Artistry of Allah in the spider’s web

Updated 23 October 2014
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Artistry of Allah in the spider’s web

The best-known things about spiders are their webs. However, there are miraculous details hidden both in the web and in the silk they use to build it. The spider web is made up of load-bearing scaffolding threads and spiral capture threads laid over these and coated with a sticky substance, as well as threads binding all the threads together. The capture threads are not completely tied to the scaffolding threads. In this way the more an insect caught in the web struggles, the more it gets stuck to the web. As the capture threads stick all over the insect, they gradually lose their elasticity, both growing stronger and stiffening. In this way the insect is trapped and immobilized. After this the prey, held by the unyielding scaffolding threads, like a wrapped-up, living food parcel, has no alternative but to wait for the spider to come and deal the final blow.
The threads of spider webs, that look smooth under the microscope, are actually far more complex than any artificial fiber. The core of the fiber is covered with mini-threads known as “nanofibrils.” Some of these nanofibrils run along the axis of the fiber in various layers, while others wind around the fiber like a spiral staircase. This arrangement helps large amounts of energy to be absorbed. This property of the web operates to perfection in trapping insects.

The web mechanism
Allah has created the system in the spider’s web to be far more complex and immaculate than was understood until recently. Flying insects are covered in pollens and substances that can be transported in the air. Everything that flies through the air has an electrical charge. According to the laws of physics, in order for one substance to adhere to another, they have to be oppositely charged; therefore, there need to be positive and negative charges for an insect to stick to the web because identical poles repel one another. Otherwise the insect would not stick to the web, and could thus easily escape. Yet just at that moment something totally unexpected happens. The web sticks to the insect because there is something about the spider’s web that defies the laws of physics.
The entire spider web’s surface is coated with an electrostatic glue. This glue means that both flying insects and the dust, pollens and similar particles they carry stick to the web. And that is not all. This material distorts the earth’s electrostatic field in a tiny area, smaller than a millimeter in size, on the web. In this way, all objects are capable of adhering to it, irrespective of whether they are positively or negatively charged.
Something else that puzzled scientists for years was how insects failed to detect the spider’s web despite having highly sensitive sensors. Allah has created insects with sensors sufficiently sensitive to detect the slightest electrical change around them. Their antennae work just like e-sensors. The tip of the antenna has a different electric charge to the rest of the insect’s body. In this way, when the insect approaches an electrically charged object the tip of the antenna detects that minute change. Yet despite possessing these sensors, the insect fails to detect the web and becomes caught in it. The reason is that the electrostatic field is distorted in a milli-metric part of the web. Since the insect cannot detect that electrical change it flies into the web and becomes caught.
It is not enough for spider webs to have adhesive properties or to be made from threads with different characteristics in order to be effective traps. For example, the web must also be able to stop flying insects.
l The threads comprising the web are very strong and also very flexible. Yet different parts of the web have different levels of elasticity.
l If the threads were less elastic than required, an insect flying into the web would bounce off, as if it had hit a solid spring.
l If the threads were more elastic, the insect would bend the web, the sticky threads would stick to one another, and the web would become deformed.
l The effect of the wind has also been allowed for in calculating the threads’ elasticity. In that way, a web stretched by the wind can resume its previous form.
l The level of elasticity is also important for the web’s point of attachment. If the web is attached to a plant, for example, the web has to be able to absorb tensions arising due to the movement of the plant.
l The spiral woven capture threads are very close to one another. The slightest swing might cause them to stick together, opening wide gaps in the trapping field at the moment the prey is trapped. For that reason the sticky capture threads, with their high elasticity, are laid over dry threads with low elasticity. This prevents the formation of potential escape holes that might develop in the web.
There is a miraculous nature in every characteristic of the web. Every possibility has been thought of. Reflection on these once again reveals the irrational nature of the claims of the theory of evolution.
He is Allah — the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat Al-Hashr, 24)

Miraculous facts
l In contrast to natural or man-made fibers, the silk produced by spiders can harden or soften, meaning that it can bear different types of load.
l Compared with other materials used in web construction, spider silk is 6 times more resistant to falling branches or powerful winds.
l When any pressure is placed on a web, only a single strand will break, and instead of having to spin a whole new web the spider renews the web by just repairing one strand.
l Spider silk, less than 1/1000 millimeter in diameter, is 5 times stronger than steel wire of the same dimension. Despite being 5 times stronger than steel, the silk is also 30 percent more elastic than rubber and can stretch up to 4 times its own length.
It takes more energy to rupture a thread produced by a spider than the most highly-developed nylon. One of the main reasons why the spider can make such strong silk is that it manages to control the folding and crystallization of the main protein constituents and add auxiliary compounds. Since the “spinning dope” from which the silk is spun is liquid crystalline, spiders use minimal force at that point. It must not be forgotten that spider silk, which scientists have been researching for many years, has been flawlessly produced by spiders for at least 380 million years.
“...There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock....” (Surah Hud, 56)

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.