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This ayah appears towards the beginning of Surat An-Nahl (The Bee), a Makkan Surah, which gets its name from the reference Allah makes in it to bees and the special instinct He gave them. He has inspired them to build beehives, to live an organized life and to follow many paths to the flowers to provide us with the beneficial liquid that is produced in the bellies of female bees. Allah has given bees the unique privilege of being able to produce honey.
Surat An-Nahl deals with a lot of important concepts that make up the pillars of the Islamic aqidah (creed), including:
· Complete belief in Allah’s divinity; that is He is the Creator and has dominion over everything.
· Allah’s absolute Oneness above His creation.
· The absolute and limitless power of Allah.
· The unhindered will of Allah.
· The revelation (of the Qur’an).
· The Prophethood and the message, completed and perfected in the message of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS, peace be upon him) who was the “seal” of the Prophets.
· Allah promises that the Qur’an shall be preserved in the form in which it was revealed to Muhammad (SAWS). The preservation of the previous books was left to the people they were sent to and were thus corrupted and changed from their original wording and meaning.
Signs of creation in Surat An-Nahl:
This Surah mentions many signs of creation that give evidence of the divinity of Allah as reflected in the greatness of His creation. The Surah also mentions the many blessings of Allah on His worshippers in His perfect knowledge, the greatness of His wisdom and His precise planning, including:
1. The creation of the heavens and the earth.
2. The creation of man from a drop of sperm; it is this same man who is then often argumentative and denies his Creator.
3. The creation of cattle, a source of countless benefits for mankind.
4. The creation of horses, mules, and donkeys for transportation and other things of which man had no knowledge of.
5. The many beliefs of man that cause him to fluctuate between choosing the Straight Path and misguidance.
6. Allah sends down rain from the sky for the refreshment of mankind, animals and plants causing vegetation, including olives, date-palms and grapes, to grow out of the earth.
7. The passage of day and night and the passage of the sun, the moon and the stars by His order to regulate life in the universe.
8. The propagation of different life forms and the various types of surfaces, rocks, minerals and elements as well as the various cycles (water cycle, life cycle, rock cycles, etc).
9. He has made the sea for man’s use so that man may eat the food therein that is fresh and tender, so he can extract materials to make ornaments and sail ships that plough through the waves.
10. He has pegged mountains with deep roots on the Earth to stand firm so that the Earth does not shake and disrupt life on it and rivers that break rocks as they travel down from their source on the mountain tops. The soil formation and precipitation of minerals, rocks, and other resources and the making of roads and pathways in mountains and valleys.
11. He has made landmarks on earth to guide the traveler by day and the stars as a guide at night for those crossing the land and seas.
12. Allah is the creator of everything; His creation does have not the ability to create.
13. The description given of the punishment of some of the previous nations agrees with our current understanding of earthquakes, long before anyone knew the mechanisms behind earthquakes.
14. Allah gives assurance that, just as he punished the sinners by destroying their nations in the past, he is able to do so now and in the future. This further confirms our current understanding of the mechanisms of earthquakes and strengthens our belief that mountains are Allah’s soldiers, punishing the disbelievers, testing those who believe and giving hard learnt lessons to those who survive them.
15. The creation of milk in the stomachs of cattle originating from between their waste and blood, yet providing a pure, tasty drink.
16. Allah made the fruit of the date-palm and the vine a source of sustenance but some use it unwisely to produce intoxicating or alcoholic drinks.
17. Allah created the bee and allowed the females to build beehives on hills, trees and in homes, to gather nectar and pollen from different flowers and fruits and to travel great distances without forgetting its way home. The bee then changes the pollen and the nectar in its stomach into a drink of various colors in which there is a cure for mankind.
18. The cycle of life between creation and death is decided for all living creatures. Among the living are those who die young and there are those live into old age, losing their memory partially or totally.
19. Allah holds the birds poised in midair while flying; nothing keeps them there but the power of their Lord.
20. Allah created the sense of hearing before He created the sense of seeing.
Interpretation of these ayahs by some scholars:
Concerning the interpretation of the following ayahs, “And He has affixed into the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads, that you may guided yourselves.” (Surat An-Nahl (The Bees):15).
Ibn-Kathir said: “Mountains standing firm” means that Allah created the earth with its strong pillars and deeply rooted mountains which stabilize the earth and prevent it from shaking and disturbing life on Earth.
As for the words, “rivers and roads”, Allah created rivers that run from one place to another providing sustenance for believers. They originate in one place and provide sustenance for the inhabitants of other places and cut across landscapes, wildernesses and wastelands, they cut through hills and mountains. They pass through whatever Allah has willed and destined for them. He has also made paths that lead from one land to another, even through mountains, as He says, “And We have made in them paths”.
One of the scientific facts mentioned in these ayahs is the use of the word “pegging” to describe the formation of mountains, their stabilizing function for the Earth and linking it to the creation of rivers and mountain paths.
Describing the formation of the mountains as “pegging”:
A mountain is a part of the earth’s surface much higher than the land surrounding it; it has relatively steep sides and a summit. Mountains are usually found in chains, ranges or systems. Apart from certain mountains that exist singly, the smallest unit is the range, made up of either a single complex ridge or a series of ridges generally alike in origin, age, and form. Several closely related ranges, in parallel alignment or chain-like cluster, are known as a mountain system. An elongated series of systems forms a mountain chain and an extensive complex of ranges, systems and chains is known as a belt or cordillera.