Magnificence Everywhere (2/15)
The Peerless Planet: Earth
Think for a moment about what is necessary for a man to survive. Water, the sun, oxygen, the atmosphere, plants and animals… All kinds of details, all kinds of conditions you can or can't think of at that moment are naturally available on the Earth. In addition, when we investigate further, we can see that all these vital needs have a web of interrelated details, and that all these details exist in their full splendor on Earth. Everything on Earth, its living things, plants, the sky, and the seas, all these have been created in the best and most complete way in order to suit the existence and survival of humanity.
Along with the Earth, there are also other planets in our solar system. However, among these planets, the only planet that is suitable for life is Earth. The distance of the Earth from the sun, the rotational speed of the Earth on its axis, the inclination of its axis to its orbit, the structure of the Earth's surface and many other independent factors much like these enable our planet to enjoy a warm temperature which is appropriate for life and to diffuse this warmth all over the Earth in a homogeneous way. The composition of the Earth's atmosphere and the size of the Earth are also just as they should be. The light coming to us from the sun, the water we drink, and the foods we enjoy are extremely suitable for our lives.
In short, any sort of close look at the planet we live on will show us that the Earth was designed especially for man. For us to see that the conditions on Earth were specially designed, it will be enough to take a rough look at conditions on other planets. Take Mars, for example. The atmosphere of Mars is a toxic mixture containing a heavy dose of carbon dioxide. There is no water on the surface of the planet. Huge craters caused by the impact of massive meteors are obvious in the picture on the right. As for the weather, monster storms and sandstorms which last for months on end are quite common. The temperature averages -53o C (-64o F).
Considering these features as a whole, Mars, which among our neighboring planets shares the most in common with the Earth, is clearly a dead planet where life is not possible. This comparison palpably demonstrates that the features which make the Earth a livable place are truly tremendous blessings. The One Who has created the entire universe, formed perfectly its stars, planets, mountains and seas, is Allah. Throughout our lives, we should be thankful for His creations and blessings, and take Him as a friend and protector. Allah, Who is the owner of all these things, is the One Who is worthy of all praise. Allah informs us of this fact in the Qur'an:
Is He Who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed? If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nahl: 17-18)
The Explicitly Designed Composition of the Atmosphere
Breathing might mean to you nothing more than inhaling air and then letting it back out. However, for this process to work properly, a system which is perfect from all aspects has been established. We need not make the slightest effort whatsoever in order to breathe. In fact, perhaps most people have never consciously thought about the process at all. Everybody needs to breathe continuously, from the moment we come into this world until we die. All the necessary conditions, in both our body and our environment, have been created by Allah and, therefore, we are able to breathe easily in this way.
First of all, for a person to breathe, it is necessary that the balance of gasses in the atmosphere be arranged just right. Even a slight change in this balance could prove fatal but such failures do not occur at all, because the Earth's atmosphere is a unique mixture that was designed as a combination of very specific conditions all mixed together in a way that functions flawlessly.
The Earth's atmosphere is made up of nitrogen (77%), oxygen (21%), carbon dioxide (1%), argon and other gasses. Let's begin with the most important of these gasses, that is, oxygen.
The atmosphere's preservation of the balance of its oxygen ratio is realized by means of a perfect "recycling" system. Human beings and animals continuously consume oxygen while they produce and expel carbon dioxide gas, which is poisonous for them. Plants, on the other hand, carry out just the opposite process and maintain survival by transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen. Every day, billions of tons of oxygen are released into the atmosphere by plants in this way.
Now, if human beings and animals carried out the same chemical reactions as do plants, the Earth, in a very short time, would become an unlivable planet. If both animals and plants produced oxygen, the atmosphere would become extremely combustible and the smallest spark would cause huge fires. Ultimately, in such a scenario, the Earth would be reduced to a cinder. If, on the other hand, both plants and animals produced carbon dioxide, then the oxygen in the atmosphere would quickly run out and, in short order, all living things would begin to die of suffocation.
All this shows that Allah created the Earth's atmosphere especially for human life. The universe is not an uncontrolled, chaotic place. It has been planned in every detail and Allah, the possessor of eternal power, brought it into being.
