A tsunami described in the Quran?
May God forgive me and guide me regarding any sign that would have been misinterpreted in this study and elsewhere. May He always guide us to a better understanding of His profound scripture so we can purify ourselves and increase our knowledge.
The Quran describes in sura 23 a terrible disaster that, in my opinion, seems to be the result of a tsunami:
A generation after Noah’s flood, God sent a messenger to his people:
(23:31) Then, after them (the people of Noah who survived the flood), we created another generation. (23:32) And We sent to them a messenger [who was born] in their midst: Worship God! You do not have any other god beside him, will you not fear [Him]?! (23:33) And the leaders of his people who disbelieved and were in denial regarding the meeting of the afterlife, while we had provided them plentifully in this worldly life, said: “This is nothing but a man like yourselves, he eats the same as you eat, and drinks the same as you drink.” (23:34) “And if you obey a man like yourselves, you will surely be [nothing but] losers.” (23:35) “Does he promise you that when you are dead and become dust and bones, you will be brought back [to life]?”(23:36) “What you are promised is sheer nonsense!”. (23:37) “There is nothing else but our worldly life: We die and we live, and we will not be resurrected.” (23:38) “He is nothing but a man who came up with a lie about God, and we are not going to believe him!” (23:39) He replied [praying]: “My Lord, Help me, for, [indeed], they rejected me!” (23:40) He said: “Before long, they will most certainly be smitten with remorse!” (23:41) And then, as an unavoidable consequence, the thunderous noise seized them, and We turned them into debris charred by the torrent. This is how we get rid of evil people.
Everyone remembers the terrifying tsunami of 12/26/2004 that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries and inundated coastlines with walls of waves of up to 30 meters.
Here is an excerpt of an article published By Alexa Moses on December 29, 2004:
“A tsunami, when it approaches, is silent. A brown mass of water billowing towards the bedroom where I and my partner, Robert, were sitting on the bed in Khao Lak, in Phang Nga province just north of Phuket in Thailand. We were staying in a hotel on the beach called the Seaview Resort, where Swedish, German and Austrian families raced to the deckchairs on the sand each morning to roast themselves. It was Boxing Day. We were about to gather our things to go down to the beach. It was just after 10.30am when Robert jumped off the bed and said quietly, "There's a tidal wave coming." I turned and saw a brown mass of water swallowing the self-contained bungalows near the sand. They dissolved like balsa wood. I still didn't comprehend. I said "No" and then Robert repeated it. Then I asked, "Are we going to die?" as the wave hit the concrete building where we were staying on the third, and top, floor. "I don't know," he replied and the noise began. It sounded like an aeroplane taking off. A roaring that swelled and dipped, completely surrounding us. The building under us began to wrench and creak. Glass was shattering, but we couldn't hear anything human. It was as if we were alone. The water rose ankle-deep in our room and it seemed to be slowing, although the horrible thundering continued. We ran to the door, terrified that when we opened it water would rush in. The hall was also ankle-deep in water. When we ran up to the roof we couldn't see the ocean, but the thundering had stopped. The wave was sucking back out again. We stood up on the roof alone, shaking, with the red corrugated iron slope of the roof shielding us from the water. Suddenly we heard car horns, people screaming "help" in Thai, German, Swedish, banging on walls, sobbing. Robert scrambled to the top of the roof and saw that the ocean had moved. We were in it. But the water was 10 metres higher, brown and clogged with floating timber, cars upside down, houses in pieces.”
This account of the giant tsunami of 12/26/2004 is similar to the Quranic description in verse 23:41: “And then, as an unavoidable consequence, the thunderous noise seized them, and We turned them into debris charred by the torrent. This is how we get rid of evil people.”
The above personal translation is consistent with most other English or French translations I came across with, as in 23:41, the word “صَّيْحَةُ” (sayhatun) means, according to the Arabic-English dictionary by Omar, “thunderbolt, shout, blast, terrible and mighty noise”, while the word “غُثَاءً” (ghutha’an) is mostly translated as “the debris caused by a torrent”; Muhammad Asad translated the word with the following very long expression: “The flotsam of dead leaves and the scum borne on the surface of a torrent:”; Pitckthall translates as “wreckage (that a torrent hurleth)”.
As seen in the article quoted earlier, the typical description of the landing of a giant tsunami is that it is completely silent until it hits the shore, when a terrifying “horrible thundering” erupts, as the wall of water destroys everything on its path and turns everything into a torrent of debris and rubble. Even though billions of people around the world watched videos of the tsunami and witnessed the catastrophic destruction, I noticed that almost no one who was not directly involved with a tsunami knows or remembers the terrifying noise that comes along with its landing and destruction. It is therefore quite amazing that the Quran describes so accurately a disaster that is in my opinion identical to that of a giant tsunami. If my interpretation is correct, how could Muhammad and his generation have known about the thunderous noise and torrent of destruction that comes along with it?