Magnificence Everywhere (9/15)
Pearls: Dazzling Jewels of the Sea
On Earth, wherever one turns his eyes and looks, one meets a magnificent creation, a perfect design with amazing features. The examples we give throughout this book are only a few small details of this magnificence. Allah has created many plant and animal species on Earth whose appearances are splendid. He has brought everything into existence in a way that man finds pleasure in. Along with these, many ornaments have been created on Earth by Allah and have been given into the service of men. The pearl, which is one of these ornaments, has very interesting features besides its outstanding beauty.
The developmental phases of the pearl are amazing. The pearl is generally produced by the "pearl oyster," of which many kinds exist. The shells of oysters are quite hard. The composition of their outer shells, which are very difficult to open, is calcium carbonate-based and deters many of their enemies. The calcium carbonate also plays an important role in the oyster's formation of pearls.
The oyster is irritated when sand, a pebble or harmful parasitic organisms enter inside of it. In such situations, it isolates the uninvited guest, as a method of protection, and begins to cover it with nacre. This covering process is the first phase of the formation of the pearl. The foreign particles entering the oyster serve as a nucleus for the formation of the pearls. Through the years, the surface of this nuclear substance will be covered with calcium carbonate layers forming one on the top of the other.
How is the nacre inside the oyster made? There are two main ingredients that form the nacre among the layers of the oyster's inner tissues. In one layer is a mineral called "aragonite," the content of which is calcium carbonate; in another layer is an adhesive substance "conchiolin," which holds the aragonite together in the pearl. Since aragonite is a semi-transparent substance, it gives the pearl a shiny look.24 It is surely thought provoking that these two substances are produced by the oyster (a composition of shell and flesh that doesn't even have a brain) and then they come together and form such a beautiful object as a pearl by covering a mere dust particle. The pearl that an oyster produces for the purpose of protection is created as an aesthetic ornament for man.
Allah draws attention to the pearl with the verse in the Qur'an "From out of them come glistening pearls and coral." (Surat ar-Rahman: 22) Furthermore, the pearl is also mentioned in the Qur'an as one of the ornaments of Paradise.
Perfect Symmetry in Living Things
Have a look at your face in the mirror. You will see perfect symmetry. Pick up a magazine and start turning its pages. The people you see there as you turn its pages, and the birds, flowers and butterflies you see when you look at the outside world, share the same symmetry.
Symmetry is one of the factors that provides harmony in the universe. All creatures have a symmetrical structure. When you look at sea creatures, you see the same symmetry. Fish, crabs, shrimp… Take a pair of seashells in your hand and arrange them in a symmetrical way. You will again encounter a perfect order and symmetry in the arrangement of the lines and in their arrangement from larger to smaller. No matter what creature you look at in nature, every time an extraordinary order, perfect symmetry and matchless diversity of color will be observed.
The defenders of the evolution theory, which claims that everything in the universe has come into being as a result of haphazardly occurring coincidences, cannot explain this color diversity, symmetry and order displayed in nature. It is evident that such a perfect order cannot be explained by blind chance or unconscious events. It is not possible for evolutionists to explain, with any of the claims they put forward, the formation of the colors of creatures in nature, their designs or symmetry. Even Charles Darwin had to confess this fact, even though he was the very founder of the theory:
Surely, no one who is wise and reasonable can claim that the supreme beauty we see around us, colorful butterflies, roses, violets, strawberries, cherries, all with their dazzling colors, and parrots, peacocks, leopards, in short, the Earth with all its magnificence, has come into existence by chance. Allah created all living creatures along with their features. The knowledge of Allah surrounds us everywhere. There is no god but He. This is maintained in the Qur'an in this way:
Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent (Surat al-Baqara: 255)
The Striking Features of Butterflies
Look over the butterflies' wings in the picture on the right as if you were seeing them for the first time. Surely you will be filled with admiration for such an aesthetic display, a symmetry that is without the slightest flaw, the dazzling colors and patterns. Now think of a piece of cloth. Assume that it is a very beautiful piece of cloth of good quality that has been woven with the inspiration of these butterflies' patterns. What would you think if you saw such a piece of cloth in a shop-window? Probably, the existence of an artist, who has drawn the patterns of this cloth, taking the wings of a butterfly as an inspiration while drawing them, springs into your mind, and you appreciate his artistry. In this situation, you should also appreciate this fact: the artistry you admire doesn't belong to the person who draws the cloth pattern, taking butterflies as his example, but to Allah, Who is the originator of the patterns and colors of butterfly wings. The colorful wings of butterflies with their wonderfully varied patterns are magnificent manifestations of Allah's artistry in color. Just as a pattern on a piece of cloth does not come into being by chance, so is the color and pattern symmetry in the wings so perfect that they could not have come into being coincidentally.
