BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
WHEN one tries to follow through what has been contemporarily written about scientific proofs in the Quran, one can’t help but being reminded of the 109th ayah in Surah Al-Kahfi:
“If the sea were ink for (writing) the words (*) of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.” [* The Saheeh International edition of the translation of the Quran explains the “words” (al-kalimaat) of Allah as the words of Allah’s unlimited knowledge or words describing His attributes and His grandeur or praise of Him Subhanahu wa Ta’ala.]
Indeed, there’s no aspect whatsoever of our existence that is not encompassed by the Quran in one way or another. Attempts at explaining the ayaat of Al-Quran from just one perspective – say, a scientific approach – that people have already carried out are but a speck of dust in the unlimited oceans of Allah’s knowledge.
We hold in awe some experts’ attempts at explaining, say, the proofs of embryology or oceanology in the Quran. For instance, there have been many discussions about the verses of “two seas.” In Surah Ar-Rahman (55): 19-20, Allah says: “He released the two seas meeting (side by side); Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses.” Also, Surah Al-Furqan (25): 53 where Allah says: “And it is He who has released (simultaneously) the two seas (i.e., bodies of water), one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition.”
Early Muslim scholars such as Ibn Kathir of 7th century Hijrah Syria, or even the much later scholars such as Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur of Tunis in the 20th CE century, have explained what the “two seas” mean.
Thanks to the Internet, we can read their scholarly explanations any time. Their works will continue to benefit themselves and us, InsyaAllah, in understanding Allah’s Words. However, we understand also that the painstaking endeavors of the scholars do not scratch even the surface of Allah’s knowledge. The commandment that we ponder the Quran remains on our shoulders.
Even in Farming
It is through this perspective we should view current attempts at obtaining the huda (guidance) and mau’izhah (instruction) from the Quran for any life aspects, from politics to social building and even farming. The farmers and agriculture experts of today should, for instance, read Kitab Al-Filahah by Abu Zakariyyah Yahya ibn Muhammad or Ibn al-‘Awwam.
Ibn al-‘Awwam hailed from Ishbilia (Seville) in Muslim Spain in the 6th century Hijrah. The book Kitab al-Filahah became a more comprehensive and encyclopedic work on agriculture and agronomy because Ibn al-’Awwam cited quotations from the earlier sources wherever he could. He followed in the footsteps and benefited from the work of agricultural scholars of fifth century Muslim Spain such as Muhammad al-Tighnari or Ibn Wafid of Toledo and Abu ‘Umar Ahmad.
About 100 years after these pioneers, Ibn al-’Awwam collected information supplied by them and from other sources in his Kitab al-Filahah which is more comprehensive and up-to-date. It gained wider publicity and was considered so important that Ibn Khaldun also referred to it in the Muqaddimah. Don’t forget, Muslim Spain was one of the most glorious periods of the Muslim world. These past scholars’ treatises made Al-Quran their main source of instruction at all levels of their studies.
The Garden of Al-Quran
There is today the beginning of a wave to return to Al-Quran as our main instruction in agriculture; one of the proponents of this wave is Muhaimin Iqbal of Jakarta, Indonesia, whose sustainable farming scheme iGrow won a prize in the recent StartupIstanbul competition in Turkey and was written about in Forbes by Federico Guerrini.
Iqbal coined the term “Quranic Agroforestry” and culled from the knowledge he has gained from years of farming as well as studying the Quran both theories and practices that he wrote about in his book, Kebun Al-Quran (The Garden of the Quran).
In the book, he explains various aspects of farming from the Quranic perspective, from how to revive the dead or barren land to how the fruit date prevents starvation as mentioned in the hadith of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to how Islamic farming actually is multicultural farming!
Here’s a small excerpt from the book:
“We see green everywhere, but why is it not enough? This is because the green (the trees) are planted simply for the sake of making things green or for the sake of logging, or fruit harvesting.
(When it comes to the question of food insecurity), our search for answers often results in some vested interests’ gains. This quest has not given maximal returns to the whole community.
What if we now seek the guidance of Allah about what to plant? Does Allah give detailed guidance? We must believe that Allah provides detailed answers about every question, including food security, such as in the following ayah:
‘And within the land are neighbouring plots and gardens of grapevines and crops and palm trees, (growing) several from a root or otherwise, watered with one water; but We make some of them exceed others in (quality of) fruit. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason.’ [Ar-Ra’d (13): 4]
So there are plots, plants or gardens that thrive next to each other. Some exceed others in producing foods for humans. All we need to do is identify what plants should be placed next to one another and which will give optimal yields for humans.
Agricultural experts know that multicultural farming – as opposed to monocultural – provides the best yields but also is better able to withstand diseases.”
Underlying the idea of multicultural farming is the knowledge that each plant variety obtains the maximal photosynthesis with only 1/10 of the sunshine it receives. Iqbal then refers to the food forestry in Morocco that has existed for thousands of years in which different varieties of plants grow together. This is similar to today’s sustainable plants composition that is known as permaculture, whose description can be found in the illustration 1 from http://www.spiralseed. co.uk.
“Compare (these farming schemes) with what Al-Quran specifically says about certain plants,” Iqbal writes. “The first plant as the canopy is date palm plants. The low tree can either be olives (zaituun), pomegranate (rummaan) or figs (tiin). The number 3 plants are various fruit plants or sweet flowers that are known as raihaan in Surah ArRahman (55) ayah 12.
The plant number 4 is various herbal growths, the number 5 plant can be ginger as found in Surah Al-Insan (76) verse 17. The plant number 6 in the illustration depicts various shrubs as found in Surah ‘Abasa (80) verse 31. The last plant in the illustration is grapes and other vines as indicated in Surah AlAn’am (6) verse 141,” Iqbal writes.
Ultimately, the answer to food insecurities affecting the world today, Iqbal argues, lies in a people’s Iman (faith) and Taqwa (consciousness or fear of Allah). Iqbal cites:
“And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allah, We would have opened (i.e., bestowed) upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied (the messengers), so We seized them for what they were earning.” [Surah Al-A’raf (7): 96]
Allah knows best.
Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 4 December 2015