A Garden On A Height; Heavy Rain Falls On It
Posted 02 April 2006 - 04:49 AM
This verse appears towards the end of Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow), which was revealed in Madinah and has 286 verses. It is the longest Surah in the Qur'an and gets its name from the miraculous story mentioned in it about a man from the israelites was murdered in the days of Musa (AS) and the identity of his murderer was unknown. Thus Allah (SWT) ordered Musa (AS) to order his people to slaughter a cow and to strike the dead man with a part of it; he then came back to life by Allah's will and told them the identify of his murderer. Truth was able to prevail as a result of this miracle and it was a manifestation of Allahâ€™s (SWT) power to resurrect the dead.
Surat Al-Baqarah deals with the Jews and Christians at length; this subject matter covers more than one third of the Surah. The Surah concludes with an affirmation of the reality of faith and with a supplication to Allah that touches the heart and mind. The most significant facts mentioned in the Surah can be summarized as follows:
Personal characteristics of a virtuous believer mentioned in Surat Al-Baqarah:
1. Patience in suffering and adversity;
2. Fulfilling covenants and promises;
3. Courage and intrepidity in seeking martyrdom in the cause of Allah;
4. Boldness in upholding justice, declaring one's opinion and refraining from suppressing testimony;
5. Bounty, generosity and spending money in the cause of Allah;
6. Striving to do good deeds, to say kind words and to forgive others;
7. Showing respects to one's parents and kindness towards kin, orphans, the poor and to all people, and helping the needy without humiliating them or harming.
8. Avoiding all types of ill-gotten gain.
Tenets of faith in Surat Al-Baqarah:
1. Surat Al-Baqarah provides details of the rules governing the Muslim family from marriage, divorce, weaning children, the iddat (waiting) period for women after divorce or the death of their spouse, etc. Men are also ordered to refrain from having sexual intercourse with their wives during their menstrual cycles and marriage with polytheists is forbidden until they believe.
2. This Surah lists the foods that are forbidden, such as dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine and any animals that have not been slaughtered in the name of Allah. It is not sinful, however, if one consumes these foods through extreme necessity. Furthermore, the surah prohibits both intoxicants and gambling.
3. Retribution (qisas) is the rule stipulated in the case of murder.
4. The Surah encourages will writing and prohibited concealment or falsification of a will.
5. It prohibits the unlawful usurpation of other peopleâ€™s property or possessions.
6. It sets checks for debt transactions.
7. Riba is prohibited outright. ( Riba: is that amount of money added to the original sum or balance of money that was borrowed, in other words; interest).
8. It encourages people to treat orphans well and sets up checks concerning money spent in the cause of Allah.
9. It prohibits the denial of undeniable religious truths.
Stories in Surat Al-Baqarah:
Many of Allah's prophets and messengers are mentioned in this Surah and reference is also made to a number of events that provide useful allegories, such as the following:
1. The story of Adam and Hawaâ€™ (Eve).
2. The story of the people of israel and the Pharaoh, covering their exodus from Egypt with Musa (AS) who led them across the sea, and how water sprung out of the earth for their consumption and how they were then disobedient after receiving all these blessings from Allah and reverted to worshipping a calf. There is also reference to the story of how Allah transformed those who broke the rules of the Sabbath into monkeys. The Surah also refers to their denial of Allahâ€™s signs and verses, their unjust slaying of prophets, distortion of the Torah, their disobedience to Allah's commands and transgression of the limits set by Him. Moreover, it shows how Allah raised above them (the towering height) of Mount (Sinai) to threaten and frighten them, as well as their story with the murdered person and Allah's order to them to slaughter a cow and to use its parts to hit the murdered person so that Allah (SWT) would resurrect him and let him utter his murderer's name then die again and their story with their king Talut (Saul) and with Galut (Goliath) and Dawud (AS) â€œDavidâ€.
3. The story of prophets sent to the people of israel such as Dawud (AS) and Solaiman (AS).
4. The story of Ibrahim (AS) and his son Isma'il (AS), who raised the foundations of the Kaâ€™ba, and their prayer to Allah (SWT) to send the final prophet to Makkah and the debate between Ibrahim (AS) and King Nimrod who was the first man to falsely claim divinity to himself.
