The Benefits of Animals Mentioned In the Qur'an
In many verses, Allah stresses that animals are a great blessing and recommends believers to benefit from them. One such verse reads:
Allah has made your houses places of rest for you, and made houses for you out of cattle hides, which are light for you to carry both when you are traveling and when you are staying in one place. And from their wool and fur and hair you obtain clothing and carpets and household utensils for a time. Surat an-Nahl: 80
Many other verses draw attention to the benefits of animals.
The majority of people benefit from animals without giving a thought to the fact that these benefits come from Allah. They just consume them as daily products. However, in return for His blessings, Allah wants people to show gratitude and remember His blessings. In this chapter, we will dwell upon the various benefits that Allah grants to humanity through animals
Have they not seen how We created for them, by Our own handiwork, livestock that are under their control? We have tamed them for humanity, and some they ride and some they eat. And they have other uses for them, and milk to drink. So will they not be thankful? Surah Ya Sin: 71-73
Allah creates humanity with many imperfections and weaknesses to test people in this world. Being dependent upon nourishment to survive is, in actuality, a weakness. However, most people do not consider this a weakness and so simply accept it as an inherent natural need. But dependency upon nourishment is a weakness and for a divine purpose. People should try to grasp this divine purpose, for only then can they understand their feebleness before their Creator's Might and the fact that they are in need of every blessing granted by Him. Fasting also serves this purpose, for even a short and temporary period of hunger or thirst reminds people of their weakness and helps them understand their need for Allah. Engaging in such activities enable them to appreciate the blessings given to them and to ponder upon them sincerely.
Humanity needs Allah, and Allah, the Provider (Al-Razzaq), provides all of His servants with everything that they need. One of these needs are the food products obtained from animals, such as eggs, meat, poultry, milk, honey, and so on. In this chapter, we will discuss some aspects of the beneficial sources of nourishment mentioned in the Qur'an.
Meat and Personal Health
We will supply them with any kind of fruit and meat that they desire. Surat at-Tur: 22
Meat, which is mentioned specifically, is an essential nutrient for the human body.
Amino acids, the principal building blocks of proteins, are essential for tissue growth and repair. Therefore, a sufficient amount of amino acids (protein intake) is vital for such activities. Complete proteins, those from meat, supply all essential amino acids in the correct dietary amounts. Some forms of dietary protein, primarily those from plants, do not contain adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. Vegetarians who rely upon vegetables for protein can receive adequate amounts of all essential amino acids only by complementing their diets with complete proteins. A low-protein vegetarian diet, while high in carbohydrates, prevents the sufficient intake of amino acids and eventually causes edema (a swelling due to the excessive accumulation of fluid in tissues). This is a serious malformation that can cause death.4
Meat is not only a high-protein nutriment, but also is rich in such vital minerals as iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and many other vitamins (largely members of the vitamin B complex). Vegetables also contain iron and zinc, but because people who follow a diet rich in vegetables rely solely upon fiber-rich foods, their bodies cannot digest iron and zinc fully.Saturated fats found in red meat prevent paralysis, especially in men.5
Paralysis occurs as a result of a sudden pumping of blood to brain cells, an action that kills many blood cells. However, recent studies reveal that animal fats regulate the flow of blood to the brain.
Contrary to the general assumption, meat-free diets are not low in cholesterol. Given that foods other than meat are rich in hidden fats, vegetarians have a relatively high intake of hidden fats. In order to maintain a good nutritious diet, specialists recommend less than 300 mgs of cholesterol intake daily. This is the exact amount of cholesterol received from meat.
Protein (meat) digestion is a relatively long process, but 95 percent of the proteins and 96 percent of the fats it contains can be digested easily. Fats enable the digestion of other nutrients as well. Meat, which contains the appropriate amount of fats, remains in the stomach for a prolonged time, delays hunger, and increases one's strength to resist hunger. In addition, as its ingredients activate the salivary glands, it whets one's appetite and facilitates digestion.6
Apart from these scientific facts, meat is very tasty. If such an essential nutrient was not that tasty, we would be forced to eat it, regardless of its taste, in order to satisfy our need for it. However, as a blessing from Allah, it is delicious. Meanwhile, Allah again stresses its worth by mentioning it as one of the foods in Paradise. Surat al-Waqi'a: 21
Miraculous Animal Product: Milk
There is instruction for you in cattle. From the contents of their bellies, between that which is to be eliminated (from the animal's body) and (its) blood, We give you pure milk to drink, easy for drinkers to swallow. Surat an-Nahl: 66
The formation of milk is a miracle. It is thought-provoking that a pure and delicious drink is produced between an animal's blood and that which is to be eliminated from its body.
With respect to its benefits for children's and adults' health, milk's content is worth analyzing. Casein, a protein, gives milk its white color. Observing a drop of milk under a microscope, one sees tiny fat particles floating. Apart from casein and fats, milk consists of lactose (dissolved milk sugar) and several vitamins essential for health and minerals (e.g., phosphorus and calcium). Calcium is an essential constituent of bones and teeth.7
As the foregoing clarifies, milk is a very beneficial nourishment that is rich in many essential nutrients. Allah creates milk for humanity as a blessing so that people can ponder upon it and appreciate His Might. It is also a blessing that will be, by Allah's Will, available in Paradise.
