If mountains are fixed, how can their erosion be explained?

The Details of the Question

The following is stated in an atheist website:
1) According to the Quran, mountains are fixed but the wearing away, rising, lowering and erosion of mountains contradict the claim of the Quran that mountains are fixed.
2) According to the Quran, mountains were created and their creation came to an end in the chapter of Fussilat but mountains still continue to form today. If mountains were created in 4 stages according to the Quran and creation came to an end, why do mountains still continue to form today?
3) Every soul will taste death. If soul means spirit, animals and bacteria do not have spirits; how will they die?
4) In verse 13 of the chapter of Fatir and verse 5 of az-Zumar, it is stated that the night covers the day but in verse 37 of the chapter of Yasin 37 it is stated that the night is withdrawn from the day. I didn’t see this on their website but it caught my eye. There is no contradiction in Allah’s verses. How should we understand those verses?
- I will be very happy if you can answer the atheists’ claims and the question that occupies my mind.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Answer 1:

It is mentioned in different verses in the Quran that mountains are “rawasi = fixed”. Let us have a look at the following verse as an example:

“And He (Allah) has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you...” (an-Nahl, 16/15)

- The word “rawasi” in the verse is the plural form of “rasiyah” and means fixed, driven into the ground like a stake (awtad).

The word “mursa”, which is derived from the same root, is used for ships standing still / anchoring in a port. (Hud, 11/41)

The word “ALQA” in verse 15 of the chapter of an-Nahl means to put down, to put in a place, to plant, to place.

The original phrase translated as “on the earth” in the verse is “fil-ard”. That is, the preposition FI is used before the word earth. FI expresses being inside something / / what is inside.

Accordingly, the meaning of the phrase “fil-ard” in the verse is “in the earth”, not “on the earth”. The translation of the verse should be as follows: “And He (Allah) has set up in the (depths of the) earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you...”

This translation is also in accordance with the fact that mountains are described as “AWTAD = stake” (an-Naba, 78/7) in the Quran.

- Is it possible to deny the existence of mountains whose roots are located deep in the ground/earth?

So, one should be a bit SCEPTIC to doubt the “wearing away, rising, lowering and erosion of mountains”, their existence and being fixed by settling in the depths of the earth.

- As it is known, the disappearance of leaves, fruits and flowers of a tree in autumn does not harm the existence of that tree. Who would think that the mountains are not fixed by looking at the fact that the earth loses its greenness and its products, and even the erosion of the ground in winter?

Likewise, if one kidney, the spleen, one lung and the thyroid gland were surgically removed from a person’s body, and even if both ears, both hands and feet of him were cut off, no one would even think that this man would not remain alive!.. The sun of the Quran cannot be extinguished by the delusions of a person who has difficulty in understanding the expressions of the Quran, and whose brain suffers from atheism. The one who closes his eyes makes it dark only for himself; he cannot harm the daylight.

Answer 2:

The translation of the verses in question:

“Say: Is it that ye deny Him (Allah) Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance).” (Fussilat, 41/ 9-10).

- It is stated in the verses above in order to show the faults of those who associate partners with Allah that there is nothing like or equal to Allah, with reference to Allah’s endless knowledge, wisdom and power. It is indicated that Allah, who created the whole universe in six days (2 astronomical and 4 geological eras), does not need other partners.

As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it,

“Indeed, a Pre-Eternal Power created the heavens and the earth in six days, every year creates four hundred thousand species simultaneously on the face of the earth, and in six weeks every spring constructs a living world more full of art and wisdom than the world itself. Thus, it is more foolish and ignorant than the Sophists, the first group above, to deny the act of creation and deem it unlikely that, like a chemical that when applied shows up invisible writing, Pre-Eternal Power should give external existence to beings, which, though externally non-existent, exist as knowledge, and whose plans and measures are determined in the realm of a Pre-Eternal Knowledge.” (see Lem’alar, p. 193-194)

- Talking about things that were made does not mean that other things will not be made. As a matter of fact, it is known that the “Milky Way Galaxy” was created much later in the skies. “Of Him seeks (its need) every creature in the heavens and on earth: every day in (new) Splendor doth He (shine).” (ar-Rahman, 55/29) It is emphasized in the verse above that Allah creates and will create beings that need to exist all the time.

There is no expression in the verse in the chapter of Fussilat, which is referred to in the question, showing that creation has now come to an end and that it will not happen again. The created beings are mentioned there in order to point to the fact that Allah is omnipotent.

As a matter of fact, at the time when the heavens and the earth were created and equipped in the six stages indicated by that verse, there was no human being or living being on earth. For, in terms of divine wisdom, the universe had to be created and equipped with food, drink and clothing first so that the atmosphere and other living conditions would be formed during a certain period of time. After those arrangements, constructions, land, in short, materials to meet all needs were created, it was time for the creation of humans and other living beings. It is stated in the Quran that “man was created from clay” (as-Sajda, 32/7).

So, first the earth / globe and then man was created.

“And He (Allah) has created horses, mules, and donkeys, for you to ride and use for show; and He has created (other) things of which ye have no knowledge” (an-Nahl, 16/8)

In the verse above, attention is drawn to the fact that creation continues.

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi shows that creation, which is a reality according to the Islamic belief, continues:

“Thus, in the gathering that takes place every spring we see that in the course of five or six days more than three hundred thousand different kinds of animal and plant are first gathered together and then dispersed.” (see Sözler, p. 80)

“The roots of all the trees and plants, as well as some animals, are revived and restored exactly as they were. The other animals are recreated in a form so similar as to be almost identical. The seeds which appear, in their outward form, to be so close to each other, nonetheless, in the course of six days or six weeks, become distinct and differentiated from each other, and then with extreme speed, ease and facility, are brought to life in the utmost order and equilibrium. Is it at all possible that for the One Who does all of this anything should be difficult; that He should be unable to create the heavens and the earth in six days; that He should be unable to resurrect men with a single blast? No, by no means is it possible!” (see ibid., p. 81)

- In addition to all those evidences, we can say that there is no scientific evidence showing that “some mountains came into being” after the stages of creation indicated in the verse, especially today.

