The Message of A Flying Bird
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Have they never noticed the birds how they are held under control in the middle of the sky, where none holds them (from falling) except Allah? Surely in this there are signs for those who believe. (16:79)
Have you ever thought about the flight of a bird? Is it so imperative that it has to fly? Well! It is nature’s expression that every one of us witnesses. Just raise your heads, in the backdrop of vast skies; birds appear flying smoothly, without any haste and fear. You may be surprised to know that the bird, its flight and the way it dwells, has a direct connection with our moral, religious and material being. Want to know why and how? Let us find out the answers.

At the outset you need to deeply think about what the Quran says as it forms the crux of our discussion:

أَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ إِلَى ٱلطَّيْرِ مُسَخَّرَٰتٍۢ فِى جَوِّ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يُؤْمِنُونَ Have they never noticed the birds how they are held under control in the middle of the sky, where none holds them (from falling) except Allah? Surely in this there are signs for those who believe. (16:79)

The Book of Guidance invites our attentions towards a fascinating scene of bird’s flight. In fact, it’s an open invitation to all those who can see and contemplate. The acceptance of invitation uncovers the realities of life and helps understand certain basic principles of training, progress and development. Before unravelling the truth let us first understand….

…how a bird learns to fly
Birds are born with an instinct that motivates them to fly. But flying is not that easy; lots of practice is needed. The way we train our kids to walk, birds too train their babies through what we call the power of positive reinforcement. It’s an interesting phenomenon. At the infant stage, a baby bird completely relies on her mother to feed. This process of feeding the baby becomes a benchmark for its bird to train its newborn. The mother bird normally maintains distance by sitting farther and farther from the nest, in particular at the time of feeding. It compels the baby to come out of the nest. In the initial stages, the bird falls in its attempts. It happens time and again but ultimately it helps the baby bird spread its wings, flap and prevent itself from falling to the ground.

This process goes on and on and eventually the birds get an idea that it’s the flapping of the wing that prevents them from falling to the ground. This idea gets inculcated in the bird’s mind optimistically, hence it is a form of positive reinforcement. The falling and flapping and then getting back to the nest to obtain the food motivate a bird to fly.

From a scientific viewpoint, for any object to fly, qualifying the biomechanics principles; the upward and downward thrusts and the lift and drag is imperative. The Almighty Allah has created the birds in a fashion that they qualify all these natural laws to fly. The light but strong hollow bones, feathers covering the body, sharp beaks, lungs and strong muscles of their breast help respond to the upward and downward thrusts, whereas for the phenomenon like lift and drag, their tail and legs are quite synchronized.

Now! Go back to the above verse, read it carefully and contemplate. You are sure to draw the following lessons as your conclusion:

  • Dynamism is the essence of nature, motion is a blessing and inertia is death.
    True development and sustained form of success are possible only when one is habitual of working hard and resolve to abide by never say die spirit.
  • Every attempt counts in flying high, no matter whether the attempt is small or big, success or failure.
  • True development depends on right training and mentoring. Without a mentor and guide, it’s impossible for a person to be successful in his life.
  • Your standard of success depends on the vision that you form. Greater the vision; the greater will be the magnitude of success. For a bird to fly the motivation is food, the flight of a bird depends on the prey it aims for; falcons fly high but not the crow. For you to soar high the motivating goals have to be lofty. The higher the goals, the higher will be the horizon of your flight.
Parwaz Hai Dono Ki Issi Aik Faza Mein Kargas Ka Jahan Aur Hai, Shaheen Ka Jahan Aur

The flight of both is in the same canvas of skies
But the world of vultures is different from the world of falcons
Now! Go back again and read out the above verse, it will inspire you to inculcate two impeccable qualities of the birds.

Trust

The flight of both is in the same canvas of skies
But the world of vultures is different from the world of falcons
Now! Go back again and read out the above verse, it will inspire you to inculcate two impeccable qualities of the birds.

1) Trust
The appearance and activities of birds drive our consciousness to know certain realities. They neither earn nor pile up a stock of food in their nest but in spite of that every day; every bird gets its stomach full. Their tireless efforts, patient waiting for the prey, eyes engraved on the target, continued efforts right from dawn to dusk help get the due sustenance for them and their babies:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِي الأَرْضِ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا كُلٌّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ — There is not a single moving creature on the earth but Allah is responsible for providing its sustenance. He knows where it dwells & where it’ll permanently rest. All this is recorded in a clear Book. (11:6)

The sum total of all these efforts of the birds can be summarized as the reflection of trust. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has advised us to develop trust in Allah, as is the case of birds here. Put in all your efforts and then entrust the matters to Allah, He is sufficient to provide you with the desirable results:

لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا يُرْزَقُ الطَّيْرُ تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا — ترمذی
If you were to trust on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry and return in the evening full. (Sunan Ibn Majah 4164)

