I loved the comment (February 9. 2015) I received from an attentive reader, Saadiq Kamil. I think it is worthy of reproduction and deserves a grateful and extensive reply. He has raised points of science – a subject I love with no claim to mastery – which calls for clarification. His comment also gives me an opportunity to revive a five-year old blog of mine titled “FAMOUS ASTRONAUTS AND GOOD FAITH”. It was written not with venom, but, I venture say, with responsibility and the intention to remove what I thought to be misgivings – particularly in the mind of a dear friend of mine, whom I shall call Aziz.
Saadiq kamil wrote in response to my site then quoting Mahatma Gandhi in “An Eye for an Eye will make the whole world blind”:
“Those unvalid scientific answers given by u does not even stand anywhere…….u have asked how muslim Scientist’s have measured the distances somewhere in FAMOUS ASTRONAUTS AND SCEINCE BLOG ,will u please tell me how scientists of world had measured them…..
2. The detail given by u about variation of magnetic feild around Mecca isn’t correct….how could u assign neutral points on earth’s surface assuming that they. changes afterwhile shortly……
3.do you know the principle on which an oscillograph works…when u receives an information about cosmic radiation cross earth all your devices stop working at
same times then how could u measure the rAdn coming from mecca for which u have no information and no device……stop questioning islam …the day u realise it ..u would certainly realise truth….time is still at disposal….
Several points have been raised by Saadiq; they deserve careful examination and truthful response on a point-by-point basis..
His implicit objection to “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind”.
In the first place, I wish to dwell on the validity of that quotation with regard to the second largest (or largest – take your pick) community of men on this planet.
To my mind, this is one of the greatest and most truthful quotations from Gandhi ever. I did not specifically pick it up as an affront to any religion – not Islam, nor Judaism whose Torah proclaimed it in the first place, not to Christianity that repeated it in the Old Testament regardless Jesus denying it, and not particularly to Gita that said it obliquely , couched in the philosophy of the indestructible soul, in Chapter 2.33 to 36; (“If you do not fight and slay your enemies you will incur dishonor; having abandoned your duty and fame, you will incur sin”).
What you see today in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan – Muslims killing Muslims by the hordes – why, rhetoric and occasional war even in England and the Continent between two brands of Islam – day by day in the name of the eye-for-eye principle that started with the Kabaala battle in 680 AD. Islam ruled a third of the world, but fratricide and patricide continued relentlessly even during those reins. Prophet Muhammad had softened the cruelty in the “eye-for-an-eye dictum with, “If you forgive, Allah understands. He is most merciful”. Those humane words are repeated every time a punishment amounting to the “eye for an eye” principle is mentioned in a Quranic verse. Unfortunately, they have been conveniently set aside by his followers.
Perhaps Gandhi didn’t emphasize it enough : He should have said:
- “Eye for an eye would lay the whole world bare of human kind.”
Looks like it is happening. Planes shot down, innocent men, women and children killed and maimed by suicide bombers and automatic weapons, women raped and/or stoned, jettisoning pilots placed in a cage and burnt alive, governments executing prisoners indiscriminately in revenge
To get back to the explicit arguments of Saadiq:
- “You have asked how muslim Scientist’s have measured the distances somewhere in FAMOUS ASTRONAUTS AND SCEINCE BLOG ,will u please tell me how scientists of world had measured them…..”
The blog Saadiq refers to is, as I mentioned, “FAMOUS ASTRONAUTS AND GOOD FAITH”. I had not discredited Islam in my blog; I had only shown how a few, in their religious zeal bordering on fanaticism, had made such obviously false claims as
- Sunita Williams, the half-Indian NASA Astronaut, had noticed, while she viewed the earth from the moon, that Mecca and Medina shone brilliantly while the rest of the world was dark and immediately converted to Islam
- (ii) How Neil Armstrong heard the call for prayer while he was in outer space and thereby embraced Islam.
- (iii) An online claim that “During a conference in Qatar, they Muslim scientists argued that Mecca is the true Center of Earth. They claimed that since the longitude of Mecca was in perfect alignment with the Earth, it is time to replace the GMT, so far the Universal Standard Time with Mecca Time.”
- (iv) “After doing more research, the radiation was centered in the city of Mecca, the exact origin of the Kaaba. What is surprising is that radiation is infinite (endless), it is proven when they take pictures of Mars, the radiation is still ongoing. Muslim Researchers believe that this radiation has the characteristics and connections between the Kaaba on the planet Earth with the Kaaba in the netherworld.”
