Fruits of the Qur’an (Part-1)
Introduction:The Qur’an is replete with frequent reference to fruits/ fruit (approximately 105 times to 113 times) both in the literal sense of the word (as an edible delicacy) as well as figuratively in terms of ultimate consequence of a deed (8 times). Out of 113 references 31 occur as plurals (fruits) whereas, as singular, it recurs 25 times. In addition to the above general references as fruit or fruits; there are 45 references to specific kinds date palms (20 times), olive (6times), pomegranates (3 times), grapes (11 times), fig just once and the lote tree (4 times).
While reminding mankind of Allah’s immense bounties in the form of delicious of various kinds of the Qur’an also promises man even better victuals (in abundance) in the paradise where the man shall have them it for mere wish. A grateful person would find in these bounties His infinite kindness and compassion for such provisions; and the promise about hereafter would induce him to act earnestly for accomplishing the promised rewards. Figuratively fruits are rewards (or punishments) one would find for ones deeds. In this world as well as in the hereafter, the fruits one shall receive are the outcome of one’s actions in course of life time.
While constantly reminding man of His infinite Mercy by providing fruits for sustenance; the Qur’an enjoins man to set no rivals or associate unto Allah as none else has the power to produce anything.Whenever paradise is mentioned, its splendor is expressed by the words“gardens beneath which rivers flow” and the fruits that abound there surpasses the earthly produce in every respect – shape, size, smell and taste. Hence, Sura al-Baqrah reminds in verse 22……. “Fruits for your sustenance” and in verse 25 about the bounties promised in heaven, “Why this is what we were fed with before”. At the same time we are warned about the consequences of our deeds: “thus will Allah show them (the fruits of) their deeds as (nothing but) regrets. Nor will there be a way for them out of the fire” (167).
I. Date palms: Al-Nakhl: II 266, VI 99, 141, XIII 4, XVI – 11, 67, XVII 91, 32, XIX 23, 25, XX 71, XXIII 19, XXVI 148, XXXVI 32, L 10, LVII, LXIX 7, LXXX 29.
Date palm has the most frequent reference – 20 times – of which eight times it occurs specifically as a fruits while another twelve times it is included as one of the several kinds of fruit like olive and grapes. In addition to being referred as Nakhl, it has also been mentioned as Leenat (LIX: 5) (Al-Hashr) and as Nagir in the two verses of al-Nisa (53 and 124) as something insignificant (negligible). So is the expression Qitmir (Fatir: 13), a thin covering on the date stone.
Phoenix Dactylifera (family of Palmae – Arecaceae) (the tree in Arabic is called nakhl; its fruit tamar). Female plants produces fruit. It finds its use as timber, building materials, handicrafts, ropes and feed for animal. In the Middle East and North Africa, it grows up to 25 meters with the crown bearing 100 green barhed leaves. It takes eight years to bear fruits and has its full bloom at the age of 30 years. Its lifecycle is approximately 100 years. It has history of cultivation dating back to 6000 – 8000 years in Mesopotamia. It is believed that its cultivation precedes cultivation of any other fruit.
It is not only sweet and delicious but is highly nutritious. Having more than 60% invert sugar along with protein, pectin, tannin, cellulose, starch and fat it has adequate supply of vitamin A, B, and C in varying proportion. Its constituents are iron, sodium, calcium, sulphur, chlorine and phosphorous. It is extensively used in preparing confectionary, beverages, sugar and sugary syrup like honey.
It has its own medicinal value as demulcent, emollient, heart stimulant and checks loss of memory (amnesia). It is useful in respiratorial disorders especially in asthma. As a laxative and tonic a well as diuretic and aphrodisiac it has been in use for long. Because of rich nutrition, contents it suffices as wholesome food in times of food shortage. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recommended its use as food and health tonic. However, for patients convalescences are advised to avoid it. He (pbuh) asked Hadhrath Ali not to use it during his recovery from illness as the fibres pose problems of digestion. Some commentators of the Qur’an like Maulana Majid Daryabadi recommend it to pregnant women as the Qur’an records Hadhrath Maryam eating them as the in advanced stage of her pregnancy (Maryam – 23-25)Fruiting normally comes by human endeavours, when male blossoms are placed in the crown of a female date palm or by blowing pollen by a tube. The ratio of male to female plants is of 1:50. The date grows in bunches that can be weighing as much as 12 kg. It can have as many as 1000 dates in one bunch. One tree can have as much as 100 kgs of dates. In order to increase the out put the female blossoms are prumed, and the bunches are covered to protect them from rain, birds or insects. There are three types – soft, semi dry and dry. It requires sunny climate with minimal rain (yet access to water). The ground between the palm trees is used for many other plants. It is for this reason it is regarded as queen in the Arabian flora – as the most common and esteemed fruit. Its fermented beverage is the much sought nabidh. Its crushed stone furnish the cakes which is the meal of the camels. The Prophet is reported to have enjoined “Honour you aunt, the palm, which was made of the same clay as Adam.”
