By Sadaf Farooqi
I will never forget that experience because of the ‘as-yet’ unparalleled thirst, coupled with the utter helplessness that I had felt, at being unable to quench it.
Hajj: A Journey of Selfless Brotherhood
The journey of Hajj is dotted with incredible experiences of selfless brotherhood for most pilgrims.
For someone who has never gone for Hajj, I do not think any amount of literary research, academic classes, or wistful anticipation can prepare them enough for what the journey entails, and what they will bring away from it eventually, in the form of practical lessons, life-changing experiences, and long-lasting memories.
Hajj is an experience and journey like no other. You have to go on Hajj yourself to be able to fully learn, decipher and fathom just what it entails.
Many a time, after the initial days spent smoothly and uneventfully in hotels, the talbiyah-repeating pilgrim might find himself musing over the logic behind performing all the Hajj rituals. He or she might wonder why God has ordained this journey upon those of His believing slaves who can physically and financially afford it; a journey that involves observance of strict restrictions in ihram and the communal performance of rites combined with often exhausting travel, starting and ending with a 5-day sojourn in different places around Makkah.
Hajj necessitates camping out, if I may call it that, under the open sky that alternatively brings down the scorching rays of the sun during the day, and the tender glow of the moon and radiant stars during the night, in makeshift accommodations that, though they might offer air conditioning and carpeting in this day and age, do not make many tall promises of exclusiveness, hygiene, privacy, personal space, or ‘avant-garde’ luxury, except perhaps for a few select, “bourgeois” and affluent pilgrims.
For most, staying overnight in the sprawling tented city of Mina, or the barren plain of Muzdalifah, and spending the better part of the day in the plain of Arafah, involves being like a drop in the ocean or a speck of dust in a sand dune: inconsequential and one among millions, disheveled, hot, sweaty, worn and tired, making with bare minimal of the necessities of survival in order to obey the call of the one Lord in front of whom everyone on this sacred journey has the same status – that of a penitent slave longing to be forgiven all of his/her past sins.
Experience of Selfless Brotherhood
The journey of Hajj is dotted with incredible experiences of selfless brotherhood for most pilgrims. Ask anyone who has made the journey in the past, and they will most probably narrate to you one or two events that happened to them during their memorable Hajj experience that left them amazed; their hearts humbled before God, and their senses totally in awe of the selflessness that God’s creation is capable of exhibiting towards their brethren in faith who are in need.
I once had such a wonderful experience in Al-Masjid Al-Haram, when I was extremely thirsty after performing tawaf (circumambulation around the Holy Ka`bah) and was unable to find a way among the crowd of women seated around the Ka`bah to get to the nearest Zamzam canisters.
In those days, several years ago, the coolers containing Zamzam were placed inside Al-Masjid Al-Haram in several strategic spots for easy access. However, on that night when I completed tawaf, the `Isha prayer was imminent, and there was no space to even move an inch, let alone walk through, the innumerable women seated firmly on the floor around the ka`bah, awaiting the call to prayer.
You will realize as a pilgrim during your trysts in both the haramain (the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah), that willingly giving way to another Muslim, or even sharing one’s personal prayer spot or space once one has obtained it after much difficulty, is something only a very few, big-hearted pilgrims are able to do. Most tend to fight tenaciously to defend their space, which is quite sad actually, especially during the state of ihram, in which fighting, quarreling, arguing and wrangling is as disallowed as cutting nails, hair and putting on perfume:
“Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj…” (Al-Baqarah 2: 197)
Seeing my forlorn facial expression that undoubtedly gave away my immense thirst, and my repeated longing looks towards the Zamzam coolers, a sister in the crowd seemed to comprehend the motive behind my anguish and gestured for me to pass her my empty water bottle. I passed it along, and was surprised to see the hitherto motionless and placid crowd of seated sisters suddenly became ardent and willing comrades in a common mission: getting my water bottle filled with Zamzam.
It is when the moments of comradeship suddenly occur during Hajj that a pilgrim suddenly realizes how the longing of his heart and the supplication of his tongue has been answered by God within seconds!
Every sister eagerly took the bottle when it reached her and passed it on to the one seated next to her in line, until it finally reached the sister who was seated nearest to the Zamzam coolers. She quickly filled it up, and then they all passed it back to me just as quickly as they had done a minute earlier.
When I, at last, grabbed the bottle full of the precious life-giving water that I was pining for a few minutes earlier, from which my mother and I, whose throats were completely parched dry with thirst, gobbled up the water greedily, words cannot describe the gratitude that I felt then towards all the sisters who helped me, especially that first sister who initiated everyone else around her, seated between herself and I, to help me get that water. I smiled, gushed and used my hand gestures to express my gratitude to the sister as best as I could from afar, when in reality I wanted to give her a big hug!
I will never forget that experience because of the ‘as-yet’ unparalleled thirst, coupled with the utter helplessness that I had felt, at being unable to quench it.
Truth be told, such bittersweet, exhilarating moments recur for many pilgrims during Hajj – at times when they need the aid of fellow pilgrims in order to get something required for basic survival, such as water, food, clothing, shelter, relief from bodily needs, medical supplies, or directions when they are lost among an unending sea of people, detached from their group and not knowing the way to go back to their tent.
