By S. Abdullah Tariq
Survival of the Fittest
Are Dinosaurs mentioned in Quran?
Rulings of Various Imams
Q. If nature as per world opinion is God's created one, then if all men and animals are like children of God, why survival exists by eating a life by another life? How God being a father to all lives, could tolerate this sort of ungodly nature? (Attatched with the question is a picture card showing a tiger attacking a deer).
(Shakeel Ahmed ; xxx)
A. Creation of this world is transient. Every living or a non-living thing has to perish and there has to be a means and channel to the end of a being. At times a living being becomes a cause of ending the tenure of another living being (or non-living thing) and on other occasions its term is ended abruptly through accidents. On yet other occasions its span of existence in the world comes to an end through decay or ageing. When a living being dies of its own, do you ever think why did God, being the Father figure, let him die? After all a death is always tragic. Should God, being a Creator of all things, not have let anything perish after its creation? Earth would have been an impossible place for life ages ago if no man, animal or plant ever died. They would ultimately have died, as they would have consumed all resources of the non-living things on which life depended.
God is not a bad planner. There is an inherent relationship and balance among all things and all creatures depend upon each other for survival, yet none survives beyond an appointed time. Oxygen is consumed by all men and animals and it loses its existence to form Carbon dioxide which is consumed by plants to release back oxygen necessary for men and animals. The arrangement has to change at night and plants too start consuming Oxygen to maintain the balance of Oxygen in the atmosphere. It is vital for life on earth that some oxygen form Ozone to occur in Earth’s stratosphere where it absorbs solar ultra violet radiation which could otherwise cause severe damage to living organism on the Earth’s surface. In certain conditions, the excess oxygen combines with other elements to form other compounds necessary for life. With Hydrogen it forms water. Water too has to balance itself. Some is consumed by living things and some by soil to make it conducive for life by making necessary oxides. The remaining water also has to maintain a balance. Some remains in the atmosphere, and some on earth in the form of liquid water or ice. It is necessary that the surface of the entire Antarctic sea be frozen in order to prevent the seawater beneath the ice from getting cooler by the outside temperature which is -600 or -700 C. This way the life inside the sea survives to maintain a balance of life. Yet it does not survive beyond a certain limit. There always remains a necessary balance between the number of living things and the quantity and amount of matter and energy. Either the environment is changed according to the needs of the living things or life has to balance its numbers according to the environment.
We conserve natural resources of energy and turn to nuclear energy but beyond a certain limit, the dangers of radiation and depletion of ozone layer forces us to turn back to consume coal, wood and water. We need wood to make crates and boxes, building material and furniture. The need of conservation of forests gave rise to plastics and polythenes but the excess use of plastics and polythenes is taking its toll. Either way the human life is endangered and the mechanism of nature reduces it through floods, droughts, famines, wars and diseases.
Living things depend upon non-living things and upon the living things too for their survival as the non-living things depend upon other non-living things as well as upon living things. In an eco-system (a collection of integrated communities and their environment), there are biotic interactions. There are intra-specific (interaction of individuals within a species) and inter-specific (mutual interaction of different species) interactions in an eco system. Both are further classified into positive (where both communities are benefited) and negative (where both are harmed) interactions. When the required balance is disturbed, the inherent mechanism comes into effect and reduces the human life through famines, floods or other means. Animals inside a forest are a part of life governed by the mechanism of nature. They move, migrate, immigrate, kill others, be killed, die or cause death to others in many ways to maintain the balance.
The need of the human beings caused the depletion of forests (I am talking here of genuine needs and not of poaching). With this the wildlife was endangered. Take for example the two species, tiger and deer, whose picture you have forwarded with your query. Tigers need caves and dense bushes as hideouts for their survival and spacious fields of lengthy grass is essential for the survival of tiny fawns. With lesser availability of these the population of both has to be reduced. In the scheme of nature it is essential that there should exist a balance between the number of deer and tigers. If the forests are not cut the population of tigers will disproportionately increase. A tiger’s average life span is 11-12 years. That is two more than that of a deer. It sires two to three cubs while a she-deer produces normally one fawn. Howsoever profitable the trade of tiger-hide be, the deer fall prey to the hunters 15 times more than the tigers for different obvious reasons. Deer are preyed by many other animals, the tigers are not. These facts indicate that the tiger’s population should have surpassed the deer over the centuries. But the nature has its own mechanism. A tiger is generally monogamous while a male deer keeps harem. The female-tiger does not allow the male to come near her till the cubs are nearly one year old. It doubles or trebles the number of pregnancies of a she-deer than a female tiger over a certain period. Moreover the tiger infuriated by the female’s attitude tries to kill the cubs and most get killed in the process. Again, if a tiger does not kill a deer, their population will get out of control and greater misery will come to them as they will be starved. If the cutting of forests was indispensable for the need of human being, more deer had to be killed by tigers. That tiger, attacking the deer in your picture is saving your life! There are many instances in the plains of U.P. and Haryana where the Hindu farmers, exasperated by the havocs of blue bucks (Neel Gai) wandering to the plains in herds due to lack of their food in diminishing forests, approach the hunters to kill them. The tigers killing them do a service to mankind.
As I explained earlier, life consumes energy from abiotic (non-living) as well as biotic (living organism) environment to maintain an eco-balance. It struck to you when a tiger attacked a deer but why did it not alarm you when a cow or goat consumes plant life? Is it because you do not observe pain in the plant life? But with the advancement in knowledge, you know that they experience pain whether it is visible to you or not. The classification of life consists of viruses, monerams (bacterias etc.), protozoa (algae, slime molds etc.), fungi, plants, animals and human being. It is essential that some viruses, bacteria, algae, fungi, plants and animals kill you and each other and some of the above save your life and it is also equally essential that you kill some from all the above categories and save some. If the life consumed only abiotic (non-living) nature, there would be no energy left on earth and the life again would come to a more grievous and painful end. Such is the inherent mechanism of nature to balance life on earth.