Moreover, the splendid wings are not the only striking features of butterflies. The body design of butterflies is also perfect in every respect. The butterflies take in nourishment by sucking up nectar from flowers. Most butterflies have a long organ called a proboscis which they use to reach a liquid that is at some depth. A proboscis is a long tongue used to drink water or to suck up nectar from flowers. The butterfly rolls up its long tongue inwards when it isn't using it. This tongue can be three times the length of a butterfly's body when unrolled.
Like other insects, the butterflies also have a skeleton that covers the outer surface of their bodies. This outer or exoskeleton is composed of hard plates connected by soft tissue, looking like some sort of armor. The hard material is called "chitin." The formation of this layer comes about through a very interesting process. As is commonly known, caterpillars pass through a rather complex process called metamorphosis. The caterpillar first becomes a pupa and then turns into a butterfly. Throughout this process of metamorphosis, slight changes occur in the wings, antennae, legs and other body parts. Also, the cells in different key areas such as the flight muscles and wings re-organize themselves through every phase of metamorphosis. Furthermore, along with these changes, almost all systems in the body -the digestive system, excretory system, respiratory system etc.- go through a process of immense change.26
This diversity in design that butterflies have, as much as their wings, belongs to Allah, the All-Powerful. Allah is the One Who bestows every creature with the characteristics it needs.
The Detailed Design of Bird Feathers
At one time or another, most people have probably run their fingers through a bird's feather they found lying on the ground or caught falling from a bird that was flying through the air. Probably they have noticed the symmetrical structure of the feather, the thinner structures of soft feathers coming off each side, which look as if they interlock onto each other. In fact, if they had the chance to examine this bird feather under a microscope, their astonishment at the marvelous design before them would increase even more.
In the middle part of the feather is a long, hard tube. The barbs of the feather extend from both sides of this tube. These feathers, whose lengths and softness vary, give the bird the ability to use the air in the most suitable way. In addition, when we go into further details, we encounter even more interesting structures. Each barb has smaller strands attached to them which are called "barbules" and cannot be seen with the naked eye. These barbules are locked together with tiny microscopic hooks called "hamuli." By means of these hooklets, barbules are interlocked onto their neighbors like a zipper.27
On every single feather of a crane there are 650 barbs on each side of the shaft. On each one of these barbs are 600 barbules. These barbules are tied together with 390 hooklets. The hooklets are clamped together like two sides of a zipper. These barbules, which lock onto their neighbors with hooklets, are so close together that if smoke is blown onto the feather, no smoke escapes to the other side. If the hooklets are unlocked for some reason, it is enough for the bird to shake itself or, in more severe cases, to straighten its feathers with its beak, to make the feathers return to their previous state. The structure of a bird's feathers is very important for flying. The bird can fly because its wings don't allow the air to pass through them.
Besides the detailed design in the birds' feathers, the rich color diversity in them is striking as well. This diversity occurs due to pigments present in the feathers which are stored when the feather first starts to develop and also because of light movements. The feathers, which are made up of keratin, are renewed at certain intervals as they wear out in a very short time due to environmental conditions. However, the bird regains its colorful feathers each time. This is because the feathers of a bird continue to develop until they reach the necessary length, and attain the unique color and design typical of its kind.
The countless diversity of color and patterns in the birds' feathers, along with the detailed design of the wings, are evidence which show us the magnificent artistry and knowledge of Allah in creation.
28-David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1998, p.78.29-David Attenborough, The Trials of Life, s.137
30-David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1998, s.92.
31-Zoobooks, April 1993, Vol. 10, no. 7.
32-David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1998, p.51.
33-Peter J.B.Slater, The Encyclopedia of Animal Behaviour, p.42, David Attenborough, The Life of Birds, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1998, pp.234-235.