An astonishing prediction is found in the first verses of Surat ar-Rum, which refers to the Byzantine Empire, the eastern part of the later Roman Empire: The Byzantine Empire, which had met with a great defeat, would soon gain victory.
Alif, Lam, Mim. The Romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will be victorious within three to nine years. The affair is Allah’s from beginning to end. On that day, the believers will rejoice. (Qur’an, 30:1-4)
These verses were revealed around 620, almost 7 years after the idolatrous Persians had severely defeated Christian Byzantium in 613-14. In fact, Byzantium had suffered such heavy losses that it seemed impossible for it even to survive, let alone be victorious again. Following their defeat of the Byzantines at Antioch in 613, the Persians seized control of Damascus, Cilicia, Tarsus, Armenia, and Jerusalem. The loss of Jerusalem in 614 was particularly traumatic for the Byzantines, for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed and the Persians seized the “True Cross,” the symbol of Christianity.174 In addition, the Avars, Slavs, and Lombards also were posing serious threats to the Byzantine Empire. The Avars had reached as far as the walls of Constantinople. Emperor Heraclius ordered the gold and silver in churches to be melted and turned into money in order to meet the army’s expenses. When this proved insufficient, bronze statues were melted down in order to mint more money. Many governors had revolted against Heraclius, and Byzantium was on the point of collapse.175 Mesopotamia, Cilicia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, which had earlier belonged to Byzantium, were invaded by the idolatrous Persians.176
The Dead Sea basin where Byzantium was defeated by Persians. Above is a satellite photograph of the region. The Lake of Lut region, which is the lowest region of the world, is 395 meter below the sea level.
In short, everyone was expecting Byzantium to be destroyed. But during this time, the first verses of Surat ar-Rum were revealed, announcing that Byzantium would triumph in 3 to 9 years. This predicted victory seemed so impossible that the Arab polytheists thought it would never come true.
On top a satellite photograph of the Dead Sea basin. The altitude of the Dead Sea could only be determined with modern measurement techniques. These measurements led to the discovery that this region is the “lowest region on the Earth.”
Like all the other predictions in the Qur’an, however, this one also came true. In 622, Heraclius gained a number of victories over the Persians and conquered Armenia.177 In December 627, the two empires fought a decisive battle at Nineveh, some 50 kilometres east of the Tigris river, near Baghdad. This time too, the Byzantine army defeated the Persians. A few months later, the Persians had to sue for peace with Byzantium, which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from it.178
The Byzantine victory was completed when Emperor Heraclius defeated the Persian ruler Khosrow II in 630, recaptured Jerusalem, and regained the “True Cross” for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.179 In the end, “the victory of the Romans” proclaimed by Allah in the Qur’an miraculously came true within the verses’ stated “three to nine years” time frame.
Another miracle revealed in these verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that could not have been known by anyone at that time: that the Romans had been defeated in the lowest region of Earth. This Arabic expression adna al-Ard is interpreted as “a nearby place” in many translations. However, this is not the literal meaning, but rather a figurative interpretation. The word adna, derived from the word dani (low), means “the lowest”. The word ard means “the world.” Therefore, adna al-ard means “the lowest place on Earth.”
Some interpreters of the Qur’an, considering the closeness of the region in question to the Arabs, prefer the “closest” meaning of the word. However, the actual meaning indicates a very important geological fact: The Dead Sea, one of the regions in which the Byzantines were defeated in 613-14, is the lowest region on Earth.180
As stated earlier, for Christian Byzantium, the loss of the True Cross was the heaviest blow in that defeat in Jerusalem, located near the shores of the Dead Sea.
The Byzantines and the Persians actually fought at the Dead Sea basin, which is situated at the intersection point of the lands belonging to Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. At 399 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the “lowest” place on Earth’s surface.181
However, as only modern measuring methods and equipment can prove this fact, it would have been impossible for anyone living at that time to realise this truth. Yet, the Qur’an states clearly that this region was the “lowest land” on Earth and thereby provides further evidence that it is the Word of Allah.
175. Warren Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press: 1997), 287-99.
178. Treadgold, A History, 287-99.
179. http://web.genie.it/utenti/i/inanna/livello2-i/mediterraneo-1-i.htm; http://impearls.blogspot.com/2003_12_07_impearls_archive.html; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclius.