Q. Is there any mention in the Quran about the Dinosaurs ? If not, why, when there is great detail about making of universe?
(Syed Ali Mohammed Hussain email@example.com)
A. Dinosaurs were the creatures of distant past. Quran has not mentioned the present animals by name except for a few. Did you ask yourself why Quran has not mentioned kangaroos, giraffes, leopards, lions, cats, hens, cockroaches and flies etc. by name? Talking of past, Quran has not even named more than 123000 earlier prophets. Please understand that Quran is not an encyclopedia of all the creatures or beings. It is basically a Book of guidance for the mankind. Whatever phenomenon, process, event or existence is specifically mentioned in Quran is to invite the mankind to ponder over the Ability and Power of the Creator, the purpose of His creation and the ultimate end of life and accountability of human beings. Those things which have not specifically been mentioned by name have been covered by the Quranic descriptions of general principles. The words of the following verses encompass all animals that have not specifically been mentioned by name.
“.... Is it that ye will inform Him of something He knoweth not on earth or is it (just) a show of words?” (13.33)
“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings but (forms part of) communities like you”. (6:38)
“And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle are they of various colours. (35:28)
“And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth) are Signs for those of assured Faith”. (45:4)
“Say: Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation: so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things”. (29:20)
“Just ask their opinion: are they (the unbelievers) the more difficult to create or the (other) beings We have created”? (37:11)
Q. Regarding the article in Our Dialogue referring to 'Basic' or 'Fundamental' differences amongst the various Fiqh Imams, could Brother Tariq be kind enough to highlight some of those differences and present the stand of Quran and Sunnah on those issues?
(Hanif Guliwala ; firstname.lastname@example.org)
A. Let me first reproduce the relevant part of what was originally written. It was as follows:
While following an Ulul-Am’r of Fiqh we must be careful of the Quranic instructions that in case of (basic) differences (of right and wrong and not merely of preferences) among them, we have been ordained to leave all Ulul-Am’rs to the extent of disputed matter and search the solution in Quran and Sunnah alone:
“O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves (due to the differences among authorities), refer it to Allah and His Apostle if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best and most suitable for final determination”. (4:59)
Following is one example (more examples cannot be cited for the sake of brevity) of basic differences among the Fiqh scholars. It is regarding the recital of Surah Fateha behind an Imam.
There is fundamental difference of right and wrong (not of preference) between Imams on this vital issue. Hanafi Fiqh decries that it is Makrooh-e-Tahrimi (extremely abhorrent) to recite Al-Fateha behind an Imam in all prayers. Their main basis of argument is the Hadith that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Whosoever has an Imam, the recitation of Imam is his recitation”. (Musnad-e-Imam Abu Hanifa, Dar-e-Qutni) Imam Shafai says that his Salat will not be valid who does not recite Surah Fateha in every Rakath behind an Imam in all the prayers. The core of his contention is the Hadith that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Who did not recite Surah Fateha in Salat, his Salat was not complete”. (Bukhari, Muslim). Hanafis say that reading the two Hadiths together, a Muqtadi’s Al-Fateha is deemed to be recited behind an Imam. The later Hadith is valid for individual prayers (without Jama’at). They also quote the Quranic verse: “And when the Quran is recited, listen to it intently and pay heed, so that you may obtain mercy”. (7:204). They say that the Quran does not permit recitation of a Muqtadi’s (follower’s) recital behind an Imam. Shafais do not leave to correlate the second Hadith quoted above with the above verse. They remain silent behind an Imam in Jehri (loud i.e. Faj’r, and first 2 Rakaths of Maghrib and Isha) Salat but the Imam keeps standing without reciting anything for a while after Al-Fateha to enable followers to recite it. There are other hadiths also which form the basis of arguments of the two groups and there are discussions regarding Mansookh (repealed) or weakness of narrators of Hadiths. I am leaving those discussions in this short answer.
The Malikis decree that a follower should not recite Fateha in Jehri recitals by an Imam but he should recite it in Sirri (silent) Rakaths. Hambali scholars agree with this with a minor modification. They say, when a Muqtadi is so far behind an Imam that he is unable to hear him reciting in Jehri Rak’ats, he should recite Fateha in that Jehri Rakath too.
Now this is an example of basic or essential differences between the Fiq’h Imams on an issue of daily occurring. According to Hanafis, Salat is extremely abhorrent when a Muqtadi recites Surah Fateha behind an Imam in all the prayers and the Shafais decree that Salat is incomplete without reciting Surah Fateha in every Rakath of every prayer. We have to resort to Quran and Sunnah, (in that order) in this matter.
The Quran says: “And when the Quran is recited, listen to it intently and pay heed, so that you may obtain mercy”. (7:204). Listening is possible only when it is loudly recited. It is not possible to listen or pay heed when imam is reciting silently. It is clear that the order is applicable to Jehri Rakaths only. In those Rakaths, Imam’s recital will be deemed to be Muqtadis’ recital. When we do not find a clear direction in Quran, the rule is then to resort to Sunnah. The Hadith of obligation of reciting Surah Fateha guides us. Muqtadi should recite Surah Fateha in Sirri Rak’ats. As a Hadith cannot repeal a Quranic order, the Hadith is applicable to Sirri Rakaths only. These are very Unambiguous deductions from the Quran and Sunnah in that order) without the need of going into more complexities.
The above leads us to decide that Imam Ahmad Bin Hambal’s decree on this issue is most judicious. Incidentally, Imam Shah Waliullah followed this ruling while he was a Shafai in most matters and Hanafi in some besides those subjects, which he decided by his own Ijtehad.