2) Innocence

One of God’s most adorable creatures are birds. They are a fascinating treat for eyes with their colors, feathers, design, look and grace. Of them all, most of the birds appear quite innocent. A true believer should sport such innocence with distinct qualities and harmless attitude, for it has great reward as evident from the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):

يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ أَقْوَامٌ أَفْئِدَتُهُمْ مِثْلُ أَفْئِدَةِ الطَّيْرِ – مسلم
A group of people (men & women) whose hearts will be like the hearts of birds will enter Jannah. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2840)

When you club all these features and ponder over the birds, their babies, the training process of flying, their flight, the way they live… you are sure to proclaim that they have been subjected to the design and program of their Creator. This is what you can affirm; even in the absence of tongue “birds are praising their Creator”, the existence of birds and their actions are encrypted forms of praise:

أَلَمۡ تَرَ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ ۥ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱلطَّيۡرُ صَـٰٓفَّـٰتٍ۬‌ۖ كُلٌّ۬ قَدۡ عَلِمَ صَلَاتَهُ ۥ وَتَسۡبِيحَهُ ۥ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمُۢ بِمَا يَفۡعَلُونَ —
Do you not see that all that is in the heavens and the earth, even the birds that go about spreading their wings in flight, praise His glory? Each knows the way of its prayer and of its praising Allah’s glory. Allah is well aware of whatever they do. (24:41)

Let us think again before the bird lands

As humans we have instincts that help us develop. These instincts demand deliberate attempts to reach to their full potential and optimum utilization. At various stages of life, we rely on such attempts. During childhood and adolescence parents and teachers play pivotal roles and then our self-initiatives develop the instinctive abilities. The realities behind a flying bird inspire us to make use of the potentials to the fullest extent.

The flying is possible with flapping of two wings, at the same time and with the same speed. It means the smooth progress of life depends on amalgamation of human actions and Divine teachings at the same time with no disparity. That means similarities between words and actions must exist. Flying is possible with flapping of two wings, success here and hereafter is possible with merger of two things, human thinking and Divine liking.

The secret of peace and progress lies here, the couplets of human actions and Divine guidance must go together as the two wings flap together. With the light of Divinity, there will be absolutely no fear and failure.

فَإِمَّا يَأۡتِيَنَّكُم مِّنِّى هُدً۬ى فَمَن تَبِعَ هُدَاىَ فَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ —
Verily there shall come to you Guidance from Me now and again: whoever will follow it shall have neither fear nor sorrow (2:38)

God is to man what sky is to bird

The bird’s flying urge is intrinsic and genetic. Their explicit latent quality helps us realise that the very purpose of existence is flying. This sense of understanding reduces the amount of training needed for them to fly. Similarly, the nature of human beings has been blended with the belief of One God and His true understanding. This genetically specific latent quality facilitates them to adhere to the belief of Oneness of God. The Quran describes this fact in a very distinctive way; before an assembly of all the children of Adam, the Creator Himself has reaffirmed this truth:

وَإِذۡ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنۢ بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمۡ ذُرِّيَّتَہُمۡ وَأَشۡہَدَهُمۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ أَلَسۡتُ بِرَبِّكُمۡ‌ۖ قَالُواْ بَلَىٰ‌ۛ شَهِدۡنَآ‌ۛ أَن تَقُولُواْ يَوۡمَ ٱلۡقِيَـٰمَةِ إِنَّا ڪُنَّا عَنۡ هَـٰذَا غَـٰفِلِينَ —
Recall when your Lord brought forth descendants from the loins of the sons of Adam, & made them witnesses against their own selves. Asking them: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes, we do testify.’ We did so lest you claim on the Day of Resurrection: ‘We were unaware of this.’ (7:172)

Humans have been created with qualities that no other creature can match, their intellect, knowledge, criterion of distinction between right and wrong are quite incomparable. You can unleash the secret of peaceful and progressive life, that is, the way birds surrender to the vastness of skies humans should surrender their potentials to the will and wish of God.
Now have a look at the bird from a different perspective:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَنُ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ —
Do they not see the birds above them, spreading their wings and closing them? None is upholding them but the Merciful. He it is Who watches over everything (67:19)

Here, at the end of the verse mentioning of “He it is Who watches over everything” with the backdrop of skies and flight of the bird, strengthens our belief that the power of Almighty Allah is far from the conception of a “reconnaissance satellite or spy satellite.”

With a reflection on nature’s one simple aspect of bird’s flight, we can get enriched with spiritual and material benefits. The spiritual benefits are faith in One God, true understanding of His Existence and exemplary life with high morals. With regards to material benefits, the advancement in the fields of aeronautics, aviation and aerospace science says it all.

1 Comment

  1. Nasreen Fatima

    Absolutely beautiful narrative. Material benefits can be compared with making any career with excellence . It’s not just aeronautics, aviation or aerospace Science.

    Reply

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