II OLIVES – Al-Zaytun:
Mentioned six times in the Qur’an: Surah Nur: 35, VI: 99, 141, XVI: 11, 20; LXXX:29; XCV 1. In Surah Mu’minun (verse 20) its reference is rather indirect separately it is mentioned twice and five times with other fruits. Oleaceal is a family of trees and shrubs (including climbing forms) of warn temperate climates and of the old world tropics especially Asia and the East Indies. The tree is small and evergreen, Green olives and picked when full – grown but unripe, and are often pitted and shifted with pimientos or anchovies. Ripe olives, usually purplish black, are richer in oil. Both green and ripe olives are treated with lye to remove the bitter quality and then packed in brine. Olive wood, hard and close – grained, is used for cabinet work and furmilunts.
Its botanical name is Olea europaea and is cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region – Spain, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. It has a history going back to cultivation in 2000 BC. Surah Nur establishes its origin (verse 35): “Olive neither of the East nor the West” i.e. Phoenicia. Because of its mass cultivation in Southern Europeit has been named as Olea europea
It is cultivated through grafting (as the ungeafted plants yield tasteless fruit). The unripe Olive fruit is bitter in taste and is used for pickles and chutney. Ripe fruit is very delicious. The fruit is oval shaped – 2 to 3 inch in length. A single tree yields 10 – 20 kgs. The pulp of the fruit is the source of the finest quality of fixed oil (15 percent or of the yield). The oil is obtained through extraction. The tree is not an Impressive one in appearance its leaves have a dull greenish brown colour and in size inconspicuous. It grows up to 15 meters with twisted branches and opposite lance – shaped leaves. The white flowers are followed by bluish black oval fruits. The oil composed of glycerides is also used in soaps and ointment and as a lubricant.
It had great medicinal value. When taken internally it acts as a nutrient demulcent and a mile purgative. It cures gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Its oil is used in lamps as described in Surah Nur (verse: 35). Its oil is used in sacred ceremonies and forms a wholesome ingredient in food. It has a fine flavor. Abdullah Yusuf Ali reminds us that its pure oil is beautiful in colour consistency and illuminating power. The world has tried all kinds of illuminants, and for economic reasons or convenience replaces one by another. But for coolness comfort to the eyes, and steadness, vegetable oils are superior to electricity, mineral oils or animal oils. It is for this reason it has sacred association. Its purity is almost like light itself: you may suppose it to be almost light before it is lit.
III GRAPE: `Inab/ A’anab (plural)
Ten references as Inab are in Surah II: 226; VI: 100; ΧIII: 4; ΧVI: 11; ΧVII: 91; ΧVIII: 32; ΧΧIII: 34; LΧΧVIII: 32. In V99 of Surah Al-Ana’m “W have the allegory of grapes and other fruits” all grapes may be similar to look at yet each variety has a distinctive flavour and other distinctive qualities and each individual grape have its own special qualities (Ali Abdullah Yusuf).
Grape is one of the most delicious fruit provided to mankind by Allah. Several wild varieties of grape (vitisvinifera) have been found in different parts of the world. Some scientists consider the hilly region of Armenia and Azerbaijan to be the native area of the plant, probably cultivation began 3000 years ago there and then spread to Iran, Arabia and Egypt. It is side that during the time of Noah, grape was already in cultivation.
Grape is one of the finest natural source of glucose and fructose up to 25 %. In addition, it is a source of tartaric acid and malic acid. Minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium and iron are also in sizeable quantities while protein and fats are negligible. Geraniol and linanool give it a peculiar smell. Vitamin D has also recently been isolated in it which is very effective in checking bleeding caused by diabetes and helps in the inflammation of veins of the human body and cures atherosclerosis effectively. Because of its chemical composition, it is a good stimulant, digestive, demulcent, stomachic, refrigerant and diuretic. It increases and purifies blood in human body and helps in cases of general debility. Juice of umpire fruit is astringent and a remedy for ailments of throat. The sap from the stem is useful in skin diseases and in ophthalmic. They are also beneficial in chronic bronchitis, heart diseases, Bright’s diseases and Gout. Grape juice is given to children to prevent convulsions due to constipation and is invaluable during cold and fevers. It is also a good diet for persons suffering from Jaundice.
Grapes are eaten throughout the world, but 80% of total production is used to make wine and 7% is used for making raisin (dried grapes) and vinegar.
After the advent of Islam wine production and its consumption was not only discouraged but even banned. However, cultivation of grapes for fruit purpose was not only allowed but encouraged. It is a fact that before Islam, the Arab society was faced with many ills and addiction to alcohol was one of the cause of their moral degradation. The ban on wine was not imposed abruptly. The approach was gradual and psychological one. At the first instance, the verse 219 of Surah II merely stated that wine was bad and harmful. After this verse, another message was conveyed that one should not go for prayers when one was drunk (Surah Nisa: verse 43), and then, finally, in verse 90–91 of Surah al-Maidah a total prohibition was imposed.
(To be Continued)