Yusuf Ali, in his translation of the Qur'an, asks several questions about lightning: Why look to evil rather than to good? To punishment rather than to mercy?”To the fear in the force and fire of the lightning rather than to hope of good and abundant crops in the rain which will come behind the lightning clouds (note 1818); Nay, thunder itself which may frighten you, is but a tame and beneficent force before Him, declaring His praises, like the rest of creation. Thunder thus aptly give the name to this surah of contrasts, where what we may think is terrible is shown to be really a submissive instrument of good in God's hands (note 1819); and: To cowards, lightning and thunder appear as terrible forces of nature. Lightning seems to kill and destroy where its irresistible progress is not assisted by proper lightning”conductors. But lightning is also a herald of rain-bearing clouds and showers that bring fertility and prosperity in their train (3530).
Journals publish articles on injuries and death caused by lightning. However, the Qur'an specifically mentions the hope of lightning as a good or beneficent force. This article addresses this issue.
What are ions?
After a storm, the air feels clean and fresh filled with negative ions. People often report feelings of pleasantness and well-being following an electrical storm. Electrical storms are generally preceded by higher levels of positive ions and followed by higher levels of negative ions.
Air is made of individual molecules. When the outer electrons of two or more atoms join together, the resulting particle is a molecule. Each molecule, in turn, contains smaller particles of positive and negative charges (protons and electrons). Under normal circumstances, the number of protons and electrons are equal, and so their charges cancel out and leave the molecule electrically neutral. However, negatively charged electrons are lighter and more mobile. If they happen to absorb energy from intense sunlight, they tend to jump from one molecule to another. When a negative charge jumps from a molecule, it upsets the equilibrium and leaves behind more positive than negative charges. Thus the molecule becomes a positive ion. The electron arriving at the new molecule brings with it an extra negative charge. This molecule now becomes a negative ion. When the energy supply is removed, the electrons return toward the vacated spaces, and everything becomes balanced and has a zero charge.
Oxygen, a prime example of small gaseous molecules, remains neutral as long as the proton“electron balance is maintained. Since atoms have equal numbers of protons and electrons, they have no charge. However, if an electron is lost or gained, the molecule becomes positively or negatively charged, respectively, and an ion is created.
The simplest way to visualize an air ion is to consider it a tiny charge of static electricity carried by the air. This charge can be either positive or negative. The charged particles, or ions, are not merely suspended in the atmosphere; rather, they are part of the air's very fabric. The air we breathe contains billions of tiny, invisible, electrically charged energy packets called ions, each of which have either positive or negative charges. Every time we take a breath, ions fill up our lungs and are carried by our blood into every cell in our body. Without ions in the air, our body could not process oxygen properly.
A lack or imbalance of ions affects the environment in which we live and breathe. Research shows that most of us who live, work, and travel in closed spaces suffer some degree of negative ion starvation or positive ion overabundance. This has become extremely evident to NASA in its space travel program.
People are spending their lives submerged in an atmospheric ocean of nitrogen, oxygen, and a small percentage of other elements, plus the toxins and pollution of our industrial world. In cities like New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mexico City, Karachi, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Calcutta, and many other densely populated cities, there may be few or no detectable negative ions at all during heavy traffic and high pollution periods.
In nature, abundant ions are generated wherever energy is transferred into the air by the friction within wind, rain, and surf. Certain events occurring in nature, such as lightning discharges, falling water, and air friction can cause electrons to be torn loose from a molecule. These orphan electrons are then adopted by other nearby molecules, which transforms them into negative ions. The parent particles become positive ions.
Negative ions carry the air's electrical energy. Some examples of nature's ion generators are solar (ultraviolet) and cosmic radiation, air friction, lightning, falling water (the splitting of water into droplets by waterfalls), ocean surf and waves, evergreens and Earth's radioactivity (from natural radiation in rocks and soil).
