In the Qur’an, could the example of a vessel sailing in the sea be an attribution to the buoyancy force of water?

Details of the Question
In the Qur’an, could the example of a vessel sailing in the sea be an attribution to the buoyancy force of water?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The verses about the vessel sailing in the sea can be deemed as attribution to the buoyancy force of water.

A vessel is the first technological product which provided people with civilized and social solidarity such as transportation, trade and economy. When we consider this matter with proofs of benevolence, this marvelously occurring of a mechanism which brings us all these advantages leaves us no doubt that this is an obvious proof of the All-Merciful God’s benevolence. Therefore, the vessel mentioned in the Qur’an is cited along with great pictures of blessings such as the sun, the moon, atmosphere, clouds and so on: 

 “Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day (with their periods shortening and lengthening), and the vessels sailing in the sea with profit to people, and the water that God sends down from the sky, therewith reviving the earth after its death and dispersing therein all kinds of living creatures, and His disposal of the winds, and the clouds subservient between sky and earth – surely there are signs (demonstrating that He is the One God deserving worship, and the sole Refuge and Helper) for a people who reason and understand.” ( the Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:164)

In the verse, eight different cosmological proofs are listed:

  1. The creation of the heavens
  2. The creation of the earth
  3. The alternation of night and day
  4. Vessels sailing in the sea
  5. Water pouring down the sky and therewith reviving the earth after its death
  6. Spreading of all kinds of creatures on the earth
  7. Disposal of the wind to different directions
  8. Clouds moving and changing their places

 

It is interesting that all these proofs are ordinary natural events that surround humans and that humans live in and see continuously every day. So, humans live in the heart of the proofs which reflect all the time the presence and uniqueness of Allah and His power and might.

Nature is a miracle itself; but people are unaware of the manifestations in natural events since they constantly see such events every day. For example, had the heavens, in other words celestial bodies and their systems been designated differently, and the earth been differently created, there would not have been the life system and living creatures as we know them. The constant alternation of day and night in the same order is not only useful for humans but also for other kinds of creatures like animals and plants.

Vessels sailing in the sea, constitutes the importance of divine regulations which provide us with these sorts of means of transport and lets us make use of them to continue our lives and ease them.

Rain, is one of the most important natural events which engenders the world worth living. Disposal of winds towards different directions and the movement of the clouds in the same way provide numerous benefits from the order of meteorological events to the pollination of plants and to the distribution of rain.

It is because of the presence of Allah that nature is present and the order in nature continues. Processing of nature in order proves not only the presence of Allah but also His uniqueness, His not having an associate, the perfection of His will and power, His continuality and His disposal and impact on things as well. If He lost interest in the universe just for a second, then, at that very moment, the universe would be destroyed or there would only be a chaos left.

These short explanations show us that along with the book of inspiration, the book of universe is full of evidence of the presence of Allah; however, only those who reason can understand these verses. For this reason, at the end of the verse, it is stated that in such events that are listed, Surely there are signs (demonstrating that He is the One God deserving worship, and the sole Refuge and Helper) for a people who reason and understand.” (the Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:164). As the mind is one of the greatest blessing Allah bestowed on humans, it is also necessary that humans make good use of their minds and reasoning in order to come to truer conclusions with appropriate examination of events which proves the presence, oneness and power of a Sublime Creator, as they do in other issues.

According to Fakhraddin Ar-Razi, this verse shows that it is necessary to make use of not only traditional information but also mental abilities in the matter of proving the presence of the Creator. ( IV, 179)

In order to appropriately examine and observe beings and events in nature, and to reach scientific facts and in this case to discover divine order and regulations in nature, and to see the “verses” which lead us to Allah consequently, it is necessary to study natural sciences which mean the methods of examining, observing and discovering. It is impossible for those who lack mental and scientific maturity that is obtained by examining nature, to see and discover the regulations and proofs therein. Also, this shows that the Qur’an leads us through scientific world to belief and the right path. ( Kur’an Yolu, Interpretation – Religious Affairs, I: 158, 159)

Furthermore, it is Allah Who creates causes and effects. People usually cannot see this fact, and even if they can, they forget. For instance, just like it is Allah Who created water and its buoyancy force, it is also Allah Who lets huge vessels sail in the water. The verse displays us this and similar proofs of His oneness. In this way, it emphasizes that we get to know more about Allah Who created these blessings and made them servants for us; and we worship Him and be thankful to Him.

Moreover, Allah, the Almighty, calls people to use their minds to notice the physical law which makes a vessel sail in the water and not sink, and He advises them to contemplate. So, in this verse, it is pointed out that people should consider deeply the matter of how a material can float on the water without sinking, and as a result, they should establish and develop marine sciences, researches and studies and marine industry.

The word “fulk” in the original text of the Qur’an means “to revolve” and we can consider that it reminds us of water turbines. It may be pointing out to the program to produce the necessary technology to convert water power into energy.

Vessels sailing in the sea help people a lot. There are vessels by means of which commercial goods are transported; and there are vessels that are used in the war and there are ones that are used for research. It is understood from the verse that all these have been produced for the use of people. Technology based on the law of buoyancy of materials on the surface of water will be for the benefit of people.

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