The Third Meeting
Al-Mufadhdhal said, “On the third day, I went early in the morning to my master Imam as-Sadiq (s). I was permitted to come in and to have a seat.
Imam as-Sadiq (s) said, ‘Praise be to Allah Who has favored us and not favored (others) over us. He has favored us with His knowledge (has given us from His knowledge that He has not given others) and supported us with His patience. Whoever turns away from us will be in Hell and whoever shades himself with the shadow of our lofty tree will be in Paradise. O Mufadhdhal! I have explained to you in detail about the creation of man and the subtle design of Almighty Allah and the lessons to be learnt from the modifications of circumstances. I have also told you about the animal kingdom. Now, I will talk about the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the orbits, the day and night, hot and cold, the wind, the four fundamentals (earth, water, air and fire), the rain, rocks, mountains, mud, stones, minerals, date-palms, the plant kingdom, and the signs and lessons therein.
The colour of the sky
Look at the colour of the sky and the perfect design in that! This particular colour is the most appropriate and tonic for the eyesight compared to all other colours. Physicians ask one whose eyes suffer from some illness to gaze frequently at greenery, or at some other darker hue. Some skilful physicians ask one whose sight is weak to gaze in a green basin full of
See how Allah the Almighty has created the sky with a green colour that is near dark so as to not harm the eyes that look often at the sky.
That which people have perceived through reason, discernment and experimentation is found clearly in the creation as an extreme wisdom so that the people of understanding may take a lesson and the atheists, may Allah destroy them, may reflect.
O Mufadhdhal, consider the rising and the setting of the sun to make the day and the night. Without the sunshine, all the affairs of the world would be futile. People would not be able to earn their livings or conduct their affairs while the world was dark over them. They would not be happy in their lives without the pleasure and spirit of light.
Rising and setting of the sun
The benefits of the sunshine are obvious and do not need to be expatiated. Consider the benefits of the sunset! If the sun did not set, people would have no rest or comfort though their need for rest and comfort is absolutely essential for the calmness of their bodies and the relaxation of their senses, besides the facilitation of an easy digestion and the transport of energy to the organs.
And if night did not come, greed would cause people to continue working to gather more wealth and that would harm their bodies and health. The perpetual sunshine heats the earth, and all the animals and plants on it. Allah the Almighty has, therefore, ordained with His wisdom that the sun should shine for a period and set for a period like a lamp that is lit for sometime so that a household can carry out their needs and is then extinguished for sometime so that they can rest and calm down. Light and darkness are opposite to each other and yet both are made subservient to the interests of the world’s
betterment and amelioration.
The four seasons
Then think of the states of the sun that make the four seasons of the year and the wisdom and advantages therein! In the winter, heat comes back to the trees and plants, and the materials for fruits are formed. Air (humidity) is condensed to make clouds and rains. The bodies of animals grow and become stronger. In the spring, the materials that have been formed in the winter appear and plants grow and bloom. Animals become excited and ready for copulation. In the summer, the air becomes hot and fruits ripen. The waste matters of bodies dissolve and the surface of the earth becomes dry and ready now for building and for other works. In the autumn, the air is fresh, diseases disappear, bodies are healthy, the night is long that it can be fit for some certain works due to its length, and the weather is nice for other advantages that to mention will take a lot of time.
Now consider the motion of the sun through the twelve Zodiacs to complete a year and the wisdom underlying it. This is the period that comprises the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Grains and fruits ripen during this annual movement of the sun to meet human needs. This cycle of development goes on continually. Do you not see that a year is the period of the movement of the sun from the Aries to the Aries? With a year and its components time has been measured since ancient times and throughout all ages. People calculate thereby the periods of life-spans, loans, contracts and other business matters. It is with the movement of the sun that a year is completed and a correct estimate of time established.
See how the sun sheds its light over the world and with what ingenuity this is! If it shone constantly only at one spot in the sky, its rays would not reach many other directions. It has, therefore, been so planned that it rises in the East and moves
on constantly spreading its light from side to side till it reaches the West so that no place remains without having taken its share of advantage. If the sun were late for a year or a part of a year, how then would the state of people be? In fact, how could they survive? Can you imagine what great, terrible problems people would face that they would have no way of changing? Therefore, the sun has been ordained to persist in its motions without a bit of delay for the survival and betterment of the world.