5. The story of Yaqub (AS).
6. The changing of the Qibla (direction for prayer) from Jerusalem to Makkah.
7. The story of Isa (Jesus) (AS).
8. The story of the Uzair (Ezra) who went to Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar; the verse states what can be translated as,* â€œâ€¦He said: â€œOh! How will Allah ever bring this town back to life after its death and destruction?â€ So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, and then raised him up (again). He said: â€œHow long did you remain (dead)?â€ He (the man) said: â€œ(Perhaps) I remained (dead) a day or part of a dayâ€. He said: â€œNay, you have remained (dead) for a hundred years, look at your food and your drink, they show no change; and look at your donkey! ( it was remnants of its bones and Allah brought it back to life in front of him )And thus We have made of you a sign for the people. Look at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with fleshâ€. When this was clearly shown to him, he said, "I know (now) that Allah is Able to do all things.â€â€ *(TMQ, Surat Al-Baqarah: 259)
Signs of Creation in Surat Al-Baqarah:
Surat Al-Baqarah mentions many of signs of creation that can be summarized as follows:
1. The distinction between the different types of light, each with its own characteristics and the contrast between darkness and light. These are scientific realities that have only been recently discovered.
2. The fact that hearing precedes sight in human development. It has been scientifically proven that in the stages of the creation of a human being, hearing is developed before sight.
3. The description of how heavy outpours of rain are consistently accompanied by darkness, thunder and lightning.
4. Reference to the consecutive stages in the Earthâ€™s preparation to receive human life, from leveling the Earthâ€™s surface, the building the heavens surrounding it, rain descending on the Earth, fruits grew on the Earth for our sustenance, revival of the earth after it had been barren and the scattering of all kinds of animals throughout the earth.
5. The miracle of the sea splitting for Musa (AS), was also mentioned, saving him and those who were with him from the Pharaoh and his soldiers, as well as of the gushing forth of twelve springs with one strike of Musaâ€™s (AS) staff. These wells still exist until today along a single fault in the Earthâ€™s crust in the eastern area of the Suez Peninsula.
6. Reference to psychological elements such as fear, suspicion and doubt, all of which have shown by studies in the field of psychology to be scientific truths that were unknown at the time of the revelation of the Qurâ€™an.
The hardheartedness of the Jews is mentioned and is compared to the hardness of rocks; their hearts are considered harder than rocks as there are some rocks which soften with the rivers that flows over them, there are some that split and water flows out of them and others that sink for fear of Allah (SWT).
7. Reference to the true East and West of the Earth, giving an indication of the Earth being the centre of the universe. This is a scientific fact that has yet to be accepted by secular science.
8. Reference to the creation of the Heavens and Earth, the alternation of night and day and the passage of ships through the sea for the benefit of mankind; all of this is part of Allahâ€™s supreme Dominion.
9. Reference to the direction of the winds and the clouds which trail between the heavens and the earth in subjugation. These are scientific truths that have only been slightly understood in the latter decades of the twentieth century.
10. New moons are signs to mark appointed times and dates in the lives of people and for the pilgrimage.
11. Reference to women's menstrual periods and advising men to refrain from sexual intercourse with women during menstruation due to the harm and damage that can be inflicted on women as a consequence. Medical studies have indeed confirmed this fact.
12. Emphasizing the dangers of intoxicants and gambling which outweigh any benefit that may be reaped from them.
13. Mentioning the scientific truth that an orchard on a flat surface, which is more elevated than what surrounds it, if subjected to heavy rain, will bear twice the amount of fruit. This is because the likelihood of it being flooded with heavy rain is non-existent as the water quickly drains away from the soil after it has taken what it requires; this is as it is elevated above the valleys surrounding it. If, however, it does not receive heavy rain but light moisture (dew or light drizzles of rain) it is sufficient to water the plants and to produce plentiful fruit.
The point here is that such a garden on a height, thrives, flourishes, bears fruit and produces generously whether or not it receives heavy rain.
Surat Al-Baqarah describes those who spend for the sake of Allah and who are righteous. Allah makes what they have spent for Him in His cause thrive and grow (irrespective of whether the amount spent is large or small); the rewards of spending for the sake of Allah are compared to the produce of the garden on a height thrives and grows whether or not it receives heavy rain.
Each of the above mentioned scientific matters requires separate analysis; therefore, I will only focus my analysis in this article on the last point concerning the description of the garden on a height. Before starting, we shall have a quick look at the interpretation of this noble verse by old and contemporary scholars.
