Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 60
Remember when Moses prayed for water for his people and We said to him, ‘Strike the rock with your staff.’ Twelve springs gushed out, and each group knew its drinking place. ‘Eat and drink the sustenance God has provided and do not cause corruption in the land.’(Chapter 2: Verse 60)
God points out one of the most important bounties He gave the Children of Israel. In the desert, water was so scarce that there wasn't enough even to quench the thirst of the Israelites. Drought has different levels. The mildest level is when there is insufficient water for crops and plants; as the severity increases, water may not be enough for livestock. And at the most extreme level of drought, there is a shortage of drinking water for people. Moses (peace be upon him) supplicate God for water. Keep in mind that people usually resort to God in prayer for water only after all their resources have run out. God wants the Israelites to recall that when they were wandering in the desert He provided them shade, and He sent the water gushing out of solid rock when they asked for it.
Let's take a moment here to think about the beauty and precision of creation. Water is the source of life. It comes to us pure and clean through rain so we can drink, water crops and raise livestock. Three quarters of the earth's surface is covered by water, leaving around 1/4th for dry land. God created our planet with accurate proportions to provide a proper surface for evaporation. Take the example of a glass filled with water. If you leave the glass in direct sunlight for days, you may find that a small portion of the water had evaporated. However, if you spill this glass -in essence if you increase the water surface exposed to sunlight,- you will find that all the water evaporates in just an hour or two. Similarly, Allah made the water surface large enough to accelerate the evaporation and rain cycle. He sends rain so you and I can benefit according to our needs, and the rest turns into springs or gets stored in the ground. God says:
Have you not considered that God sends water down from the sky, guides it along to form springs in the earth, and then, with it, brings forth vegetation of various colours, which later withers, turns yellow before your eyes, and is crumbled to dust at His command? There is truly a reminder in this for those who posses intellect (39:21)
Some people claim that the rain cycle is solely based on fixed scientific laws. As the ocean water evaporates, clouds form, and when clouds rise to a certain altitude and run into cooler air, the water vapor condenses around dust particles causing it to rain. We answer that the science is accurate in accounting for the constants, but who accounts for all the variables. The wind may blow or may not take the clouds where they are needed. Who drives the wind to carry the clouds, who carries the clouds to dry land? Who makes the rain beneficial, or turns it into destructive floods? Who provides us with wells and springs? God Almighty says:
Do they not consider how We drive rain to the barren land, and with it produce vegetation from which their cattle and they themselves eat? Do they not see? (32:27)
and in another verse:
Say: "Have you ever considered: If your water should vanish underground, who is there that can bring to you gushing water?"(67:30)
If only they were to go straight on the Path, We would give them abundant water to drink (72:16)
This brings us back to the verse. God says: ‘Remember when Moses prayed for water for his people' which indicates that the Israelites had no refuge except God because they ran out of all sources of drinking water.
When a drought occurs and people use all the available reserves, families -including all members young and old- come out to supplicate God for water. We plead our Lord by means of our infants and elderly, so God may respond to our prayers. Anas (one of the prophet's closest companions) narrated: Whenever we were hit by a drought, Umar bin Al-Khattab used to supplicate: "O Allah! We used to entreat your love for Prophet Muhammad to provide us with rain, and You would bless us with it. Now we entreat your love for the Prophet's uncle Al- Abbas. O Allah ! Bless us with rain." And so it would rain.
A quick note about the narration we just mentioned: Some scholars incorrectly understood that during supplication, we cannot entreat God's love of a dead Prophet or person. Umar, afterall, mentioned the Prophet's Uncle, not the Prophet himself. They say that it is understood that entreating God's love of the dead is not permissible. The real question to ask here is: Did Umar choose to entreat God's love for Al-Abbas because of Al-Abbas himself, or because he is the uncle of the Prophet? The use of the Prophet's uncle illustrates that entreating Allah's love is essentially for His love for Prophet Muhammad. We also understand that entreating God's love is not confined to the Prophet alone; in fact it can be made by his relatives too.
This raises another question: Why was entreating God's love transferred from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to his uncle? The answer is simple. The Prophet had passed away and would not benefit from the rain, while his uncle who was still living -and thirsty due to the drought- would definitely benefit from it. In essence, Umar was pleading Allah for rain and saying: 'the family of your beloved Prophet Muhammad is thirsty….Dear Lord please give them water to drink, and give us some too'. Thus, the narration supports that entreating Allah's love for the Prophet, and His love for the Prophet's family is an acceptable way of supplication.