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Chapter 2: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): Verses 17–20


Their situation (described in previous verses) is like this parable: One lights up a fire and it lights up everything around them, but then God takes away that light (due to their lack of appreciation) and leaves them in the darkness unable to see; they become deaf, dumb, and blind, unable to return (to the proper state of their existence). Or, (think of ) this analogy: Clouds are blessed with abundant rain, but they also contain darkness, thunder, and lightning. They put their fingers into their ears for fear of thunder, for fear of death, and God surrounds all those who disbelieve. The lightening almost takes away their sight—when its light shines on them, they walk a little, and when it becomes dark, they stand still, afraid to move. If God intends, He would take away their hearing and sight from them. He can overpower all things.


Analogies and parables are powerful means by which to make us aware of our surroundings and take lessons from nature. Nature, a wonderful creation of God, is as much a supplier of physical resources for mankind as it is a spiritual fountainhead. The solar system, with its planets and their defined orbits and the sun, the center of this system that gives abundant energy to sustain life, and Earth, with its vegetation, atmosphere, oceans, rivers, minerals, and abundance of living creatures, are all magnificent objects made on a grand scale that is beyond human imagination or creation; yet, we fail to appreciate this system and its parts and forget to give thanks to their Creator, whose demand is very simple: Be thankful and sustain each other. It is a simple and elegant message, yet our greed, lust, and selfishness know no bounds, and we do more harm to ourselves than anyone else through our lack of gratitude and irresponsible acts. The connectedness and interdependency of the living world and the physical world should make us reflect on our own existence, and God’s message should make us aware of our own purpose and meaning. Our physical capacities, such as movement, sight, hearing, speech, touch, etc., are limited in scope and can only function with the aid of other elements that God has created. Our eyes are of no use if there is no light, our speech has no utility if the air is not there to disturb the eardrum. And who controls the light and the air we breathe and use to communicate with? The cloud is a wonderful mechanism that delivers water to land in the form of rain, a source of blessing, but it also carries darkness, lighting, and the potential for flooding, which make us afraid and helpless. Thus, an appropriate understanding of nature, both scientifically and spiritually, is critical to human development and reaching the highest human potential. 


The natural world is a source of great insight and spiritual upliftment for those who are observant and willing to take lessons. The relative abundance of air and water, both of which we need access to on a daily basis, are indeed signs of God’s grace to mankind. The movement of air and the rain water that it distributes around the globe in a measured way, the orbital movement of the sun and the Earth that results in seamless alterations of day and night, and the sunlight reaching every corner of the earth with its life-giving energy to decorate the earth with harvest such as fruits and vegetables, vegetation, and an abundance of colorful flowers that nourish and entertain our senses are all awesome and magnificent manifestations of God’s grace to mankind, and we all need to recognize, appreciate, and partake in this grand scheme with due respect, awe, and responsibility.


The fact that the Qur’an has 114 chapters containing details of so many topics of interest to mankind shows God’s patience and enduring care for our well-being. It is incumbent on all people of conscience and sensibility to heed to the call of faith in one God and doing good (as reflected in the Qur’an, Bible, Torah, and other revelations), preserve their own existence and surrounding, and pay close attention to the written and unwritten essence of life. If we do not see God’s creativity, presence, and grace in the apples we love to eat, if we do not hear God’s power in the distant thunder or in the sweet chirping of birds sitting on trees, if we do not perceive God’s hand in the way the fetus grows in the comfort and safety of the mother’s womb, then indeed we are, as God said, blind, deaf, and dumb.