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Plants in Qur’an: Date Palm

  • Plants, a divine blessing, regulate climate, offer resources, and hold spiritual significance.
  • The Qur’an illustrates plant diversity as vital, providing nourishment, medicine, and beauty.

“And tall (and stately) palm-trees, with shoots of fruit-stalks piled one over another” (Surat Qaf 50:10).

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.

This diversity is described in the Qur’an as follows: “And in the earth are neighboring tracts, and gardens of vines, and green crops (fields), and date palms, growing into two or three from a single stem root, or otherwise (one stem root for every palm), watered with the same water; yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily! In these things, there are signs for the people who understand.”(Surat Ar-Ra’d 13:3-4).

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.

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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

Plants are regarded as one of the countless favors of Allah. As one reads in Surah Ar-Rahman, “So which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” (Surat Ar-Rahman 55:13).

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.

“If we would count up the favors of Allah. Never would ye be able to number them. For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (Surat Al-Kahf 16:18).

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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