Guiding Waters: A Reading from Ma’ariful Qur’an (post 2.2)
Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every moving creature, and directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason (Quran, 2:164).
In the Quran, Allah SWT speaks of water and other associated natural systems a number of times. For example, the noun mā (مَآء), meaning water, occurs 63 times in the Quran. In addition to this, Allah SWT speaks of the springs, rivers, oceans, the clouds, the storms and the water that all creatures drink. Allah SWT describes water as part of His āyāt, His signs. Those who recognise and accept these signs as those who believe in Tauhīd and do not associate partners with Allah (2:22,27:60). They are those who use their reason and understanding (2:164, 13:4, 39:21). They are those who give thought (10:24), who listen (16:65) and who see (32:27,35:27). They are those who are patient and who are grateful (31:31). As the servants of our Creator, we rejoice when it rains (30:48) and derive joy from the gardens that grow from these rains (27:60).
To convey a feeling of the basic spirituality of water in Islam, we have decided to share this beautiful reading from Mufti Muhammad Shafi’s Ma’ariful Qur’ān. This reading comes from Mufti’s commentary on verse 164, Surah Al-Baqarah of the Quran. Here he reminds us that the creations are the signs of Allah SWT. He speaks of the ships on the oceans, the winds that blow, the molecular nature of water, the marvel of rain, and the natural storage of water in ice, rivers, dams and lakes for the use of all creations. Mufti’s comentary makes us pause. Have we truly studied these natural signs in detail? Do we study the science behind these signs and strengthen our faith? Do we care for and protect these signs of our Creator as we would care for our own treasures? Do we think of our needs only or do we consider our duty to care for water as a global responsibility?
“Now in Verse 164, there is as series of signs and proofs in support of the premises that Allah Almighty is really One. Stated simply, these can be grasped by the learned and the ignorant alike. How can one bypass the wonder of the creation of the heavens and the earth? Who can ignore the constant alternation of the night and the day? The message is simple and clear. Their origination and their perpetuity is the work of His perfect power alone and that there is absolutely no being other than Him who can take that credit.
Similarly, the movement of boats on the surface of waters is a formidable indicator of Allah’s power which gave water, a substance so liquid and fluid, the property of lifting on its back ships which carry tons and tons of weight all the way from the East to the West. Then, there is the movement of winds which Allah harnesses into the service of man and His wisdom, keeps changing their direction. These are great signs; they tell us that they were created and operated by supreme being, the One who is All-Knowing, All-Aware, All-Wise. If the substance of water was not given a state in which the molecules move freely among themselves while remaining in one mass, a functional fluidity in other words, all this maritime activity would not be there. Even if this fluidity of sea-surface was there, help from winds was still needed in order to cover all those thousands of nautical miles across the seas of the world. The Holy Quran has summarised the subject by saying:
If He wills, He can still the winds, then, ships shall remain standing on the back of the seas (Quran, 42:33).
The use of the expression “with what benefits men” points out to the countless benefits that accrue to human beings when they mutually trade their goods through sea freighters. It is interesting to keep in mind the variations these benefits take from country to country and from age to age.
Then comes the marvel of water descending from the sky, drop by drop, released in a measure and manner that it hurts nothing. If it always came in the form of a flood, nothing would have survived, man or animal or things. Then, the raining of water is not all; it is the storage of water on earth that baffles the human ingenuity. Risking a simplicity, let us imagine if everyone was asked to store for personal use a quota of water for 6 months, how would everyone manage that? Even if such an impossible storage was somehow done, how could it be made to remain potable and hygienic all this time? Allah Almighty in His infinite mercy, took care of this to. The Holy Quran say:
Then We made water stay in the earth, although, We were capable of letting it flow away (Quran, 23:18).
But, nature did not allow this to happen. For the inhabitants of the earth, human and animal, water was stored in ponds and lakes openly. Then, the same water was lowered into the earth under the mountains and valleys in the form of an unsensed network of hidden pipelines of water accessible to everyone taking the trouble of digging and finding water. Further still, is it not that a huge sea of ice was stored out on top of the mountain ranges which is secure against spoilage and melts out slowly reaching all over the world through nature’s own water lines.”
[Sourced from: Ma’ariful Qur’ān (completed in the 1970s) by Mufti Muhammad Shafi’s, pages 415-416, Volume 1, English Translation.]
May Allah SWT grant us all the understanding. May Allah SWT give us the ability to be true Khaleefa upon this Earth, and to be true caretakers of water, now and in the future, Aameen