180. “The Lowest Part on the Face of the Earth,”www.beconvinced.com/science/QURANLOWEST.htm.
181. “Dead Sea,” World Book Encyclopedia, 2003, Contributor: Bernard Reich, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University
[I swear] by the fig and the olive. (Qur’an, 95:1)
The reference to the fig in the first verse of Surat at-Tin is a most wise one in terms of the benefits imparted by this fruit.
The Benefits of the Fig for Human Beings
Figs have a higher fibre level than any other fruit or vegetable. One single dried fig provides two grams of fibre: 20% of the daily recommended intake. Research over the last fifteen years or so has revealed that the fibre in plant foods is very important for the regular functioning of the digestive system. It is known that fibre in foods assists the digestive system and also helps reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. Nutritionists describe eating figs, which are rich in fibre, as an ideal way of increasing one’s fibre intake.
Fibrous foodstuffs are divided into two types: soluble and insoluble. Foods rich in insoluble fibre facilitate the passage of substances to be expelled from the body through the intestine by adding water to them. They thus accelerate the digestive system and ensure its regular functioning. It has also been established that foods containing insoluble fibre have a protective effect against colon cancer. Foods rich in soluble fibre, on the other hand, have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by more than 20%. These are therefore of the greatest importance in reducing the risk of heart attack. Excessive levels of cholesterol in the blood collect in the arteries, hardening and narrowing them. Depending on which organ’s blood vessels the cholesterol accumulates in, disorders connected to that organ arise. For example, if cholesterol accumulates in the arteries that feed the heart, problems such as heart attacks result. Accumulations of cholesterol in the kidney veins can lead to high blood pressure and kidney deficiency. Furthermore, the intake of soluble fibre is important in terms of regulating blood sugar by emptying the stomach because sudden changes in blood sugar can lead to life-threatening disorders. Indeed, societies with fibre-rich diets have been shown to have far lower incidences of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.117
It is also another major health advantage for soluble and insoluble fibres to be present at one and the same time. It has been shown that when both forms are present together, they are much more effective in preventing cancer than when they are on their own. The presence of both forms of fibre, soluble and insoluble, in the fig makes it a most important foodstuff in this regard.118
Dr. Oliver Alabaster, Director of the Institute for Disease Prevention at the George Washington University Medical Centre, refers to figs in these terms:
… [H]ere is an opportunity to add a really healthy, high fiber food to your diet. Choosing figs and other high fiber foods more frequently means that you’ll naturally choose potentially harmful foods less frequently-and this is great for your lifelong health.119
According to the California Fig Advisory Board, it is believed that the antioxidants in fruit and vegetables protect against a number of diseases. Antioxidants neutralise harmful substances (free radicals) that arise as a result of chemical reactions in the body or else are taken in from the outside and thus prevent the destruction of cells. In one study performed by the University of Scranton, it was determined that dried figs had a much higher level of the phenol makeup, which is rich in antioxidants, than other fruits. Phenol is used as an antiseptic to kill micro-organisms. The level of phenol in figs is much higher than that in other fruits and vegetables.120
Another study, by Rutgers University in New Jersey, revealed that due to the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 and phytosterol contained in dried figs, they can play a considerable part in reducing cholesterol.121 It is known that omega-3 and omega-6 cannot be manufactured in the body and need to be absorbed with food. Furthermore, these fatty acids are indispensable to the proper functioning of the heart, brain and nervous system. Phytosterol permits the cholesterol in animal products, which has the potential to harden the heart’s arteries, to be expelled from the body without entering the blood stream.
Despite being one of the oldest fruits known to man, the fig-described as “nature’s most nearly perfect fruit” by the California Fig Advisory Board 122-has been rediscovered by food producers. The nutritional value of this fruit and its health benefits have led to its acquiring a whole new importance.
The fig can constitute a part of just about any special diet. Since figs do not naturally contain fat, sodium or cholesterol but have high levels of fibre, they are an ideal food for those trying to lose weight. At the same time, figs have higher mineral contents than any other known fruit. Forty grams of figs contains 244 mg of potassium (7% of the daily requirement), 53 mg of calcium (6% of the daily requirement) and 1.2 mg of iron (6% of the daily requirement).123 The calcium level in figs is very high: The fig ranks second after the orange in terms of calcium content. A crate of dried figs provides the same level of calcium as a crate of milk.