Consider the moon for it has a good sign that the public uses to identify the months. A year is not calculated according to the motion of the moon because its motion does not comprehend the changes of seasons or the times of the growing and ripening crops and fruits. So lunar months and years are different from solar months and years. A lunar month varies in that sometimes it comes in the winter and sometimes in the summer.
Consider why the moon shines at night and the ingenuity underlying it. In spite of the need of darkness for the rest and tranquillity of animals and cool air for plants, complete absence of light and total darkness would not have any merit. There would be no possibility for work though people may sometimes need to work at night due to the short time for some works during the day or due to the extreme heat of the day. Yet, man is able to do many things under the light of the moon. The moonlight helps people work for their livelihood whenever they are so disposed. The wayfarers find fascination in their travels. The moon has been ordained to appear in some nights and disappear in others. The moonlight is less luminous than the sunlight, lest people (out of greed) continue working in the same way as they do during the day without getting rest even unto perishment.
In the different phases of the moon (its appearance as a crescent, its disappearance, waning and eclipses), there are particular indications that all these changes have been ordained for the benefit of the universe by the Almighty Creator, and as lessons to the people of understanding.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the stars and their different movements. Some of them do not budge from the positions appointed for them. Some move together in groups. Some others move from zone to zone and have their distinct velocities. Each one of them has two movements: one is general due to the cosmic motion towards the west and the other is special concerning itself towards the east. It is like an ant moving on a quern. The quern moves to the right and the ant to the left. The ant has two different movements: one from its own accord in a forward direction and the other inevitably with the quern backward.
Now ask those who claim that the stars have come into existence by themselves without a creator or any planning what has prevented them all from being still or whether or not they all move! Carelessness would imply one movement, so how can it give two different movements with accurate accounts? There is an evidence in this showing that the stars and their movements have been created after absolute planning and wisdom and not by carelessness as the atheists claim.
If someone asks: why are some stars stationary while others are moving? We say: if all were moving, the evidences of the movements of the moving ones would be null. Many a secret is known after the movements of the sun and other stars because of their movements in their respective orbits. If all were moving, there would be no certain signs or marks to know their ways of movements, and besides that, people on the earth would be unable to find their ways by following the stars and
so the stars would be useless and in vain and one could say that they had been created by themselves or out of carelessness. In their different movements and positions there is a clear evidence showing that they have been created by a Wise Creator and out of utmost wisdom and planning.
Consider the stars that appear at certain times of the year and disappear at others – like the Pleiades, the Orion, the Sirius, and the Canopus. If all of them appeared simultaneously, none could stand as a distinct mark for people to recognise and obtain guidance; rather, people deduce from the appearance and disappearance of the Orion and the Taurus. The appearance and disappearance of each at appropriate occasions was ordained for the benefit of people. The Pleiades and others have been ordained to appear and disappear at different times for particular benefits of people. In the same way, the constellation of the Bear has been ordained to appear all the time for the certain advantage that it is as a signpost for people to find their ways through the unknown paths in the land and the sea. As the stars of this constellation are always apparent, people look at them immediately when they need to find the path they want. Both these matters, though opposite, serve man’s benefits, in addition to other signs that lead to knowing the times for many works and activities like planting, travelling in the land and the sea, and other things like raining, blowing of the winds and the times of hot and cold. Moreover, people find their ways with the aid of the stars in their travels through dreadful deserts and fearful seas in the darkness of night. Besides all this, the stars, in their comings and goings, risings and settings, have many lessons for those who have understanding minds.
If the sun, moon and stars were near enough to us for us to see their very fast movements, would they not dazzle the eyes by their glowing and radiation just as that which happens sometimes when the lightening lingers in the sky? If some
people were in a dome having several lamps that were rotating fast around them, their eyes would be dazzled until they would fall to the ground.
