Mansoor and the Giant Polar Bears
Mansoor and his mother were trying to decide where to spend their summer vacation. His mother suggested they should go to a travel agency and decide by looking at the brochures promoting different countries, so they went to one together. As soon as they entered the office they were met with posters on the walls of places they had never seen. While his mother was talking to the clerks, Mansoor began examining the posters one by one.
Mansoor was startled by a voice coming from one poster he was standing next to:
"Hey, Mansoor, hello!" said a very deep voice. "Why don't you and your mother come here?"
Mansoor turned his head towards the voice. The speaker was the polar bear in the poster hanging right next to him.
"Hello!" he said. "I thought you were a giant snowman!"
The polar bear smiled happily: "You're right, with our huge bodies and our white fur, we do resemble snowmen. But I'm sure that with our 1,700 pound (800 kg) weight and 8 feet (2.5 meters) length we're a lot bigger than they are."
"I'd like to come and visit you and get to know you and your family better. But where you live is really cold."
"Right again," agreed the bear. "We live in the world's coldest regions such as the North Pole, Northern Canada, Northern Siberia and the Antarctic."
"Then how come you don't feel cold?" wondered Mansoor.
"Good question," said Mansoor's new friend. "Let me explain. Every aspect of our bodies is created according to the environment we live in. In spite of the freezing cold, the ice and the snowstorms, the thick layer of fat that Allah has miraculously created under our skins protects us from the cold. Our fur, which has also been specially created, is thick, dense and long, so we don't feel the cold at all. Allah created us according to the climate we live in. Have you ever wondered why we don't live in the deserts of Africa? Think about it! If we lived in the desert, we'd be overcome by the heat and die. This is one of the signs that Allah has created every living thing according to the environment where it lives."
Having found such a great opportunity to talk to a polar bear, Mansoor began asking everything he was curious about:
"I remember that most bears sleep in the winter. Do you polar bears do that, too?"
The bear shook its shaggy, white head. "No, my dear friend. We are different from other bears because we don't hibernate in winter. Only the females, especially those that are pregnant, do that."
"How do newborn babies find food?" Mansoor wanted to know.
"Thanks to our Lord, the Provider, the food the newborn babies need is all ready for them. The mother polar bear feeds the babies with her milk," explained the bear.
"So the cubs just feed on milk then?"
"That's right," answered the polar bear. "The mother bear's milk contains a very high level of fat. This fatty milk meets the needs of her cubs in the best possible way. With it the babies grow very quickly, and by the spring they're ready to come out of their dens."
"Mansoor, you will realize that because we live in an icy wilderness and are quite incapable of researching anything for ourselves we can't possibly know what food our babies need when they are first born. Also, it is quite impossible for us to produce this milk, which even the most modern factories can't produce, inside our bodies through our own wishes and our own efforts. This truth clearly shows us the wonder of Allah's creation."
"You're right, my friend," Mansoor agreed. "When a person thinks a little, he can see that there's a miracle happening around him at every moment."
The polar bear continued to talk about itself. Then it said:
"I have a question for you now. Did you know that polar bears are very good swimmers and divers?"
Mansoor was amazed: "You must be joking. You mean you can swim? With that heavy body of yours and in freezing water?"
"I'm not joking," said the bear. "We polar bears swim and dive very well. When we're swimming we use our front legs. Allah, the Infinitely Merciful, created our legs in such a way that they can be used like oars for us to hunt easily, and He gave us webs between our toes like those on a duck's feet. Also, to make hunting easy, Allah created us so that we can close our nostrils underwater and keep our eyes open."
"As you can see, Mansoor," he went on, "Allah has created us perfectly with systems which allow us to survive under really difficult conditions. It is not possible for us to have developed these characteristics gradually or for us to have acquired them accidentally. It is Allah Who taught us how we need to move in water."
"Don't you feel cold at all in the icy water?" asked Mansoor, shivering a little at the thought.
