From lush tropical rainforests to stark desert lands, from lofty mountain tops to shimmering seashores, we find an array of plants that scientists have estimated to be in the range of 422,000 species.
The astounding diversity of the plant kingdom, which incorporates trees, flowering plants, ferns, mosses, seaweed, and algae, has enthralled botanists for centuries.
Plants, the colorful garments of the earth, play a key role in protecting life on this planet. Trees, which cover a third of the earth’s surface, regulate the climate of the earth by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. In addition, plants provide nourishment, medicines, shelter, fuel, and clothing to humankind and animals alike. Plants also fulfill a beautifying and decorative function.
Botanical research by Muslim scholars can be traced back to the second year after Hijrah (7th Century AD) when a keen interest developed into the medicinal and agricultural aspects of the floral kingdom.
‘Ilm ul-nabaat, the science of plants, encompassed not only scientific studies that classified and described plants, but also contemplated the spiritual and moral lessons drawn from the plant world.
Blessings from Allah
If humankind attempted to count the blessings of this one favor of Allah, the plant kingdom, it would not be able to fathom the Greatness of the Creator.
In this three-part series, we will draw on the work of Dr. Iqtidar Faruqi’s Plants of the Qur’an to discuss three of the plants mentioned in the Qur’an and look at their characteristics, uses and benefits in our lives. The first of these is the date palm.
Date Palm: King of Oasis
The date palm, mentioned more than any other fruit-bearing plant in the Qur’an, is a symbol often associated with Islam and Muslims. Throughout the month of Ramadan, dates are a common ingredient in the Muslim diet.
The delectable fruit is sourced from the date palms of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even South Africa. Muslims begin and end their day of fasting with its sweet and nourishing flesh.
Phoenix dactylifera is the botanical name for the date palm. It is also referred to as nakhl in Arabic. Meanwhile, the fruit of the date palm is called tamr in many Arab and African countries.
The date palm is a tall evergreen and consists of both male and female trees (called dioecious). Only the female trees produce fruit, but one male tree can produce enough pollen to pollinate 40-50 female trees.
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