I had, with a view to allay misgivings, answered all these questions in detail in that blog. Saadiq calls for answers to some of the questions he asked – albeit in a random fashion. This is an effort to answer them to the best of my ability and knowledge, both of which also been questioned. As mentioned earlier, I am available and open for a debate – with the divine “eye for an eye” command restricted to civilized repartees.
Apart from the fact that neither Ms Williams nor Mr. Armstrong ever mentioned observing such miracles and had actually denied converting to Islam, I had tried to show, by simple, easily comprehensible explanations, such miracles could not have happened.
I included the comment of Mas’ud Ahmed Khan, a Muslim, who pointed out that such ridiculous claims (which my friend Aziz actually heard being preached during a Friday Sermon in a Mumbai mosque) do not bring credit to Islam. I received mails from two gentlemen from Indonesia thanking me for pointing out the fallibility of the claims. Many comments that followed – quite a few by people of the Islamic faith – gave me an opportunity to conduct further research on the subject, and bring out more interesting facts. The blog and some of the comments are accessible in this link while others were by personal e-mail. Perhaps for the right reasons. some of the correspondents did not want to be identified.
- As for “how scientists have measured them (the distances)..”
The circumference of the earth, its radius, distance to the sun, moon and many stars etc. were first measured empirically As early as the second Century AD, Arya Bhata of India had predicted some of these distances by calculations based on observations and basic mathematics in his Sanskrit work “Aryabhatiya“. The Arab scientist bn al-Haytham (965–1040) and later Ibn Al Banna (1256-1321) had made considerable improvement on the more modest theories of Ptolemy of Greece and other Greek writers. The Indian Panchang and Arabic Almanac thus correctly predicted sun rise, sun sets, dates and time of eclipses, tides and so on based on those early calculations. In Arabian Countries, the almanac called Filaha based on ancient theories and measurements helped farmers schedule their sowing and reaping, just as Panchang did it in India till the very recent times.
Modern scientists base their measurements on mathematical modeling – after all, you cannot take a tape around the globe to do your measurements. Distances between two points on the earth (say, the North Pole and the Mecca), can be stated within an accuracy of 99% by the mathematical method of ‘Great circle Navigation” which is what ships and airplanes employ while they sail or fly such distances. Though our maps are flat like a carpet spread out as mentioned in Holy Quran (15:19 – “And the earth We spread out, and placed therein firm mountains, and caused to grow therein all kinds of things in due proportion”.), our planet Earth, as we now understand, is not at all flat like a carpet, but a sphere. The calculations are based on the approximation that it is a perfect sphere, which it is not. That is why there is the possibility of a 1% error. However, you would notice that a pilot taking off from New York often announce the time of landing in Hongkong with near-precision – depending on whether he takes the Eastward Pacific Ocean route or the Westward Atlantic and continental route – and giving allowance to headwind or tailwind expected. Normally, the prediction only goes wrong if there is a problem at the destination, an unexpected change in weather conditions, or , as occasionally it happens these days, there is a futile but dangerous attempt at hijacking. That, my dear Saadiq, is how accurate the scientific measurements of distance are. See the map alongside. If you can join the blue lines with a smooth curve on a larger paper, you get the “shortest non-stop distance” – some 13,000 kilometres – between New York and Hong Kong along the Pacific route. The map is laid out like the Quranic carpet, but the real earth is irreligiously spherical- hence the incredible difference between the two.
- “The detail given by u about variation of magnetic feild around Mecca isn’t correct….how could u assign neutral points on earth’s surface assuming that they. changes afterwhile shortly……”
Here, you have quoted my statement with the purpose of disputing it. If you read my passages again, you will know how wrong the so-called “Muslim scientists” were wrong in saying that Holy Mecca is (uniquely) in perfect magnetic alignment with the poles. (Have you heard of any “Jewish Scientists” although Jews form the largest group that won Nobel Prize for science? Does science have a religion?) If you draw the magnetic field of earth assuming it to be a straight-line magnet (see the figure), or even an elliptical magnet (which is more like it), and imagine it revolved in three-dimensional space, you would find that every point on earth is in “perfect alignment with the magnetic field”.
