Eight Oceans of the Qur’ān
Question asked by .
Answered by Saadia Malik

Is the reference to the eight oceans in Sūrah Luqmān (31:27) literal? What seas does ‘..and the ocean, with seven more seas to help it’ refer to?


The verse reads thus:

And if all the trees on earth were pens and the oceans [were ink], with seven oceans behind it to add to its [supply], yet would not the words of Allah be exhausted [in the writing]. For Allah is Exalted in power, full of wisdom. (31:27)

A similar reference to Allah’s blessings is made in Sūrah Kahaf:

Say: ‘If the ocean were ink [wherewith to write out], the words of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than would the words of my Lord, even if we added another ocean like it, for its aid’. (18:109)

Thus, the significance of ‘adding another ocean’ is primarily to stress on the bountiful providence of God Almighty. Man can reach the peaks of snowy mountains, he can explore the wonders of the oceans, he can study the depth of the earth, but he can never discover enough of God’s creations and His blessings. If the ocean were taken as ink, it would not provide enough to even calculate the bounties within that very ocean. Thus, if we set off to count our Lord’s blessings, we would keep adding to the list, but there would never be an end. Having what limited resources man has at his disposal, he can only acknowledge a fraction of what he has been bestowed with. Even the natural resources such as oceans do not have enough to accommodate the infinitesimal signs of Allah.

For Questions on Islam, please use our