For such a frantic, desperate pilgrim having an urgent need that is then fulfilled by a compassionate and sympathetic brother or sister who goes out of their way to take on the responsibility of helping them, seems like a dream come true – embodying an earnest dua’ answered promptly by God!
It could be loaning someone your sleeping bag during a cold night in Muzdalifah, because they forgot their own bedding on the bus; or giving someone a couple of antibiotic prescription drugs from your own supplies, in order to relieve their excruciating cough, even though their coughing disrupted your sleep the whole night in Mina; or giving your only remaining bottle of water to another so that they can perform ablution before a prayer which they are about to miss, even if it means that you will have to do tayammum (dry ablution); or lending someone your extra ihram sheets because theirs became soiled on the way to the toilet – helping out another brother or sister in faith by giving them something they need embodies the true spirit of Hajj.
Just as the teamwork, selfless kindness and empathetic compassion of a silently compliant group of sisters helped fulfill my survival need because they all came together to help me, so too many a time, Hajj brings you face to face with life-saving “angels” in human form, who rescue you from distress and become your unsung heroes.
It is at moments such as these that you begin to realize why God ordained Hajj for us at least once during our lifetime, so that we can truly and practically experience the beauty of selfless brotherhood, and come away with valuable lessons that leave an impact that lasts a lifetime.
Sadaf Farooqi is a freelance writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a postgraduate master degree in Computer Science and a diploma in Islamic education. She has seven years of experience as a teacher of Islamic education courses for women and girls. She has an award winning blog called Sadaf’s Space, and has written for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine, Saudi Gazette and MuslimMatters.org. Sadaf has also authored a book titled Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage.
By Truth Seeker Staff
Those who did not perform Hajj witnessed blessed days and lived virtuous hours; namely the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
What Should One Do after Hajj?
The season of Hajj is a noble season. People during this season are either a pilgrim performing Hajj or one who is not. The pilgrim witnessed the holy sites; he stood at ‘Arafah supplicating Allah Almighty and humbling himself, returned to Muzdalifah and witnessed Al-Mash‘ar Al-Haram remembering Allah, the Exalted, and invoking sincerely. Allah Almighty says (what means):
“But when you depart from ‘Arafat, remember Allah at Al- Mash‘ar Al-Haram. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.” [Al-Baqarah 2:198]
He threw the Jamrah of Al-‘Aqabah and remembered Allah while throwing, then he slaughtered the hady (sacrificial animal) of his tamattu‘. Allah Almighty says (what means):
“And when you are secure, then whoever performs ‘Umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals.” [Al-Baqarah 2:196]
Then, he shaved his hair:
“And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter.” [Al-Baqarah 2:196]
and performed tawaf (circumambulation) around the Ancient House responding to the call of Allah (which means):
“Then let them end their untidiness and fulfil their vows and perform tawaf around the Ancient House.” [Al-Hajj 22:29]
He stayed in Mina on the days of tashreeq to complete his rituals and threw pebbles at the jamrat (pillars) therein following the example of Prophet Ibrahim, may Allah exalt his mention. The last thing he did was perform the farewell tawaf in compliance with the command of the honored Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) who said, “No one of you should leave until the last thing he has done is circumambulate the House.” [Muslim]
Hajj consists of rituals and emotions experienced by the Muslim being immersed in enslavement to Allah between compliance with His orders, applying His sharia and following the Sunnah of His Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) in performing the rituals of the Hajj. The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Learn from me your rituals (by watching me performing them).” [Muslim]
He is continuously mentioning Allah and sincerely supplicating Him. The pilgrim, from the time he enters the state of ihram (ritual consecration) till he throws the jamrah of Al-‘Aqabah, continues to recite talbiyah: “Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk, Labbayka la Shareeka laka Labbayk, Inna Al-Hamda wan-Ni‘mata laka wal-Mulk La Shareeka Lak.” (O Allah! I respond to You in obedience. You Have no partner. I respond to You in obedience. All praise and grace belong to You and the Sovereignty too; You Have no partner.)
In addition, he moves between the rituals; supplicating Allah and resorting to Him. In ‘Arafah, the great place of standing, and Muzdalifah, the honored mash‘ar, nobody is guided to supplication therein except that he will be answered, as mentioned by the scholars. The same applies to performing tawaf, performing sa‘y between As-Safa and Al-Marwah, and throwing pebbles, which are appropriate occasions for supplicating Allah and resorting to Him. In brief, all of the Hajj, with all its places and rituals, is appropriate for remembrance and supplication. Allah Almighty says (what means):
“That they may witness benefits for themselves and mention the name of Allah on known days.” [Al-Hajj 22:28] and (what means):
“And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days.” [Al-Baqarah 2:203]
Besides, the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Performing tawaf round the House (the Ka‘bah) and sa‘y between As-Safa and Al-Marwah are meant for the remembrance of Allah.” [Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi]
Then, Allah concluded the rituals of the Hajj with a command to remember Him with the greatest possible remembrance. Allah, the Exalted, says (what means):
“And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance.” [Al-Baqarah 2:200]
Allah prescribed this order after Hajj in order for the Muslim to continue to adhere to uprightness and righteousness and to proceed on the way of piety and success. This is the state of the pilgrim while performing his Hajj to the House of His Lord.
