We divided them up into twelve tribes-communities.
We revealed to Musa, when his people asked him for water: "Strike
the rock with your staff." Twelve fountains flowed out from it,
and all the people knew their drinking place. And We shaded them
with clouds and sent down manna and quails to them: "Eat of the
good things We have provided for you." They did not wrong Us;
rather, they wronged themselves. (Qur'an, 7:160)
A closed artesian aquifer is confined by an overlying impermeable
body of rock, which prevents any water from filtering down
into the aquifer. Instead, water enters the tilted aquifer
layer through a recharge area, where the aquifer rock is exposed
at higher elevations. The flow in an artesian aquifer resembles
water flowing through a J-shaped tube. Water added on the
tube’s long side provides enough pressure to drive the
water upward on the tube’s shorter side.
The above verse describes how
Prophet Musa's (as) people asked him for water and how he provided
places where each tribe could drink. Clearly, his people were suffering
from a shortage of water. Such shortages still exist, for more than
1 billion people today lack access to clean water, and 2.4 billion
still live without improved sanitation. According to projected estimates,
by 2025 about 5 billion people will not have access to sufficient
amounts of water.190
Every year, some 12 million people die from water scarcity; 3 million
of whom are children who die from waterborne diseases.191
Today, 31 countries, comprising
8 percent of the world's population, face chronic freshwater shortages.
By 2025, this number is expected to rise to 48 countries.192
According to UN predictions, renewable freshwater will become an
even more limited resource by 2025, and the number of 131 million
people experiencing water problems will rise to either 817 million
(according to low population growth projections) or 1.079 billion
(according to high population growth projections).193
the largest source of fresh water on Earth, represents more than
90 percent of the readily available freshwater reserves194
and is therefore of vital importance to meeting the water needs
of up to 2 billion people.195
It constitutes the primary source of water for up to 50 percent
of the American population, a figure that rises to 95 percent in
rural areas.196 Groundwater
is also the safest and most reliable source of fresh water. At the
same time, this water can be used to produce geothermal energy and
save energy by using heat pumps.
When the water sucked up from the soil meets an impermeable underground
layer, it collects there and forms a water source. This water is
then brought to the surface by the artesian method. Artesian springs
are formed by sedimentary rocks that can store underground water.
The fact that artesian wells are drilled in rocky areas runs parallel
to the description in the Qur'an. Given that Allah commanded Prophet
Musa (as) to strike the rock, Surat al-A`raf 160 may be indicating
this method. (Allah knows best.) The verb idrib, translated
as "strike," can also mean "to raise, to open." Thus, this verse
may be describing a water source being opened by the raising of
the rock. As a result, pressurized water may have emerged, as described
in the verb inbajasat (to pour out, flow freely, bubble
up, flow), just as happens with artesian wells. If sufficient pressure
forms, water can continue to flow to the surface without the need
for a pump.
Allah is He Who created
the heavens and the earth and sends down water from the sky
and by it brings forth fruits as provision for you…
It is particularly striking that current solutions for dealing
with water scarcity use underground water resources. In fact, one
of the most effective methods of doing so is the artesian well.
In other words, we might be copying Prophet Musa's (as) example
of striking or lifting the rock without even knowing it. Surat al-A`raf
160 may therefore be a reference to artesian wells, the first of
which was opened in 1126 in the French region of Artois. (Allah
Change Adding Stress to Scarce Water Resources,” DevNews Media
Center, 5 June 2003, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20114416~menuPK:
191. “Water—The Essence of Life,” DevNews Media
Center, 17 May 2002, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:20044610~menuPK:34459~
192. “Solutions for a Water-Short World,” www.infoforhealth.org/pr/m14edsum.shtml.
193. “Water-Scarce Countries,” excerpted from Sustaining
Water: Population and the Future of Renewable Water Supplies,
194. “Creation of an International Groundwater Resources Assessment
Centre (INGRACE) –
an information note,” IAH (International Association of Hydrogeologists)
News and Information Online, www.iah.org/articles/
195. “Groundwater,” http://ap.world.water-forum3.com/themeWwf/en/themeShow.do?id=36.
196. “The Importance of Groundwater,” http://pasture.ecn.purdue.edu/~agenhtml/agen521/epadir/grndwtr/importance.html.