Don’t they see how We come to the land eroding it at its extremities?… (Qur’an, Ar-Rad- 13:41)
021.044► بَلْ مَتَّعْنَا هَؤُلاءِ وَآبَاءَهُمْ حَتَّى طَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْعُمُرُ أَفَلا يَرَوْنَ أَنَّا نَأْتِي الأرْضَ نَنْقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا أَفَهُمُ الْغَالِبُونَ
… Don’t they see how We come to the land eroding it from its extremities?… (Qur’an, Al-Anbiya -21:44)
The Earth is bombarded by proton, electron and alpha particles from the Sun. These solar winds are powerful enough to separate the atmosphere from the Earth. However, it will take about five times longer than the total life of the Sun at the Earth’s present rate of matter loss (at most 3 kg [6.6 lbs] per second) for the atmosphere to be used up.32 That is because, thanks to the powerful magnetic field formed by the magnetosphere in the atmosphere, the Earth is to some extent protected from this powerful erosion. The loss of ions-oxygen, helium and hydrogen-dispersed over the Earth’s ionosphere layer into the depths of space is of much smaller dimensions than the vast layer of air surrounding the Earth. Even so, the amount leaking into space is nevertheless of a significant size.
Thanks to NASA spacecraft, researchers have obtained concrete evidence that energy explosions on the Sun cause oxygen and other gases to disperse into space from the outer layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists first observed that the Earth experiences a loss of matter from its outer layers on September 24-25, 1998.
However, the above verses may also be referring to the loss of land on Earth in another regard.
At the present time, the polar ice caps are melting and the water level in the oceans is rising. The increasing quantity of water is covering ever more land. As coastal areas come under water, the land surface or total amount of land is decreasing.The expression “eroding it from its extremities” in the above verses may well be pointing to coastal areas being covered by water.
A New York Times report on this subject reads:
Over the last century, the average surface temperature of the globe has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, and the rate of warming has accelerated in the last quarter-century. That is a significant amount… Previous studies of satellite and submarine observations have seemed to establish a warming trend in the northern polar region and raise the possibility of a melting icecap. Scientists at the Goddard Space Science Institute, a NASA research center in Manhattan, compared data from submarines in the 1950′s and 1960′s with 1990′s observations, demonstrating that the ice cover over the entire Arctic basin has thinned by 45 percent. Satellite images have revealed that the extent of ice coverage has significantly shrunk in recent years.36
The findings made towards the end of the 20th century help us to understand the wisdom of Surat ar-Ra’d 41, and Surat al-Anbiya’ 44.
This loss at the extremities, as revealed by Allah, may be understood in light of another scientific fact revealed in the Qur’an. The fact that the Earth, which revolves around its own axis, has a geoid shape, is a fact that has gained acceptance in recent centuries.
Research has revealed that the equatorial diameter of the Earth expands under the effect of the force stemming from this rotation, and that it is compressed at its extremities, in other words the poles. Furthermore, since the Earth is in constant rotation this change continues to occur. Indeed, the term “nanqusu” in Surat ar-Ra’d 41, translated as “eroding,” shows that this process of erosion is an ongoing one.
It is the force of gravity that has given such celestial bodies as the Earth their spherical form. However, that shape is not exactly spherical; it flattens out somewhat at the poles and thickens at the equator. According to NASA figures, the radius of the Earth is 6,378.1 km (3,963.2 miles) at the equator but only 6,356.8 km (3,949.9 miles) from pole to pole.37 This is a difference of some 0.3%.
This model of the shape of the Earth was suggested by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687. This fact, revealed in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago, is another of its scientific miracles.