A person whose state was like that during those specified days better, after his Hajj, continue to do what he used to do during the Hajj. This includes remembering Allah, humbling himself with enslavement to Him during the Hajj, and being keen on following the Sunnah of His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) and his guidance in spite of the hardships and discomfort that one encounters during the Hajj.
Without such hardships and discomfort, one should be even keener on absolute compliance and perfect enslavement to Allah, the Exalted, along with caution against anything that contradicts this, just as he was cautious during his Hajj against committing any restrictions or prohibitions that would affect or reduce the reward of his Hajj.
On the other hand, those who did not perform Hajj witnessed blessed days and lived virtuous hours; namely the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, narrated that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” [Al-Bukhari]
Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah is equal to fasting a previous and a coming year, as narrated by Muslim on the authority of Abu Qatadah, may Allah be pleased with him. Moreover, the Day of Nahr is the greatest day of the Hajj, as mentioned by the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) “The greatest day of the Hajj is the Day of Nahr.” [Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Al-Bukhari]
On that day, we offer the sacrifice that Allah ordered us to sacrifice by virtue of the verse in which He says (what means):
“So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].” [Al-Kawthar 108:2]
The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) sacrificed two horned rams, as narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Anas.
Furthermore, on the days of tashreeq, both the pilgrim and the non-pilgrim should remember Allah all the time, and especially after obligatory prayers. Nubayshah Al-Huthali, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The days of tashreeq are days of eating and drinking.” and in another narration: “and remembering Allah Almighty.” [Muslim]
It was said to Imam Ahmad may Allah have mercy upon him: “Relying upon which hadith do you adopt the opinion that takbeer (saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ – Allah is the Greatest) should start from after Fajr prayer of the day of ‘Arafah till the end of the days of tashreeq?” He replied, “Upon the consensus of ‘Umar, ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with them.” [Al-Mughni]
Since the Muslim, on those blessed days, moves between remembering Allah, slaughtering the sacrifice for Him, and fasting, then it is only appropriate that these acts of worship should discipline his behavior and train him to continue to adhere to obedience thereafter. Worshipping Allah, the Exalted, is not associated with a certain time or place; rather, all the time of man should be devoted to obeying and pleasing Allah. Allah Almighty says (what means):
“Say: Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.” [Al-An’am 6:162-163]
Then, my dear brother and sister, O you who witnessed those virtuous days, did you leave them in a condition better than your condition before them so that you rejoice at the bounty and mercy of Allah, who says (what means):
“Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.”” [Yunus 10:58]
Or did you leave them just as you entered them, as if you did not perform Hajj and was not accepted, or as if you did not fast and slaughter; thereupon (if that is the case), you should weep for your sins and ask your Lord for forgiveness for your shortcomings and misdeeds. If you do not win in the good seasons and virtuous days, then when will you win?
Taken with slight editorial modifications from Islamweb.net.
By T. O. Shanavas
The Pandemic: Punishment or Blessing?
All Muslims accept that God is al-Kareem (The Most Generous). Muslims learned in madrasa that the Omni-Benevolent God is the source of all generosity.
But I never had an internally consistent satisfactory answer to my impasse over theodicy (the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil), as well as the existence of the free will within Qadr of Allah (God knows everything and has already decided everything that will happen).
Muslim scholars have tried to circumvent the quandary as follows: Allah exists outside of time and space, beyond the cosmic veil in the Unseen. By contrast, we human beings can only conceive of realities within the framework of time and space.
Divine providence, or predestination, is a reality that exists beyond time and space, which means we are simply incapable of conceiving it with our limited rational faculties. Then, how do we, Muslims, respond to someone or a Muslim college student using same logic to vindicate polytheism and denies Tawhid (The Unification of oneness of God)? Coronavirus and social isolation gave me time to reflect on the topic and the coronavirus experience gave me the answer.
Allah created the earth and the universe. God offered Heavens and Mountains to take the responsibility of its care. But they refused, but later mankind accepted it. The dialogue between God and heavens, mountains and the plenum of gases enlightens us that as in the case of the animal kingdom these inanimate creatures also have self, consciousness, and subjectivity. The inanimate creations communicate with God in their own language that human does not understand.
God directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the earth, “Come [into being], willingly or by compulsion.” They said, “We have come willingly.” (Qur’an 41:11) The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving” (Qur’an 17:34).
“We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish;” (Qur’an 33:72). God instructed man also : “And do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.” (Qur’an, 2:60), and elsewhere: “And do not desire corruption in the land. Indeed, God does not like corruptors.” (Qur’an 28:77)
The world has changed since then. Arrogant man self-glorified himself as the invincible lord of the world and assumes that everything on the earth is his personal property that can be used, abused, or wasted. All knowing God notices man’s dereliction of his duties by polluting the earth, the air, oceans, cutting down forests, and destroying the habitat of other communities of His creatures to satisfy man’s greed. The consequences of human ravages on the earth many?
- 100,000 citizens die every year in America alone from air pollution. Then, add up all the life lost in the rest of world (https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-04-08/100-000-americans-die-from-air-pollution-study-finds).
