Rain – it’s an incredible blessing, but only those who are forced to live in its scarcity realize what that means.
Allah mentions the topic of rain throughout the Quran. For example, He says:
It is Allah who created the heavens and the earth and sent down rain from the sky and produced thereby some fruits as provision for you and subjected for you the ships to sail through the sea by His command and subjected for you the rivers. (Quran, 14:32)
And We have sent the fertilizing winds and sent down water from the sky and given you drink from it. And you are not its retainers. (15:22)
Allah in these and numerous other verses in the Quran highlights the process through which rain facilitates life on earth.
There are vast areas on earth that are nothing but dry and cracked soil, and where people have given up the hope of ever seeing greenery or smelling the scent of wet earth. These places are practically dead, because no life can be sustained on them.
But when Allah sends down rain, even these dead patches of earth can be softened and turned fertile.
And who sends down rain from the sky in measured amounts, and We revive thereby a dead land – thus will you be brought forth. (43:11)
Bees, birds and animals, when they roam around the earth, leave behind dry and hard seeds which fall to the earth and remain there, lifeless, until rain falls on them. Then the earth nurtures these seeds to grow into lush greenery. But then again, this greenery isn’t monotonous, far from it.
There are millions of different species of plants on earth. Just count the number of different plants we benefit from in our daily lives – cereals, vegetables, spices, fruits – of so many varieties. And all this is brought about by rain that falls from the sky.
And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe. (6:99)
This itself is an unimaginable blessing from Allah. But there is a deeper and more profound metaphorical meaning of why there is so much mention of rain in the Quran.
Just like Allah sends down rain to the earth from the sky, He also sends down Divine revelation. And the revelation that He sent to us is the Quran. The analogy of rain is with the Quran. Just like rain can soften dead earth, the Quran can soften dead hearts.
Take the following passage from Surah Hadid:
Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth?
And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient. Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to you the signs; perhaps you will understand. (57:16-17)
And just like there are so many different kinds of plants that flourish by means of rain, there are many different kinds of believers who flourish by means of the Quran. Think of the hearts of the believers as earth, and faith as seeds in the hearts that await the shower of Quran to start growing. But once that faith starts shooting out fresh leaves, you realize that it looks different from that of another heart.
Each believer has a unique personality, a unique set of virtues and vices, life experiences, ideologies, loves and hates, dreams and inclinations. We all have the same goal – Paradise and Allah’s pleasure, but the path we take to reach that goal can be vastly different.
So the path one sister might choose to reach that goal is to learn and spread knowledge and share life experiences through writing. Another sister prays qiyamul layl every night and fasts every Monday and Thursday. A third sister may choose to make her husband happy. Yet a fourth might work as an air hostess to support her poor invalid brother. And a fifth sister doesn’t do anything except struggle to pray the seventeen rakah of daily prayers despite suffering from a painful chronic illness.
Which woman do you think will win the race? Who will reach paradise first – the one who prays qiyaml layl, or the one who prays only the five obligatory prayers? Who will reach it last – the seeker of knowledge or the air-hostess?
Who can judge? What is the criteria of measurement? How many prayers you pray? How much knowledge you gain? How much clothes you wear?
The only criterion of measurement is the health of the heart, and it’s only known to Allah whose heart is the most alive, whose heart is the most moist with Quran.
Which is better – wheat or pomegranate? Coconuts or onions? Rose or grass?
The question itself is pointless, because we can’t compare different species of plants, nor different types of hearts.
If we can live with the fact that there are one million types of plants, why can’t we accept the differences of hearts? Just like those plant species, each heart has a special role to perform in this world, and each heart supports and strengthens the others, forming a robust structure of faith. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
We can’t construct the whole structure of faith by ourselves. But we can do our part if we let the Quran revive our hearts and those of others around us, and live in harmony by accepting the diversity of the believers’ hearts.