Hejaz region is situated in an area known for being highly unstable both geologically and ecologically. However, recent geological studies have upheld the belief that Allah has protected this region from natural disasters.
This belief goes all the way back to pre-Islamic times. Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), showed this belief in the Almighty’s protection when he received an ultimatum from the Ethiopian governor of Yemen, advising the inhabitants of Mecca not to resist his invading army, and that he only intended to destroy the Ka’bah, meaning no harm to the inhabitants.
Abdul Muttalib, in the face of an enemy armed with elephants, replied with conviction, “The Lord will protect His house.”
Dr. Tal’at Muhammad Abdou, Professor of natural geography at Al-Azhar University, Egypt, points out that Hejaz is part and parcel of the Great Rift Valley. This vast fault line that has been a main feature of East Africa since the third ecological epoch.
The fault starts from the Zambezi River and Lake Niassa in the south. It continues through the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba, and goes northeast to the Dead Sea. Then it ends at the Hawran Plateau and Taurus mountains in the north.
Geological, geophysical and natural geography studies have confirmed that the Great Rift Valley resulted from crustal separation. Therefore, it has volcanic activity that is represented by numbers of huge conical volcanoes near the Eritrean plateau.
The limited volcanic activity on the other side of the Red Sea in the Arabian Peninsula is a clear manifestation of Allah the Almighty’s protection of the Hejaz region, which saw only minor volcanic eruptions of lava that formed the rocks that are known as Al-Harrat.
Centuries ago, Arabs described these distinct black rocks that extrusion of lava has corroded and burned. These rocks are important physiographic landmarks between east and west Hejaz.
Al-Asmai, a philologist who made important contributions to zoology, botany, and animal husbandry, identified the region by these rocks. He said that the Arabic name Hejaz is a derivative from the verb hajaza, which means “to circumscribe or outline”; and because Al-Harrat outlined the region, it was named the Hejaz.
Red Sea . . . or Ocean
Abdou states that the Red Sea stretches between the active volcanic region of Ethiopia and the lesser active Arabian Peninsula.
The Red Sea region is fraught with many active earthquake fault lines; the Red Sea is a huge rift valley of the Great Rift Valley in the form an Indian Ocean gulf.
Two scientists named Derek and Girdler has geologically surveyed the Red Sea bed via seismic waves. They published their results in the Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Their survey confirmed the presence of a vein of igneous basalt rocks stretching alongside the seabed. This means that the seabed continues to extrude lava up to the present day.
In 1966, a geologist estimated that the Red Sea widens annually by 1 cm from the ridge that stretches midway along the seabed. Thus the seabed is continuously moving and the sea increases in width over time.
This movement will result in the future transformation of the Red Sea into an ocean. Scientists expect this to cause enormous volcanic activities and earthquakes.
Threatening Structural Weakness
Geological studies have shown that the earth’s crust causes instability in the Hejaz region. This fact is confirmed by various geographic phenomena in the region; the mountainous masses (within the fault zone) that stretch to the rift valley of the Red Sea; several lengthwise chasms that run parallel to the Red Sea; and other transverse chasms that run parallel to the Mediterranean Sea.
Lava seeped into these chasms as was the case in the valleys of Medina, such as the ‘Aqeeq valley that runs lengthwise, and the valleys of Hamdh and Qanat that run transversely.
Geographic studies undertaken by Fisher in 1978 referred to a line of structural weakness that straddles the entire Hejaz region. Heterogeneous rocks, whereby hard rocks rest on soft fragile rocks (a formation that would cause a collapse), characterize this line, which starts from the coastal region of Tehama, west of the Arabian Pennisula, and runs through the Hejaz mountain region to the Nejd Plateau.
Along this line, there are many signs of structural weakness, such as the extrusion of lava, and the presence of cracks and rock indentation. Hence, the Hejaz region is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity, particularly along the lines parallel to the transverse chasms. Nonetheless, Allah (SWT), the Protector, has protected this region against the destructive earthquakes that afflicted the surrounding regions, such as the earthquake that destroyed the historical Dam of Marib and the earthquakes that have frequently hit the Eilat, Al-‘Aqabah, Suez and Al-Fayyum areas.
Al-Hejaz: Immune to Desertification
Allah (SWT) has protected the Hejaz region not only by averting geological disasters but also by safeguarding it against desertification. Although the entire region has a hot, dry desert climate, its lithological structure (which relates to rock characteristics) ensures its protection from desertification.
The upper permeable lava rocks function as a filter to purify the runoff from rainwater, which falls on highlands and mountains, from fragmented rocks and other impurities allowing water to seep through. These rocks provide protection against evaporation, which can be severe in such a hot climate.
On the other hand, the igneous impermeable rocks located underneath serve as a reservoir that collects the purified water and provides water for wells and springs, such as the well of Zamzam and the springs and wells prevalent in the Al-Taif region.
Throughout history, Allah the Almighty has protected His house, Al-Masjid Al-Haram, not only against volcanoes, earthquakes, desertification, droughts, and other natural catastrophes but against all kinds of harm.
We first published this article in 2010 and we currently republish it for its importance.