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Miracles of the Qur'an - Harun Yahya

MIRACLES OF THE QUR'AN

 



THE SCIENTIFIC MIRACLES OF THE QUR'AN

BIOMIMETICS: DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM THE DESIGN IN LIVING THINGS
LOCUSTS MOVING IN SWARMS
ANT COMMUNICATION
THE FOOD CYCLE
THE EARS ARE ACTIVE DURING SLEEP
THE IMPORTANCE OF MOVEMENT IN SLEEP
REDUCED MOVEMENT AT NIGHT
CHEST CONTRACTION WITH INCREASING HEIGHT


BIOMIMETICS: DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM THE DESIGN IN LIVING THINGS

There is instruction for you in cattle. From the contents of their bellies, from between the dung and blood, We give you pure milk to drink, easy for drinkers to swallow. (Qur'an, 16:66)

And there is certainly a lesson for you in your livestock. We give you to drink from what is in their bellies and there are many ways in which you benefit from them, and some of them you eat; and you are conveyed on them and on ships as well. (Qur'an, 23:21-22)

Before scientists and research and development experts embark on new projects, they usually look for models in living things and imitate their systems and designs. In other words, they see and study the designs created in nature by Allah and, inspired by these, go on to develop their own new technologies.

This approach has given birth to biometrics, a new branch of science that seeks to imitate living things. In recent times, this branch of science has come to be widely applied in the world of technology. The use of the word "ibratan," (to learn from, advice, importance, important thing, or model) in the above verses is most wise in this regard.

Biomimetics refers to all of the substances, equipment, mechanisms, and systems that people produce in order to imitate the systems present in nature. The scientific community currently feels a great need for the use of such equipment, particularly in the fields of nanotechnology, robot technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, and the military.

Biomimicry was first put forward by Janine M. Benyus, a writer and scientific observer from Montana. This concept was later analysed by many other people and began to find applications. Some of the comments made regarding biomimicry are as follows:

The theme of "biomimicry" is that we have much to learn from the natural world, as model, measure, and mentor. What these researchers have in common is a reverence for natural designs, and the inspiration to use them to solve human problems.146

David Oakey, product strategist for Interface Inc., a company that uses nature to increasing product quality and productivity, says:

Nature is my mentor for business and design, a model for the way of life. Nature's system has worked for millions of years … Biomimicry is a way of learning from nature.147

Scientists who began to favour this rapidly spreading idea accelerated their studies by using nature's incomparable and flawless designs as models. These designs represent models for technological research, for they provide the maximum productivity for the least amount of materials and energy, and are self-maintaining, environmentally friendly, silent, aesthetically attractive, resistant, and long-lasting. The High Country News newspaper described biomimetics as "a scientific movement" and made the following comment:

By using natural systems as models, we can create technologies that are more sustainable than those in use today.148

Janine M. Benyus, who believed that models in nature should be imitated, gave the following examples in her book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (Perennial: 2002):

  • Hummingbirds cross the Gulf of Mexico on less than 3 grams (one tenth of an ounce) of fuel,
  • Dragonflies outmanoeuvre our best helicopters,
  • Heating and air-conditioning systems in termite mounds are superior in terms of equipment and energy consumption to those made by human beings,
  • A bat's high-frequency transmitter is more efficient and sensitive than our own radar systems,
  • Light-emitting algae combine various chemicals to illuminate their bodies,
  • Arctic fish and frogs freeze solid and then spring to life, having protected their organs from ice damage,
  • Chameleons and cuttlefish change the pattern of their skin to blend instantly with their surroundings,
  • Bees, turtles, and birds navigate without maps, and
  • Whales and penguins dive without scuba gear.

These astonishing mechanisms and designs in nature, of which we have cited only a few, have the potential to enrich technology in a wide range of fields. This potential is becoming ever more obvious as our accumulated knowledge and technological means increase.

All animals possess many features that amaze human beings. Some have the ideal hydrodynamic shape that allows them to move through water, and others employ senses that appear very foreign to us. Most of these are features that researchers have encountered for the first time, or, rather, that they have only recently discovered. On occasion, it is necessary to bring together prominent scientists from such fields as computer technology, mechanical engineering, electronics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology in order to imitate just one feature of a living thing.