How Mountains Strengthen the Earth's Crust
The Earth's crust, the surface on which we daily walk and build our houses safely, in fact moves on a layer called the mantle which is denser than the crust. If there was not a system in place to keep this motion under control, continual shocks and quakes would occur on the Earth and the world would be a truly unlivable place. And yet, the mountains and their extensions under the ground greatly decrease underground movements, and hence such shocks.
The Earth's mountains have come about as a result of movements and clashes of huge plates which make up the planet's crust. When two of these plates collide, one usually slides under the other. The plate on top is pushed up and so forms mountains. At the same time, the plate at the bottom proceeds under the ground and forms a deep protrusion. This means that mountains have deep downward protrusions that are as large as those visible on the surface. In other words, mountains are firmly rooted in the Earth's layer called the mantle.
Therefore, mountains effectively clench the Earth's plates by stretching above and below the ground at the conjunctions of these plates. In this way, mountains prevent the crust of the Earth from sliding on the magma layer or between its own layers. In short, we may compare mountains to nails firmly holding pieces of wood together. This characteristic of the mountains, through counteracting the unstable nature of the Earth's crust, prevents shocks to a significant degree.
These magnificent-looking mountains also have other roles to play in maintaining certain balances on the Earth, especially in dispersing heat.
The temperature difference between the equator and the Earth's poles is about 100°C (212°F). If such a difference arose on the surface level, storms at blinding speeds reaching 1,000 km (621 miles) per hour would devastate the Earth. However the uneven surface of the Earth blocks strong air currents that such heat differences could cause. These mountain ranges begin with the Himalayas in China, continue with the Taurus mountain range in southern Turkey, and then again up into the Alps of Europe. The mountain ranges of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans also figure into this equation.
Like all other details on the Earth, what is manifested in the mountains is part of the endless art of Allah. Allah has created the world where we live in a perfect way. Seeing these magnificent examples, what man must acknowledge is that the most important fact of his life is his duty to serve Allah and to work for this and this alone. Because man is in need of countless blessings, whereas Allah is Rich Beyond Need.
The Balance of the Oceans
The rains, the seas, rivers, streams, the oceans, drinkable water that flows when you turn on a faucet… People are so used to the existence of water that they probably never think about the fact that a major part of the Earth's surface -indeed, most of it- is covered with water. However, what is singularly important here is that, among all known celestial bodies, only the Earth provides drinkable water.
Water is a basic condition for life, but it is entirely absent from the solar system's 63 other celestial bodies. However, fully four-fifths of the Earth's surface is covered with water. In addition to large water masses such as oceans, there are various other water sources whose sizes and attributes are different from each other, such as rivers and small lakes. Some of these waters are too salty to be drinkable, but others are fresh. There is a perfect water balance that has been arranged according to the needs of all living things on the Earth.
By virtue of water, millions of species of creatures exist on Earth, and the balances that are necessary for life are preserved. For example, clouds and rain are formed by the evaporation of large water masses. Water has a high capacity for drawing and holding heat. For this reason, the large water masses of the oceans and seas maintain the balance of the world's heat. Therefore, the temperature difference between day and night in regions near the sea is very small. This makes these regions more livable.
The existence of the oceans, a bird's-eye view of which is seen at the top of the picture on the page to the right, is highly significant. Because the oceans reflect the sun's rays less than land does, they receive more sun energy, yet they disperse this heat in a more balanced way. Therefore, the oceans cool the equatorial regions and prevent them from becoming excessively hot, and also warm the waters of the polar regions to prevent them from freezing completely.
Through the transparency of water, water mosses can photosynthesize under the surface of the ocean. Water is one of the few substances in nature that expands when frozen. It is because of this that the seas and oceans do not freeze from bottom to top.
All of the physical and chemical features of water, of which only a few have been given here, show us that this liquid has been specially created for the needs of human life. It is surely no coincidence that such water is not available on any other planet besides the Earth. The Earth, which has been specially created for human life, has blossomed with life through water, which has also been specially created. Allah, Who has created countless blessings for His servants and bestowed on them an easy mode of living, has created water with unique artistry and delicacy. As He maintains in the Qur'an, "It is He Who sends down water from the sky..." (Surat an-Nahl: 10)