See how it has been ordained for the stars to move with their high speeds at huge distances away from us to protect our eyesight against damage and harms while retaining their tremendous speed so that their movements are not disturbed. It has been ordained for a little light to come from the stars in order to not leave the earth completely dark when there is no moon. People sometimes need to journey at night, and it would be difficult for them to follow their ways when there is no light at all to guide them.
Consider the kindness and wisdom ordained in this creation. Darkness is also needed, but a little light has been made through it for the benefits of which we have talked.
Think about the universe with its sun, moon, stars and zodiacs, which revolve perpetually over the world in an accurate account through the alternation of the day and the night and the four seasons to bring about numerous benefits to the earth and its people, animals and plants. Is it not clear to anyone with a discerning mind that this is a creation of a Wise Creator? If someone says that mere chance has brought this about, then why does he not say the same thing about a waterwheel rotating to water a garden with trees and plants? Does he deny saying that this small waterwheel, which is made of wood and with a simple skill, has not been made by a maker? If not, then how can he say this about this great wheel that has been made due to wisdom the like of which human minds fall far short? If this universe became damaged, like the tools that people use in their industries, would the human beings have any means of repairing it?
Day and night
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the lengths of the day and night and how they are adjusted for the benefit of the creation! Neither the day nor the night exceeds fifteen hours. If the day were a hundred or two hundred hours, do you not see that the earth with its animals and plants would perish? The quadrupeds would not stop grazing as long as there was daylight, and man would not stop working and acting and this would make them all perish. The plants would dry up and burn under the heat of the day and the glow of the sun. Similarly, if the night were prolonged (for a hundred or two hundred hours), all species of living beings would be prevented from moving about to get their foods until they would die of hunger. Plants would lose their vital heat, until they would decay and perish, just as what you see in the plants that are in a place where the sun shines much.
Hot and cold
Consider the hot and cold and how they alternate in the world – increasing, decreasing and moderating – to make the four seasons of the year and the benefits the creatures get thereby. Moreover, the physical bodies become improved and renovated thereby. This leads to their health and longevity; otherwise, the creatures suffer from decadence, disintegration and emaciation.
Think of how they (hot and cold) replace each other gradually and slowly. You will notice that one decreases gradually, giving place gradually to the corresponding increase of the other. If one of them were to suddenly irrupt the other, it would lead to serious damages and illnesses, just as when one comes from a hot bath immediately to a cold place. The Almighty Allah has ordained the gradual change of heat and cold to protect man from the damages and harms of sudden changes.
If someone claims that this graduality and slowness in the advent of heat and cold results from the slowness of the sun in its movement, he may be asked about the reason behind the
movement of the sun and its gradual inclination. If he answers that it is due to the great distance between the East and the West, he may be asked why it is so disposed. The question on this line will continue to be repeated till he is obliged to admit the necessity of omnipotence, purposefulness and wise planning (against spontaneity).
Without heat, the hard, bitter fruits would not ripen into succulent and sweet ones. Without cold, plants would not grow their buds and would not bear their abundant fruits.
Do you not see the benefits of the heat and cold which, with all their merits, are sources of trouble to the bodies as well. There is a lesson for those who ponder, and a proof that all this has been ordained by the Wise Creator for the goodness of the world.
O Mufadhdhal! Let me inform you of the blessings of the wind. Do you not see that when it stops blowing and is stagnant, distress comes and is about to do away with the souls? Healthy persons feel ill, the sick get worse, fruits get spoiled, legumes get decayed, epidemics spread among people and animals and plagues in the plants. This proves that the blowing of the wind has been ordained by the Wise Lord for the good of the creatures.
I will tell you about another aspect of the air. Sound is produced by the impact of two bodies and the air takes it to the ears. People talk day and night on their needs and daily affairs. If speech were to remain in the air as writing remains on paper, the world would be filled with it and people would suffer much and be disturbed and troubled, and they would need to refresh (erase) and replace it with other much more than their need to refresh their books and writings because that which is spoken is much more than that which is written. The Almighty Creator (glory be to Him) has made the air as a
hidden paper that retains the speech just for the required time until people achieve their need of it, and then it is erased and this hidden paper gets refreshed again to carry other speeches again and again forever.