Figs are also thought of as a medicine which gives strength and energy to long-term patients as they seek to recover. They eliminate physical and mental difficulties and give the body strength and energy. The most important nutritional component of figs is sugar, which comprises 51-74% of all fruits. The sugar level in figs is one of the highest. Figs are also recommended in the treatment of asthma, coughs and chills.
The benefits we have restricted ourselves to mentioning here are an indication of the compassion Allah feels for human beings. Our Lord provides the substances required by human beings in this fruit, which is so pleasant to eat, already packaged and at the ideal levels for human health. The way that this special blessing from Allah is mentioned in the Qur’an may indicate the importance of the fig for human beings. (Allah knows best.) From the point of view of human health, the nutritional value of the fig was only established with the advance of medicine and technology. This is another indication that the Qur’an is indisputably the Word of Allah, the Omniscient.
Fresh Fig Nutritional Value
Dried Fig Nutritional Value
Calories (kcal) 74 Calories (kcal) 249 Fibre (g) 3 Fibre (g) 10 Fat (g) 0 Fat (g) 1 Protein (g) 1 Protein (g) 3 Sugar (g) 16 Sugar (g) 48 Vitamin A (IU) 142 Vitamin A (IU) 10 Vitamin C (mg) 2 Vitamin C (mg) 1.2 Vitamin B1 0.1 Vitamin B1 0.1 Vitamin B2 0.1 Vitamin B2 0.1 Vitamin B6 0.1 Vitamin B6 0.1 Sodium 1 Sodium 10 Potassium 232 Potassium 680 Calcium 35 Calcium 162 Phosphorus 232 Phosphorus 67 Magnesium 17 Magnesium 68 Iron 0.4 Iron 3.07 Manganese 0.1 Manganese 0.8 Copper 0.1 Copper 0.3 Selenium 0.2 Selenium 0.6 Zinc 0.2 Zinc 0.5
There is instruction for you in cattle. From the contents of their bellies, from between the dung and blood, We give you pure milk to drink, easy for drinkers to swallow. (Qur’an, 16:66)
Say: “Who provides for you from the heavens and earth?” Say: “Allah. It is certain that one or the other of us, either we or you, is following guidance or else clearly astray.”
The basic materials which allow the nourishment of the body come about as a result of chemical changes in the digestive system. These digested substances then pass through the wall of the intestine into the blood stream. Due to the circulation of the blood, the nutriments reach the relevant organs.
Like the other bodily tissues, the milk glands are nourished by nutriments brought to them by the blood. The blood therefore plays a most important role in the collection of nutriments from foodstuffs. Milk is secreted by the milk glands after all these stages and its nutritional values are particularly high.
Human beings are unable to directly consume either the half-digested food in an animal’s stomach or an animal’s blood. Furthermore, the direct consumption of these or any of their compounds can lead to severe illness, and even death. Thanks to the exceedingly complex biological systems He has created, Allah provides clean and healthy food for human beings from these fluids.
This is because it forms as a result of digested food being carried by the blood. High-nutrition milk is thus produced from blood, which cannot be consumed directly, and semi-digested food.
The formation of milk is by itself an enormous creation miracle. And it is another miracle altogether that such detailed information about that formation should be contained in the Qur’an.
As we have seen, the information about the biological formation of milk in Surat an-Nahl 66, is in great accordance with the facts established by modern science. It is quite clear that such information, requiring detailed knowledge of mammals’ digestive systems, could not have been known at the time when the Qur’an was revealed.
