst after water.211

That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!212

The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry.213

The residence is overturned in a minute.214

The chain of disasters which struck the people of Egypt, according to this document, conforms perfectly with the Qur’anic account of these matters.215 This papyrus, which closely parallels the catastrophes which struck Egypt in the time of Pharaoh, once again demonstrates the Qur’an to be divine in origin.

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PROPHET MUSA (AS) AND SEA’S SPLITTING IN TWO May 12, 2008

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The kings of Egypt-known as “Pharaohs” (or “Fir’awn” in the Arabic of the Qur’an)-regarded themselves as divine in the polytheistic, superstitious religion of ancient Egypt. At a time when the people of Egypt favoured a superstitious belief system over a divine belief system-the same era in which when the Children of Israel were enslaved-Allah sent the Prophet Musa (as) as a messenger to the tribe of Egypt.

However, Pharaoh and his court, and the people of Egypt in general, almost universally refused to abandon their idolatrous beliefs when the Prophet Musa (as) called them to divine religion and the Oneness of Allah. The Prophet Musa (as) revealed to Pharaoh and his courtiers that they should avoid false worship, warning them of Allah’s wrath. In response to this, they rose up and slandered the Prophet Musa (as): They accused him of being mad, of being a sorcerer and of falsehood. Pharaoh and his people refused to submit to the Prophet Musa (as) even though many troubles were visited upon them. They refused to accept Allah as the only God. They even held the Prophet Musa (as) responsible for what had befallen them and sought to exile him from Egypt. In the Qur’an, Allah makes this reference to the Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him:

 

We revealed to Musa: “Travel with Our servants by night. You will certainly be pursued.” Pharaoh sent marshals into the cities: “These people are a small group and we find them irritating and we constitute a vigilant majority.” We expelled them from gardens and springs, from treasures and a splendid situation. So it was! And We bequeathed them to the tribe of Israel. So they pursued them towards the east. (Qur’an, 26:52-60)


The map shows the route taken by the Prophet Musa (as) after leaving Egypt and the estimated location of the site where the sea divided.The diagram shows the shallow and deeper areas. It is at this point that the Sinai Peninsula and Arabia approach each other most closely.

 

 

 

As revealed in the Qur’an, the two communities met at the edge of the sea following this pursuit. Allah divided the sea and saved the Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him, destroying Pharaoh and his people. This aid from Allah is revealed thus:

 

So We revealed to Musa, “Strike the sea with your staff.” And it split in two, each part like a towering cliff. And We brought the others right up to it. We rescued Musa and all those who were with him. Then We drowned the rest. There is certainly a Sign in that yet most of them are not believers. Truly your Lord is the Almighty, the Most Merciful. (Qur’an, 26:63-68)

In connection with this subject, the following account has recently been found in papyruses from the time of Pharaoh:

From Amenamoni, head of the protective books of the white room of the palace, to the scribe Penterhor:

When this letter reaches you and has been read point by point, surrender your heart to the sharpest pain, like a leaf before the storm, when you learn of the sorrowful disaster of the drowning in the whirlpool…

Calamity struck him suddenly and inescapably. Depict the destruction of the lords, the lord of the tribes, the king of the east and the west. The sleep in the waters has made something helpless out of something great. What news can compare to the news I have sent you?202

 

This miracle, experienced by the Prophet Musa (as) and the Children of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea, has been the subject of many studies. Archaeological investigations have established not only the path taken to the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, but also that the place where Pharaoh and the Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe met was one surrounded by mountains. (Allah knows best.)

 

The mountain known as Jabal-al Musa is generally regarded as being in the Sinai Peninsula. However, recent findings have shown that it is actually on the Arabian shore of the Red Sea.

Following a long and difficult journey for the Prophet Musa (as) and the Israelites, a passage out between the mountains could be seen.

That part of the Sinai Peninsula opening onto the Gulf.

Following a great deal of study and investigation taking this as the starting point, scientists came to striking conclusions with regard to how the sea was divided into two. These conclusions are in full agreement with those revealed in the Qur’an. The way that historical events described in the Qur’an are today illuminated by historical records is without doubt an important miracle of the book of Islam.

 


Pharaoh’s royal chariot is on display in a museum in Egypt. A similar example was found during excavations in the location where the sea divided.

Naum Volzinger and Alexei Androsov, two Russian mathematicians, proved that the Prophet Musa (as) could indeed have parted the sea. Unlike those scientists who concentrated on the probability of such a miracle, the Russian mathematicians investigated the conditions that might have led to the miracle. In turn, this led to the confirmation of the miracle itself.

 

According to the study which was published in the Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, there was a reef, which was close to the surface in the Red Sea at that time. From there, the scientists set about establishing the speed of the wind and the strength of the storm needed to leave the reef high and dry at low tide. As a result, it became apparent that a wind speed of 30 metres per second would have caused the sea to retract, leaving the reef exposed. Naum Volzinger, of the Institute of Oceanography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that “if the [east] wind blew all night at a speed of 30 metres per second then the reef would be dry.” He also said that “it would take the Jews-there were 600,000 of them-four hours to cross the 7 kilometre reef that runs from one coast to another… then, in half an hour, the waters would come back.”203 In addition, Volzinger said that he and his colleague Androsov studied the issue strictly from Isaac Newton’s point of view. As he put it, “I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of physics.”204

 

 

It must not be forgotten that there is always a possibility of this natural phenomenon taking place. If Allah so desires, this miracle can take place again when the requisite conditions-such as windspeed, time and place-are met. However, the truly miraculous aspect here is the fact that these events took place just when the Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe were about to be vanquished. The fact that the waters withdrew just as the Prophet Musa (as) and the community with him were about to cross them-not to mention the way that the waters returned just as Pharaoh and his army were crossing-is a clear example of the aid that Allah gives to the faithful. Indeed, the way that the Prophet Musa (as) relied on and trusted in Allah is an example of the most pleasing moral values:

 

And when the two hosts came into sight of one another Musa’s companions said, “We will surely be overtaken!” He said, “Never! My Lord is with me and He will guide me.” (Qur’an, 26:61-62)

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