The air has great benefits for everything on the earth. It is the life of these bodies and their guard from inside through that which is breathed from outside that keeps the spirit alive. The air drives the sounds away and carries smells from one place to another. Do you not see how the air wafts different kinds of scents to your nose? The same is said about sounds. This same air is the carrier of heat and cold, which alternate regularly for the benefit of the world. The blowing wind is from this air that relieves people when blowing and carries clouds from one place to another, so that all may receive their benefits, until they are condensed to rain. The wind pollinates the trees and plants, pushes ships to move, softens foods, cools water, inflames fire, dries up wet things and, in general, it enlivens everything on the earth. Without this blowing air, vegetation would dry up, animals (and living beings) would die and things would be heated and corrupted.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the four elements (earth, water, air and fire) created by Allah the Almighty to adequately fulfil the purpose of their creation. Among them is this earth and its expanse. If it were not so vast, how then would it suffice for the human needs of housing, agriculture, meadows, forests, jungles, precious herbs of medicine and valuable minerals?
Someone may dispute the existence of empty, desolate deserts and ask what benefits lie in them? It is said to him that these lands are the abodes of beasts and their pastures. Besides, they are as a breather for people if they need to replace their homelands. Many desolate lands have been changed into palaces and gardens when people moved to live in them. If the
earth were not so vast, people would find themselves as prisoners in narrow, walled places and they would not be able to leave their homes even if pressed by circumstances.
Think of the creation of the earth, in that it is so finely balanced so as to be a fit habitat for all things; people are able to move about on the earth and carry out their needs and living affairs, sit on it to get rest and comfort, sleep on it quietly and tranquilly, and conduct their businesses easily. If the earth were flickering and upset, it would be impossible for people to erect buildings or carry out trades and industries, and they would not live happily with the ground flickering under them.
Think of the earthquakes that last only for a short while, and yet people leave their homes and flee in every direction. If someone asks: why does the earth quake? It is said to him that earthquakes and the likes are as lessons and warnings for people to refrain from sins and vices. The calamities afflicting them and their properties have the same purpose, leading to their advantage and betterment in this life and, if they are virtuous, a reward and compensation in the hereafter incomparable to all that is in the earth. It sometimes happens that there is an immediate reward in this world, if such reward is in the interests of people generally or individually.
The earth in its nature that Allah has created is cool and dry and so is the stone, but the stone is relatively harder than the earth. If the earth were hard like the stone, could it produce any vegetation on which human and animal life depend? Would plowing and planting be possible?
Do you not see that it is more flexible than the stone? It has been made pliable and soft to be fit for all man’s services.
Allah the Almighty has ordained the earth to be in a gradual slope from the north to the south (the northern parts of the earth are at higher levels than the southern parts). Allah has made the earth like this to allow water to flow on its surface and, after irrigating the lands, to flow into the sea, just as a roof is made sloping from one side to another to prevent water from gathering in one place. The earth has been made so for the same reason. If it were not so, the whole earth would be swamped with water, and this would trouble people and block their ways and paths.
If water were not so abundant and flowing through springs, valleys and rivers, it would fail to suffice the needs of men, animals and plants. A shortage of water would affect all kinds of beasts, birds and fishes and all aquatic living creatures as well.
Besides it has other benefits of which you are aware yet ignorant of their great value and merit. Water is the source of life for all animate creatures and plants. It may be mixed with different drinks to be delicious to drinkers. With water, bodies and other things are cleansed of dirt. Soil is dampened with water to make it fit for different works. With water, fire is extinguished when it flares up and people face dangers. Exhausted people refresh themselves by bathing with water; and there are many other benefits that are known only at the time of need.
If you have any doubts about the benefit of abundant water in the seas, you should know that it is the abode of many different kinds of fishes and aquatic creatures. It is a treasure house of pearls, rubies, ambergris and various other kinds of precious materials that are extracted from under the seas. At seashores, there are different plants that provide good perfumes and herbs for drugs. Furthermore, water is a means of travel and trade between distant countries, such as Iraq and China. If these long-distance trades had no means except to be carried on backs, they would become corrupted and remain in their
countries and in their keepers hands because the costs of carrying them would be much more than their actual prices; therefore, no one would venture to carry them, and this would lead to the waste of many necessities people require and would end the living of those who carry them and live by means of them.