An image of the Garden promised to those who have fear of Allah. In it there are rivers of water that will never spoil, rivers of milk whose taste will never change, rivers of wine delightful to all who drink it, and rivers of honey of undiluted purity. In it they will have fruit of every kind and forgiveness from their Lord. Is that like those who will be in the Fire timelessly, for ever, with boiling water to drink, which lacerates their bowels? Surah Muhammad: 15
Your Lord revealed to the bees: "Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which people erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow." From inside them comes a drink of varying colors, containing healing for humanity. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. Surat an-Nahl: 68-69
Honey, along with its vitamins and minerals, is a great benefit for human health. It consists of sugar (glucose and fructose), minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, iron and phosphorus), and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C).8
In addition, it contains small amounts of several kinds of hormones, copper, iodine, and zinc – in other words, almost everything that the human body needs.
The following information was released during the World Apiculture Conference held in 1993:
During the conference, a special session was held on the treatments associated with honey derivatives. American scientists stated that honey, royal jelly, pollen and propolis (bee resin) cure many diseases. A doctor from Romania said he tried honey on cataract patients, and 2002 out of his 2094 patients had full (95%) recovery. Polish doctors also informed that honeybee resin cure many diseases such as haemorrhoids, skin problems, gynaecological diseases and several other disorders.9
Another feature of honey is that, compared with the same amount of sugar, it contains 40% less calories. Thus although it is a great energy provider, it does not add weight.
This low-calorie and tasty juice is easily digestable. Since honey's fructose molecules can convert into glucose, honey, despite its high acid content, is digested easily even by those suffering from stomach disorders.
Honey helps the kidneys and intestines to function better. Due to its free sugar molecules, it has a similar effect upon the brain. Meanwhile, it cleanses blood and the bloodstream and is instrumental in blood production. With the vast amount of energy it releases, it has the capacity needed to produce the energy that produces blood.
Honey protects the body against capillary problems and arteriosclerosis, and also kills bacteria. When accompanied with mild water, it mixes into the bloodstream within only 7 minutes, and thus is a good and fast curative for the body. When diluted with water, it acquires an antiseptic quality. Apart from this, honey contains such antibacterial chemicals as benzyl alcohol and many others.
The contribution of honeybees to human health is not limited to honey, for they also produce another product: royal jelly. Royal jelly, a strong-smelling substance secreted by worker bees to feed the queen bee, is another blessing for people, for it includes such minerals as phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium and magnesium, vitamins B2, B3, and B6, as well as proteins and carbohydrates.Royal jelly is used to treat disorders caused by tissue deficiency, arteriosclerosis, or bodily frailty.10
Do you not see that Allah has subjected to you everything in the heavens and earth, and has showered His blessings upon you, both outwardly and inwardly? … Surah Luqman: 20
Other Benefits of Animals
And also animals for riding and hauling, and animals for slaughtering and for wool … Surat al-An'am: 142
This verse reveals other benefits that animals provide to humanity: wool, hair, and leather. These are truly the raw materials of many things that we use in our everyday life.
A sweater, blanket, carpet, fabric of cloths, upholstery, and many other goods are produced from animal products. Moreover, skins obtained from sheep, cattle, snakes, crocodiles, and other animals are commonly used for clothing, upholstery, and ornaments.
Another benefit is silk, an elastic and fibrous substance secreted by silkworms. The fabric made from this fiber is a gift of Allah to humanity, and He gives us the good news that it is also a blessing that believers will enjoy in Paradise:
And will reward them for their steadfastness with a Garden and with silk. Surat al-Insan : 12
They will have Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them. They will be adorned in them with bracelets made of gold and wear green garments made of the finest silk and rich brocade, reclining there upon couches under canopies. What an excellent reward! What a wonderful repose! Surat al-Kahf: 31
No doubt, the silk that believers will wear in Paradise will be incomparably superior to the silk of this world. However, the silk that we have in this world is still a very precious fabric. Its value can be appreciated fully once the laborious phrases needed for its production are examined.
We need to remember that the producer of this high-quality fabric is neither a person of intelligence nor a well-designed machine, but rather an insect that is 5 to 10 cm in length. Most of this fabric is woven from the silk fibers obtained from cocoons spun by silkworms.
At the end of the larval stage, a mature larva attaches itself to a twig and begins to spin its cocoon. Fibroin, a moist substance, is secreted by a pair of silk glands and emitted from an orifice on the larva's lower lip. This sticky substance dries quickly in the air, eventually hardening into a cocoon. Then, the silkworm's labor is prepared for the silk production process.11
The thread produced by silkworms has many usages, ranging from textiles to medicine. Surgeon's silk thread is used in surgical suturing, a vital contribution to a person's continued well-being.
It is awesome that such a tiny insect can secrete a substance with a formula that has been hidden in its body and then offer it to humanity. Surely, Allah is responsible for the entire process.