In a number of Qur’anic verses, the humble date is honoured as one of the blessings of Paradise. (Qur’an, 55:68) When this fruit is examined, it can be seen to have a great many important features. One of the oldest known species of plant, the date is today a food of preference not only for its delicious taste but also for its nutritious properties. New benefits imparted by the date are being discovered every day and has come to be used as a medicine as well as a food. These features of the date are noted in Surah Maryam:
The pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She [Maryam] said, “Oh if only I had died before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!” A voice called out to her from under her, “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm towards you and fresh, ripe dates will drop down onto you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes…” (Qur’an, 19:23-26)
There is considerable wisdom in the way that Allah recommends Maryam to eat this fruit. The date is an excellent choice of food for the pregnant women and for those who have just given birth. This is a widely accepted scientific fact. Maryam was inspired to understand this point, in order to make her own labour easier. The date has one of the highest sugar levels, 60-65%, of all fruits. Doctors recommend that pregnant women be given foods containing fruit sugar on the day they give birth. The aim behind this is to energise and revitalise the mother’s weakened body and at the same time to stimulate the milk hormones and increase the levels of mother’s milk essential to the new-born baby.
In addition, loss of blood during birth leads to a fall in body sugar levels. Dates are important from the point of view of enabling sugar to enter the body and prevent blood pressure from dropping. Their high calorific value strengthens people weakened by illness or suffering from extreme fatigue.
These facts reveal the wisdom in the way that Allah recommended Maryam to eat dates, designed to energise and invigorate the woman and ensure the emergence of milk, the only food for a baby. For example, the date contains more than ten elements of vital importance if the body is to remain healthy and energetic. Modern-day scientists state that human beings can actually live for years on nothing more than dates and water.110 V. H. W. Dowson, a recognised expert in this field, says that one grain of date and a glass of milk are enough to meet all of a person’s daily nutritional requirements.111
The substance oxytocin, which is present in the date, is used in modern medicine to facilitate birth. In fact, oxytocin means “rapid birth.” It is also known to increase levels of mother’s milk after birth.112
Oxytocin is actually a hormone released by the pituitary gland which stimulates contractions of the womb during childbirth. All the pre-birth preparations in the body take place thanks to this hormone. The effects of the hormone can be seen in the muscles that form the mother’s womb and in cells in the muscular structure that enables the secretion of mother’s milk. The effective contraction of the womb is essential if birth is to take place. Oxytocin enables the muscles that comprise the womb to contract in a very powerful manner. Moreover, oxytocin also initiates the secretion of mother’s milk. This feature of the date alone-the way it contains oxytocin-is important evidence that the Qur’an is the revelation of Allah. The medical identification of the benefits of the date only became possible in recent times. Yet it was set out fourteen centuries ago in the Qur’an that Allah revealed to Maryam that she should eat dates.
Dates also contain a form of sugar that gives the body high levels of mobility and heat energy and which can be easily broken down in the body. Furthermore, this sugar is not glucose, which rapidly raises the level of blood sugar but the fruit sugar fructose. A rapid rise in blood sugar levels in diabetics in particular has a damaging effect on a great many organs and systems, especially the eyes, kidneys, heart and circulatory system and nervous system. High blood sugar is one of the main causes of disorders as serious as loss of sight, heart attacks and kidney insufficiency.
Dates contain a great many vitamins and minerals. They are very rich in fibre, fat and proteins. They also contain sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine, as well as vitamins A, beta-carotene, B1, B2, B3 and B6. Some of the benefits of the vitamins and minerals in dates to the normal human body and especially during pregnancy can be summarised as follows:
- The nutritional value of dates stems from the appropriate mineral balance within them. The date also contains folic acid, a B vitamin of great importance to pregnant women. Folic acid (B9) is a vitamin which serves important functions in the construction of new blood cells and of amino acids, the body’s building blocks, and in cell renewal. The need for folic acid thus rises significantly during pregnancy and the daily requirement doubles. When folic acid levels are insufficient, red blood cells that are larger than normal but with lower functionality emerge, along with the symptoms of anaemia, appear. Folic acid plays a particularly important role in cell division and in the formation of the genetic structure of the cell and is the only substance daily requirements of which double during pregnancy. The date is exceedingly rich in folic acid.
- On the other hand, the long-term nausea and physical reactions that appear during pregnancy do so because of a lack of potassium. Levels therefore need to be reinforced. In the same way that the large quantities of potassium in dates are of great importance in this regard, they are also important in regulating the water balance in the body. Moreover, by helping oxygen to reach the brain potassium enables one to think clearly. In addition, it provides the appropriate alkaloidal features for body fluids and stimulates the kidneys to expel toxic bodily wastes. It helps bring down high blood pressure and the formation of healthy skin.113
- The iron contained in dates controls the synthesis of haemoglobin in the red blood cells and ensures an appropriate level of red cells in the blood. This is of vital importance in preventing anaemia during pregnancy and the development of the baby. Red blood cells play a role in keeping cells alive by carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Due to dates’ high iron levels, a human being can meet his or her iron requirements by eating just 15 dates a day and will thus be protected from disorders arising from iron deficiency.