Likewise, if the air were not so abundant and vast, people and other creatures would suffocate because of the smoke and vapours that would congest in it.
If fire were spread like water and air, it would burn the world and all that it had. Rather, it has been stored in things so as to be obtained only when needed. It is preserved with fuels and firewood as long as it is needed. It does not require fuels to burn, for it does not cost much, nor does it appear everywhere, for it would burn everything. It has been created in accurate consideration so that people may make use of its benefits and avoid its harms.
It has another characteristic: it has been assigned only for the benefit of man. Animals have no need of fire nor do they enjoy it. Man would suffer much in his living if there were no fire.
Since Allah the Almighty has ordained it to be so, man has been endowed with palms and fingers to enable him to light up the fire and make use of it, while the animals have not been gifted with these abilities. However, animals have been gifted with patience for the difficult lives they lead so that they would not be at a loss as man would be when there was no fire.
I will tell you about one of the benefits of fire in a little thing whose importance is so great: it is the lamp that people use to satisfy their needs in the night. Without it, people would spend their lives (at night) as if they were in graves. How could one read, write, weave or do many other things in the darkness of
the night without the light of fire? What would be the state of one who is afflicted with a harm or illness at night when he needs a surgical treatment or bandage?
The benefits of fire in cooking, warming the body, drying the moist substances, dissolving hard materials, and many other things cannot be counted.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the clear weather and the rainfall and their alternating in the world and the goodness they have. If one of them (clear weather or rainfall) continues, it causes harms to the world. Do you not see that when rains fall for prolonged times, legumes and vegetables decay, animals become slack, the air becomes clammy and causes many diseases and the roads and streets are damaged. When the sky remains clear for prolonged times, the earth becomes dried up, plants wither, the waters of springs and rivers decrease which causes harms to animals and plants, the air becomes dry and other kinds of diseases occur. When they alternate thus regularly, the climate becomes moderate and each of them improves the demerits of the other and everything goes right.
If someone asks: why has it not been ordained that no harm should be in any of that at all? It ought to be said to him that it is so in order to make man suffer somehow and feel some pain to encourage him to refrain from sins. As when man’s body suffers from some illness and needs bitter drugs to recover and restore soundness, man, likewise, when he transgresses and exceeds the limits, needs what pains him and makes him suffer so that he may refrain from his faults and turn back to the right path of goodness and guidance. If a monarch bestows great amounts of gold and silver on his people, will not his munificence impress their minds with reverence and admiration and will not his mention be raised everywhere? Can one rainfall, which falls on a country and brings with it
goodness and blessings that are more than all of the gold and silver of all countries, be compared to the gold and silver of that monarch?
Do you not see what a great blessing this little rain is for people? Yet people are heedless thereof. It may happen that someone’s needs or works are disturbed due to rainfall, and then he becomes angry and discontented, preferring the trivial benefit to the great one that is better for his end. It is because of his ignorance of the lofty boons therein.
Consider the falling of the rain on the earth and the wise ordainment in it! It has been ordained to pour from high up in order to include all high places and irrigate them. If the rain were to fall from a certain side or angle, it would not include the high places and so the lands there could not be cultivated. Do you not see that the lands that are irrigated artificially are less than those irrigated by rains? It is so because the rains cover all the earth, and the vast lands and the feet of mountains may be cultivated to provide many crops.
By the fall of rains, people are relieved from the trouble of carrying water from one place to another and from the quarrels happening amongst them over the sources of water until the strong people of influence aggressively obsess the source of water and deprive the weak of it.
Then, since rainwater has been ordained to fall onto the earth, it has been made into drops, showering to penetrate into the earth and irrigate it. If it poured, it would flow on the surface of the earth and would not penetrate into it; besides that, it would destroy the plants. Therefore, rains have been ordained to fall in mild showers to enliven the earth and make seeds and plants grow.
