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الجمعة، 5 أبريل، 2013

The Fruits' Color

الجمعة, أبريل 05, 2013

The Fruits' Color

“See you not that Allah sends down water (rain) from the sky, and We produce therewith fruits of various colors”
(Surat Fatir (The Originator): 27)

By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar

This ayah appears in the second half of Surat Fatir, which was revealed in Makkah. The Surah gets its name, Fatir (Originator), from the opening ayahs which praise Allah (SWT), the Originator of the heavens and the earth who made the angels His Messengers, as He is Able to do all things. He is most Gracious in the heavens and the earth; He is the most Merciful, the All-mighty and the All-Wise.

Signs of creation in Surat Fatir:

In Surat Fatir Allah mentions many signs of creation, including the following.  The ayahs can be translated as:

  1. *And it is Allah Who sends the winds, so that they raise up the clouds, and We drive them to a dead land, and revive therewith the earth after its death. As such (will be) the Resurrection!*
(Surat Fatir (The Originator): 9).

  1. *And Allah did create you (Adam) from dust, then from Nutfah (male and female discharge semen drops i.e. Adam’s offspring), then He made you pairs (male and female). And no female conceives or gives birth but with His Knowledge. And no aged man is granted a length of life nor is a part cut off from his life (or another man’s life), but is in a Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfûz) Surely, that is easy for Allah. And the two seas (kinds of water) are not alike: this is palatable, sweet and pleasant to drink, and that is salt and bitter. And from them both you eat fresh tender meat (fish), and derive the ornaments that you wear. And you see the ships cleaving (the sea-water as they sail through it), that you may seek of His Bounty, and that you may give thanks.  He merges the night into the day (i.e. the decrease in the hours of the night is added to the hours of the day), and He merges the day into the night (i.e. the decrease in the hours of the day is added to the hours of the night). And He has subjected the sun and the moon: each runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allâh, your Lord; His is the kingdom. And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmîr (the thin membrane over the date-stone).*
(Surat Fatir (The Originator):11-13).

  1. *See you not that Allah sends down water (rain) from the sky, and We produce therewith fruits of various colors, and among the mountains are streaks white and red, of varying colors and (others) very black. And likewise of men and Ad-Dawâbb [moving (living) animals, beasts], and cattle, are of various colors. It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Mighty, Oft-Forgiving.*
 (Surat Fatir (The Originator): 27, 28).

  1. *Verily! Allah grasps the heavens and the earth lest they should move away from their places, and if they were to move away from their places, there is not one that could grasp them after Him. Truly, He is Ever Most Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving.*
 (Surat Fatir(The Originator): 41).

Each of the signs mentioned in these ayahs need to be contemplated and considered separately, thus I will limit this discussion to the first part of ayah 27 of this chapter.

I shall start with a brief review of the comments made by a number of scholars commenting on this ayah* “See you not that Allah sends down water (rain) from the sky, and We produce therewith fruits of various colors.”*
(Surat Fatir (The Originator): 27).

Interpretation of this ayah by some scholars

Fi Zilal Al-Qur’an (In the Shade of the Qur’an) states, “This is only one of the spectacular implications about creation proving the divine origin of this scripture. This particular implication takes in the whole of the earth, including its colors and hues, whether they are found in fruits, mountains, people or animals. It basically encompasses everything on earth and overwhelms the heart with this divine infusion of colors; from the rainfall to the harvest of fruits of different colors. As Allah says what can be translated as, *“We produce therewith fruits of various colors”.*

The color of fruit covers a wide range of shades that no artist could ever create. There is no such thing as a fruit species of identical color, nor do two pieces of fruit from the same tree have exactly the same color. On closer inspection, we would see there is a slight difference in the color of the two”.

Scientific implications in this ayah

Fruits and botany

The fruit of flowering plants is the fully developed ovary which carries the seeds. It is not affected by changes in the environment around it.

There are different classifications of flowering plants, depending on their fruit structures: some plants have only either male or female reproductive organs and others have both male and female reproductive organs. When the flower is fertilized, the male part merges with the female one. Once they have successfully merged, a plant embryo forms inside the seeds where it is surrounded by the nourishment it requires to grow and is enclosed by a protective shell. Once the fertilized ovum, the seeds or the individual seed it holds inside are fully grown, the tissues of the ovary start to expand. Sometimes other tissues in the flower expand as well, resulting in fruit formation. In order to form the fruit skin, which appears right after the flower petals start to fall, the ovary wall may thicken, harden or remain delicate.