Interpretation of this verse by scholars:
Concerning the interpretation of the following verse that can be translated as,* â€œAnd the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allahâ€™s Pleasure and to strengthen their souls, is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it. And Allah is All-Seer (knows well) of what you do.â€* (TMQ, Surat Al-Baqarah: 265).
Ibn-Kathir said, â€œThis is the likeness of the believers, who spend their wealth seeking to please Allah by doing so. * â€œâ€¦and to strengthen their souls â€¦â€ *They know for a certainty that Allah will reward them most generously for spending in His cause.
Al-Shaâ€™abi explained* â€œâ€¦and to strengthen their soulsâ€¦â€* means that they do this out of true faith and absolute certainty.
All the scholars agree that *â€œâ€¦is the likeness of a garden on a heightâ€¦â€* means a place that is elevated from the ground; Ibn Abbas and Ad-dahak add that rivers flow through this garden. *â€œâ€¦Heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvestâ€¦â€* means it bears twice the amount of fruit as compared to other gardens, if it receives heavy rain.
Safwat Al-Bayan says that *â€œâ€¦and to strengthen their soulsâ€¦â€* means that as well as spending their wealth to seek Allahâ€™s pleasure, they do so to accustom themselves to patience adherence to the pious act of spending in the cause of Allah and to firmly guide themselves away from anything that spoils or corrupts the intentions behind and the execution of this deed. It could also mean to affirm and strengthen their faith in Allah and to obtain the promised reward that is a consequence of their actions, since their actions are what drives and initiates their reward. The word *â€œâ€¦gardenâ€¦â€* is used to mean the trees that are closely intertwined as well as the land on which these trees grow, however, the first meaning (the trees) is more pertinent to the context.
*â€œâ€¦on a heightâ€¦â€* A height is an area that is elevated above the level of streams. Trees that grow at heights are normally more beautiful and their fruit are more delicious. The word *â€œâ€¦harvestâ€¦â€* means fruits. The expression *â€œâ€¦light rainâ€¦â€* refers to the lightest drops of rain or to the drizzle that suffice the garden due to its high fertility.
The intended meaning is that the garden thrives and bears fruit whether the rain it receives is heavy or light, just as what is spent in the cause of Allah for His pleasure and to strengthen the souls thrives and grows (whether the amount expended is large or small).
The scientific implications of the noble verse:
It is an obvious fact that the earthâ€™s surface is not completely flat. It ranges from high lofty summits to low lying mountain ranges to the level plains that stretch to reach an altitude slightly above sea level.
Between the lofty summits and the leveled plains, we find heights and hills with different altitudes until we reach the plains, then we find continental depressions and sea and ocean trenches.
The reason why the topography of earth is variable is because of the different chemical and mineral composition of the rocks forming it and consequently the difference in the density of these rocks. This is because the earthâ€™s solid layer (earthâ€™s crust) floats on a layer of semi-molten materials, which is called the weak zone (Asthenosphere) in the earthâ€™s layers. This floatation is governed by the laws and principles. (For example buoyancy principle, just as an iceberg that is less dense than water floats in the ocean).
The highest peak on the earthâ€™s surface, Mount Everest in the Himalayan mountain range, reaches an altitude of 8848 m above sea level. The lowest point on landâ€™s surface is the floor of the Dead Sea (a part of continent not marine) and is about 400 m below sea level. The average altitude of land on earth is roughly 840 m above sea level.
The deepest point on the ocean floor of the earth is the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean; its depth is a little over eleven km whereas the average depth of ocean floors is about four km (3729 to 4500 m) below sea level.
These variations in altitudes provide vastly varying types of living environments, each suited for a specific form of life. We find therefore that fruit and chestnut trees and in general trees that have produce grow best on hills and heights that are under one thousand m above sea level, whereas grains and potatoes stop growing at about two thousand m above sea level (around 2160 m). The maximum altitude for forest growth is 2660 m above sea level.
The height best suited for a garden that was given as an example in the verse under analysis is wondrous, since this is the best environment known to us for the growth of fruit trees and others trees that have produce such as olive trees, almond trees, pine trees and others. This is because the environment of heights is characterized by mild weather, abundant water, a greater chance of being exposed to sunshine, rainfall, humidity, wind movement and to air renewal around it. Therefore it is the most suited environment for the growth of trees in general and of fruit trees in particular.