There are other blessings in rainfall. It tempers the bodies, purifies the air, removes pollutions and epidemics, and cleans the plants from mildews and the like besides many other
If someone asks: does rain not cause heavy damage in some years when it falls in intensive quantities or hails which destroy the fruitful plants and cause much humidity in the air that in turn causes many diseases against man and plants?
In response, it is said that this damage is sometimes needed to reform man and make him refrain from sins and vices, and then the benefit he receives in his religion is more important than the damage he receives in his properties.
O Mufadhdhal! Look at these mountains formed of earth and stone, which the ignorant consider useless and unnecessary whereas they have many advantages. From among these advantages is that snow falls on the heights of mountains and remains there till the time of need. When snow melts, it makes springs and rivers flow with water and makes different kinds of trees and herbs grow that do not grow in plains and other places. Mountains have caves and holes for beasts. Mountains are used as strong forts against enemies. From mountains, rocks are cut and taken for buildings and querns. They contain mines of precious stones and different minerals, besides many other advantages that no one knows save the Knower, the Wise.
O Mufadhdhal! Think of the different kinds of minerals and precious stones that are extracted from the mines in the mountains such as plaster, lime, gypsum, arsenic, zinc, mercury, copper, tin, silver, gold, aquamarine, beryl, and various other kinds of rocks besides tar, sulphur, petroleum and others that people use to meet their needs. Is it unclear to anyone with reason that all these treasures have been laid in the earth for man to take out and with them satisfy his needs?
People, in spite of their greed, have failed to discover all these treasures. If they could, with all the knowledge they have, do that, definitely gold and silver would appear and spread everywhere in the world and then they (gold and silver) would lose their real value before people and would be of no use in buying, selling or other dealings. Rulers would not gather wealth, and people would not save any for their heirs.
Nevertheless, people have been given the knowledge to make brass from copper, glass from sand, silver from lead and gold from silver and the like that have no harm.
Just see how they have been given the knowledge of that which has no harm and have not been given the knowledge of that which would harm them if they had it.
If someone enters into mines, he arrives at a great valley flowing with abundant water, the bottom of which no one can reach or cross, and after it there are near mountains of silver.
Now, think of the wisdom of the Wise Creator in His creation. He has intended to show His people His omniscience and vast treasures so that they might know that if Allah had willed to give them as much silver as there are mountains, he would do so, but there would be no good to them in that because this precious mineral would lose its real value before people and then it would not benefit them. Rare things are precious and dear, but when they are available in abundant quantities and everyone can attain them, they no longer remain precious or dear because things are dear due to their rarity.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the plants and the many advantages they provide. Fruits are for food, hay is fodder for animals, firewood is fuel, wood is used for carpentry, and the bark, leaves, roots and gums also have many other uses.
Think if fruits were to be found accumulated on the ground
and not growing on the branches which bear them, what a disruption would there be in our living! Nutrition would be available no doubt, but what about the valuable benefits of wood, firewood and all the other things mentioned above? This is besides the pleasure one feels when looking at the beautiful scenes of plants and fruitful trees that are incomparable with any other scene in the world.
O Mufadhdhal! Think of the revenue that has been placed in plants – how one seed produces a hundred seeds or more or less. One seed should produce one seed but why has it not been ordained to be so? Seeds and plants give multiple revenues because farmers need some to sow in their farms and some others to feed on until their plants will bear fruits later on. Do you not see that when a ruler wants to build a country, he gives its people seeds that suffice them for planting and food until they are able to harvest their coming fruits?
All kinds of trees are so. You find on a tree many branches. If a tree remains isolated without having branches or shoots, people cannot cut anything of it, and if it is afflicted with a plague to perish, the species disappears without leaving a substitute.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the grains of pulses such as lentils, peas, beans and the like! They grow in pods to be protected from plagues and harms until they gain in strength and hardness, just like the placenta that protects the foetus. The grains of wheat and other similar grains come out in hard shells, pointed sharply at their ends like spears to ward off birds and save the yield for farmers.
