A Big Surprise
Karim wakes up early in the morning and quietly goes to the river side. He finds the beavers working again. Mustering up courage, he approaches them and says:
"Hello, my name is Karim. Can I be friends with you?"
The animals are startled at first, but seeing Karim's friendly manner, the bigger one comes forward and replies:
"Of course, my name is Mr. Beaver. And this is my wife, Mrs. Beaver. Nice to meet you."
This makes Karim happy, because now he can ask them what he is curious about. So they start chatting.
Karim: I've been watching you curiously for some time now, and there are so many questions I want to ask you... Let's start with the tree trunks. Mr. Beaver, why do you drag the trunks into the water and place them on top of others?
Mr. Beaver: All beaver couples, like us, migrate to build new homes for themselves. We arrived here a short time ago, having recently moved to this river. Now we're building our home. But to do that, we need still water. So we have to block the water flow first. This is why we have piled up logs and formed this artificial pond.
Karim: So you are constructing a dam? This is great. You know what? We human beings have also constructed dams for centuries in the same way to block the water flow. The other day our geography teacher taught us the dams in our country and explained how they were constructed. It surprised me because I thought it must be very difficult to build a wall in front of running water. But what you are doing is even more amazing and difficult. How do you manage to block such a fast flowing river? How did you discover this method? Did you decide to do things in this way when you saw the man-made dams?...
In his excitement, Karim asks one question after another. His words and his astonishment make Mr. Beaver smile, because what they do is so easy for them that they don't give it a second thought.
Mr. Beaver: OK, Karim, take a breather. I'll answer your questions one by one. Don't worry, you'll learn everything. Our knowledge of how to construct dams and to build such homes comes naturally to us. Of course, this knowledge did not come to us by chance. It is not that one day we said, "Let's construct a dam and build a home in the water." We had already had this information, because it had been taught to us before we were born. Because of this, we know what to do very well and successfully do our jobs. Again thanks to this knowledge, we know how to fell huge trees and to carry them into the water.
Listening to Mr. Beaver in amazement, Karim is startled by Imran's voice behind him:
"I can answer all of your questions Karim. But before this, you owe me an explanation. Why did you leave the camp alone? We would have been worried about you if we had not seen your note.
Karim: Well, I... I'm so sorry. I was so excited that I couldn't help coming here. But I knew that you would see my note. Will you please tell me who taught the beavers all these things?
Imran: OK, Karim. You remember that we read the Qur'an together last week? Allah said in many verses that it was He Who created everything in the skies, on the earth and in between these two. We talked about the animals we knew and about their exceptional behaviour. Then we concluded that they could not do these things by themselves and had, in fact, been taught how to act by someone else.
Karim: Yes, I remember.
Imran: All living things act in the way Allah teaches them to. From the moment they are born, they all know how to behave. To understand their behaviour, we human beings make studies and carry out research for years on end; we use technological devices, read books and make experiments. But these things which we try hard to understand are easily done by animals. For example, they make calculations that would baffle even the experts. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are doing what our Lord has taught them to do. If Mr. Beaver tells us more about what they do, you will understand what I mean much better.
Mr. Beaver: Yes, Karim. Soon I'll tell you in detail about the home we are building. You, too, will learn that it is not possible for us to do such a thing just by using our own intelligence.
Karim listens to Mr. Beaver and Imran carefully, because he is aware of the importance of this conversation. So he decides to concentrate on what they say and to ask about things he is eager to learn.
Karim: Mr. Beaver, I guess you use your paws and teeth to fell trees so as to form this pond. But how come your teeth are so strong? My teeth, for example, would break if I attempted to bite off a branch. I could never do that.
Mr. Beaver: Good question Karim. My wife and I can cut down about 400 trees in a year. We do this by gnawing with our teeth. We use the four front teeth to gnaw tree branches. Our teeth also, wear down not though as nearly much as yours, and sometimes break. But this does not affect us, because our front teeth, called incisors, keep growing throughout our lives.
Karim: So your teeth keep growing, just like our nails do, right?
Mrs. Beaver: Let me answer your question Karim. Yes, you are right. Allah created our teeth differently from those of any other living thing. If He hadn't done so, we wouldn't be able to feed or build our homes, which would be too bad for us. Since the members of the species would starve to death, our species would eventually become extinct, that is, we would not be here today. You would not find even a single beaver on the face of the earth. However, my teeth, as well as Mr. Beaver's and all other beavers', grow very fast. As you can see, our teeth are vital to us.
