Weathering and Erosion Miracle in the Quran
"Weathering" (in Arabic تجوية, tajwyyah) is mentioned zero times in the Quran . And "erosion" (in Arabic تعرية, ta'ryyah) is mentioned also zero times in the Quran . But some Islamic apologists like to claim that the Quran talks about weathering and erosion.
The Miracle Claim
Friction between the stationary rocks and the moving water and sand smoothes the surface of the rocks.
Weathering and erosion slowly chisel, polish, and buff Earth's rock into ever evolving works of art-and then wash the remains into the sea. The processes are definitively independent, but not exclusive. Weathering is the mechanical and chemical hammer that breaks down and sculpts the rocks. Erosion transports the fragments away. Working together they create and reveal marvels of nature from tumbling boulders high in the mountains to sandstone arches in the parched desert to polished cliffs braced against violent seas. National Geographic, Erosion and Weathering, 2019
The friction smoothes and polishes the rocks. This was known recently, however this was portrayed in the Quran 1400 years before it was discovered.
[Quran 2:264] O you who believe! Do not nullify your charitable deeds with reminders and hurtful words, like him who spends his wealth to be seen by the people, and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His likeness is that of a rock covered with sand, a downpour strikes it, and leaves it smooth. They gain nothing from their efforts. Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.
"Safwan صَفْوَانٍ" is type of rock. "Saldan صَلْدًا" means smooth. In this verse rainwater and sand smoothes the rock. Today we know that friction between the stationary rocks and the moving water and sand smoothes the surface of the rocks.
How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known that how to smoothen rocks?
It's beneficial to see the verse in the context with the next verse.
- 2:264 explains that a disbeliever who does good deeds is like a rock covered with sand
- 2:265 says that a believer who does good deeds is like a garden with harvest
And the verses also say that when heavy rain comes:
- the rock will lose the sand
- the garden will have more harvest
And the meaning is that the good deeds of a disbeliever are worthless, they're like sand that gets removed by the water. So a disbeliever who does good deeds is still a bad person. While the believer who does good deeds, he is a good person and will be rewarded.
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.
The verses are about theology, not about science.
As the apologetic claim includes: "Weathering is the mechanical and chemical hammer that breaks down and sculpts the rocks". And this doesn't fit on the verse. The best adepts for "the hammer" in the verse are sand and rain. The verse doesn't indicate that the sand or the rain cause mechanical damage to the rock. Therefore the verse doesn't talk about weathering. The sand is just placed on the rock and then it is removed by the rain. No change to the rock.
The apologetic claim includes "Erosion transports the fragments away". It transports the fragments of the rock. The fragments of the rock are no longer part of the rock, because they were divided from it by the weathering. But as we've established, the verse doesn't talk about weathering and therefore cannot talk about the subsequent erosion. The best candidate for "erosion" in the verse would be the rain. But the rain in the verse doesn't transport small pieces of the rock, but it transports the sand that was on the rock. So the verse doesn't talk about erosion.
In order to make the verse look as if it talks about weathering and erosion, apologists translated the word صفوان (safwan) as "a type of rock" and صلدا (saldan) as "smooth". As if they wanted to indicate that the rock was not smooth, but it became smooth because of the sand, so the sand weathered the rock.
Firstly, although the word saldan could mean "smooth", it is usually translated as "bare":
Muhsin Khan: ..a smooth rock (صفوان, safwan) on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare (صلدا, saldan)..
Yusuf Ali: ..a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it (Just) a bare stone..
Sahih International: ..a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare..
Pickthall: ..a rock whereon is dust of earth; a rainstorm smiteth it, leaving it smooth and bare..
But even if it meant "smooth" as you can see, the word safwan which apologists translated as "a type of rock" is a specific type of rock and that is a smooth rock. So the rock was smooth before the sand was put on it. So "the sand made it smooth" doesn't make sense. "The rain made it smooth" would make sense in the meaning "the rain made it smooth again as it was before the sand was put on it", but that would not be weathering nor erosion.