- The calcium and phosphate in dates are important elements for skeletal growth and balancing the body’s bone structure. The high levels of phosphorus and calcium in dates protect the body against bone weakness and help reduce such disorders.
- Scientists also emphasise the way in which dates reduce stress and tension. Research by Berkeley University experts has revealed that dates contain high levels of vitamin B6, which strengthens the nerves, and magnesium, which is very important for the kidneys. A person can meet his magnesium requirement by eating just 2-3 grains of date a day.114
- The vitamin B1 in dates facilitates the health of the nervous system, assists the transformation of the carbohydrates in the body into energy and the use of protein and fats to meet the body’s needs. Vitamin B2 assists in the burning of protein, carbohydrates and fats for the provision of bodily energy and cell renewal.
- The body’s vitamin A requirement rises during pregnancy. Thanks to the vitamin A it contains, the date improves vision and bodily resistance and strengthens the teeth and bones. Dates are also especially rich in beta-carotene.115 Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer by controlling molecules that attack the cells.
In addition, unlike dates, other fruits are generally lacking in protein.116 Thanks to this feature, dates enable the body to protect itself against illness and infection, to renew cells and ensure fluid balance. Meat is also a useful foodstuff but maybe not as much as the date, which is a fresh fruit, especially at such a time. Indeed, excessive consumption of meat during pregnancy can actually lead to toxicity in the body. It is much better for pregnant women to choose fruit and vegetables, which are light and easily digested.
All these facts about dates reveal Allah’s infinite knowledge and compassion for human beings. As we have seen, the benefits of the date, especially during pregnancy and only recently established by modern medical science, were indicated in the Qur’an many years ago.
He has only forbidden you carrion, blood and pork and what has been consecrated to other than Allah. But anyone who is forced to eat it-without desiring it or going to excess in it-commits no crime. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur’an, 2:173)
Eating pork is harmful to health in a great many regards. This harm still persists today, despite all the precautions that are taken. First and foremost, no matter how clean the farms and environments on which it is raised may be, the pig is not by nature a clean-living animal. It often plays in, and even eats, its own excrement. Due to this and its biological structure, the pig produces much higher levels of antibodies in its body than other animals. In addition, far higher levels of growth hormone are produced in the pig compared to those in other animals and human beings. Naturally, these high levels of antibodies and growth hormone pass across to and collect in the pig’s muscle tissue. Pork meat also contains high levels of cholesterol and lipids. It has been scientifically proven that these significant amounts of antibodies, hormones, cholesterol and lipids in pork represent a serious threat to human health.
The existence of above-average numbers of obese individuals in the populations of countries such as the USA and Germany, in which large quantities of pork are consumed, is now well-known. When exposed to excessive quantities of growth hormone as a result of a pork-based diet, the human body first puts on excessive weight and then suffers physical deformations.
Another harmful substance in pork is the “trichina” worm. This is frequently found in pork and when it enters the human body, it settles directly in the muscles of the heart and represents a possibly fatal threat. Even though it is now technically possible to identify pigs that are infected with trichina, no such methods were known in earlier centuries. That means that everyone who ate pork risked infection by trichina and possible death.
All these reasons are just a part of the wisdom in our Lord’s prohibition on the consumption of pork. Moreover, this commandment of our Lord’s provides complete protection from the harmful effects of pork under any conditions.
Until the 20th century, it was impossible to be aware of the danger posed to human health by pork. The fact that the Qur’an, revealed fourteen centuries ago, warns against this harm which has been incontrovertibly revealed with modern medical equipment and biological tests, is one of the miracles demonstrating that the Qur’an is the revelation of Allah, the Omniscient. Despite all the precautionary measures and inspections that take place in modern-day pig rearing, the fact that pork is physiologically incompatible with the human body and is a variety of meat harmful to human health has not altered.