- Climate change and pollution resulted from the self-indulgent human exploitation of the natural wealth apportioned for the entire divine creatures are responsible for a staggering extinctions 318 animal species to date that we know of (https://theecologist.org/2019/oct/04/rising-pollution-endangering-species).
- Globally, 100,000 marine mammals die every year as a result of plastic pollution (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/Ocean_Factsheet_Pollution.pdf).
- Bees are the foundation for many sources of food, fruits, nuts, coffee, vegetable, etc., Honeybees are already under siege. Colony Collapse Disorder kills an alarming number of bees each year linked to some pesticides. If bee goes into extinction, the fruits, vegetable and grains will disappear from markets (https://www.calacademy.org/explore-science/pollution-and-honeybees).
- There are many more human inflicted mayhem on the ecosystem to list here. Muslims accept and speak frequently of the universe as a classroom and a testing ground for the adjudication of the sincerity of our faith in God. But few Muslims ever talk about God’s amazing immaculate organization of the universe. I believe that an understanding of the flawless configuration of the universe is extremely important to make a spiritual sense out of the coronavirus pandemic, the human ravage on the environment, the mass migration of refugees, etc. under the watch of Omni-Benevolent God.
God created the universe as a testing ground for his creatures while saving the Jannah for the righteous: ”And We shall assuredly try you until We know those of you who struggle and are steadfast, and try your tidings” (Qur’an 47:31). Allah is flawless in His process of creation and its products so that whatever He created have the potentiality to do what He indented them to execute.
A perfect machine functions by itself without its inventor’s constant intervention. Then only it is perfect and so says God: “Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of Allah, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for he is well acquainted with all that ye do.” (Qur’an 27:88).
At the inception of the creation, God built a self-regulating system that we call the universe. He created it with paradisaical precision so that it would do all its duties and function. As revealed in the Quran, the universe and its animate as well as inanimate components, whether it is micro or macro, are living beings that have assigned duties and responsibilities (Qur’an 41:12}
“…He assigned to each heaven its duty and command..”). God endowed the universe with a faculty to monitor its components. This incredible machine acts and reacts, gives and takes, rewards and retributes etc. It knows what God wants to happen in every micro and macro situation as well as in every nook and corner. It executes what God programmed to happen in every situation without God’s constant attention. It is a perfect laboratory machine to evaluate and finally judge man, as Khalifa on the earth.
There is another marvelous wisdom behind the creation of this self-regulating universe. By the genesis of this incredible self-regulating universe, God took Himself off the equation to become “the best judge of all judges” (“Is not Allah the most just of judges?” Qur’an 95:8) so that no creatures including man can implicate Allah for their sin as predestination. Such an understanding of the universe as a flawless machine or computer perfectly merges with the Qur’anic concept of Omniscient Omni-Benevolent Compassionate God in a world with mankind with free will.
This video demonstrates God’s immaculate creation better.
The video illustrates a very small sampling of “الْحَكِيمُ (All Wise) in Action.” We named its activities as the Economy of Nature.
So, God, being the programmer of universe, knows everything and what will happen for every action and its reaction. This is what’s meant by Qadr of Allah . Still in the same universe, God can respond to our prayers without violating His established laws of the universe:
“Your Lord has said, ‘Call upon Me and I will answer you. Surely those who wax too proud to do Me service shall enter Gehenna utterly abject.’” (Quran 40:60).
Another characteristic of the world, that we live in, is the amazing harmony of our free will with the omniscience of the Almighty. Human experiences are linked to time and space. In order to integrate God’s Omniscience with man’s experience of the past, the present, and the future, God created time with an elastic property. God enlightened us on this relative characteristic of time long time before Albert Einstein did (“…but lo! A day is like one thousand years of what you reckon.” Qur’an 22:47).
So, time can shrink even to a freezing halt as in the case of God or expand for the rest of creations depending on its space, speed of motion, gravity, etc. So, our experiences of the past, the present, the future are only a present event happening concurrently for God who is outside time and space. Thereby, in this self-regulating world there is freedom, free will, randomness for mankind without the infringement of God’s omniscience.
We, the human species, take extraordinary measures in extraordinary situations. For example, for the greater good, we, as a nation, lockdown our nation leaving millions of our compatriots, living on paycheck to paycheck, without a source of income for daily living and lifesaving medicines. So, I am thinking aloud here whether coronavirus is an extraordinary response to an extraordinary event by the internally programmed corrective action against greedy heedless mankind polluting the earth, air, and water (“…when some evil afflicts them because of what their (own) hands have sent forth, behold they are in despair!..” Quran 36:37 & “Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.” Quran 10:44).
What happens when the universe deploys coronavirus? The earth is showing signs of returning to its original pristine state in a short 4-6 weeks’ time.
Satellite animation shows air pollution in China and Italy clearing amid coronavirus lockdowns (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/23/health/us-pollution-satellite-coronavirus-scn-trnd/index.html).
A few Muslims, Christians, and Jews called out the pandemic as a divine punishment against those who differ with them in faith. But I see a God acting as the God of the entire universe not as a God of man only. Is the pandemic a divine blessing for the entire ecosystem of the earth along with lessons as well as a warning to the greedy extravagant heedless humankind for their dereliction of duties as Khalifa?