The ion effect: Serotonin hypothesis
An excess of positive ions and a lack of negative ions can produce uncomfortable effects. Scientists have demonstrated that small air ions are biologically active. Moreover, they can stimulate the over-production of serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter and very active neurohormone that causes profound nerve, glandular, and digestive effects throughout the body. Tests show that positive ions increase the production of serotonin and that negative ions decrease the hormone level.
High serotonin concentrations are associated with migraines. Negative ions accelerate the oxidative degradation of serotonin, whereas positive ions deactivate the enzymes that break it down. Thus more negative ions should reduce migraines. A higher serotonin level also produces tachycardia, higher blood pressure, bronchial spasms and even asthma attacks, increased intestinal peristalsis (intestinal contractions and dilations to push the contents through), increased sensitivity to pain, and increased aggression. Reduced serotonin levels result in a mentally relaxed state and reduce feelings of depression. Negative ions appear to reduce serotonin by enhancing monoamine oxidizing activity. Paradoxically, mental illness is often treated successfully with drugs that inhibit this activity and raise serotonin levels in the brain.
The three major effects of positive ion excess are irritation and tension, exhaustion, and a hyperthyroid response. The common symptoms of dizziness, headaches, depression, anxiety, and a generally lower level of physical and mental functioning were shown to be alleviated and, in most cases, reversed by increasing the negative ions in the air.
Many people find a pre-storm atmosphere heavy and oppressive. This has been attributed to the high levels of positive ions building up in the air, which are also believed to trigger storm-sensitivity in asthmatics and many other people. In the hours before a certain storm arrived, hundreds of people reported to hospital with severe asthma attacks. Was this due to positive ions?
Scientists have found that if the air is charged with too few negative and too many positive ions, we become anxious,tired, and tense. This positive-ion poisoning results from weather disturbances, central air conditioning, smog, and driving too long. It even has been linked to heart attacks, aggravated asthma, migraines, insomnia, rheumatism, arthritis, hay fever, and most allergies. However, a negative electrical charge imparts positive feelings of health and vitality.
Refreshing places, usually located in the mountains and near waterfalls and seashores, where health resorts are traditionally situated, have high negative ion concentrations. Areas with high levels of positive ions often make us feel uncomfortable and irritable.
In addition to providing a rewarding visual experience, waterfalls may be beneficial to our health. Those wishing to enhance their body and mind through breathing exercises should do so by a waterfall. Nearly everyone agrees that visiting a waterfall is a stimulating, refreshing, and energizing experience.
The energy produced by falling water causes negative ions, for as the falling water breaks into droplets, electrons (negatively charged parts of an atom) are separated from water atoms. These electrons combine with oxygen atoms in the air to create negative ions, which then are inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream. Negative ions are not known to permanently cure anything. However, experts believe that they help our bodies by accelerating the delivery of oxygen to our cells. Some researchers believe that they may stimulate cells that regulate the body's resistance to disease.
Plants grown in an ion-enhanced atmosphere show a marked increase in size and growth rate. Air-borne bacteria greatly diminish in number when there is a high negative ion count in the air. Synthetic materials, forced air circulation, improper humidity levels, excess static electricity, and a lack of fresh air all contribute to an ion imbalance. Natural negative ion levels should be maintained through full-spectrum lighting; natural materials on walls, floors, and furniture; windows that open to the outside; and living plants. These should be kept in mind when designing a place in which to live.
On average, 1,500 ions are found in a cubic centimeter (roughly the size of a sugar cube) of fresh air. Of these, about 45% are negative ions and the rest are positive ions. At Yosemite Falls in California, a reading of 100,000 negative air ions per cubic centimeter was recorded.
The fresh air after a thunderstorm, on a mountain top, or by the seaside are due to high negative ion concentrations. The reduced well-being often felt in highly polluted areas, cars, smog-enclosed areas, artificially air conditioned offices, or in hot dry weather conditions are usually due to an unduly low negative ion balance. Negative ions can be found in the billions on mountain tops, waterfalls, and by the sea. Radioactive substances in Earth's crust and cosmic rays cause most ionization. But fire, crashing water, and plants during photosynthesis also produce negative ions. They give the air its invigorating freshness, which is so good for us.
