Alhamdulillah… All praises and thanks are due to the Almighty Allah, Who causes the ships to sail across the seas, so that we go in quest for His bounty. I send peace and blessings upon Habibi Muhammad, his household, companions and all those who follow his guided path.
The lessons we learnt from part 1 of this series were reminders to review our etiquettes of travelling as Muslims. In part 2, we learnt the importance of being humbly submissive to God at all times. In part 3 today, we are reflecting on several verses from the Qur’an, which, when put in the context of flight #MH370’s search and rescue operations, they prove that the Qur’an is, truly, a book of God. It’s however, worth mentioning beforehand, that this article does not (in any way) imply that MH370 is mentioned in the Qur’an.
All opinions discussed here are reflections based on the experiences reported from the search and rescue (SAR) teams. Before we reflect on the verses from the Qur’an, what is the Qur’an?
The Qur’an was descended through a divine revelation, 1400 years ago, upon a man who could neither read nor write. People of his time knew very well that Muhammad wasn’t a magician and couldn’t be one. Otherwise, magicians of his time could have ganged up to expose him, considering the fact none wanted to see his sudden rise. The greatest poet of his time also acknowledged that he wasn’t a poet.
To prove that he was neither a magician nor a poet, but rather a true messenger of God, the Qur’an challenged those who stood against Muhammad and his mission to gather, men and jinn to produce a chapter similar to any of the chapters, even the shortest, of the Qur’an. None dared to take the challenge. This challenge is still open to anyone who doubts the Qur’an to be a book of God, to prove its falsehood.
Until that is proven (and it’s not going to be), the Qur’an is a miraculous words (book) of God, revealed and descended to the Prophet Muhammad, through Angel Jibril, ‘alaihi al-Salam, which reached us through authentic linkage (sanad). Reciting any part of it is considered as an act of worship (ibadah). It starts with a chapter (Surah) called Al-Fatihah and ends with a chapter called Al-Naas. The Qur’an is the most authentic revealed book of all time, which has not changed since its revelation, and shall remain unchanged till the Last Day.
Prophet Muhammad, the man upon whom the Qur’an was descended, spent his whole life without going to the sea, not even for once. He did never know how oceans looked like, until the verses describing the nature of oceans were revealed to him. Most of the scientific discoveries regarding oceans and other creatures, mentioned in the Qur’an, were only discovered recently, in the 19th century.
Now, what does the Qur’an say about oceans, in the context of MH370 search and rescue experience?
Seafaring started with the primitive humans. Historians date that back to more than 175, 000 years. That is way far before the invention of advanced technology for seafaring. Seafarers used the stars for navigation, for they tell direction, especially during nighttime. Using stars as guide didn’t happen by coincidence. In fact, it was purposefully an inspiration by God for ocean-goers. This is what the Qur’an has indicated in Surah Al-An’am, 6: 97:
وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ النُّجُومَ لِتَهْتَدُوا بِهَا فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ قَدْ فَصَّلْنَا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ
It means, “It is He who has set up for you the stars so that you might be guided by them in the midst of the darkness of land and sea. We have made the signs clear for people who know.”
The darkness referred to, in this verse, is the darkness of the night, since seafaring takes place on the surface of the oceans. But do you know that oceans are filled with darkness, darker than the darkness of the night, even during daytime, to the extent that even sunlight cannot penetrate?
As the search for MH370 intensified, the search and rescue (SAR) teams have narrowed their search in order to dive deeper, in the hope to find clues that could lead to the debris or black box of flight MH370. It was only then, that many of us came to realize that the oceans have mountains beneath them, just like their waves form mountains on the surface. We have also learned that oceans have zones that are terrifying in its darkness.
According to research by the United States National Ocean Service (NOAA), sunlight entering the water may travel about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the ocean under the right conditions, but there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 meters (656 feet).
It furthers that, the ocean is divided into three zones based on depth and light level. The upper 200 meters (656 feet) of the ocean is called the “sunlight,” zone. This zone contains the vast majority of commercial fisheries and is home to many protected marine mammals and sea turtles. Only a small amount of light penetrates beyond this depth.
The zone between 200 meters (656 feet) and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is usually referred to as the “twilight” zone. In this zone, the intensity of light rapidly dissipates as depth increases. Such a miniscule amount of light penetrates beyond a depth of 200 meters that photosynthesis is no longer possible.
