In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
“He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting
together: Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress.” (Al-Qur’an
In the Arabic text the word Barzakh means a barrier or a
partition. This barrier, however, is not a physical partition. The Arabic word
maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early
commentators of the Qur’an were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for
the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time there is a
barrier between them.
Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two
different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the
two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity and density.1
Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse.
There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas
through which water from one sea passes to the other. But when the water from
one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and
becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a
transitional homogenizing area for the two waters.
This phenomenon is also mentioned in the following verse of
“And made a separating bar between the two bodies of
flowing water?” (Al-Qur’an 27:61)
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the
divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. A white
bar can also be clearly seen at Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, South Africa where
the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.
But when the Qur’an speaks about the divider between fresh
and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the
“It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing
water: one palatable and sweet, and the other salty and bitter; yet has He made
a barrier between them, and a partition that is forbidden to be passed. (Al-Qur’an
Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh
(sweet) and salt water meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found
in places where two salt water seas meet. It has been discovered that what
distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone
with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.”2
This partition (zone of separation) has a salinity different from both the fresh
water and the salt water.3
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt,
where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea. These scientific
phenomena mentioned in the Qur’an was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay, a
wellknown marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the
University of Colorado, U.S.A.
1 Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp.
2 Oceanography, Gross, p. 242. Also see Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp.
3 Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp.