THE FORMATION OF PETROL
Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High:
He Who created and moulded; He Who determined and guided; He Who
brings forth green pasture, then makes it blackened stubble. (Qur'an,
As we know, petrol forms from the remains of plants and animals
in the sea. Once these have decayed on the sea bed after millions
of years, all that is left are oily substances. These, under layers
of mud and rock, then turn into petrol and gas. Movements in the
Earth's crust sometimes lead to the sea petrifying and to the rocks
containing petrol being buried thousands of metres deep. The petrol
that forms sometimes leaks through the pores in the rock layers
from several kilometres down, and rises to the surface, where it
vaporises (turns into gas), leaving a mass of bitumen behind.
The three elements identified in the first four verses of Surat
al-A'la parallel the formation of petroleum. It is quite likely
that the term "almaraa," meaning pasture or meadow, refers
to the organically-based substances in the formation of petroleum.
The second word of note in the verse is "ahwa," used to
describe blackish-green, greenish-black, dark or sooty colours.
This word can be thought of as describing the waste plant matter
accumulated underground gradually turning black, since these words
are supported by a third word, "ghuthaan." The word "ghuthaan"
translated as stubble, can also mean flood-water plants, plants
brought together by waste matter being collected and dispersed around
valleys, rubbish, leaves or foam. In addition to the connotation
of "vomiting out" implied in the word, it may also be translated
as "to flood forth vomited matter," and describes the way that the
earth "vomits" forth petroleum. In fact, in the light of the formation
of petroleum, the way it emerges, its foam-like appearance and its
colour, one can better see with what wisdom were employed the words
in the verses.
As has been discussed, the plant in the verse turning into a dark
and viscous liquid bears a strong resemblance to the formation of
petroleum. The description of such a formation over many years,
at a time when the formation of petroleum was unknown, is without
doubt another proof that the Qur'an is the revelation of Allah.