The research discovered that sunlight can’t penetrate beyond the depth below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), as it’s bathed in darkness. This zone is therefore called the “midnight,” zone.
Darkness produced by the “midnight” zone is mentioned in the Qur’an. It is used to give example of the deeds of those who reject the truth that comes from God or His Messengers. A verse in Surah Al-Nour (24:40) relates this, and it reads:
وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَاءً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا وَوَجَدَ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ، وَاللَّـهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ ﴿٣٩﴾ أَوْ كَظُلُمَاتٍ فِي بَحْرٍ لُّجِّيٍّ يَغْشَاهُ مَوْجٌ مِّن فَوْقِهِ مَوْجٌ مِّن فَوْقِهِ سَحَابٌ، ظُلُمَاتٌ بَعْضُهَا فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ إِذَا أَخْرَجَ يَدَهُ لَمْ يَكَدْ يَرَاهَا، وَمَن لَّمْ يَجْعَلِ اللَّـهُ لَهُ نُورًا فَمَا لَهُ مِن نُّورٍ
It means, “As for those who deny the truth, their works are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty traveller thinks it to be water, but when he comes near; he finds it to be nothing. He finds God there, who pays him his account in full. God is swift in His reckoning… Or (their works are) like darkness on a deep ocean covered by waves billowing over waves and overcast with clouds: darkness upon darkness. If he stretches out his hand, he can scarcely see it. Indeed, the man from whom God withholds His light shall find no light at all.”
Darkness of this level of frightfulness should be enough to deter us from denying God and His Bounty. Infidelity can come from Muslims as much as it comes from non-Muslims. This type of infidelity is what makes our bad experiences in the midst of the oceans worst.
You are horrified when travelling by any mean of transportation. You are horrified more when travelling by sea. Imagine being in the middle of the ocean and suddenly undesired accident occurs. The amount of time it will take for rescue t reach you is enough to terrify you. The one whose heart is filled with faith in God will be at ease, no matter what. Why then do most of us frighten in the oceans. Even though technology has made it easier than before, the search for MH370 has clearly proven that it is not as easily thought when dealing with oceans. It’s only with faith in Him that we are able to make it. Allah says in Surah Al-An’am 6: 63-64:
قُلْ مَن يُنَجِّيكُم مِّن ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ تَدْعُونَهُ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً لَّئِنْ أَنجَانَا مِنْ هَـٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ﴿٦٣﴾ قُلِ اللَّـهُ يُنَجِّيكُم مِّنْهَا وَمِن كُلِّ كَرْبٍ ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ تُشْرِكُونَ
It means, “Say, “Who is it who delivers you from the dark depths of land and sea when you call out to Him humbly and in secret, saying, “If He rescues us from this, we shall most certainly be among the grateful?” Say, “It is God who delivers you from it and from every other distress, yet you associate partners with Him.”
The Titanic movie was a Hollywood production, which was based on a true story. The Titanic ship didn’t survive the calamity it encountered in the ocean. But many ships survive that kind of encounter. Thus, the feeling of insecurity while in the ocean activates naturally. It is also related in the Qur’an, in a Surah Yunus, 10:22 and it reads:
هُوَ الَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ، حَتَّىٰ إِذَا كُنتُمْ فِي الْفُلْكِ وَجَرَيْنَ بِهِم بِرِيحٍ طَيِّبَةٍ وَفَرِحُوا بِهَا جَاءَتْهَا رِيحٌ عَاصِفٌ وَجَاءَهُمُ الْمَوْجُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُمْ أُحِيطَ بِهِمْ دَعَوُا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ لَئِنْ أَنجَيْتَنَا مِنْ هَـٰذِهِ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ
It means, “It is God who enables you to travel on land and sea. And when you are sailing on ships and rejoicing in the favourable wind, a storm arrives, and the waves surge upon those on board from every side and they think they are encompassed, then they make a fervent appeal to God, saying in all sincerity, “If You deliver us from this, we will surely be of the thankful.”
Understanding this leads us to the belief that ships only move in the seas with the With of God.
Perhaps, ships and boats are the oldest types of transport. Today, they are used for many purposes. They are used for human transport, cargo transport, fishing, defence (by the army), sports and recreation.