If someone asks: don’t birds have to eat from these wheat and grains? It is answered: yes, birds are creatures of Allah and Allah has assigned them a share from the yields of the earth, but grains have been protected in this way so that birds will not be able to eat and play with these grains whenever and
however they like, which might cause terrible harms to these crops. If these grains were bare and not protected in this way, birds would pounce upon them and do away with them all. At the same time, birds would suffer indigestion resulting in death and farmers would lose much. Grains have been provided with these protective means to be kept safe, and birds cannot take from them except a little, while most of them remain for man who is worthier of them because it is he who has drudged at farms and that which he needs is more than that which birds need.
Consider the wisdom in creating the trees and the different kinds of plants! Since they always need nutriment like man and animals do and since they have no mouths like the living beings nor can they move to get their food, their roots have been made firmly planted into the earth to enable them to extract their food from the earth and carry it to the branches, leaves and fruits on them just as mothers suckle their children.
Do you not see that the poles of tents are tied with ropes from every side so that they will remain erect and not fall down? Likewise, plants have roots extended into the earth in every direction to remain erect and fixed. Otherwise, how could long date palms and great trees withstand storms?
See how the wisdom of the Creator has preceded the skill of people in fixing tents! People have taken their skills from the creation because trees have been created long before tents have been invented. Do you not see the poles of tents have been taken from the trees? Thus, crafts have taken their skills from the ingenuities of the creation.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the creation of the leaves of plants. You will see lines like veins spread throughout the leaf. Some of them are thick extending in every side throughout the whole leaf while some others are thin extending between the thick ones and woven accurately. If leaves were made by man, the
leaves of one tree would not be completed in a year and many tools, actions, dealings, speech and too much work would be required.
In a few days of spring, huge numbers of plants and leaves grow that fill the mountains, the plains and the lands of the earth. All of that is made without action or speech but by the Will, which is influential over everything, and by the obeyed Command.
Know, nevertheless, the principle underlying these fine capillaries. They are interwoven in the texture of the whole leaf to irrigate it and to transport water to every part of it, just as the veins spread in the body of man to carry nutriment to every part of it.
The thick veins of the leaf have another job. They, with their solidity, hold together the leaf to prevent it from being torn. These leaves are similar to the leaves made by man from rags having sticks to hold them together. The craft of man imitates the creation of Allah although it does not reach the actuality it imitates.
Consider the pit and its importance! It has been placed inside the fruit in order to be like a nursery plant when the original plant is damaged or cannot be planted for any reason. Moreover, the pit, because of its solidity, keeps the flaccid and soft fruit tenacious; otherwise, a fruit would break and decay. Some kinds of pits are edible and some others give oils that are used in foods and other fields.
Think, now, of that which you find on the pits of ripe dates and grapes. What is the reason behind that and why are they in this shape? Instead of that, there should be something inedible like that in the nabk, the cypress and the like. It is so that man may enjoy the delicious tastes of these fruits.
Consider the other aspects of plants. You will find that they die once every year. The vital heat is enshrined in their twigs, and
the materials for fruit are generated in them. Then, again, they come to life and grow to give you delicious kinds of fruits so you serve different kinds of food. You find the branches of trees receiving you with their fruits as if they are presenting them to you by hand. You see flowers greeting you from atop their branches as if they are presenting to you their breaths. Who has planned all this? Surely it is He, the Wise Ordainer. And for what is all that? Surely, it is to entertain man with these fruits and the lights of these flowers. How strange it is that instead of being grateful to these blessings, man denies the Giver!
Consider the pomegranate and the skill and ingenuity that lie in its creation! You see inside it what resembles hills of fat accumulated in its sides and seeds aligned so accurately as if they were arranged by hands. You see the seeds in groups and each group is wrapped with screens fabricated uniquely and wonderfully and all these are enveloped with the outer peel.
The artistic ingenuity therein is that since the seeds alone cannot help each other in growing, that fat has been made between the seeds to supply them with food. Do you not see that the roots of the seeds are stuck into this fat? Then the seeds are wrapped with these screens to hold them together and to not be confused. After that, the seeds are fortified with a strong peel to enable them to stand against plagues. This is a little of the much there is in the description of the pomegranate. It has more than this, but we do not want to expatiate in speech; what we have mentioned to you is enough to ponder over.