The laws of the economy of nature are working as it is programmed by God for the welfare of entire creations, not just for man alone. Coronavirus brought tragedy for humankind. Even hugging and kissing became a weapon. But coronavirus delivered also the signs of the abatement of pollution as a result of national lockdowns and the return of life such as dolphins in Italian waterfront, etc. The current pandemic made the earth little more habitable for all other forms of life as a result of abatement of the pollution. Hedonistic hunters are not killing freely roaming wild animals for their selfish fun and joy.
Within the natural economy of the earth, if the current lockdown continues nature will save many millions from the premature deaths around the world with the abatement of pollution. Many species of animals will have a rebirth as a result of the decreasing environmental pollution. The lockdowns cut down the violent deaths. 313 people die from gun violence every day in the US. Marked decrease in travel in lockdown is saving life. 1,000 people die per day from automobile accidents in the US. That does not include the people crippled from accidents. Future generations can breathe and drink untainted air and water if man if mankind learns from it. In the big picture more life saved, more habitat reinstated, a little less global warming and pollution of the earth, air, and water.
Bill Gates pointed out few other blessings that coronavirus brought us. Nothing with standing of the cultural, financial, religious difference the pandemic taught us that humanity is one. The affliction in one is an affliction on the entire humanity. It brought families back together and taught the importance family in our life.
It reminds us that we can be patient. It showed us that “and man is created weak.” (Quran 4:28)
Now read the following verses in the background of the divinely programmed self-regulating system of the universe. Then we can discern the harmony of the presence of evil in the Omni-Benevolent God created world, and motivate all of us to act dutifully, justly, ethically and empathically to the rest of God’s creatures. We are being tested and simultaneously are being warned by coronavirus calamity that we are not necessary for the purity of air, water, the earth and sky.
God demands from us to cease our abuse and wasting of worldly resources and the “corruption of the earth.”
“Verily, We shall put you to test with some fear, and hunger, and with some loss of wealth, lives, and offspring. And (O Muhammad) convey good tidings to those who are patient, who say, when inflicted by hardship, “Verily we are of God and verily to Him shall we return;” upon them is the blessings of Allah and His mercy.” (Qur’an 2:155)
Yes, men and women around the world including me hate and fear coronavirus. It is a tragedy for human species. While coronavirus snatches away thousands of beautiful lives, the decline in pollution, the restoration of natural habitats like dolphins returning to Italian coastline, millions of lives saved from the decrease of pollution, etc. are the good things.
The contradictory concurrent happenings are referred in this verse “…perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not”; (Qur’an 2:216).
In the big picture Allah is the Omni-Benevolent Lord of the Worlds where man is one among many zillions of creatures. The existence of evil in our amazing self-regulating universe is not incompatible with Omni-Benevolent Lord. The emergence of evil and calamities are the end results of the interactions among the animate and inanimate components of the universe.
The prospect of the emergence of evil is built into the structure of the universe in order to make the universe a testing ground. The emergence of an evil rests with the creatures and the application of their free will as we have seen in the case of human selfish squandering the natural resources by deforesting and polluting natural habitats of flora and fauna. Another example of the emergence of pandemic tragedy in US from human activity is Trump’s downplay of impending threat of coronavirus for his political expediency.
So, evil is not from God as He stated in verses 10:44 & 36:37. Let me quote the verse again here:
(“…when some evil afflicts them because of what their (own) hands have sent forth, behold they are in despair!” Qur’an 36:37 & “Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.” (Qur’an 10:44).
God’s self-regulating system of the universe looks for the most goodness for the most creations. Man, God’s Khalifa, can join in this struggle or be the victim.
It is not too late for man to repent and rectify his greedy mindset. And seek God’s forgiveness and mercy: Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an 39:53)”
O. Shanavas is a native of Kerala, India and is now based in the USA. He is the author of “Islamic Theory of evolution of Evolution the Missing Link between Darwin and The Origin of Species.” Co-author of the book, And God Said, “Let There Be Evolution!” Reconciling the Book of Genesis, The Qur’an, And the Theory of Evolution. Edited by Prof. Charles M. Wynn and Prof. Arthur W. Wiggins.
By A. O.
It is the special structure of the backbone and muscles of the fish that provide it such power.
How Do Fish Live in Water?
You must have seen how fast and brisk fish are in water. In order to swim, a fish does not need to make any movement other than to flap its tail from side to side. This ease of movement that fish have in water is a result of their flexible backbones as well as some systems in their bodies.
A fish expends a large amount of energy while swimming. This is not because it swims fast for long times. Fish need considerable amounts of energy in order to reach high speeds from being stationary. It is vital for a fish to gain speed instantaneously because it needs to do so in order to escape from predators.
Moreover, fish move against the current most of the time. Consider how hard it is for you to move in water and how easy it is to move while you are walking on the street. Compare living underwater and living on the face of earth.
It is the special structure of the backbone and muscles of the fish that provide it such power. The backbone keeps the body straight and is connected to the fins and muscles. Otherwise, it would not be possible for the fish to move in the water. However, the particular shape of its backbone is not sufficient to enable it to swim. That is because fish not only move forward and backward, but also up and down in order to survive. This movement is made possible by another system in their bodies; air sacs. By emptying these sacs of air, fish can sink to the bottom of the sea, and by filling the sacs with air they can rise to the surface again.