Scientists are amazed when confronted with the incomparable structures and systems they are discovering with every passing day, and use that amazement to inspire themselves to produce new technologies for humanity's benefit. Realising that the existing perfect systems and extraordinary techniques applied in nature are far superior to their own knowledge and intellect, they became aware of these matchless solutions to existing problems and are now resorting to the designs in nature to resolve problems that have eluded them for years. As a result, they will perhaps achieve success in a very short time. Moreover, by imitating nature, scientists are making very important gains with regard to time and labour and also to the targeted use of material resources.

Today we see the developing technology gradually discovering the miracles of creation and using the extraordinary designs in living things, as in the case of biomimetics, in the service of humanity. Benyus has stated that "'Doing it nature's way' has the potential to change the way we grow food, make materials, harness energy, heal ourselves, store information, and conduct business."149 The following are just a few of the many scientific papers to have considered such subjects:

"Science is Imitating Nature,"150

"Life's Lessons in Design,"151

"Biomimicry: Secrets Hiding in Plain Sight,"152

"Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature,"153

"Biomimicry: Genius That Surrounds Us,"154

"Biomimetics: Creating Materials from Nature's Blueprints,"155 and

"Engineers Ask Nature for Design Advice."156

In the nineteenth century, nature was imitated only in aesthetic terms. Artists and architects of that time were influenced by nature and used examples of the structures' external appearances in their works. Yet the realisation of nature's extraordinary designs and that these could be used to benefit human beings only began in the twentieth century with the study of natural mechanisms at the molecular level. Scientists today are learning from living things, as revealed in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago.


LOCUSTS MOVING IN SWARMS

They will emerge from their graves with downcast eyes, like swarming locusts. (Qur'an, 54:7)

This verse describes all people's situation in the Hereafter as one resembling swarming locusts. There is great wisdom in this simile.

A great deal of information was obtained about locusts in the twentieth century by conducting wide-ranging studies using micro-cameras. Locust swarms contain huge numbers of individual locusts that behave as a single body. Coming together in swarms that are kilometres long and wide, they look just like a dark cloud. It has been established, for instance, that a single swarm of desert locusts can cover 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) and contain between 40 and 80 million locusts per square kilometre.157

In addition, they deposit their eggs in sandy soils like seeds and, after the larvae have remained underground for a long period of time, they all emerge together. After digging a 10-15 cm-long tunnel in the ground, a female locust lays 95-158 eggs at once. Females can lay eggs at least three times in their lifetime. When the larvae have matured after 10-65 days, depending on the air temperature, they emerge in a large group. Up to 1,000 egg pods have been found in one square metre. Locust swarms are large enough to cover several hundred square kilometres, with the number of adult locusts per square kilometre varying from between 40 to 80 million.158 Their long underground existence and sudden emergence in vast numbers all at the same time may resemble the resurrection of human beings on the Day of Judgement. (Allah knows best.)

Today, locusts are being studied by special units, which employ remote control imaging systems. Even NASA satellite data are used to identify areas in Africa where desert locust colonies have developed. Thanks to satellite data, it is possible to carry out wide-ranging research on land and in space over an 18 million square kilometre area.

As we have seen, the fact that the Qur'an made such a comparison at a time when these technologies did not exist is one of the proofs that it is the revelation of the Omniscient Allah.


ANT COMMUNICATION

The Qur'an indicates, when recounting Prophet Sulayman's (as) life, that ants have a communication system:

Then, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant said: "Ants! Enter your dwellings, so that Sulayman and his troops do not crush you unwittingly." (Qur'an, 27: 18)

Scientific research into ants has revealed that these tiny animals have very organised social lives and that, as a requirement of that organisation, they also have a very complex communication network. For example, National Geographic reports that:

Huge and tiny, an ant carries in her head multiple sensory organs to pick up chemical and visual signals vital to colonies that may contain a million or more workers, all of which are female. The brain contains half a million nerve cells; eyes are compound; antennae act as nose and fingertips. Projections below the mouth sense taste; hairs respond to touch.159

Even if we are not aware of it, ants use a variety of methods to communicate, thanks to their very sensitive sensory organs. They use these organs at all times, from finding prey to following one another, and from building their nests to waging war. With 500,000 nerve cells squeezed into their 2-3 mm bodies, they possess a communications system that astonishes human beings.

