Water in the Quran

Water in the Quran

Water is an essential and life-giving part of our creation and something that we need to survive. God also talks about water in the Quran and explains how it is a sign and blessing for us.

This article covers the following topics:

Water in the Quran is One of God’s Signs

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ ﴿164﴾

Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, and the ships that sail at sea with profit to men, and the water that Allah sends down from the sky—with which He revives the earth after its death, and scatters therein every kind of animal—and the changing of the winds, and the clouds disposed between the sky and the earth, there are surely signs for a people who exercise their reason. 1

All the signs mentioned in this verse, including the water that revives the earth are signs of Allah and prove His Oneness (توحید) and his being All-Merciful (رحمان) and Ever-Merciful (رحیم); albeit for those who employ their reason and intellect.

The Quran calls our attention to the single system that governs the world and the relationship between all its parts; for example, the effect that that sky and its creations have on the earth, the changing of night and day, rainfall, etc., all of these are connected. Pondering over these relationships leads us to monotheism . 2

Water in the Quran and Sustenance for those on the Land

All the waters of the sea are salty and land animals and vegetation cannot benefit from them. However, through the evaporation of sea water, formation of clouds, and movement of the winds, sweet water is transferred to land through rain and snow. Through this the earth is revived (after the autumn and winter months) and vegetation and crops grow. 3

Revival of the Earth Through Water in the Quran is Proof of Resurrection

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُرْسِلُ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ ۖ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَقَلَّتْ سَحَابًا ثِقَالًا سُقْنَاهُ لِبَلَدٍ مَّيِّتٍ فَأَنزَلْنَا بِهِ الْمَاءَ فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتَىٰ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ ﴿57﴾

It is He who sends forth the winds as harbingers of His mercy. When they bear [rain-] laden clouds, We drive them toward a dead land and send down water on it, and with it We bring forth all kinds of crops. Thus shall We raise the dead; maybe you will take admonition. 4

The verse uses the revival of the earth in spring as proof of the matter of resurrection in the Hereafter. 5

Resurrection and Revival of the Earth are both in God’s Power

Those who deny resurrection cannot do so when they pay attention to the revival of the earth after the winter months. A human being who has died, like the plants and vegetation in the winter and autumn months, is not completely destroyed. His soul is alive and preserved and even his body is not completely destroyed; rather, it remains in the form of particles spread out in the world.

Similarly, vegetation disintegrates and decomposes in winter and autumn but its vegetative spirit stays alive in its roots and it resumes its active life in spring.

The issue of resurrection of the dead is no different that the resurrection of plants and vegetation and God has power over both. 6

Water in the Quran and All that Grows on Land

وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهُ خَضِرًا نُّخْرِجُ مِنْهُ حَبًّا مُّتَرَاكِبًا وَمِنَ النَّخْلِ مِن طَلْعِهَا قِنْوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌ وَجَنَّاتٍ مِّنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ ۗ انظُرُوا إِلَىٰ ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَيَنْعِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكُمْ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿99﴾

It is He who sends down water from the sky, and brings forth with it every kind of growing thing. Then from it We bring forth vegetation from which We produce the grain, in clusters, and from the palm-tree, from the spathes of it, low-hanging clusters [of dates], and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Look at its fruit as it fructifies and ripens. Indeed, there are signs in that for a people who have faith. 7

All sources of water on the land lead to rain water and if there is a lack of rain, it will affect them as well. If this continues, they will all dry out.

The verse also indicates the very clear effect that rain water has on all things that grow. Every kind of growing thing could refer to either or both of the following:

  • The types and categories of plants that are all watered through the same water
  • The plants that every creation needs, i.e., birds, animals, insects, water and desert animals all need certain vegetation and God provides the needs of all through one type of water and one land. 8

The Inmates of Hell Ask for Water in the Quran

وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَنْ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ أَوْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّـهَ حَرَّمَهُمَا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ ﴿50﴾

The inmates of the Fire will call out to the inhabitants of paradise, ‘Pour on us some water, or something of what Allah has provided you.’ They will say, ‘Allah has indeed forbidden these two to the faithless!’ 9

The first request that the inmates of Hell would have is that for water. However, the cries of the criminals are in vain as the blessings of the Hereafter as only for the believers.

