[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Miraculous subterranean escape of the Fish

The story of Moses’ travel in search of higher knowledge is mentioned in Chapter 18, verses 60-82. There are many lessons in these verses… 

Moses’ search for higher knowledge
Moses was a messenger of God with whom God spoke and empowered with great miracles. Yet, Moses was a mortal human, and as such limited by human knowledge and perspective. Verse 62 speaks of Moses’ yearning for higher knowledge and how eager and determined he was, as he is quoted as saying: 
[Pickthall 18:60] And when Moses said unto his servant: I will not give up until I reach the point where the two rivers meet, though I march on for ages. 

Miraculous subterranean escape of the Fish
The next few verses go on to describe the miracle which identifies the location where Moses is to meet the person with higher knowledge. It also identifies the role of Satan as how he deceives us in to missing opportunities, as well as how strong God’s plan is that in spite of Satan, what is destined doesn’t miss us.  

[Pickthall 18:63] He said: Didst thou see, when we took refuge on the rock, and I forgot the fish - and none but Satan caused me to forget to mention it - it took its way into the waters by a marvel.
When Moses and his attendant crossed the confluence of the two water bodies (possibly where the White and Blue Nile meet), and retired to the rock, the fish for their meal miraculously found its way back into the water. The servant saw it but attributes to Satan that he forgot to mention it. However, the question that arises is why was it such a casual thing to happen that he just forgot to mention it? Was the fish alive when it happened? Did they just catch it and it managed to escape instead of dying when removed from the water? Can fish breathe outside water? Can fish find their way back into water from land? Can fish dig or burrow? 

The word used in 18:61:11 to explain the action of the fish is ‘saraban’ which has been variously translated as slipping away [Sahih International], being free [Pickthall], going away [Shakir], found its way [Muhammad Sarwar], as in a tunnel [Yusuf Ali and Mohsin Khan], burrowing [Arberry]. Looking up the meanings of the root of this word in Lane’s Lexicon [Page 1341, second paragraph middle], it also means by the way which it had come, also a subterranean excavation: searching the internet for any discoveries about fish being capable of any such thing reveals  forums and web pages dedicated to African cichlids digging holes. Mudskippers have specialised breathing abilities, due to which they can spend a lot of time on land. Tile fish have been found to be shaping the ocean floor! 

The following are some links: 

A video of a male African Chiclid digging under a rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUFmgTMj0Ak 

A video of a Pearly Jawfish making a burrow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-LDLQrJM_M  




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