The reactions in their communications have been divided into several specific categories: alarm, recruitment, grooming, exchange of oral and anal liquid, group effect, recognition, caste determination…160 Ants, which establish an ordered society by means of these reactions, live a life based on the mutual exchange of information. To bring about this exchange, they sometimes exhibit more flawless communication in areas that human beings often cannot resolve through speech, such as coming together, sharing, cleaning, and defence.

Ants mainly communicate on the chemical level. These semiochemicals, known as pheromones, are chemical compounds that are perceived by smell and secreted by internal glands. In addition, they play the most important role in organising ant societies. When an ant secretes a pheromone, the other ants receive it by means of smell or taste and duly respond. Research into ant pheromones has revealed that all signals are emitted according to the needs of the colony. Moreover, the intensity of the pheromone emitted also varies according to the urgency of the situation at hand.161

As we have seen, ants require a profound knowledge of chemistry to do what they do. The fact that the Qur'an emphasized this fact 1,400 years ago, a time when there was no such knowledge about ants, is another one of its scientific miracles.


THE FOOD CYCLE

Allah splits the seed and kernel. He brings forth the living from the dead, and produces the dead out of the living. That is Allah, so how are you misguided? (Qur'an, 6:95)


As shown in the diagram, dead plants and animals are broken down by bacteria and transformed into minerals. This organic waste absorbed into the soil constitutes the basic foodstuff of plants. This nutritional cycle is therefore of vital importance for all living things.

In the above verse, our attention is drawn to a food cycle of which people at the time of the Qur'an's revelation could have known nothing.

When a living thing dies, micro-organisms quickly cause it to decompose. The dead body is thus divided up into organic molecules that mix with the soil and form the basic source of food for plants, animals, and, ultimately, humanity. Were it not for this nutritional cycle, life would not be possible.

Bacteria are responsible for meeting all living things' mineral and food needs. Plants and some animals, which remain almost dead (hibernation) throughout the winter, revive in the summer and meet all of their mineral and food requirements through the activities of bacteria during the winter. Throughout the winter, bacteria separate organic wastes (i.e., dead plants and animals) and turn them into minerals.162 Thus, when living things reawaken in spring, they find food ready and waiting for them. Thanks to bacteria, a "spring cleaning" has been carried out in their environment and the necessary amount of food has been prepared for nature as it returns to life in the spring.

As we have seen, dead creatures play a vital role in the emergence of new ones. This transition, indicated in the Qur'an as "He brings forth the living from the dead, and produces the dead out of the living," is carried out in the most perfect manner. This is one of the proofs that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah.


THE EARS ARE ACTIVE DURING SLEEP

So We sealed their ears [with sleep] in the cave for a number of years. (Qur'an, 18:11)

The original Arabic of the phrase "We sealed their ears" in the Qur'an is the verb daraba. This bears the metaphorical meaning of "We have made them sleep." Used in reference to the ears, daraba means "preventing the ears from hearing." The fact that only the sense of hearing is mentioned here is very significant.

According to recent scientific discoveries, the ear is the only sensory organ active while a person is sleeping. This is why we need an alarm clock to wake up.163 The wisdom of the phrase "We sealed their ears" is, in all probability, that Allah closed the hearing of the young people in question, for which reason they remained asleep for many years.


THE IMPORTANCE OF MOVEMENT IN SLEEP

You would have supposed them to be awake, whereas in fact they were asleep. We moved them to the right and to the left, and, at the entrance, their dog stretched out its paws. If you had looked down and seen them, you would have turned from them and run, and have been filled with terror at the sight of them. (Qur'an, 18:18)

The above verse refers to the People of the Cave, who remained asleep for hundreds of years. In addition, Allah also reveals that He moved their bodies to the left and right. The wisdom of this was only discovered in recent times.