Physiologically, the presence of negative ions in a sweat bath is as important as the heat. The discovery of negative ions in certain types of saunas a few years ago became headline news in Finland. Until then, the sauna's healing power was attributed to relaxation and increased circulation. Now, negative ions add startling new possibilities.
Ions and our modern lifestyle
We now live in an environment that virtually eliminates negative ions. Rural areas have a higher concentration of ions, but many of us live in towns and cities that have very low levels due to dirt and pollution. Pollution from car exhaust, smoking, overcrowding, and even breathing all contribute to this.
Modern vehicles have many problems. For example, opening a window lets in polluted city air. Many drivers, especially long-distance ones, keep an ionizer in their vehicle to help them maintain a high level of alertness and concentration. In addition, this can relieve car sickness and remove pollen and smoke. In cities, closed rooms, cars and elsewhere, the proportion of negative ions is markedly reduced compared to what it is in undisturbed nature. According to experts, positive ions rob us of our good senses and dispositions, while negative ions enhance them, stimulating everything from plant growth to overall bodily well-being. In general, people who are sensitive to air-borne allergens will benefit far more and quicker from the cleansing action of negative ions.
A second potentially important factor is the person's body voltage, for a high body voltage could alter considerably the ion ingestion rate. Perhaps the same effect as positive ion enhancement could be produced by a high negative body potential, even if the ambient air ion concentrations are balanced. Control and reduction of bodily voltage to a near-zero condition should reduce any such effects and restore ion ingestion due to the ambient air ion balance condition. For Muslims, body voltage to a near-zero condition is achieved when they prostrate during prayer.
Ironically, even today's air-conditioned buildings, vehicles, and airplanes frequently become supercharged with harmful positive ions because the plastic and metal fans, filters, and air-conditioning duct systems strip the air of negative ions even before it reaches its destination. In addition, fluorescent lighting, electrical and electronic equipment, television screens, and static-producing as well as artificial fibers in carpets, clothes, and upholstery, all reduce the level of negative ions and increase the level of positive ions.
Desktop PCs have a cathode ray tube monitor that produces a positive static charge during normal operation. It also sweeps the nearby air of negative charges, depleting the negative-ion concentration in the immediate vicinity. Apparently when ion concentration is lowered by this or any other means, such as air conditioning, workers complain of headaches, lethargy, dizziness, and nausea. Tests conducted in England indicate that the more complex the task a person tries, the more he or she is affected by negative ion levels. Also, women are more responsive than men to negative ion depletion or enrichment.
The graph below provides some average sample readings of negative air ions taken in various locations. Note that the body responds to levels above 1,000 ions per cc.
Effects on our health
Besides cleaning the air, negative ions aid in mood elevation and increased oxygen intake, both of which make us feel more alert and energetic. Negative ions can provide major benefits for suffers of asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, nervous energy, hay fever, allergies, sleep disorders and snoring, depression, emphysema, sinus, migraines, colds and flu, nausea, chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, cigarette smoke and other odors, and computers and office pollution.
Research shows that negative ions can reduce histamine, which triggers hay fever; affect levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter or a neurohormone associated with anxiety, stress, and migraines; help suffers of bronchitis, asthma, catarrh, the common cold, insomnia, migraines, emphysema, eczema, headaches, tiredness, and general feelings of malaise; speed the healing time of burns and surgical incisions with less cross-infection and reduced pain (including post-operative pain); enhance the body's absorption and utilization of oxygen, thus assisting concentration and alertness; reduce the effects of passive smoking and allergies to pollen, dust, and pets; remove and destroy air-borne bacteria and viruses; and lower serotonin levels, which leads to greater calmness and strengthens defenses against infection, as proven with the flu.