The “neutral point” of the earth’s magnetic field is where the magnetic pull by the North and South Poles are equal (see the two points marked ‘X’ in the diagram and imagine it rotating in three dimensions). Unfortunately, the earth’s magnet is not a stiff straight-line strip as shown in the figure. The poles even ‘migrate’ in either direction independently of each other over a period of time. Hence the neutral point is not static. Navigators (these days the computers) have up-to-date data on the deviations derived by actual calibrations, Error corrections were done manually in my time, but automatically these days by on-board computers. Fortunately, such movements take place over long periods of time (like a couple of hundred years). You are absolutely right; because of these observed facts, the neutral point cannot be stationary – which also applies to Mecca, Madina , or wherever. Ever since ships began to use scientific navigational methods, Equator and Greenwich Village are noted 0 and 0 degrees respectively in terms of latitude and longitude. The longitude was arbitrarily selected by the British who once ruled the seas, the “Muslim scientists” can select Mecca or Medina as such. Anybody can draw new latitudes (while equator cannot be shifted) through his holy place. If anybody but the most faithful would accept the new meridian is doubtful, as I had mentioned in my original blog,
- “Do you know the principle on which an oscillograph works…
Yes, Saadiq, incidentally, I do. Being a hands-on Electronic Engineer (though not a scientist), I know how oscilloscopes and oscillographs work. I have worked with them and taught about them for more than three decades till dedicated computers replaced them with digital displays. I gave up oscilloscopes at about the time when Texas Instruments migrated to digital devices in place of their mainstay till then – oscilloscopes.
Oscilloscopes display measurements – usually amplitude of an electro-magnetic wave against a variable time base. In some cases, the graphical representation is used as analogy for some other measurement, such as cosmic radiation as a function of time (days, week or years)..
Oscillograph is a pen-and paper representation of the same readings for a more permanent use than the fleeting wave forms on cathode ray tubes. The ECG machine that your doctor uses, by the way, is a dedicated oscillograph to measure the electrical waves produced by different chambers and valves of your heart as a function of known periods of time.
- when u receives an information about cosmic radiation cross earth all your devices stop working atsame times then how could u measure the rAdn coming from mecca..
NO, all instruments do not stop functioning when there is a cosmic radiation. There is sustained cosmic radiation all through the time on to our earth – the magnetic field you mention, the ionosphere, the ozone layer, and all such combinations of beneficial phenomena that Nature (or Allah, if you will) had provided to safeguard the surface of the earth and its occupants, ensure that things normally work in a state of safe equilibrium.
I had made my statement in reference to the claim that there is an infinite radiation emanating from Mecca and that NASA is shocked by its presence. I said such radiation is not known to exist, and that if they were speaking of the omnipresent microwave radiation, it can be shown easily that it does not originate in Mecca, nor any other place on the surface of our planet..
The uniformly distributed and measurable cosmic microwave radiation (CMB) which astrophysicists attribute to the Big Bang) is forever present with reasonable uniformity across the known universe, at least wherever measurements have been made. The magnitude of CMB has been found to be of the same ‘temperature’ , with only very minor variations across large distances – such as the variations you might observe in the specific gravity of water in the same pool. If they were to originate from a particular point on the surface of the earth (say, Mecca), then it would obey the inverse-square law – as the distance increases, its intensity would decrease by the square of the distance. Any class 8 student of physics would know this law. You observe it happening with light waves, heat waves, radio waves, sound waves – even waves on the surface of a lake. Nobody has yet shown that a wave of such intensity originates in the holy place you mention, nor that the ‘snow’ on your blank (CRT) TV screen is exponentially stronger in Saudi Arabia than in, say, Dhaka which is at quite some distance from Mecca. The “Snow” you used to see on old CRT telelvisions when there was no signal is partly due to the omnipresent CMB. The temperature of this radiation has been measured with precision; two scientists, John Mather and George Smoot were awarded Nobel Prize (2006) for making those measurements with such accuracy.
There is only one way you could have uniform radiation all across the earth and outer space – it had originated at near-infinite distance, and at near-infinite time, which is why scientists attribute the CMB to the Big Bang, which they compute should have occurred some 13.7 billion years ago..
When there is a magnetic storm due to wind shock waves from the surface of the sun or the intervention of a magnetic cloud, you are right, reception of electromagnetic waves do get disturbed. If the storm is of such intensity, it could become difficult or well nigh impossible to receive signals and to make sense out of them. Solar flares cause what is called electron precipitation in our atmosphere, which again makes propagation of waves difficult or impossible. However, instruments are unlikely to fail – I am not aware if any magnetic storm or solar fare of such intensity as can disable all instruments has hit the earth. I have only seen instruments failing –even burning – if a lightning strikes directly or indirectly. Perhaps if the United States in its frustrated stupidity drops a nuclear bomb on some place as it once did seventy years ago, it could happen.