People who remain lying down in the same position for long period of time encounter serious health problems, such as circulation difficulties, sores, and blood clotting in that part of the body in contact with the surface on which they lie.164

The resulting sores are known as "bed sores" or "pressure sores." Due to the constant pressure on one part of the body when one is not moving for a long period of time, the blood vessels become constricted and can close altogether. As a result, the oxygen and other nutrients carried by the blood fail to reach the skin, and the skin begins to die. This leads to the appearance of sores on the body. Unless these sores are treated, fat and muscles can also die.165

These sores, which form under the skin or tissue, can assume serious dimensions unless treated. If they become infected, they can even lead to death. The healthiest thing to do, therefore, is to change the position of the body every 15 minutes in order to reduce this pressure. Patients who cannot move themselves therefore receive special care and are moved every 2 hours by other people.166 The fact that these medical facts, only discovered in the last century, are referred to in the Qur'an is yet another of its miracles.


REDUCED MOVEMENT AT NIGHT

He splits the sky at dawn, and appoints the night as a time of stillness and the Sun and Moon as a means of reckoning. (Qur'an, 6:96)

The Arabic word sakanan, which appears in the original of the above verse, means "repose, rest, time to withdraw to rest, time for a break." As indicated by Allah, night is the time when human beings rest. The hormone melatonin, secreted at night, prepares the body for sleep by slowing down peoples' physical movements, making them sleepy and tired, and functioning as a natural tranquilliser that eases their minds.167 During sleep, heartbeat and respiration rhythms slow down and blood pressure falls. In the morning, the production of the hormones stops and the body is stimulated to awaken.168

At the same time, sleep allows the body's muscles and tissues to repair themselves and the body to replace old or dead cells. Since energy expenditure is reduced during sleep, the body stores energy throughout the night. Several chemicals vital for the immune system and growth hormones are also secreted during sleep.169

In the event that people fail to get enough sleep, therefore, the immune system is immediately affected and the body becomes more susceptible to sickness. If people are unable to sleep for two nights, they will find it harder to concentrate and their error levels will rise. If they are deprived of sleep for three nights, they will begin to hallucinate and be unable to think logically.170

Night is as much a time for rest for other living things as it is for human beings. This situation, referred to by Allah in the verse "the night as a time of stillness," indicates a fact that cannot be observed by the naked eye: Many activities that take place during the day slow down and rest during the night. In plants, for instance, perspiration in leaves and photosynthesis begin to rise when the sun rises. In the afternoon, the situation is reversed. In other words, photosynthesis slows down and respiration increases, because perspiration is accelerated as the temperature rises. At night time, as the temperature falls, perspiration slows down and the plant rests. Most plants would die if just one night failed to take place. From that point of view, night means rest and reinvigoration for plants, just as it does for human beings.171

Movement at the molecular level also declines at night. The radiation emitted by the Sun during the day activates the atoms and molecules in Earth's atmosphere and causes them to achieve higher energy levels. As darkness falls, the atoms and molecules fall to lower energy levels and start to give off radiation.172

These facts are, in all probability, indicated Surat al-An'am 96 and reveal yet another of the Qur'an's countless miracles. (Allah knows best.)


CHEST CONTRACTION WITH INCREASING HEIGHT

Human beings need oxygen and air pressure in order to live. Breathing is made possible by the oxygen in the atmosphere reaching the air sacs in our lungs. As elevation rises, however, atmospheric pressure goes down as the atmosphere becomes thinner. Therefore, the amount of oxygen entering the blood stream declines and it becomes harder to breathe. As the air sacs grow narrow and contract, we feel as if we cannot breathe.

If the amount of oxygen in the blood is less than the body needs, several symptoms emerge: extreme fatigue, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and loss of judgement. When a certain height is reached, it finally becomes impossible for a human being to breathe at all.173 This is why we need oxygen bottles and special clothing in order to survive at such elevations.