The benefits humanity obtains through animals cannot be limited to a few items. Given the thousands of existing animal species, many pages would be required to mention all of the areas in which animals contribute to human life. This is also related in the Qur'an:
If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them … Surat An-Nahl: 18
That Allah equips animals with so many beneficial qualities manifests His Love for and protection of His servants. However, we need to remember that anyone who forgets that these are blessings from Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. Given this, one should think deeply, as Allah calls upon all people to do, in order to grasp the hidden meanings underlying them and to thank Him for all of these blessings.
Signs of Benefits Derived From the Seas
We also must mention the benefits derived from the seas as among Allah's gifts to us. The Qur'an mentions some of them:
He made the sea subservient to you so that you can eat fresh meat from it and bring out from it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships cleaving through it so that you can seek His bounty, and so that hopefully you will show thanks. Surat an-Nahl: 14
We come across countless blessings when we examine the benefits humanity gets from the seas. Every sea is the natural habitat of different animal and plant species, depending upon its respective natural conditions. The Qur'an relates some of them:
The two seas are not the same. One is sweet, refreshing, and delicious to drink; the other is salty, bitter to the taste. Yet from both of them you eat fresh meat and extract ornaments for yourselves to wear; and you see ships on them, cleaving through the waves so that you can seek His bounty, and so that hopefully you will be thankful. Surah Fatir: 12
Though humanity is not involved in it, the underwater world has a perfect order that offers many blessings. This all becomes possible thanks to Allah's perfect creation. In return for all of these, people only need to feel grateful to Allah.
People, who are not entirely knowledgeable about the nutrients that they need to maintain their health through good nutrition, are offered many nutrients in their best states and ready for use. Seafood is quite rich in nutrients, for it was created to meet the human body's mineral and vitamin needs. Allah draws our attention to the benefits of such food:
Anything you catch in the sea is lawful for you, and all food from it, for your enjoyment and that of travelers... Surat al-Ma'ida: 96
Seafood products are relatively high in such minerals as chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, iodine, fluorine, and sodium. As a result, they promote growth and development, balance blood pressure, and prevent diabetes. Cobalt prevents anemia, while copper and iodine accelerate the absorption of iron so that people can feel energetic. Seafood also facilitates mental processes and fosters the healthy development of skin, teeth, hair, and nails. Zinc, which is plenteous in such food, is an essential element that fosters bodily growth and development, protects the senses of taste and smell, is instrumental in healing wounds, and regulates the amount of vitamin A in the bloodstream.Furthermore, it is part of insulin, which controls one's metabolic energy requirements.12 Fluorine strengthens bones and helps the muscles and nervous system to function in an orderly manner.13
The Qur'an mentions another very important feature of such nutrients in Surat an-Nahl 14: "… you can eat fresh meat from it..." It is striking that Allah draws attention to "fresh meat" in this verse, for, as we know, seafood must be consumed while it is still fresh. Otherwise, such meat will harm the body. The fact that only seafood products are so described in the Qur'an may indicate this fact.
While the Qur'an speaks of seafood in general, it specifically draws our attention to fish, as in its account of the Prophet Musa (as) and his young servant, both of whom ate fish while traveling:
When they had gone a distance further on, he said to his servant: "Bring us our morning meal. Truly this journey of ours has made us tired." He said: "Do you see what has happened? When we went to find shelter at the rock, I forgot the fish …" Surat al-Kahf: 62-63
It should be noted that, for such a long journey, the Prophet Musa (as) and his young servant chose to take fish with them as food. Narrating this story to believers Allah draws our attention to the nutrient value of fish.
Examining the nutrient value of fish reveals several striking facts: Fish is rich in minerals (e.g., phosphorus, sulfide, and vanadium) that promote growth and tissue repair, relieves joint pains, facilitates healthy gum and teeth, enhances the skin's beauty and color, helps to keep one's hair healthy, and fights bacterial infection. In addition, it plays a role in preventing heart attacks by regulating the bloodstream's cholesterol level. By facilitating starch and fat metabolism, it enables the body to be more energetic and stronger, and also enables the mental processes to function in a more orderly manner.
A lack of vitamin D and other minerals found in fish may result in such vitamin deficiency diseases as rickets, gum diseases, goiters, hyperthyroidism, and so on.14
Ornaments Obtained from the Sea
Pearls are one of the exquisite ornaments obtained from the sea. Their formation is quite interesting: Such mollusks as oysters, mussels, and snails line the inner surface of their shells with a whitish, lustrous substance called the mother-of-pearl. They use the same method on an invading particle (e.g., a grain of sand) to prevent any possible harm, and secrete mother-of-pearl in layers around it, thereby forming a pearl. As well as pearls, gems found in the sea are also used for decorative purposes.
The pearl's amazing formation clearly manifests Allah's superior artistry. The Qur'an draws our attention to the fact that these beauties are created particularly for believers as blessings:
He has let loose the two seas, converging together, with a barrier between them. They do not break through. So which of your Lord's blessings do you both then deny? From out of them come glistening pearls and coral. Surat ar-Rahman: 19-22