In most flowering plants, after the flower is fertilized and the fruit is formed, other organs start to wither. There are, however, a few exceptions.

The main function of the fruit is to protect the plant’s embryos inside the seeds, providing them with the nourishment they require to grow, enabling these seeds to spread after the fruit ripens or is consumed by people or animals who then discard them on the ground where they start to grow again. Unconsumed fruit may rot or spontaneously open in order to release the seeds which are then carried by the wind, water, man or animals to distant places in order to propagate the plant species.

The difference in the colors of fruits means that they are of different types:

Commenting on Allah’s words that can be translated as,* (We produce therewith fruits of various colors)*, Az-Zamakhshari said: “this difference in colors includes differences in types and shapes”. The different types of fruits are too numerous to count, although we may categorize them hierarchically as follows:

These are fruits that develop essentially from a single ovary in a single flower, either from one carpel or from many carpels. Each of these simple fruits contains the embryo of the plant which is surrounded by the nourishment that will suffice it until it is ripe. The remainder is saved for future germinations. The embryo is often surrounded by a number of protective membranes. The embryo, the nourishment surrounding it and the protective coverings are collectively known as the seed or the stone. These embryos stored inside the seeds, pits or stones of plants exist by the will of Allah.

Simple fruits are of two types: fleshy and dry. In the former, the embryo is surrounded by three layers: from the inside out they are, a ligneous covering surrounding the seed (or the stone) called the endocarp, a mesocarp, the fleshy covering of the endocarp; this covering is the edible part of the fruit and finally, a delicate outer skin covering the whole fruit which can become thick and waxy when the fruit has fully ripened. These sorts of fruits, such as apricots, peaches, plums, cherry olives, etc., are often called ‘drupes’.

Some simple fleshy fruits are known as ‘pepos’. In this type of fruit, the three layers protecting the embryo maintain their softness even after the fruit is ripe, such as the cucumber, whereas in grapes and tomatoes, the seed coverings are hard. Pepo fruits are of a sebaceous nature; they have numerous seeds inserted within the endocarp substance of the fruit, such as melons, watermelons, oranges and the likes.  

Sometimes, organs other than the ovary, such as the receptacle, calyx, the stem or carpels assist in forming the fruit.  These fruits can be simple like apples, pears or quinces. In these plants, the receptacle tissue develops and becomes the edible part of the fruit. These are simple accessory fruits because the edible part is the developed receptacle of the flower. These fruits can also be complex as will be mentioned later.

As for the simple dry fruits, the membranes surrounding the embryo are all dry, and the fruits are either dehiscent (they split open when mature) or indehiscent. The castor-oil plant has dehiscent fruit. There is also the primulaceae fruit, which opens in the form of a lid covering a capsule or in the form of pores that penetrate the fruit wall such as the poppy seed, carnation fruit which opens in the form of a capsule with intertwined teeth, cotton fruit with two or more carpels and violets which have sharp, cutting edges. Some of them open on one side lengthwise (brambles) and some of them open on both sides, like vegetables, which is more common. Some take the shape of the mustard family fruits, like watercress and gillyflowers.

As for indehiscent fruits or simple dry fruits, the excerpt of the fruit remains closed and the seeds cannot be exposed unless the wall of the fruit splits or decays. The wall could be of wood, such as hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Sometime the wall of the fruit is attached to the seed, as one finds in wheat. The outer layer is sometimes leathery and is not joined with the seed as is the case of roses.

Changes that Occur to Seeds during Germination

As soon as the internal and external requirements are available for germination, the seed absorbs water, swells, and enlarges.  At this point, a complicated series of anabolic and catabolic reactions takes place.  Such reactions help the embryo to grow after a period of complete dormancy within the dry seed.  Thus, it begins to germinate and repeats the life cycle of the mother seed.  This process of germination goes in the following steps:

(1)            The seed absorbs water, and gradually becomes filled with water until it swells.  As a result, the testa (the hard outer coat of the seed) is torn because of the increased pressure from inside the seed.  Accordingly, adequate amounts of water reach the embryo as well as the stored food surrounding it.  This helps to activate the stored food chemically and the embryo biologically.