Heights are features of the earthâ€™s surface that are leveled and elevated above sea level by an average altitude ranging from 300 to 600 m. Their altitudes are lower than that of mountains and higher than that of hills. Consequently, rain water never drowns heights, no matter how strong the rainfall is. That is because the rain water is pushed ever downward by the force of gravity to the surrounding areas that are lower than the height. That is after its soil and rocks had been saturated with the required amount of water, which both cools and refreshes them and is stored in them. Controlling the amount of stored water helps plants perform their vital activities efficiently without drowning or dehydration. Dehydration kills the plants and drowning them in water or having an increase in the water storage in the rocks and soil would result in the decay, rotting and decomposition of the roots which would also kill the plants.
When heavy rain falls on a height, both its soil and rocks and the plants growing on it take their required intake of water, while excess water flows over to the lower surrounding areas till it reaches the valleys and the plains. The controlled amount of water stored in the soil and rocks of the height helps the roots of plants in general and of trees in particular to extend deeper into the soil and rocks. This multiplies the amounts of elements and compounds that become available for the roots to absorb, along with the nutritional sap they extract from the ground. The extended roots also help fix the plants in the ground and make them resistant to strong wind and other environmental changes.
One of the advantages of the environment of heights is that if it receives heavy rain, it doubles its produce and if the humidity decreases and only drizzle or dew are available as moisture, it still bears plenty of fruit. This is because plants growing on heights are able to benefit from the rain water whatever the quantity they receive, as well as from the dew that condenses at higher rates than in plains or in closed valleys, particularly in dry regions.
Fruit trees and others trees such as olive, almond, and pine trees bear more fruit at heights that are above sea level than on level plains and closed valleys because if heavy rain falls on the height, the excess water quickly flows away from it after the garden has taken its water requirements. It therefore benefits it and does not harm it in any way. The garden therefore bears double the amount of fruit. Nevertheless, when the garden does not receive heavy rain then the drizzle or dew condensing around it is sufficient to provide it with its water requirements, so it continues to live and bear fruit by the will of Allah.
The verse thus likens those who spend their wealth, seeking Allahâ€™s pleasure and to strengthen their souls (whatever their material ability) to a fertile garden with fruitful trees growing on an elevated height in favorable environmental conditions that have provided the garden with all the means for growth and a very generous production of fruit when it receives heavy rain, moreover, still a generous production of fruit if it receives light rain. The continuous production of this garden does not stop under any circumstance, similarly believers spend in the cause of Allah driven by their faith in Allah (SWT) and their firm belief that He is the Sustainer and that He is the Powerful and the Strong. They therefore spend in His cause whether their financial ability is strong or weak. They spend seeking only His pleasure and the strengthening of their souls, since one of the ways to train the human soul is through spending money in the cause of Allah, and in this respect Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, *â€œAnd the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allahâ€™s Pleasure and to strengthen their souls, is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it. And Allah is All-Seer (knows well) of what you do.â€* (TMQ, Surat Al-Baqarah: 265).
This verse points clearly to the preference of growing fruit trees in general on heights, which are flat elevated grounds, lower than mountains and higher than hills, ranging in altitude between 300 and 600 m above sea level. This is a scientific fact that has been proven by experiments over successive decades. This scientific fact is present in the Qurâ€™an which was revealed over 1400 years ago to an illiterate prophet (PBUH) in a nation whose large majority were illiterate and living in a dry desert with no knowledge of gardens or fruit trees except for palm or some vines in very limited areas of it. This Qurâ€™anic description therefore bears witness that these are the words of Allah, the Creator, who has revealed it with His knowledge to His last prophet (PBUH). Since the Qurâ€™an is the last message, Allah (SWT) has undertaken to guard it in the same language of its revelation (Arabic). Therefore, He has protected it word for word, letter for letter, from any addition or omission or alteration or change, for over 14 centuries and until the Day of Judgment, as He has promised what can be translated as,* â€œVerily, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qurâ€™an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)â€* (TMQ, Surat Al-Hijr: 9).
Praise be to Allah for the favor of the Qurâ€™an and praise be to Allah for the favor of Islam and praise be to Allah for guiding us to this while we could never have been guided to this had it not been for the guidance of Allah, and praise be to Allah in the hereafter and in this first world. Blessings and peace be upon the last prophet and messenger and on his family and companions and all who follow his guidance and invoke with his invocation until the Day of Judgment.