Fish are never damaged in water: Why?
Have you ever wondered how it is that fish are not damaged at all although they are always in the water? Our skin becomes affected if we stay in water for a while; if we stay for a longer time then it suffers injury. But this never happens to a fish. This is a result of a stiff bright layer in its outer skin. This layer prevents water from entering its body. If fish did not have this layer, their bodies would be damaged, and since water would enter the body the balance inside would be disturbed and they would eventually die. However, these things do not happen and all fish continue to live their underwater lives.
All fish species in the world possess these features. Species that lived long ago possessed them, too. Fish have had the same perfect structure for millions of years and have not gone through any change. It is possible to see this in the remnants of fish that lived millions of years ago. These remnants, namely fossils, clearly reveal that fish were the same as they are today and have not changed at all. This is evidence that fish came into existence at one point in time. In other words, they were created. It is Allah Who gave fish all the features they have and Who created everything in the universe. He knows the needs of all creatures.
A Note by the Editor:
Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means,
“He [Allah] hath created the heavens without supports that ye can see, and hath cast into the earth firm hills, so that it quake not with you; and He hath dispersed therein all kinds of beasts. And We send down water from the sky and We cause (plants) of every goodly kind to grow therein. This is the Creation of Allah. Now show me that which those (ye worship) beside Him have created. Nay, but the wrong doers are in error manifest!” (Luqman 31: 10-11)
“We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things? How! Are they still in doubt about the meeting with their Lord? Lo! Is not He surrounding all things?” (Fussilat 41: 53-54)
A. O. is a Turkish writer and author.
By A. O.
In the pitch dark, bees give the other workers around them all the information they could possibly need about the food source.
Bees’ Methods of Communication
“Exalted be God, the King, the Real. There is no deity but Him, Lord of the Noble Throne.” (Al-Mu’minun: 116)
Scientists have performed a great deal of research to determine how the order is maintained in the hive, in which tens of thousands of bees live. A large number of academic studies have been carried out to that end as well. One prominent expert and professor at the University of Munich, the Australian zoologist Karl von Frisch, has devoted an entire 350-page book to bee communication, The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees.
How Do Bees Communicate?
To find food, bees must usually search wide areas and fly long distances. When a bee finds a new source of food, it immediately returns to the hive to inform the other members of the colony. Shortly afterwards, other bees begin flying around the source.
Bees are deaf, and cannot therefore establish communications by means of sound. Nevertheless, they are able to communicate the location of a food source to the other members of the colony with no difficulty. The methods they employ are quite extraordinary.
Scientists studying how bees inform each other of the places they find made a most astonishing discovery. Bees “describe” the location of a distant place by dancing. All the information that other bees need to find the food source—its distance from the hive, its direction, productivity—is encoded in this dance.
Once it locates a new food source, the bee returns to the hive and starts repeating specific movements in such a way as to attract the other bees’ attention. All the information they need about the food source can be obtained from the bee’s general behavior. For instance, if a bee simply returns to the hive, deposits its load of collected pollen and flies off again, this means that the source that the bee used is either already known or else not very productive. At times when water is scarce, they’ll also use this dance to describe the location of water.
The Bee Dance
The bee dance takes two distinct forms, depending on the distance of the food source.
The form known as the “round dance,” encountered most frequently, doesn’t bother to indicate the food source’s distance and direction. It does, however, tell the workers that the source is closer than 15 meters (50 feet) from the nest. Having located a food source, the bee first gives nectar to the workers in the nest, and then begins her dance, repeatedly making small circles. The other bees then gather around the dancer. She reverses direction and turns around the other way every one or two revolutions, or even more often. This dance, which can last for a few seconds or up to minutes, consists of up to 20 reversals and is followed by another exchange of nectar between the dancer and the bees in the nest.
Eventually the dance comes to an end. The dancing bee flies off to look for another source of food. In one experiment, Karl von Frisch showed that of the 174 bees who made contact with the dancing bee, 155 found the food source within five minutes.
The bees perform their dances on the vertical comb, in the darkness of the hive—most important in helping us better understand bees’ flawless abilities to communicate. In the pitch dark, bees give the other workers around them all the information they could possibly need about the food source. Although their movements on the combs are performed in darkness, they are still correctly perceived by their fellows and immediately followed up.
In the same way that bees perform a round dance for food sources within 15 meters of the hive, they perform “transition” dances for sources from 25 to 100 meters (80 to 330 feet) away. They use the “waggle” dance, what’s also known as the “figure-eight dance,” to notify other bees of the distance, direction and quality of food sources further than 100 meters (330 feet) from their hive.
When the bees return to the hive from the food source, they perform this dance on top of the honeycombs. As the workers take their steps, they also shake their abdomens. The form of this characteristic movement closely resembles a figure-eight. In a typical dance, the bee moves in a straight line for a short distance, moving its body from side to side approximately 13 to 15 times a second.
By varying the angle between the waggling run and an imaginary line running straight up and down, the bee conveys the direction of the food source. If a line is drawn which connects the food source and the hive, and another line which connects the hive and the spot on the horizon immediately below the sun, then the angle formed by the two is observed to be the same as that of the angle in the waggle dance. Just like civil engineers, the bees are able to triangulate.
