Modern-Day Radar Technology

We gave Dawud great favor from Us: ‘O mountains and birds! echo with him in his praise!’ And We made iron malleable for him: (Surah Saba’, 10)

We gave Sulayman understanding of it. We gave each of them judgment and knowledge. We subjected the mountains to Dawud, glorifying, and the birds as well. This is something We are well able to do. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 79)

So We subjected the wind to him to blow at his command, softly, wherever he directed. (Surah Sâd, 36)

The above verses refer to the superior attributes bestowed on the Prophets David (peace be upon him) and Solomon (peace be upon him), and say that each was given knowledge from the Presence of Allah. The terms referring to the knowledge given to these Prophets in the verses may be a reference to present-day radar technology, which works by the reflection of electromagnetic waves. (Allah knows the truth.) The word “awwibee” in verse 10 of Surah Saba’, translated as “echoing” in the verse and meaning “the return or reiteration of sound,” is reminiscent of echo-based radar technology.

Radar is a location device used to determine the location, speed and direction of mobile or stationary objects, and works by reflecting micro-wave.1 The operating principle of radar bears a close similarity to the reflection of sound. For example, someone shouting in a valley or a cave, hears his own voice being reflected back to him. If we know how fast sound travels through the air, we can calculate the distance and general direction of the object it bounces off.

In the radar system, electromagnetic energy signals are used in very much the same way. Signals with a microwave frequency are emitted toward an object and then return after being reflected by it. This part of the signal returning to the radar is called an “echo.” Radar devices use this echo to determine the direction and distance of the object doing the reflecting.2 Since they also use electromagnetic energy, radio, television and the human eye bear a close resemblance to radar systems, though their frequencies are different. In addition, radar uses the reflected energy known as the “echo,” rather than directly transmitted energy as in these examples.3 Reflected signals are converted into numerical values by the radar receiver and recorded as data on “echo stores.” Finally, the data are processed and converted into images.4

The use of the Arabic verb “alanna,” meaning “We have made malleable,” in verse 10 of Surah Saba’ is again exceedingly wise. Because iron is still described as soft, or malleable, despite being physically very hard. This form of iron, known as “soft magnetic iron” because of its magnetic properties is particularly used in radar and satellite technology.5 Soft iron is used because it strengthens the magnetic field and can be opened and closed as desired.

“The wind being told to blow at his command…” as we are told of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) in verse 36 of Sura Sad, may be a reference to electromagnetic signals being transmitted as desired in the air thanks to the use of soft iron. (Allah knows the truth.)

The radar imaging used today scans the world at every moment and developments taking place on the earth can thus be constantly monitored. In addition, data can be collected about physical features on earth, such as mountains, glaciers and the oceans, and also about man-made objects, such as houses, bridges and cars. The way that the operating principle and material used in this advanced technology was noted in the Qur’an 1400 years ago shows that the Qur’an is the revelation of our Lord, Who created past and future as a single moment and Who is unfettered by time.

A radar image taken by satellite. This image, formed using microwaves, shows a mountainous region of Salt Lake City, Utah.

An image of Warsaw in Poland obtained using radar.

Radar used to control the traffic in New Zealand.

Air radar used to identify powerful storms and track their movements.

This 27-meter-high radar facility, reminiscent of a fly’s eye, scans the sky above northern Alaska and is used as
an early warning system against ballistic missiles.

This radar facility, constructed in Florida in the 1960s, was used to identify ballistic missiles
launched from submarines.







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