Before the invention of advanced technology, seafarers used primitive boats to travel and sail in the oceans for centuries. With or without scientific explanations on how they move on the surface of waters, Allah has already told us that it happens with His Will and Might.
On that note, the Qur’an states, to draw our attention, that all creations, their movement and benefits are signs for us, so to appreciate God and then worship Him they way He wants to be worshiped. Among other signs are the ships that move across oceans bearing cargos and heavy weight. God is the One who allowed them to move the way they do. This is understood in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 164:
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
It means, “In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the ships that sail the ocean bearing cargoes beneficial to man; in the water which God sends down from the sky and with which He revives the earth after its death, scattering over it all kinds of animals; in the courses of the winds, and in the clouds pressed into service between earth and sky, there are indeed signs for people who use their reason.”
For those who still doubt this reality, another verse confirms it and more. Let’s go to Surah Al-Jathiah, 45:12:
اللَّـهُ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْبَحْرَ لِتَجْرِيَ الْفُلْكُ فِيهِ بِأَمْرِهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
It means, “It is God who has subjected the sea to you so that you may sail thereon by His command, and so that you may seek His bounty, and so that you may be grateful.”
Secrets lying in the oceans are tremendous, and we know none (or little) about them. The deepest a sinking ship (Titanic) has gone was 12,500 feet. That took more than 70 years to be discovered. The pinging signals, which possibly comes from MH370 is from the distance of 14,800 feet beneath the Indian ocean. that is believed to be the maximum known depth of the ocean floor below the Ocean Shield .In Surah Al-An’am, 6:59, we learnt that He knows all the unseen. It reads:
وَعِندَهُ مَفَاتِحُ الْغَيْبِ لَا يَعْلَمُهَا إِلَّا هُوَ، وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ، وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِن وَرَقَةٍ إِلَّا يَعْلَمُهَا وَلَا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلَا رَطْبٍ وَلَا يَابِسٍ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ
It means, “He holds the keys to the unseen; none knows them but He. He has knowledge of all that land and sea contain. No leaf falls without His knowledge, nor is there a single grain in the darkness of the earth, or anything, wet or dry, but is recorded in a clear Record.”
See how deep is deep (video) or just keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling (graphic) to see illustrations.
Based on the MH370 experience, we have learnt how vast and deep the oceans are. Waters of the ocean represent 70% of our planet. They can cover our dry land at any time. With the amount of such waters, the Qur’an tells us that if all the waters of the oceans are to be used as ink to write the words of God, they will dry, without been able write the words of God. This is understood in Surah Luqman, 31:26-27:
لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ، إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ ﴿٢٦﴾ وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّـهِ، إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
It means, “Whatever is in the heavens and the earth belongs to God. Assuredly, God is self-sufficient and praiseworthy. If all the trees on earth were pens, and the sea [were] ink, with seven [more] seas added to it, the words of God would not be exhausted: for, truly, God is Almighty and Wise.”
Also in Surah Al-Kahf, 18:109:
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ الْبَحْرُ مِدَادًا لِّكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّي لَنَفِدَ الْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَاتُ رَبِّي وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِ مَدَدًا
It means, ” Tell them, “If the ocean became ink for writing the words of my Lord, surely the ocean would be exhausted before the words of my Lord came to an end — even if We were to add another ocean to it.”
This is the struggle the SAR teams have to endure, searching for MH370 in one ocean. The waters of this ocean and all oceans combined can’t write the words of God. Who are we then, to God?
Realities about oceans mentioned in this article are in the context of MH370. In fact, many other facts about seas and oceans are mentioned in the Qur’an. They are discussed elsewhere, and may be discussed here in a different context, in future, insha Allah.
This article doesn’t imply that the tragedy of flight #MH370 was mentioned in the Qur’an! The Qur’an however contains lessons and wisdom which if we are to refer to them during tragedies and discoveries; we come to the affirmation in belief and faith, that the Qur’an is a true scripture of God.
If the Qur’an is the book of God, this implies that Muhammad is the Prophet of God. This also confirms, to those who still have some doubts, that Islam can’t be but a true religion of God.
Stay tuned for part 4 of this series. To get updates from this blog delivered right to your inbox, click here sign up for my newsletters today.
Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