O Mufadhdhal! Think about how the weak plants carry such heavy fruits like squash, cucumber and melon and what great wisdom there is behind such ordinance! When these plants are ordained to bear such heavy fruits, they are made to sleep on the ground. If they were erect like other trees and plants, they
would not be able to bear such heavy fruits and they would perish before their fruits ripened. See how these plants sprawl on the ground in order to place their heavy fruits on it to carry them instead of on these weak plants. You see gourd and melon sleeping on the ground and their fruits scattered around them like a sleeping cat with its kittens around it for suckling.
See how these kinds of plants grow in the very hot season, and see how people long for their fruits and receive them gladly! If they were to grow in the wintertime, people would refrain from them besides that they would harm man’s health. You may find some cucumbers in the winter, but people refrain from eating them except the gluttonous who do not refrain from eating what harms them and diseases their stomachs.
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the date‑palms. Since there are females among this type of tree that need to be pollinated, male trees have been ordained to grow planting. A male palm tree is like a male animal that pollinates the female to bear, but it itself does not bear.
Consider carefully the trunk of the date‑palm. You will find that it is woven from extended threads with other cross ones like the clothes that are woven by hands. It is so to be strong and hard enough to bear the heavy leaves and fruits and to not break before violent storms and to be firm enough for roofs, bridges and other things.
You also find wood as a textile woven with lengthwise and cross-parts like the parts of flesh. Nevertheless, it is so hard and tenacious that it is fit for making different tools and furniture. If it were hard like stone, it would not be fit to be used in roofing or other things where wood is used, like in the making of doors, beds, coffins and the like. One of the great aspects of wood is that it floats in water. All people know this fact, but not all of them know its great importance. Without this aspect of wood, how could ships and vessels carry heavy
cargos and relieve people from the burden of carrying heavy goods from one country to another? It would cost people too much besides that it would cause many goods needed by people to disappear from the markets or it would be difficult for people to obtain them.
Consider the herbs of drugs and the characteristics each one has. One penetrates into the joints to release thick wastes, some others deal with the humours of the body, some relieve of the wind, some treat tumours, and the like.
Who then has endowed these plants with these powers, and who has made people realize these facts in them? Surely it is He Who has created them for this purpose. How could these facts come to man’s mind by chance and accident, as some atheists say? Well, let us allow that man has learnt all these facts through his own intellect, reason, contemplation and experimentation. Then how did the beasts come to realize that, so that when a beast is afflicted with some illness or injury, it eats certain herbs and recovers? When some birds suffer from constipation, they get well by purgation with seawater, and there are too many other examples.
You may doubt the utility of plants in the wild lands and deserts, where no human life exists, and think them meaningless and useless. Certainly not! Beasts feed on these plants, and birds feed on their seeds. Their twigs and wood are used as fuel by people. There are other benefits in these plants. They have some substances that are used as medicines, some for tanning hides, some with which to dye clothes, and various other benefits.
Do you not know that one of the meanest kinds of plants is the papyrus? Yet it has many benefits. Paper is made from papyrus that rulers and the public need. Mats that are used by all classes of people are made from this plant. From papyrus, covers are made to keep different utensils. It is used as
padding between fragile utensils and in baskets so that they may not break, besides many other benefits.
You should take a lesson from the different benefits in the little and big things Allah has created and in those which have values and in those which do not. The most worthless of all are dungs and excreta, which are worthless and filthy, and yet they have an important role in agriculture. They are incomparable in their use for plants. No vegetable grows well except with dung and other (animal) fertilizers, which people find dirty and avoid being near.
Know that the worth of a thing is not due to its material value. It has two different values in two different markets. Perhaps that which is mean in the commercial market may be precious in the market of knowledge. Do not belittle a thing just because it is has little value. If chemists were to realize what there is in dung, they would buy it for the most expensive prices.’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘It was then the time for the noon prayers. My master Imam as-Sadiq (a.s) got up to prepare for the prayers and asked me to come to him early the next day. I left so happy because of what he had taught me, and I praised Allah for the great information I had received from him. I spent the night extremely delighted.’”