“And in the earth are neighbouringtracts…….” (Quran 13:4)
This inimitable Qur’anic expression includes the following facts:
The earth’s crust consists of 7 large neighboring tectonic plates in addition to a number of smaller ones. They are separated by a huge network of rifts, the depth of which ranges between 65 and 150 km; their length reaches tens of thousands of kilometers and surround the earth completely like a twisting single crack that scientists liken to the seams on a tennis ball, which also was mentioned by Quran "And by the Earth which has its own Sad'a (Fault)" (Quran 86:12) as the Arabic term mentioned in the verse Sad'a means Split or Fault.
The Major tectonic plates
African Plate - Antarctic Plate - Arabian Plate - Australian Plate - Caribbean Plate - Cocos Plate - Eurasian Plate - Indian Plate - Juan de Fuca Plate - Nazca Plate - North American Plate - Pacific Plate - Philippine Sea Plate - Scotia Plate - South American Plate
·Every plate in the crust has its own origin and consequently these plates differ in their rocky and mineral content and in their density and thickness.
·Every plate in the crust consists of three main kinds of rocks which are: the igneous, the sedimentary and the metamorphic rocks along with their different combinations, which in turn form neighboring tracts in each plate of the crust. These differ in their natural and chemical properties, in their external appearances as well as in their forms on the surface.
·The igneous rocks, for example, are divided into acidic, intermediate, basic and ultra-basic groups. In each group there are rocks that exist at profound depth, with high crystallization, and in which crystals reach great sizes (pegmatitic).There are also rocks, which exist in a medium depth from the earth’s surface and consequently their crystallization is medium as well as their crystals’ size (phaneritic).Also, there are the glassy volcanic rocks (meaning they lack crystallization) or are very low in crystallization (aphanitic).The same diversity applies for the sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.Depending on the dominance of any of these rock types, in any part of the rocky cover, differences in the formed neighboring tracts for each of these plates will exist and consequently the same is true throughout the rocky surface of earth.
·There is an apparent difference between the kinds of soil resulting from the erosion of each rock type, which is due to the difference between the rocks’ source and their chemical and mineral content, as well as the differences in environmental circumstances (climate, topography, existing forms of life, etc.).The soil covering each kind of formed rock, from each plate of earth’s covering, differs greatly from one spot to another, taking the form of neighboring tracts.Thus, it gives the land tremendous diversity in its natural and chemical attributes and in its arability.
From tectonic plates to different ecosystems, the earth is differentiated into neighbouring tracts
So, the earth differs from once place to another based on differences between neighboring tracts, differences between the plates forming its rocky cover, differences in the kinds of rocks forming each one of those plates, and differences in the kinds of soil resulting from weathering and erosion of each type of rock. All this exists under many environmental circumstances, in different climatic regions and topographies, all the while supporting varied forms of life.Hence, these neighboring tracts vary widely in their arability and in their vegetation that produces different fruits.Research has showed us that every form of life lives in its own environment; and, accordingly, the earth’s cover consists of many domains and ecosystems, each of them distinguished by its geographical characteristics (topographies, climate, kinds of rocks and soils, and its related biological groups).For example, Allah the Almighty has granted some forms of life the ability to coexist with each other; a useful coexistence for the two kinds in order to live in a mutual symbiosis. This coexistence may be useful to only one of them, but at the same time it is not harmful to the other. If it is harmful to the host, we call this a parasitic relationship.
Every living organism has its own habitat, i.e. its location in a specific environmental region, with a specific ecosystem including kinds of rocks and soils, surface topographies, climate conditions, and kinds of coexisting living organisms with which they interact, affect and are themselves affected.
Ecosystems are differently distributed on the earth’s surface. They vary from tropical zones that are distinguished by high temperature and high humidity, to arctic regions characterized by their cold, dry environment, with moderate regions in between.They even vary in the same location between high summits, sloping hills and plains. On summits where height exceeds three thousand meters, life forms are reduced to some algae that grow on ice or pools resulting from molten ice. Tiny flowers spread between rock crevices grow between about 2500-3000 m. Alpine fir trees grow between about 2000-2500 m. Conifer forests grow between about 1500-2000 m. Deciduousforests growbetween about 1000-2000 m. Below that, from a thousand meters above sea level, forests and different forms of vegetation spread over the land.
|Earth's major Ecosystems|
Many of these ecosystems overlap each other in a gradual manner, although some of these ecosystems reach distinct boundaries where the environment changes abruptly. Every ecosystem varies according to that gradual or abrupt change of climatic conditions or to human intervention, which leads to the change of the vegetation or its elimination, or according to animal migration or extinction.All this contributes to the diversity of neighboring tracts that differ in their geology and their physical and chemical attributes.They also differ according to their soils, their environmental conditions, the native life forms and the relative geologic age of the region.Since these neighbouring tracts are in a state of constant change, the noble Qur’anic verse referred to the term tracts as an indefinite noun (tracts) and not as a definite one (the tracts); it is indeed one of many fascinating flares of the verse.
Scientists did not recognize these facts until the last decades of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.The fact that they were mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in the beginning of the seventh century and revealed to an illiterate prophet (PBUH), in a nation that had an overwhelming majority of illiterates, proves without a doubt that the Holy Qur’an is truly the words of Allah, and asserts the Prophethood of the Last of the Messengers (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and Companions and those who followed his guidance and words until the Day of Judgment).