A Moving (Living) Creature on Earth

“There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.” (Surat Al-An’âm (The Cattle): 38)

This ayah is found in the first quarter of surat Al-An’am (The Cattle) in the Qur’an.  It was revealed in Makkah.  There are 165 ayahs in this surah.  It was named Al-An’am because of the mentioning of the cattle in this surah as well as referring to one of the most important systems of classification of different forms of living organisms.

As other ayahs revealed in Makkah, this surah focuses on the Islamic creed (‘Aqeeda), as well as specific rulings. It also refers to other previous nations and how they responded to their messengers who were sent by Allah (SWT) to guide them.  It mentions how those nations did not learn from the consequences faced by the previous nations due to disobeying Allah (SWT), emphasizing people’s ignorance and their short-sightedness.

Signs of the creation mentioned in this surah:

  1. 1. Confirming the issue of creation, and that Allah (SWT) is The Creator of everything with the Truth, The Ever-Trusted Trustee over everything.  He (SWT) excelled in creating the heavens and earth, the  darkness(es) and the light, the stars and all that is related to them (including planets, moons, comets, shooting stars, meteors, etc).  This Surah also re-affirms that Allah (SWT) is the one who has created man of clay and that all mankind descends from one man and He (SWT) is the creator of all living creatures which rest in the night as well as the ones that rest at the daytime.

  1. 2. It also mentions the fact that all living creatures are similar to the creation of man in terms of descending from one origin and each living together in a community of its own.

  1. 3. A reference to the fact that Allah (SWT) is the only one who has the knowledge of the Unseen in the universe.  It declares the fact that sleep is a form of death and waking up is a form of the rising after death.  It also mentions that the universe is originally created in deep darkness while light is a blessing from Allah (SWT), which He bestows on whomever He chooses.  It also refers to the fact that Allah’s (SWT) ability to split the daybreak from the night darkness every day is very similar to Him causing the seed-grain and the date-pits to split and sprout.  This also proves Allah’s (SWT) omnipotence in innovating the universe. The ayah also states that the night is designated for rest and the day for tending of this earth and earning a living.

  1. 4. The ayah uses the phenomenon of the alteration of the day and night to explain that the earth revolves about its own axis and rotates around the sun. Moreover, the sun and the moon behave in such a precise manner that man can use them to calculate the time and dates of the events.

  1. 5. Confirming that the close-compounded grains in plants are brought out of the green color of plants known as chlorophyll.  The thick clustered of dates (within reach) originate from the spathes of the palm trees. The ayahs also confirm that by sending rain down from the heaven, Allah (SWT) has brought into being  gardens trellised and untrellised of grapes, palm trees, olives and pomegranate each similar to each, and each not (Literally: other than being co-similar) similar to each as well as plantation of different crops which bear fruit and ripen. All of these are amazing signs for a people who believe.

  1. 6. There is a reference to the fact that the laborious climbing up in the heaven makes the breast of the climber straitened and restricted (if not equipped with the relevant equipment).

Some interpretations of The ayah:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as , “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.”  (Surat Al-An’âm (The Cattle): 38).

  • Ibn-Kathir (may Allah have mercy on his soul) wrote what can be summarized as: Mujahid said: Every categorized species is identified by its name.  Qutada said: There is a separate community for each: Birds, Man and the Jinn.  Sady said: “…except that they are nations like you.” i.e. creatures like you.þ

  • The book ‘In the Shade of the Qur’an,’ (Fi-Dhilal Al-Qur’an), may Allah (SWT) have mercy on its author, stated: “… it is an amazing reality, which put animals, birds and insects into communities that have their own characteristics, systems and structure as well. The more advanced man’s knowledge becomes, this reality becomes increasingly evident.  Nevertheless, Man’s knowledge of a specific creature does not add or change anything to that species! This ayah and these evident seen facts show Allah’s (SWT) knowledge of the seen and the unseen as well as His (SWT) planning for everything…

  • The writer of the book, Safwat Al-Bayan (may Allah have mercy on his soul) says that this part of the ayah “…except that they are nations like you,” refers to all the different communities that are similar to man.  They all live and die, are in need of Allah (SWT) for their livelihood, organizing their matters, the subjection of the settlement of their affairs to His omnipotence …etc.

Scientific implications in this ayah:

Biologists have discovered more than 1.75 million different types of species which exist on this earth and are living on land, at sea and in the air.  In addition, paleontologists have discovered more than a quarter of a million extinct species.  Taking the average number of yearly discoveries, of new species, in these two fields into consideration, scientists estimate that the expected total number of different species present on this earth may be as high as 4.5 million.  Each of these species is probably represented by billions of successive and contemporary individuals.

It has been found that the life expectancy of each species ranges from 0.5 to 5 million years (an average of 2.75 million years) after which they normally become extinct.  The oldest fossil found on earth is 3.7 to 3.8 billion years old.  It is, then, evidently a near impossible task to discover every one of those billions of individuals out of those millions of species that ever existed or even exist on this earth no matter what advancements, knowledge, or means of calculations man has. This is why it became important to categorize them as the ayah, we are looking at, has done, “There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.”  (Surat Al-An’âm (The Cattle): 38).

The ayah refers to the main type of classification which is the species. It is divided into groups which include numbers of this species living together in specific areas in the world, each forming a community of its own. For example, humans are divided into different races, each representing a population and all these different populations descend from one father, Adam (Peace and blessings be upon him) whom Allah (SWT) describes by saying what can be translated as, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwâ (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allâh through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allâh is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (Surat an-Nisâ’ (The Women):1).

And He (SWT) says what can be translated as, “It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created from him his wife [Hawwâ’ (Eve)], in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her…” (Surat Al-A’râf (The Heights):189).

And He (SWT) says what can be translated as, “He created you (all) from a single person (Adam); then made from him his wife [Hawwâ’ (Eve)]. …” (Surat Az-Zumar (The Groups):6)

The Prophet (SAWS) described the origin of human from one man by saying, “You are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust”. (Good Hadith, Sahih Al-Gamea’ Al-Albany No. 1787).

The ayah that we are discussing in surat Al-An’am is referring to the fact that just as humans are divided into different races, each representing a population having the same origin, the same is true for every other species on earth, each is divided into populations having the same origin. Despite being in some ways independent, the different species have shared characteristics with other species.  This proves the oneness of the creator as all creations, starting from the atom to the solar system to the galaxy, or from a single living cell to the human body, all are clearly synchronized and based on the same paired system which is a witness of Allah’s (SWT) creativity, divinity and power as well as the attributes of being the one and only creator who is above all His creations.


By: Zaghloul El-Naggar

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