Throughout the oscillatory movement in the waggle dance, the bee’s abdomen is the most important organ. A buzzing sound is given off thanks to vibrations from the muscles and exoskeleton. At the end of each straight line, the bee turns in one direction and makes a semi-circular return to her starting point. She then moves forward again in a straight line, making a semi-circular return in the exact opposite direction. As with the round dance, the waggle dance ends with the dancer stopping and distributing food from its honey stomach to the workers around it. The bees watching the dance may sometimes produce a sound lasting from a tenth to two-tenths of a second. This causes the dancer to stop and exchange food with the buzzing bees. Both nectar and pollen gatherers dance in the same way.
The bees watching this dance are easily able to locate the food source. One feature that establishes distance is the dance tempo, measured by the number of turns every 15 seconds, and the duration of waggling and buzzing on every straight line. For more distant food sources, the dance tempo slows and speeds up for closer ones. The time spent in the straight run increases for more distant sources.
Throughout the dance, the other bees crowd around the one “dancing this description” and follow its every move. They also touch its waggling abdomen with their antennae. This movement is most important, because they perceive the vibrations produced by the dancer and thus establish the distance of the food source. In order to describe a distance of 250 meters (820 feet), for instance, the bee will shake its abdomen 5 times in 30 seconds. It has been observed that by means of these dances, bees are able to inform one another of food sources at distances of up to 9 to 10 kilometers (5 to 6 miles).
For bees, another essential piece of information is the quality of the food at the source. This they obtain thanks to the scent that has settled on the bee performing the dance.
In the light of the information thus communicated, it is an easy matter for the other bees to find the food source. The number of bees that gather at the source is directly proportionate to the number of bees performing the dance. If a single bee performs it, the whole hive does not go into action. First, a group of scouts leaves the hive. If that group also performs the dance on their return, then more bees head towards the target. The better the food source they find, the longer they dance and the more bees follow them. In this way the food gatherers’ attention is always focused on the most productive source.
In the event that the food source found is unproductive, the bees still dance—but they do so unwillingly, and for a shorter time. This is also reflected to the other bees in the hive, and those bees that gathered around the dancer soon disperse, and a new team leaves the hive in search of food.
Consider that the honeybees that perform the dance are just a few centimeters long, the same insects you encounter when you go outside, walk in your garden or sits out on a balcony. There’s an interesting contradiction here. People regard honeybees as ordinary, familiar insects, yet the phenomena we have seen so far can only be carried out with a very definite consciousness. Were you to ask human beings to give the same directions that the bee does by dancing, they would be nowhere near as successful. That’s because although human beings possess reason and consciousness, they lack the ability to perform such minute calculations without technical measuring equipment.
So who teaches bees this conscious behavior? They cannot learn it from other bees, and there is no training period in their brief lives. They come into the world already possessed of this knowledge, able to act upon it when the time comes. That applies to all the bees on Earth, who have been living on it for tens of millions of years.
We therefore find ourselves facing a major truth that no person of good conscience can possibly deny: God, the Creator of all living things, has flawlessly created honeybees and taught them such conscious behavior. As revealed in Surat Al-Nahl, they act in accordance with the inspiration of our Lord.
To fully comprehend the significance of the description that bees make by dancing, we need to consider their movements in the hive and their overall environment. In her book Through Our Eyes Only?: The Search for Animal Consciousness, the evolutionist author Marian Stamp Dawkins discusses how the bees give these directions:
The problem the bees have is that they often dance on the inside of a dark hive where neither the food itself nor the sun is visible. Not only that, but they are dancing on a vertical comb when information has to be given to the other bees about which direction they should fly in the horizontal plane.
Although the bees giving the directions dance on a vertical surface, the bees going out to seek the food source will operate in a horizontal plane. In other words, the information about which direction they must take should actually be expressed in a horizontal plane. If the bees were to act according to directions given in a vertical plane, then they would fly straight upwards, and it would be totally impossible for them to find any food.
In her book, Dawkins continues:
The bees cannot, therefore, indicate the direction of food by simply pointing or dancing towards it. They translate the flight path from hive to food (which will eventually be taken relative to the sun) into a direction relative to gravity inside the hive and the other bees retranslate this back into instructions relative to the sun when they get outside. So if the food is to be found by flying directly into the sun, the dancer will dance so that she does the straight “waggle” run precisely vertically on the comb, whereas if the food is to be found by flying at an angle of 40 degrees to the west of the sun, she waggles 40 degrees to the left of straight vertical. She thus substitutes angle with respect to vertical for angle with respect to the sun and conveys, in the darkness of the hive, information to her companions as to the direction they should fly when they get out into the sunlight.
Consider: Bees fully understand the directions, even those are given in the dark and in a different plane, and always head straight towards their target. The movements made with respect to a vertical line established by the dancing bee are fully understood by the others, which are capable of calculating angles.
In light of this, Dawkins expresses her thoughts in these terms: The fact that they do this [calculating angles] correctly shows that bees do indeed convey information to each other.
In short, all honeybees are able to calculate angles. Dawkins interprets this as bees conveying information to each other. However, there are important questions that require an answer. How did bees discover this method of calculation? Is it possible for the bee, simply by looking at the Sun, to distinguish between vertical and horizontal, to add the angle to the direction it gives, and always to do so accurately? How did other bees gain the ability to interpret this? How did they first learn to use the Sun as a reference?