Go and the believers are not stingy; however, the punishment of the disbelievers who harassed the needy believers in the world is to be deprived of blessings in the Hereafter. 10

The Water of Hell

وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ ۚ إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ نَارًا أَحَاطَ بِهِمْ سُرَادِقُهَا ۚ وَإِن يَسْتَغِيثُوا يُغَاثُوا بِمَاءٍ كَالْمُهْلِ يَشْوِي الْوُجُوهَ ۚ بِئْسَ الشَّرَابُ وَسَاءَتْ مُرْتَفَقًا ﴿29﴾

And say, ‘[This is] the truth from your Lord: let anyone who wishes believe it, and let anyone who wishes disbelieve it.’ Indeed, We have prepared for the wrongdoers a Fire whose curtains will surround them [on all sides]. If they cry out for help, they will be helped with a water like molten copper, which will scald their faces. What an evil drink, and how ill a resting place! 11

Due to their extreme thirst the inmates of Hell will ask for water; however, the water that will be brought for them would be as hot as molten metal which will burn their faces. 12

Every Living Thing is From Water in the Quran

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿30﴾

Have the faithless not regarded that the heavens and the earth were interwoven and We unravelled them, and We made every living thing out of water? Will they not then have faith? 13

The verse indicates that water has an absolute role to play in the existence of all living creatures. This has also been indicated in another verse: Allah created every animal from water. 14

And perhaps the fact that this matter has been mentioned in the context where God is recounting tangible blessings leads to the conclusion that angels and other similar beings are not made of water.

The matter discussed in the verse, i.e., the relationship between life and water, is something that has been explained and proven through science. 15

Water in the Quran and Ablution

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُوا ۚ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُوا بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ ۚ مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّـهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ ﴿ ﴿6﴾

O you who have faith! When you stand up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe a part of your heads and your feet, up to the ankles. If you are junub, purify yourselves. But if you are sick, or on a journey, or any of you has come from the toilet, or you have touched women, and you cannot find water, then make tayammum with clean ground and wipe a part of your faces and your hands with it. Allah does not desire to put you to hardship, but He desires to purify you, and to complete His blessing upon you so that you may give thanks. 16

Muslims are commanded to perform the ritual ablution or wudhu (وضو) using water before they stand for prayer.

Another type of ablution the Muslims are commanded to perform in certain conditions is the ghusl (غسل) where on washes their body as explained in books of jurisprudence. To find out about what circumstances and when a perform needs to perform this type of ablution, please refer to the book of laws of the scholar you do taqlid (تقلید) of.

As explained by this verse, water is a source of purification.

The Parable of Actions of the Faithless and Water in the Quran

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ يَحْسَبُهُ الظَّمْآنُ مَاءً حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءَهُ لَمْ يَجِدْهُ شَيْئًا وَوَجَدَ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ فَوَفَّاهُ حِسَابَهُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ ﴿39﴾

As for the faithless, their works are like a mirage in a plain, which the thirsty man supposes to be water. When he comes to it, he finds it to be nothing; but there he finds Allah, who will pay him his full account, and Allah is swift at reckoning. 17

The actions of the disbelievers have been likened to a mirage that has no reality and no goal or purpose to which it leads. This water does not quench one’s thirst and does not have the other affects of water.

Similarly, the actions of the disbelievers and polytheists including the sacrifices they make for their idols, the prayers and supplications they recite, and the worship they perform for their idols have no reality and the affects of worship do not apply to them. 18

The Conclusion of the Parable of Water in the Quran

The disbelievers perform their actions with a goal in mind.

Their goal is to attain the purpose that their innate nature (فطرة) guides to as this is driving force behind the actions of all human beings in order to attain happiness and felicity.

