Orographic Effect in the Quran Miracle

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search

Orographic effect is not mentioned in the Quran [1]. Some Islamic apologists claim that it is.

Miracle claim

Mountains can trigger rain.

Cloud Formation
Mountains pose a significant obstacle to stable air flow. As air approaches the mountain it is forced upwards. At higher altitudes, the temperatures drop, condensing water vapor. This process results in the formation of clouds. Mountains may also restrict or slow down air flow. This restriction may also result in lifting air to high altitudes and creating clouds prior to the air reaching the slopes of the mountain.

Orographic Effect
As the air is forced higher by the mountain, the clouds that were formed eventually release water in the form of precipitation. This so-called orographic effect occurs because the clouds' ability to hold moisture lessens as temperatures drop. The higher the mountain, the lower the temperatures at its peak. This forces the clouds to release the precipitation in the form of thunderstorms in the summer and severe snowstorms in the winter. The orographic effect occurs on the windward side -- the side that faces the wind.
Sciencing, How Do Mountains Affect Precipitation?, 2018

The upwind side of the mountain receives more rain while the downwind side receives sporadic rain or even dry conditions. However this was portrayed in the Quran 1400 years before it was discovered. The Quran says that higher grounds receive more rain while other grounds receive dew.

[Quran 2:265] And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah's approval, and to strengthen their souls, is that of a garden on a high ground, if heavy rain falls on it its produce is doubled and if no heavy rain falls then dew. Allah is seeing of everything you do.

"Rabua رَبْوَةٍ" means high ground. In this verse the higher ground receive more rain while other grounds that didn't receive rain will receive dew. Today we know why higher ground receive more rain, this is the orographic effect.

How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known that higher ground receive more rain?

The verse

It's beneficial to see the verse in context with the preceding verse. The meaning was already analyzed in a another "miracle".

2:264 O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.

2:265 And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the approval of Allah and assuring [reward for] themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour - so it yields its fruits in double. And [even] if it is not hit by a downpour, then a drizzle [is sufficient]. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing.

As we can see the verse 2:265 itself says that it is a parable. Apologists ignore that it's a parable and rather consider it as a scientific explanation of natural phenomena.

They try to claim that the verse describes orographic effect, where wind blows over a mountain and the windward side (the one that is hit by the wind) is very rainy and the leeward side (the other side) is dry, because as the wind gets up, it gets cold and the water vapours in it condensate (in form of rain/snow/dew..) and then the wind gets over the top, but now it is dried up, so there's no rain on the other side of the mountain. The verse doesn't talk about two sides of mountain at all. It talks about one place on a mountain with one garden and either the garden receives heavy rain or drizzle (in other translations dew). So it does not describe the orographic effect.

And if the Quran really said that on one side of the mountain there's rain and on the other side there is dew, then it would be wrong. Because both water and dew are condensed water vapor. The windward side is rich on both dew and rain and the other side is low on both rain and dew.

And lastly, even if the verse described the sides of the mountains correctly, it wouldn't be a scientific miracle, because the orographic effect was observable in the 7th century. You can find in the 7th cenutry a mountain that is from one side rainy and from the other side dry.

See also