Readers may recall we pointed in the earlier parts of the article that according to Qur’an as well as modern science :
- Stars and planets condensed out of primeval smoke
- Orderly universe emerged out of disorderly primordial matter and Energy
In this present part, we will discuss as to why Members of the solar system are orbiting in such an excellently orderly fashion that collisions are ruled out.
Now, modern cosmology says that all entities of the universe, namely the dust clouds nebulas, asteroids, comets, etc. revolve around their respective principals. (Most also rotate around their own axes). How did this orderliness evolve and how does it persist ? Even this orderliness can change but only for the better ! The reason or means is the gravitational force discovered by Newton in the 17th century. For example, a boy strings up a stone and makes it revolve around him. If the knot gets loose or the string snaps the stone flies off. (Fig.6). Likewise the gravity of sun has got hold of planets in motion and made them revolve around itself. A dynamic balance (equilibrium) is reached between the two main forces at play namely -
This tends to pull the less massive planet towards its star, a larger body. Thus the earth tends to fall towards the larger sun.
This tends to push it away from the sun.
A constant pattern evolves between them in terms of distances, velocities and orbits. Thus an orderliness emerges.
The case is exactly the same for planet-satellite (moon) systems. This is also true within any rotating body e.g. earth Vs. objects on its surface: water, trees, buildings, etc.
The gravitational system concept can be extended to higher rungs i.e. all rotating - revolving star - planet systems, galaxies, their clusters and the entire universe. In the absence of centripetal force the universe and its subsystems would start collapsing into itself. In the absence of gravitation, on the other hand, the universe would cease to be stable, the subsystems would break away in a bizarre manner and the universe would be shattered. Fortunately Man’s research and observation do not find any sign of this ripping away. Qur’an declares:
He has created the heavens one above the other. You can see no fault in the creation of the Most Gracious. Then look again (and again indefinitely). Can you find any rifts? ( Mulk : 3 )
The two balanced forces, gravitational and centripetal, together therefore are acting as a single robust, pillar - like support. They cannot be detected by eyes, naturally. God observes:
He has created the heavens without any pillars that you see...... ( Luqman : 10 )
What would have been the condition if God were not to create this fundamental force of gravity? What would be the result if He would withdraw it? Listen to Qur’an:
Verily, Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they should move away from their places. And if they were to move away from their places, there is not one who could grasp them after him.... ( Fatir : 4 1 )
Here His grasping is through gravitational force and their places is their orbits.
Gravity of a heavenly body varies according to its mass. The value for earth’s gravity is determined as 9.8 meters per second. Our tiny moon has a value of just 1.62 but the giant of our sun 274 !
A falling apple is credited with prompting Newton to discover gravity. Interestingly, Qur’an uses just the opposite phenomenon to imply gravity !
If you have power to pass beyond the zones of the heavens and the earth, then (go ahead and) pass beyond (them) ! But you will never be able to pass them except with a (tremendous) force. (Rahman : 33).
(The final word of this verse is Sultan which admits variety of senses. Force is chosen here to suit the context. The other meanings used by some translators are: (God’s) sanction : Pickthall Power : Abdul Hameed Baqavi [Tamil]; (God’s) authority : Taiquddeen & Muhshi Khan, Yusuf Ali)
Whether to send a satellite up the space, despatch instruments to explore Mars or to send man to moon - the rocket to carry them can lift off the surface of the earth only if it develops a force exceeding earth’s gravity. If only it reaches a vertical velocity of 11 km per second it could get rid of earth’s grasp and enter outer space. If not, it will fall down back. This velocity, termed escape velocity of a heavenly body, depends upon its gravity. Escape velocity for moon is an insignificant 2.38 but a colossal 618 for the sun !
Holy Qur’an was revealed in an age when even air flight by man could hardly be given a thought, let alone attempted. How then it could give a hint to man (and jinn) about possibility of space travel is truly amazing. Could have this concept been authored by man? Absolutely no chance! As the most illustrious poets of Prophet’s (Pbuh) time admitted defeat on going through Qur’an:
La hada qawlul bashar
Utterance of man this is not!!
True, as admitted by Qur’an, the universe continues expanding. This is due to yet another force in play in cosmos i.e. the remnant of the Big Bang force. But this expansion is not unruly and shattering but a steady enlargement. This will not put the various interlocking of systems and subsystems of the cosmos into jeopardy.
Fast Receding Frontier
The traditional belief of man that universe is nothing but stars and planets stands shattered now. Stunning discoveries of many entities were made in this century - the very possibility whose existence could not be imagined earlier. Their behaviour and nature were far stranger than characters of the celestial community known hitherto. These include red giants, white dwarfs, neutron stars, binaries which revolve around each other, nebulas, black holes, vast expanses of clouds, radio, X-ray and magnetic sources, cosmic winds and so on. The store appears to be inexhaustible. In trying to explain their phenomena scientists invent new techniques and devices and keep on formulating new cosmological concepts and theories.
The invisible matter like dark opaque clouds and black holes were once casually dismissed as constituting an insignificant 1-5% of universe and as of little consequence. Later, the estimate of their share of mass of universe steadily built up through 10% ...50%. It is now held that it is invisible matter that mainly constitutes the universe even 90 - 99% being considered as underestimates!
In short, with every stride of discovery our concept on the limit of universe gets progressively advanced. That is not all. The cosmic horizon recedes with ever-accelerated speed! What man deems the farthest ever reach of knowledge to be achieved pales into insignificance every time he achieves fresh awareness! Rest assured the surprise secrets of God’s creation will remain inexhaustible for ever! Qur’an makes this point emphatically clear:
Study of cosmology is bound to leave us numb-minded and awe-struck at God’s immeasurable abilities. That is the taqwa that Qur’an talks of so often.
(The author is Director in National Productivity Council
31-B, SIDCO Industrial Estate, Ambattur, Chennai- 600 098.)
“And from among His signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Prostrate yourselves not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate yourselves to Allah who created them, if you (really) worship Him.” (Fussilat 41:37)
During the Jaahiliyyah, people used to believe that eclipses happened to mark the birth or death of a great person, but the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) declared this belief to be false and explained the divine wisdom behind the occurrence of eclipses.
According to another hadith in al-Saheehayn: “Call on Allah and pray until (the eclipse) is over.”
Allah causes eclipses to happen to these two mighty signs, the sun and the moon, to teach His subjects and show them that these things are created and are subject to imperfections and changes just like any other created entities. Thus He shows them His perfect ability and that He alone is deserving of worship, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning); “And from among His signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, prostrate yourselves not to the sun nor to the moon but prostrate yourselves to Allah who created them, if you (really) worship Him.” (Fussilat 41:37)