Negative ions also increase hemoglobin/oxygen affinity so that the partial oxygen pressure in the blood rises while the partial dioxide pressure decreases. This results in a lowered respiratory rate and enhances the metabolism of water-soluble vitamins. In addition, negative ions increase one's pH level, which makes bodily fluids more alkaline.
The effect of negative ion depletion varies from person to person. Negative ions in the bloodstream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues, whereas positive ions slow this down and produce symptoms markedly like those in anoxia (oxygen starvation). Negative ions may stimulate the reticulo-endothelial system, a group of defense cells that marshal our resistance to disease. Treatment with negative ions has produced dramatic improvement in healing severe burns and reducing pain. Children, in particular, seem to respond quickly, for tests have shown that children breathing negatively ionized air were superior in incidental memory and had many difficulties in dichotic listening offset.
Offices and organizations having negative air ionization equipment have found that their employees are less likely to get colds or be absent, and generally are more cheerful and alert. Negative air ionizers are used in the closed and artificial atmospheres of submarines and spacecraft.
The Qur'an's verses inspire people to make new scientific discoveries, as seen in 13:12, quoted above. Nature contains many sources of the negative ions that are so beneficial to people.
Reading and acquiring a deeper understanding of the Qur'an lead to many life-enhancing discoveries. Given the right conditions, healthy food and pure water, our bodies will usually right themselves and develop properly. But so often we neglect the air we breathe. Most of us live in environments full of invisible pollution and devoid of negative ions.
Buckalew, L. W. and Rizzuto, A. Subjective Response to Negative Air Ion Exposure. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 53, no. 8 (Aug. 1982): 822-23.
Negative Air Ion Effects on Human Performance and Physiological Condition. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 55, part 8 (Aug. 1984): 731-34.
Fornof, K. T. and Gilbert, G. O. Stress and Physiological, Behavioral, and Performance Patterns of Children under Varied Air Ion Levels. International Journal of Biometeorology, no. 32 (1988): 260-70.
Hawkins, L. H. Biological Significance of Air Ions. Proceedings of IEE Colloquium on Ions in the Atmosphere, Natural and Man-Made. BLL Conf Ind.
Inbar, O. et al. The Effect of Negative Air Ions on Various Physiological Functions during Work in a Hot Environment. International Journal of Biometeorology 26, no. 2 (1982): 153-63.
Kreuger, A. P. and Reed, E. J. Biological Impact of Small Air Ions. Science, no. 193 (1976): 1209-13.
Kellogg, E.W. Air Ions: Their Possible Biological Significance and Effects. Journal of Bioelectricity 3, nos. 1 and 2 (1984): 119-36.
Kornblueh, I. H., Piersol, G. M., and Speicher, F. P. Relief from Pollinosis in Negatively Ionized Rooms. American Journal of Physical Medicine, no. 37 (1958): 18-27.
Kornblueh, I. H. Aeroionotherapy of Burns. In Bioclimatology, Biometeorology and Aeroionotherapy. Gualtierotti et. al., eds. Milan: Carlo Erba Foundation, 1968.
Soyka, Fred (with Alan Edmonds). The Ion Effect. E. P. Dutton & Co, 1977.
Sulman, F. G. The Effect of Air Ionization, Electric Fields, Atmospheric and Other Electric Phenomena on Man and Animal. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1980.
www.aranizer.com/ions.htm. Negative Ions.
www.consultces.com/ions.htm. (information on ions)
www.odatus.com/ions.html. (negative ions)
www.pentax.com/ion_explain.htm. (negative ions)
Yaglou C. P., Brandt, A. D., Benjamin, L. K. C. Physiological Changes during Exposure to Ionized Air. Heating, Piping, Air Conditioning 5 (1933): 423.
Yaglou C. P. and Benjamin, L. K. C. Diurnal and Seasonal Variations in Small Ion Content in Outdoor and Indoor Air. Heating, Piping, Air Conditioning 6 (1934): 25.