Someone at 5,000-7,500 metres (16,500-24,500 feet) above sea-level may faint and go into a coma because of breathing difficulties. That explains the presence of oxygen equipment in airplanes. There are also special systems that regulate air pressure when planes fly at 9,000-10,000 metres (29,500-33,000 feet) above sea-level.

Anoxia occurs when oxygen fails to reach the tissues. This oxygen deficiency occurs at heights of 3,000-4,500 metres (10,000-15,000 feet). Some people even lose consciousness at such elevations, but can be saved by immediate oxygen treatment.

In the comparison made in the verse below, this physical truth, the changes that take place in the chest with increasing height, is indicated in these terms:

When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted as if he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those who have no faith. (Qur'an, 6:125)

 
 

    

146. Frederick Pratter, “Stories from the Field Offer Clues on Physics and Nature,” Christian Science Monitor, www.biomimicry.org/reviews_text.html.
147. “Biomimicry,” www.bfi.org/Trimtab/spring01/biomimicry.htm.
148. Michelle Nijhuis, High Country News, 6 July 1998, vol. 30, no. 13, www.biomimicry.org/reviews_text.html.
149. “Biomimicry Explained: A Conversation with Janine Benyus,” www.biomimicry.org/faq.html.
150. Bilim ve Teknik Dergisi (Journal of Science and Technology) (August 1994): 43.
151. Philip Ball, “Life's lessons in design,” Nature 409 (2001): 413-16, www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v409/n6818/full/409413a0_fs.html&filetype=&_UserReference=C0A804EF465069D8A41132467E093F0EDE99.
152. “Biomimicry: Secrets Hiding in Plain Sight,” NBL (New Bottom Line) 6, no. 22, 17 November 1997, www.natlogic.com/resources/nbl/v06/n22.html.
153. Janine M. Benyus, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.: 1998), www.biomimicry.org/reviews_text.html.
154. Ed Hunt, “Biomimicry: Genius that Surrounds Us,” Tidepool editor, www.biomimicry.org/reviews_text.html.
155. Robin Eisner, “Biomimetics: Creating Materials from Nature's Blueprints,” The Scientist, 8 July 1991, www.the-scientist.com/yr1991/july/research_910708.html.
156. Jim Robbins, “Engineers Ask Nature for Design Advice,” New York Times, 11 December 2001.
157. “The Reach of the Desert Locust,” http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/Locusts/locusts2.html.
158. Frequently Asked Questions, Desert Locust Information Service, www.fao.org/NEWS/GLOBAL/LOCUSTS/LOCFAQ.htm#q5.
159. National Geographic 165, no. 6, 777.
160. Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, The Ants (Cambridge: Harvard University Press: 1990), 227.
161. Ibid., 244.
162. Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) 234 (May 1987) 17.
163. Kazi, 130 Evident Miracles in the Qur'an, 108.
164. Ibid.
165. Treating Pressure Sores (Agency for Health Care Policy and Research: 1994).
166. Kenneth Davis, Jr., et al. “The Acute Effects of Body Position Strategies and Respiratory Therapy in Paralyzed Patients with Acute Lung Injury,” Critical Care 5 (2001): 81-87, www.biomedcentral.com/1364-8535/5/81/abstract.
167. “Melatoning the Growth Hormone,” Health Journal, www.bodyandfitness.com/Beauty/Anti-Aging/melatonin1.htm.
168. “Melatonin,” www.stenlake.com.au/ShowDocument.asp?DocumentId=53.
169. Dr. William H. Philpott, M.D. and Sharon Taplin, “Therapeutic Sleep,” www.magneticjewelryoriginals.com/thersleep.html.
170. Marshall Brain, “How Sleep Works,” http://fitness.howstuffworks.com/sleep.htm?printable=1.
171. “Light, Temperature and Humidity,” Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas A&M University System College Station, Texas, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/greenhouse/nursery/guides/ornamentals/light.html.
172. “Night-time on Venus”, 18 January 2001, http://beta.physicsweb.org/article/news/5/1/10.
173. Medical Encyclopedia, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, www.rwjhamilton.org/Atoz/Encyclopedia/article/000133.asp.