(2)            The embryo's secretion of enzymes: The embryo begins secreting some enzymes that are capable of crumbling and anabolism of the surrounding food stored in the cotyledons or in the special tissue.  The enzymes carry on the anabolism of the complicated insoluble substances to form simple and soluble substances that the embryo can absorb and use during the early stages of germination.  Examples of such enzymes are the following:
Diastase that converts starch to sugar
- Protease that breaks proteins down into amino acids.
- Lipase that anabolises fats and oils into fatty acids and glycerol so that the food store within the seed greatly increases.
(3)             The soil's cracking: One of the most important factors causing the soil to crack is the seeds' swelling as a result of absorption of adequate amounts of water.   When swollen, the seeds generate great power that can hardly be perceived by the human mind.  For instance, if we fill a bottle with dry seeds and add the adequate amount of water and close the bottle tightly, the power resulting from the seeds' germination and the enlargement of their size by the water absorption can shatter the bottle however thick it is.   The soil can also be cracked by the extent of thirst its minerals have for water.  As a result of absorbing great amounts of water, the minerals expand and rise upwards until the soil is softened and then cracks so as to make room for the plumule extending upwards from the germinating seed.   The predominance of argillaceous minerals helps to move the soil particles upwards.  These argillaceous minerals take the form of minute laminated sheets reserving gases inside them, so that if water passes through it replaces these gases and pushes them out of the soil.  As a result, the particles of the soil move upwards and shake violently until the soil is softened and cracks.  Another factor causing the cracking of the soil is the electrical charges found in the argillaceous sheets.  Such electrical charges repel with the similar ones found in the bipolar water molecule, consisting of the positive pole of the hydrogen atom and the negative pole of the oxygen atom.

(4)            The growth of the embryo's cells: The embryo's cells now start to divide and grow until the root stretches downwards and anchors the plant in the soil.  Accordingly, the plant is connected to the natural source that provides it with nutrients.  Such nutrients are either absorbed by the plant in the form of a sap consisting of elements and compounds dissolved in water or directly extracted by the root system from the soil's components. Allah (SWT) gives each plant highly selective abilities in order to select the proper elements and compounds of the soil that are essential for its germination.  After the root system is completed, the plumule goes upwards, penetrating the soil's holes to appear above its surface.  Thus, the germinating seed turns into what is called a seedling, which grows gradually higher to become the stem bearing the leaves and buds that form the shoot system.  By the end of the process of germination, the seedling finally turns into a complete plant.  Blessed be Allah, the Best Creator.

During the germination process, a cotyledon or two may remain under the soil's surface (surrounded by the torn testa) until the embryo consumes the stored nutrients as happens in the process of germinating pea seeds or the stone of palm dates. 

On the other hand, the hypocotyl may grow upwards bringing one or two cotyledons along with the plumule above the soil's surface.  The single cotyledon or both of them would gradually become greener, thus participating in the process of photosynthesis.  This participation would continue for a limited period of time until the plumule lengthens and the green leaves appear on it forming the shoot system.  The shoot system would carry on the process of photosynthesis.  Then the cotyledon would fade away and fall off after consumption of all the nutrients it has.

These complicated processes that take place during the splitting and sprouting of grains and stones can never be done by any creature.  Moreover, they cannot take place without the direction and guidance of Allah.  For this reason, Allah (SWT) attributed these two processes directly to Him to honor them.  In fact, without these processes, life would not have been possible on earth.  Thus, Allah says what can be translated as, "Verily! It is Allâh Who causes the seed-grain and the fruit-stone (like date-stone) to split and sprout" (Surat Al-An'âm (The Cattle): 95).

All praises be to Allah for His various blessings, among which is the splitting and sprouting of seed-grains and fruit-stones and foremost of which is the Ever-Glorious Qur’an, which Allah (SWT) revealed to His final Messenger and Prophet, Muhammad (SAWS).  Furthermore, Allah (SWT) declared that he would forever preserve the Ever-Glorious Qur'an from any corruption that may occur to its language of revelation, its words or even its letters; consequently the Ever-Glorious Qur’an has maintained the divine glory shining in its ayahs as well as the scientific precision presented in its content.  This scientific precision serves as a witness to the truth of its revelation and the truth of Muhammad's prophethood. 

To conclude, we cannot but invoke Allah to send His Peace and Blessings upon our final Prophet Muhammad, his household, companions and followers until the Day of Judgment.  All praises be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

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