Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 22
He who made for you the earth a bed and the sky a ceiling, and sent down from the sky rain, and by it brings forth fruits for your provision. Do not, then, knowingly make others equal to Allah.(2:22)
God wants us to know that the grants of His Lordship are gifts to all his creation. And these grants should be sufficient evidence for anyone to be grateful and accept faith. In this verse God explains in detail these grants so perhaps the light of appreciation and gratitude penetrates into the hearts of those who have not yet believed.
let's start with the first part that says: ‘He who made for you the earth a bed’
Earth is the place where we all live, yet no one can claim that he or she created this planet or made it suitable for life. Earth is a sign of God’s Lordship. This fact is axiomatic and does not take much mental effort to recognize. The word ‘bed’ suggests that Allah made the earth as a place of comfort. He prepared it in a way that suits humans throughout time. While we may now consider sleeping on the ground unpleasant, our ancestors did it for thousands of years quite comfortably. As civilizations progressed and luxurious lifestyles evolved, softer beddings were made.....And every generation achieved a new level of luxury through the knowledge that God granted, and from the material the earth yields.
God says in another verse:
He Who has made the earth a cradle for you, and has set on it routes for you so that you may find your way (43:10)
Parents usually take utmost care to make the baby's cradle safe and comfortable. Similarly, God prepared earth to provide comfort and protection for mankind. He subjected it to our service and put within it all we need for sustenance and development until the last day. Allah says:
He Who has made the earth subservient to you, so go about through its shoulders and eat of His provision; and to Him will be the Resurrection. (67:15)
Then God described the sky as a ceiling. The word ceiling suggests solidity and protection. The atmosphere that we see above us forms a canopy that provides a shield to earth from all the dangers of space. God Almighty says:
Have you not considered how God has made everything on the earth of service to you? That ships sail the sea at His command? That He keeps the heavens from falling down on the earth without His permission? God is most compassionate and most merciful to mankind (22:65)
And in another verse:
and We made the sky a well-secured canopy- yet from its wonders they turn away. (21:32)
All of these verses emphasize that we should feel assured that the heavens will not fall upon us while we live comfortably on earth. More importantly, we should feel assured because Allah is our lord cradling and protecting us at all time.
“and sent down from the sky rain, and by it brings forth fruits for your provision.”
After providing us with a comfortable and safe place to live, God Almighty gave us all the means of sustenance and development. Rain descends from the sky to grow crops and fruits for our livelihood. When many of us think about what supports us, gives us livelihood and sustenance, the first thing that often comes to mind is money. This, however, is not true. Sustenance encompasses all that benefits you, whether it is health, food, money or knowledge. You can earn a great deal of money, then spend it on drugs, alcohol or waste it on something to your determent, not livelihood. Even the money you save may end up benefiting someone else after your passing.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) teaches us the truth about wealth. He said: "A person says, My wealth. my wealth. But out of his wealth there are a few things that are truly his: whatever he eats is his, and whatever he wears until it wears out is his, and finally, whatever he gives as charity is his. Charity is truly the wealth man stores for himself for the Hereafter". Wealth is a broad term that includes health, children, food, knowledge and much more. So if you want to store your wealth in the safest of places for your time of need, make sure you use it to help others in charity.
Here we should take a few moments to ponder how Allah created this universe. More specifically, the order of creation. Before God brought man into existence, He created the elements that guarantees his survival. In addition to preparing earth with all our material and biological needs, God also created that which is vital for our spiritual wellbeing. He says:
It is the Lord of Mercy, who taught the Quran. He created man, and taught him articulate speech (55:1-4)
The heavenly messages, the Holy books, the Quran, and the guidance that insure our success in this world were all created before 'Adam'. Keep in mind that the purpose of this life is to prepare for and obtain ultimate success in the next. God's messages and the Quran give our lives value and map the way to paradise. Without these gifts, the world would have no meaning because it will lead us to nowhere.
In fact all the good that comes our way comes from the heavens, whether it is the guidance of the Quran, or the rain that gives us fruits and crops. Allah gave the example of water and rain because it is a direct gift we can experience firsthand. Just as the Quran came from the heavens to give us life, so does pure water. It pours from the sky and brings life with it. From it we drink, eat and build. Think about what it would take to produce a small amount of fresh water. The process of artificially purifying and desalinating the ocean water to make it suitable for human consumption is extremely expensive, polluting, and uses large amounts of energy. It produces an amount of water barely enough for a small town. God Almighty, on the other hand, pours water from the sky in its purest form and in sufficient quantities to guarantee the continuation of life in this universe. This process happens naturally, without pollution, and is free for all humanity.
When you come to know and appreciate all these blessings, and when you begin to comprehend the miracles hidden within them, God Almighty tells you: “Do not, then, knowingly make others equal to Allah.". A mind bearing the slightest amount of intellect will refrain from ascribing a partner or an equal to God. Allah is one in His power, His ability, His knowledge and most importantly, in His mercy and immense gifts.