Answer 3:

“Every soul shall have a taste of death in the end to Us shall ye be brought back.” (al-Ankabut, 29/57) The verse primarily addresses human beings.

Some of the Muslims who migrated from Makkah were worried about how they would survive. Some were sad because they had left their homes, homeland and children. Some even feared that they would die in the war they predicted would break out soon. (see Tabari, Razi, Ibn Kathir, al-Biqai, the interpretation of the verse in question)

The verse was revealed to mend their weak character and to teach them the following lesson of reality:

“Whether you go to war or stay at home, leave your home and homeland in the way of Allah by migrating or not, when the time comes, you will definitely die. You will be separated not only from your homeland, but also from your relatives, friends and beloved ones that you love much more than that. Then, follow a path that will enable you to attain Allah’s consent and make you happy in Paradise. That path is to obey the orders and prohibitions of Allah and His Messenger.

The trueness of what is stated in the verse above is confirmed by the next verse:

“But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness - to them shall We give a Home in Heaven,- lofty mansions beneath which flow rivers,- to dwell therein for aye;- an excellent reward for those who do (good)!” (al-Ankabut, 29/58)

- The addressees of the Quran are human beings. In that case, the style of addressing is in question according to their understanding. In general, people understand “man’s death” from the verse above because the word nafs is used for humans in general. Accordingly, the verse addresses human beings - besides, the reason for its revelation shows it too.

- However, most people understand humans, animals and plants when the word “living being” is used.

As a matter of fact, according to the definition of modern science, “A living being is a being that reproduces and is productive.”

According to the definition above, all three groups of beings mentioned above are living beings.

Knowing the nature of something is one thing and knowing its existence is another. The nature of the human spirit is unknown; similarly, nothing is known other than the apparent biological life of other living beings.

“Yes, life is the most wondrous and subtle miracle of divine power. It is also the greatest of all bounties and the clearest of all proofs of the first creation and the resurrection of the dead (al-mabda’ wa’l-ma’ād). Its finest and most obscure aspect is this: the lowest form of life is plant life, and its first level is the awakening of the embryo or vital cells (al-’uqdat al-ḥayātiyya) in the seeds. Despite being so obvious, widespread, and familiar, this awakening has remained a mystery to human science from the time of Adam till the present.” (see İşarat-ül İ’caz, p. 178)

It means every living being has a life of its own. In biological life, all three parts are common. Plants have a biological life, which means “half-living”. It is called “vegetative life” because plants, like humans and animals, are born, grow and die.

As the lives of these three forms of living beings are different, their souls/spirits are also different. Each of them dies with the departure of the soul/spirit they have.

- To sum up, first of all, those addressed by the verse are only human beings. In almost all of the tafsir sources (more than ten) that we have referred to - as we have mentioned above - the reason for the revelation of the verse is stated as human beings. However, other living beings also have spirits of their own. They live with its presence and die with its absence. It is called “animal life” or “biological vitality”.

Human beings, on the other hand, have a soul/spirit peculiar to them besides that biological life. Although the nature of that spirit is unknown, some scholars call it “ruh as-sultani”.

Probably, it is very appropriate and necessary for man, who is the caliph / sultan of the earth, to have a sultan spirit.

Answer 4:

The translation of the relevant sentences of the verses in question:

“He (Allah) merges Night into Day, and He merges Day into Night.” (Fatir, 35/13)

“He (Allah) created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night.” (az-Zumar, 39/5)

“And a Sign for them is the Night: We withdraw therefrom the Day, and behold they are plunged in darkness.(Yasin, 36/37)

The same reality is expressed in those three verses: “The emergence of night and day one after the other is due to a wonderful order and system that makes one of them emerge when the other disappears.”

With this, Allah draws attention to the wonderful order in the universe and teaches us how the infinite knowledge, wisdom, power and help of the supreme creator, behind the exposure of the earth, which is the home of humans, to different scenes such as night-day / light-darkness, become manifest for the benefit of man.

- Expressing the same reality in a different way is an important part of rhetoric called “art of tafannun”.

For example, it is possible to understand the following from the statement “Allah merges night into day...”:

“In this system, the places of night and day do not change in the daytime when the sun rises and there is light.”

That is, the earth enters a different position at different times - while rotating both around itself and around the sun - with a fine order. Since it is round (in terms of its different regions), it sometimes receives and sometimes does not receive light from the sun. Thus, in the different time periods that occur, sometimes the night enters the day and sometimes the day enters the night.

For example, we can understand the following from the statement “He makes the night overlap the day…”:

The place where night and day occur is the earth. People wrap a turban around their round heads; similarly, Allah wraps the sun’s white turban around the head of the earth. Sometimes a black turban and sometimes a white turban are wrapped with a fine and precise calculation. Thus, day and night occur.

For example, “And a Sign for them is the Night: We withdraw therefrom the Day, and behold they are plunged in darkness”, in the verse above, the existence of the night is a proof of Allah’s knowledge, wisdom and power for people who use their minds because the existence of night and day is a sign of a wonderful order even though the sun and the earth, which cause night and day to come into existence, do not deviate from their courses and remain in their own orbits.

Thus, the day draws out its light in order to leave its place to the night, and the bright earth becomes dark.

Since it is beyond our scope to explain this subject in subtle details, we will cut it short...

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