Small amounts of X-radiation, radiation of alpha and beta particle and gamma radiation can be measured by Geiger (Mueller) Counter, which I mentioned in the text of my blog in question; there are other instruments to measure larger variations. Cosmic radiations are measured by specially made Meson telescopes and several other types of instruments such as Ionization Chambers and neutron monitors. These measurements have been carried out from early 1950’s and are going on till today; no instrument is known to have stopped working even when the radiations peaked (See figure). .
“How could you measure the strength of radiation coming from Mecca”..
I explained to you the principle of inverse-square law that applies to any radiation. Microwave, light,heat, radio and ultra sound waves are electro-magnetic wave propagation that causes little harm to humans and animals unless they stand close to a source of powerful transmission. Cosmic radiations are largely proton flux propagation which occur due to nuclear fusion in the sun (mainly). but both radiate at about the same speed of light and behave similarly in their propagation characteristics. When a pilot speaks over his VHF or UHF radio, the ground station can precisely measure the distance, direction, and if desired, compute the power of his transmitter without flying to meet the aircraft. There are various kinds of radar, radio and other measuring instruments to do the job. If such a powerful radiation does emit from Mecca, it can be measured by digital devices from any distance. The radiation from Mecca that is supposed to have shocked NASA when they found it in Mars (average distance from earth 225,000,000 kilometres; maximum distance 401,000,000 kilometres), it would be of such strength that it would burn everything around its source – perhaps the earth itself. Even a few dozen nuclear bombs would not be able to achieve that spectacular result. The sun does it because it is virtually a massive nuclear fusion bomb.
How do we measure the distance of a source or its power of radiation? You can measure the surface temperature of the sun – Physics students employ an equation known as the Wein Theorem for this purpose. The surface temperature of the sun is something like than 4728 degrees Celsius Similarly the temperature , of the stars or the planets, and the distance to them can be predicted without the need to go anywhere near those heavenly bodies. Scientists use mathematical models to do the measurements. They use a method known as the red-shift method. A star likes the sun radiate the entire spectrum of light – nay, the entire spectrum of all electromangetic waves. EM waves, as they travel farther and farther, lose energy by the inverse square law – the longer waves lose them faster than the waves of the visible spectrum and above – like X-ray waves, UV waves and so on. Moreover, when the waves lose energy over long distances, their wave lengths get longer, becoming more and more reddish. You can see how the sun that gives you pure , high-energy bright white light in the noon becomes less energetic and more reddish (orange because other waves still exist at that distance) when the sun gets farthest away from you over the horizon. So there are mathematical methods to compute distance from this colour change – the red shift.
Modern meteorological stations use computers to measure sun’s surface temperature (depedning on its distance and other parameters on a given location and )to predict the day and night temperature of any town on earth for several days in advance with acceptable accuracy.
- “stop questioning islam …the day u realise it ..u would certainly realise truth….time is still at disposal”
Ah-ha, now you come to the point. To state scientific facts and to question ridiculous claims is not questioning Islam.I do not go to a Friday khutbat al-jum’a in a mosque or to a Sunday sermon in a church nor to the “Satsang” of any Hindu Babas in a temple. If their utterings come on the public domain, and I feel there is an attempt to mislead or to misrepresent facts, I have the right and responsibility to ask questions and point out what I believe to be errors. I am open to correction when convinced otherwise.
- To your final advise to me to “realize the truth”,
Let me put this bluntly to you. There is very little, if any at all, scientific truth in the utterances of an illiterate or semi-literate camel-borne trader of the early seventh century that were reduced to writing from multiple memories three decades later. If the prophet could read the scientific treatises already in existence – Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Persian and Indian – in the massive Baghdad library of the time, he would not have dictated such nonsense as the earth is spread out like a carpet, the sky miraculously stands without pillars and that the stars would like glow-worms on earth on the day of the final Judgment.
I do, however, see a few words of wisdom in the book you quote in these few lines:
109. 002 I worship not that which ye worship,
003 Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
004 And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
005 Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
Those are sublime words of wisdom and tolerance for peace (salaam, سلام) on this earth which each of us is blessed to inhabit but for a few dozen years. They are truly worthy of realization. They are wise words from your Prophet, PUBH, I, for one, have internalized them. I hope that you, and all my readers internalize them as well.
In the meanwhile, those who have ‘realized’ another version of the “Truth” are travelling to Iraq Syria and Yemen to seek the pleasure of suicide bombing, killing and maiming innocent women and children and cutting throats of selfless aid workers and journalists. Some others go on a shooting spree on hundreds of (all Muslim) school kids after realizing the “Truth” of an eye for an eye.
Acknowledgement : The horrific images above were taken from the Youtube. My readers have a right to know. If they offend your civilized sensibilities, do pardon me.
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