"Not at all," said the bear rather proudly. "If you humans put your hands or your feet on an iceberg you soon have to take them off again. We don't even notice the cold though, because Allah created us with our legs covered in thick fur so that they are not affected by the cold. If our legs were covered with skin like you, we would never be able to live in this cold environment."
After what the polar bear had told him, Mansoor understood more clearly that Allah possesses unlimited power and might. Then Mansoor remembered the holiday village where he had spent his vacation. He had swum all summer long, but the water was warm because of the mild climate. He thought and compared it with the cold water polar bears swim in, and it was obvious to him that Allah had created these animals in such a way as to make them resistant to cold water. Thinking about it, he realized that Allah created every creature with the ideal body for the environment in which it lives. For example, camels were created so that they can stand up to the heat of the desert. Mansoor's friend the polar bear then interrupted his thoughts:
"Mansoor, do you know why we are white or yellowish in color?"
"No I don't. I've never thought about it. Why?"
The bear explained. "This white color of ours ensures that we are protected from our enemies in the cold, icy environment we live in. We are almost invisible in the miles of white ice fields because we are the same color as them."
Mansoor was impressed. "How logical!" he said. "If you were as black as a crow or as colorful as a parrot then it would be impossible for you to hide. And that would mean you would often be in danger."
"Yes, Mansoor. There are so many things which people never think about and which they have become accustomed to seeing. In fact Allah has created everything according to His Divine wisdom."
Mansoor felt very grateful to Allah for having given him the power of thought and understanding. "If Allah had not willed it, I might be wasting my time in the temporary life of the world in ignorance of His supreme knowledge and power," he said to himself.
Thinking about his conversation with the polar bear, Mansoor realized how important life was. Every new piece of information he learned increased Mansoor's love and awe of Allah. Because of this he wanted to know even more about polar bears.
"I'm sure your nose is more sensitive to smell than ours, isn't that right?" he wondered.
The bear nodded its head again. "Yes. Our sense of smell is so acute we can easily detect a seal hiding under a one and a half meter layer of snow. As you know, Almighty Allah gave not only us but all living things the superior characteristics they possess in the same way."
Mansoor went on: "I knew that there is proof of Allah's supreme knowledge and power in every living thing on the face of the earth. Still, gaining detailed information about these living creatures further increases my astonishment at Allah's supreme creation."
Mansoor could not get enough of talking to his new friend the polar bear. He wanted to learn everything there was to know about him. He had more and more questions to ask:
"What other characteristics do you have that I don't know about?"
"Let me think," said the bear. "We polar bears have interesting tactics that we use in winter and summer. Now think about our white fur which makes us resemble snowmen. Do you think that if we lay down in white snow we would be visible? If you only considered our white fur, then you would probably say, 'No, you wouldn't be noticed,' but don't forget that we polar bears have black noses. Our noses prevent us from being completely camouflaged amongst the snow. So, what do we do? We very cleverly cover our noses with our white front paws. That way we hide the color difference. We wait completely hidden in the snow for our prey to approach us."
Mansoor cried in amazement: "That really is very clever!"
"Yes, Mansoor. Bears know that they can camouflage themselves, in other words hide themselves, because their white fur and the snowfields around them are the same color. But they go even further and even think of covering their black noses, which are the only obstacle to their being camouflaged since they are the only thing that stands out against the whiteness of the snow. Of course, as you can guess, it isn't possible for polar bears to think about what needs to be done after they come back from hunting with no food a few times and realize that they need to cover their noses! Bears only behave as Allah inspires them to behave. Allah created them in this way. In the end they, like other living things, are all under Allah's control."
Mansoor decided to tell his mother what he had learned about polar bears on the way home and to explain the creative art of Allah visible in them. He thanked his friend for that fascinating conversation, and went back to his mother.
We have given all kinds of examples to people in this Qur'an, so that hopefully they will pay heed. (Surat az-Zumar: 27)
The Originator of the heavens and earth. When He decides on something, He just says to it, "Be!" and it is. (Surat al-Baqara: 117)
[People with intelligence are] those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth [saying,] "Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire." (Surah Al 'Imran: 191)