Obviously, bees cannot calculate planes and angles and other such mathematical functions on their own. There is only one explanation for all these complex abilities in bees. Bees are directed by a superior power, which belongs to God, Ruler of all the universe, Who gives bees all their sophisticated attributes.
– A Note by the Editor:
Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means,
“Say: ‘Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?’ Say: ‘Allah.’ Say: ‘So why have you taken protectors apart from Him who possess no power to help or harm themselves?’ Say: ‘Are the blind and seeing equal? Or are darkness and light the same? Or have they assigned partners to Allah Who create as He creates so that all creating seems the same to them?’ Say: ‘Allah is the Creator of everything. He is the One, the All-Conquering.’” (Al-Ra`d: 16)
“He [Allah] hath created the heavens without supports that ye can see and hath cast into the earth firm hills, so that it quake not with you; and He hath dispersed therein all kinds of beasts. And We send down water from the sky and We cause (plants) of every goodly kind to grow therein. This is the Creation of Allah. Now show me that which those (ye worship) beside Him have created. Nay, but the wrongdoers are in error manifest!” (Luqman 31: 10-11)
“We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice since He is Witness over all things? How! Are they still in doubt about the meeting with their Lord? Lo! Is not He surrounding all things?” (Fussilat 41: 53-54)
A. O. is a Turkish writer and author.
By O. A. Joseph
The traditional view of Western historians is that European culture is the direct descendant of the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. According to this theory, the works of classical authors-mostly in Latin, but some in Greek-were preserved by the Church during the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, to re-emerge as a potent source of inspiration in the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Few would deny the strong influence of classical literature on European thought. Until recently, the works of Homer, Thucydides and the Greek dramatists, of Tacitus, Virgil, and Horace, to name but a few, were part of the cultural background of every educated European.
In science, however, the situation is very different. During the sixth century after the Hijra (twelfth century CE) the writings of such scholars as al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, al-Farghani (Afragamus), Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were translated into Latin and became known and esteemed in the West. The works of Aristotle, soon to become the predominant influence on European thought, were translated from the Arabic together with the commentaries of Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd to the medieval Europeans. These commentaries were as important as the works of Aristotle himself in forming European scientific and philosophical thought. Many other scientific works, which had originally been translated from Greek into Arabic centuries earlier, were now translated into Latin. However, most of these were from the Hellenistic period, and though they were written in Greek, their authors came from all the countries of the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean. It seems, therefore, that some European writers, being deeply appreciative of the literary masterpieces of Greece and Rome, have been led to believe that Western civilization, in all its aspects, was based upon Greek and Roman foundations. This is not the case with science and technology.
Charles Singer has discussed some of the points already touched upon. The Graeco-Roman heritage was built upon the great civilizations of the Near East and, furthermore, the major achievements in science and technology that are called Hellenistic and Roman were mainly Near Eastern achievements due to the scholars and artisans of Egypt and Syria. The pre-Islamic civilizations from Spain to Central Asia and northern India were inherited by Islam. Under the influence of Islam and the Arabic language, the science and technology of these regions was developed and improved. Referring to the Eurocentrism of Western historians, Singer wrote: ‘Europe, however, is but a small peninsula extending from the great land masses of Afrasia. This is indeed its geographical status and this, until at least the thirteenth century CE, was generally also its technological status.’ In skill and inventiveness during most of the period CE 500 to 1500, Singer continues: ‘the Near East was superior to the West… For nearly all branches of technology, the best products available to the West were those of the Near East… Technologically, the West had little to bring to the East. The technological movement was in the other direction.’
The adoption by Europe of Islamic techniques is reflected by the many words of Arabic derivation that have passed into the vocabularies of European languages. In English, these words have often, but not always, entered the language from Italian or Spanish. To cite but a few examples: in textiles-muslin, sarsanet, damask, taffeta, tabby; in naval matters-arsenal, admiral; in chemical technology-alembic, alcohol, alkali; in paper-ream; in foodstuffs-alfalfa, sugar, syrup, sherbet; in dyestuffs-saffron, kermes; in leather-working-Cordovan and Morocco. As one would expect, Spanish is particularly rich in words of Arabic origin, especially in connection with agriculture and irrigation. We have, for example, tahona for a mill, acena for a mill or water-wheel, acequia for an irrigation canal.
The contributions of Islamic civilizations to science, notably mathematics and astronomy, have long been recognized. The application of this scientific expertise to technology, however, has been neglected. The story of Islamic technology is far from complete. Research in this area is still at an early stage and, notwithstanding what has been published so far, contributions by Islam to science and technology have yet to be fully revealed. During the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries, Western research into Islamic science yielded outstanding results, but only after a long period of silence has that interest now been revived. There is still a need for additional coordinated research if significant results are to be obtained. The field of alchemy/chemistry and chemical technology is a case in point. At present this is an almost totally neglected area in which few seem to have taken even a slight interest since the admirable research several decades ago of Kraus, Ruska, Stapleton, and Wiedemann.
Adapted from “Transfer of technology from the Islamic world to the West” Fountain Magazine