However, the actions of the disbelievers do not lead them to such a goal and the deity they worship in hopes of receiving rewards is not real. Rather, the deity that their actions lead to is God and He is the one who has knowledge over their actions and the accounting of deeds is with Him.

God’s rewards or punishments are in accordance with our deeds and what they call for and He will provide them to the owner of deeds in a measure that is deserved. 19

Water in The Quran is One of the Blessings of Heaven

مَّثَلُ الْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي وُعِدَ الْمُتَّقُونَ ۖ فِيهَا أَنْهَارٌ مِّن مَّاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّن لَّبَنٍ لَّمْ يَتَغَيَّرْ طَعْمُهُ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ خَمْرٍ لَّذَّةٍ لِّلشَّارِبِينَ وَأَنْهَارٌ مِّنْ عَسَلٍ مُّصَفًّى ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ كَمَنْ هُوَ خَالِدٌ فِي النَّارِ وَسُقُوا مَاءً حَمِيمًا فَقَطَّعَ أَمْعَاءَهُمْ ﴿15﴾

A description of the paradise promised to the Godwary: therein are streams of unstaling water and streams of milk unchanging in flavour, and streams of wine delicious to the drinkers, and streams of purified honey; there will be every kind of fruit in it for them, and forgiveness from their Lord. [Are such ones] like those who abide in the Fire and are given to drink boiling water which cuts up their bowels? 20

Everything has perfection and the perfection of water is that it should not smell. This is the type of water that has been described as one of the blessings of Heaven.

All the blessings of Heaven are free of defects, blights and changes. 21

Water in the Quran for the Steadfast in God’s Path

وَأَن لَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاءً غَدَقًا ﴿16﴾

If they are steadfast on the path [of Allah], We shall provide them with abundant water. 22

The verse indicates the blessings the believers will receive in this world if they persevere and remain steadfast in their faith. If they do so, God will send for them blessed and merciful rain and provide them with the sources of life-giving water. Where there is an abundance of water, there is an abundance of everything and, therefore, such believers will be provided with different types of blessings. 23

The Relationship between Faith and Material Blessings

This is one of the many times that the Quran indicates that belief and piety are not only the source of spiritual blessings but also the material blessings and leads to increase in material sustenance or rizq  (رزق) and abundance of blessings, prosperity, and development. 

A point to note is that is steadfastness on faith and not simply faith itself that leads to an abundance of blessings because temporary and transient faith cannot lead to such blessings. 24

Conclusion

The topic of water in the Quran explains that water is a blessing and one of the signs of God. It is life-giving and necessary for existence and in the Hereafter too it is something that will be provided for the believers in Heaven in the most perfect form and sought by the inmates of Hell.

Water is also what Muslim use to purify themselves and perform their ritual ablutions with.


References

  1. [2: 164]. Qarai
  2. Qarashi, A. A. Tafsir Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Publications. Vol. 1, p. 297
  3. Ibid. p. 299
  4. [7: 57]. Qarai
  5. Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 8, p. 200
  6. Ibid.
  7. [6: 99]. Qarai
  8. Tafsir Namuna. Vol. 5, p. 369
  9. [7: 50]. Qarai
  10. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah al-Aʿraaf. Verse 50
  11. [18: 29]. Qarai
  12. Qarashi, A. A. Tafsir Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Foundation. Vol. 6, p. 210
  13. [21: 30]. Qarai
  14. [24: 45]. Qarai
  15. Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 14, p. 393
  16. [5: 6]. Qarai
  17. [24: 39]. Qarai
  18. Translation of Tafsir al-Mizan [20 vols.]. Vol. 15, p. 181
  19. Ibid. p. 182
  20. [47: 15]. Qarai
  21. Tafsir Nur. Commenatry of Surah Muhammad. Verse 15
  22. [72: 16]. Qarai
  23. Tafsir Namuna. Vol. 25, p. 121
  24. Ibid. p. 122

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