Karim: OK. But how did you learn to swim? I've learnt it recently. How come you are such perfect swimmers?
Mr. Beaver: Karim, all beavers can swim shortly after they are born. This is so easy for us, because our bodies are convenient for swimming. For one thing, our feet are webbed, so that we can easily push the water, and for another, our flat tails serve as flippers, so that we can move easily in the water. Just as you wear goggles to protect your eyes from the water and help you to see under water, we have natural goggles. And our ears and nostrils can close tightly to keep water out. We have three eyelids on each eye. One of them is semi-transparent, letting us see under water while also protecting our eyes from the hazards of the water.
Karim: My little friends, I, too, can swim fast and easily when I wear flippers on my feet. My father bought me the flippers, but you get yours at birth. Allah has created you with the exact features you need.
Imran: You are right, Karim. Mr. Beaver, will you please tell us a little about the dams you construct?
Mr. Beaver: First of all, we drag logs and branches on to the bed of the stream. Then we pile light branches up on the heavier ones. But we must place them firmly in position, otherwise the running water will take away what we build. That is why we add logs and strengthen the dam with rocks. But it is still not strong enough, so we need to support it. So we stick the branches together with a special mixture composed of mud and leaves. This waterproof mixture is also resistant to the eroding effect of the water.
Karim: If it wasn't the case, you would never be able to build a dry lodge under water. All your efforts would go to waste.
Mrs. Beaver: You're right, Karim. But the dam we build is very strong and it becomes bigger and stronger every day. As the barrier gets larger, the level of the water collected before it rises. So after several months, a dam pond is formed. But as the pond becomes enlarged, we must strengthen and repair the dam. As Mr. Beaver said, we fill in the spaces between the branches with mud and bushes. By the way, there is one more thing which is very important. Have you noticed the shape of our dam? It looks like an arch, doesn't it? This shape which curves inwards is called concave. All beaver dams are constructed concavely. We aim to dam the water at an angle of 45 degrees.
Excited by what Mr. and Mrs. Beaver have told him, Karim interrupts:
Karim: How do you know that? We went on a trip to a dam with our teacher, and that day she told us that modern dams were constructed just like yours. They all curved inwards. She also told us that thanks to this shape, which was called concave, human beings could dam the water at an angle of exactly 45 degrees. Also concave dams, being the strongest are best able to withstand the water pressure. But how come you possess such knowledge, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver? Who taught you this? I know that dams are constructed by engineers. My sister is an engineer too; she had to have years of education before she could become an engineer. But you cannot go to school, so how come you know this? Did you find the correct knowledge by trial and error? Who taught you this knowledge?
Imran: Look Karim. It's quite impossible for the beaver family to carry out all these things in a random way. Do you remember that you once asked me about a person named Darwin? One of the books you read stated that animals came into being and acquired the characteristics they possess by chance. You found that to be nonsense and thought what Darwin said was a lie.
Karim: Yes, I remember. And I understand you very well. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver surely could not have learnt these things by chance. Darwin certainly lied.
Mr. Beaver: As I told you earlier, we know how to do all these things at birth. You are a very smart boy, Karim. Of course I've never gone to school. And it is not possible that I should have discovered these things by trial and error. If anyone comes up with such a nonsensical idea, you can just ask him these questions:
Even if we suppose that a beaver, say Mrs. Beaver or I, discovered how to build this lodge by coincidence, we see that all beavers build their homes in the same way. Have they all discovered it by coincidence?
As my teeth wear down, new ones grow in their place. This is the same for all beavers. Isn't it clear that this could not have come about as a result of coincidences?
As you can see, one merely needs to think a little to see how impossible this is and how senseless this claim is. Please ask your sister in which course they learnt that dams should be built at an angle of 45 degrees and what kinds of calculation they needed to make. Then you will understand me better.
Karim: You are right Mr. Beaver. It is evident that a Superior Being of outstanding intelligence taught you all these things. Mom told me that Allah is All-Wise. It is evidence of the matchless wisdom of our Lord that He taught this both to you and to other beavers as well as to all beavers who have lived so far. I know too that it is not only you whom Allah taught what to do, but all living things.
Imran: Yes, Karim. Allah creates all living things and has power over all things. As is stated in a verse of the Quran:
Allah created every animal from water. Some of them go on their bellies, some of them on two legs, and some on four. Allah creates whatever He wills. Allah has power over all things. (Surat an-Nur: 45)