Surah al-An`am (The Cattle) 6 : 38

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا طَٰٓئِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلَّآ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم ۚ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى ٱلْكِتَٰبِ مِن شَىْءٍ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And there is no creature on the earth or bird that flies with its wings except that they are nations like you. We have not neglected anything in the Book. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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".... except [that they are] communities like you..."

– إِلَّا أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ – ‘communities like you [i.e. humans]’ – Here the Creator informs us  that the community structure and behavioural patterns of every single set of species in existence [as God does not exclude any] is similar مثل to how we as human beings are –  some of us live as married couples, single parents, groups of small family, large tribes, etc. God has made some animals smart and resourceful and others relaxed and trusting. Some insects store a year’s worth of food for themselves, and others rely on the fact that daily provision is guaranteed for them. Some do not know their offspring at all; some look after their own offspring but not others; some never acknowledge their offspring once they become in-dependent. Some recognise and appreciate kind treatment, whilst for others it does not mean a thing. Some prefer others to themselves, whilst others, if they gain enough to provide for an entire community of their species, will not let any other come near it. Some animals will not harm un-less severely provoked, whilst others will hurt without provocation. Some bear grudges and never forget if someone hurts them, whilst others do not remember at all. Some never get angry, whilst others get angry quickly and are not easily calmed. Some have very precise knowledge of things which most people know nothing about, and some do not know about anything at all. Some learn quickly and some learn slowly.  All this points to the similarities of the behavioural patterns of humans and the various species. 

Sufyan ibn Uyaynah, an early Muslim scholar, said, “there is no human being on Earth who does not resemble animals in some way...some run like wolves, some bark like dogs and some flaunt themselves like peacocks. Some people resemble pigs in that if you offer them good food they will not touch it, but if a man gets up from defecating, they will come and roll in it. Hence, you find some people who, if they hear fifty words of wisdom they will not remember anything of that, but if a man does one thing wrong, that will stay in their memory.”

Explanatory Note

Human beings are not the only residents of this universe, so as to consider that they come into existence by sheer coincidence, or that human life is meaningless. There are numerous creatures in the world and they all have their lives regulated in a way that indicates careful planning and elaborate design. Moreover, they all confirm the oneness of the Creator and the consistency of His law of creation.

All animals that walk on earth, be they insects, reptiles, or vertebrates and all flying creatures, including every winged insect or bird, and indeed every living creature, belong to a community which shares certain characteristics and a particular way of life, just as human beings do. God has not left any type of His creation without providing it with an elaborate plan to organize its existence and without taking account of what it does with its life. At the end, all creatures are gathered to their Lord for judgement.

This short verse, which makes an all-important statement about life and the living, has a strong effect on our hearts as it describes God’s complete supervision, elaborate planning, total knowledge and superior power. We cannot elaborate here on each of these aspects, because such elaboration is beyond the scope of this work. What we need to say is that directing our attentions to the system of creation, God’s management and knowledge of them and His ultimate gathering of them to Himself, is much greater than providing physically miraculous signs, seen only by one isolated generation.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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According to Ibn Abbas, the whole of the Surah was revealed at one sitting at Makkah [during the night]. Asma bint Yazid says, ‘During the revelation of this Surah the Prophet was riding on a she-camel and I was holding her nose-string. The she-camel began to feel the weight so heavily that it seemed as if her bones would break under it.’ We also learn from other narrations that it was revealed during the last year before the migration (Hijrah) and that the Prophet dictated the whole of the Surah the same night that it was revealed. [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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After determining the period of its revelation it is easier to visualize the background of the Surah. Twelve years had passed since the Prophet had been inviting the people to Islam. The antagonism and persecution by the Quraysh had become most savage and brutal and the majority of the Muslims had to migrate to Abyssinia. Additionally, the two great supporters of the Prophet, Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah were no longer there to help him, so he was deprived of all worldly support. In spite of this he carried on his mission. As a result of this all the good people of Makkah and the surrounding clans gradually began to accept Islam but there the community as a whole was still bent on obstinacy and rejection. Therefore if anyone showed an inclination towards Islam they were subjected to taunts and derision, physical violence and social boycott.

It was in these dark circumstances that a ray of hope gleamed from Yathrib, where Islam began to spread freely by the efforts of some influential people of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, who had embraced Islam at Makkah. At that time, none but God knew the great hidden potential in this.

To a casual observer it appeared as if Islam was a weak movement, with no material backing, except for some limited support from the Prophet's own family and a few poor followers. Obviously the latter could not give much help because they themselves were being persecuted.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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Scientific Truths in The Qur'an [PDF] - http://quranproject.org/Scientific-Truths-in-The-Quran-518-d