Do they not observe the earth: how many pairs of excellent species have We caused to grow in it? There truly is a sign in this, yet most of them do not believe. Your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful. (Al Quran 26:7-9)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
The verses mentioned above as epigraph, make me take a leap of faith, from merely appreciating the beauty of the plant world, to the creativity and creation of God Almighty and also the inference that the plants and the study of botany are not only a Sign of Allah, but a clear proof of His Divinity and necessity of our belief system in Monotheism.
Why do I draw such all pervasive conclusions from such short verses? Because I read these verses in unison with the other verses on the theme of God’s creativity and beauty and organization of His creation.
Especially, the verses of Surah Anbiyya that are most pregnant with the study of nature leading to God’s Divinity. In these four verses there is very specific and accurate reference to Cosmology, Astronomy, Biology, Geology and Medicine:
“Do not the disbelievers realize that the heavens and the earth were a solid mass, then We split them asunder, and We made from water every living thing? Will they not then believe?
We have placed in the earth firm mountains lest it roll beneath them; and We have made wide pathways therein that they may thereby journey from place to place.
And We have made the heaven a roof, well-protected; yet they turn away from its Signs.
He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon each gliding freely in its orbit.” (Al Quran 21:30-33)
Allah is challenging the disbelievers or atheists that He created the universe through Big Bang, from a singularity, how can they deny His creativity and Divinity. Allah’s challenge has become more awe inspiring in our present age, when we have realized the need for ten raised to the power of 500 other universes, to explain the biophyilic nature of our universe: Ten Raised to Five Hundred Reasons for Our Gracious God.
In the verses that follow the Big Bang verse, Allah mentions other aspects of His creation, like millions of species on planet earth, chains of mountains, protective nature of our atmosphere and other parts of our solar system, as wonders of His creative abilities.
When we read these verses together with the verses about the species of plants mentioned in the epigraph, we begin to realize that Allah’s creation are His wonders and marvels and a proof of His Divinity, which humans have no ground to escape. If humans try atheism they try at their own peril.
Incidentally, the Arabic word used for the species of plants, is Zauj, which means a spouse, an apt referral to sexual multiplication in plants that were discovered centuries later, only after the discovery of microscope.
Dr. Maurice Bucaille has disccussed this matter at some length in his book, The Bible, the Quran and Science, under the section, The Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms:
One must bear in mind that there are two methods of reproduction in the vegetable kingdom: one sexual, the other asexual. It is only the first which in fact deserves the term ‘reproduction’, because this defines a biological process whose purpose is the appearance of a new individual identical to the one that gave it birth.
Asexual reproduction is quite simply multiplication. It is the result of the fragmentation of an organism which has separated from the main plant and developed in such a way as to resemble the plant from which it came. It is considered by Guilliermond and Mangenot to be a ‘special case of growth’. A very simple example of this is the cutting. a cutting taken from a plant is placed in suitably watered soil and regenerated by the growth of new roots. Some plants have organs specially designed for this, while others give off spores that behave like seeds, as it were, (it should be remembered that seeds are the results of a process of sexual reproduction).
Sexual reproduction in the vegetable kingdom is carried out by the coupling of the male and female parts of the generic formations united on a same plant or located on separate plants.
This is the only form that is mentioned in the Quran.
-sura 20, verse 53:
“(God is the One Who) sent water down from the sky and thereby We brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other.”
‘One of a pair’ is the translation of zauj (plural azwaj) whose original meaning is: ‘that which, in the company of another, forms a pair’; the word is used just as readily for a married couple as for a pair of shoes.
–sura 22, verse 5:
“Thou seest the grounds lifeless. When We send down water thereon it shakes and grows and puts forth every magnificent pair (of plants).”
–sura 31, verse 10:
“We caused to grow (on the earth) every noble pair (of plants).”
–sura 13, verse 3:
“Of all fruits (God) placed (on the earth) two of a pair.”
We know that fruit is the end-product of the reproduction process of superior plants which have the most highly developed and complex organization. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). The latter, once pollen has been carried to them, bear fruit which in turn matures and frees it seeds. All fruit therefore implies the existence of male and female organs. This is the meaning of the verse in the Quran.
It must be noted that for certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit), e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, and vine. They can nevertheless also come from plants that have definite sexual characteristics.
The culmination of the reproductive process comes with the germination of the seed once its outside casing is opened (sometimes it is compacted into a fruit-stone). This opening allows roots to emerge which draw from the soil all that is necessary for the plant’s slowed-down life as a seed while it grows and produces a new plant.
A verse in the Quran refers to this process of germination:
–sura 6, verse 95:
“Verily, God splits the grain and the fruit-stone.”
The Quran often restates the existence of these components of a pair in the vegetable kingdom and brings the notion of a couple into a more general context, without set limits:
–sura 36, Verse 36:
“Glory be to Him Who created the components of couples of every kind: of what the ground caused to grow, of themselves (human beings) and of what you do not know.”
One could form many hypotheses concerning the meaning of the ‘things men did not know’ in Muhammad’s day. Today we can distinguish structures or coupled functions for them, going from the infinitesimally small to the infinitely large, in the living as well as the non-living world. The point is to remember these clearly expressed ideas and note, once again, that they are in perfect agreement with modern science.
For further study, I leave you with a video and a few articles:
Video: Allah the Creator, the Maker and the Fashioner: Kingdom Of Plants
Astonishing plant-animal alliances
Everything is a Miracle According to the Holy Quran and Albert Einstein
A Slight Twist Makes David Attenborough a Great Teacher for God of the Abrahamic Faiths
Photosynthesis: deserving of our awe or ridicule?
David Attenborough Interview on the Lives of Plants – Charlie Rose
The Quranic Challenge to the Atheists: Make a Fly, if You Can
The anesthesia of familiarity: There should be a Creator of Our Universe
Categories: Abrahamic faiths, Atheism, Biology, Highlight, Monotheism, Religon & Science
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