A CREATURE FROM THE EARTH
A CREATURE FROM THE EARTH
"And when the Word (Arabic: Qawlu) is fulfilled against them, we will bring forth for them a creature from the earth (Arabic: dabata-minal-ardi) speaking to them, that mankind did not believe with assurance in Our verses / signs"
The above verse has been a source of much interpretation throughout history in Muslim thought.
The Quran clearly expounds the fact that creatures ('dawwab' or singular 'da'aba') are made of water. Some of them move on their bellies, others on two legs, some four etc.
"And God has created every moving creature (Arabic: dabbatin) from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies and some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. God creates what He wills for verily God has power over all things"
Da'aba comes from the root word: Dal-Ba-Ba which means to go gently, crawl, creep or walk. The word captures whatsoever moves on the earth, especially that of animals - beasts of burden, quadrupeds and any moving creature whether insects, birds or mankind. This ability to move is implicit in the meaning of the term 'Da'aba'.
Daabatun (n.): Moving creature; Crawling animal.
Dawaabbun (n.plu.): Crawling animals.
These kind of water based, moving living creatures have been spread throughout the Universe (42:29).
"And one of His signs is the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and what He has spread forth in both of them (Arabic: fi-hima) of living beings (Arabic: Da'aba); and when He pleases He is all-powerful to gather them together"
Da'aba is also used to denote humans in the Quran (as opposed to insaan) when generally used in a negative sense.
"Indeed, the worst of creatures (Arabic: dawabi) near God are the deaf, the dumb, those who do not use (their) intellect"
"Indeed, the worst of creatures (Arabic: dawabi) near God are those who disbelieve and they will not believe"
"And if God were to punish people (Arabic: naas) for what they deserve / have earned, He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature (Arabic: dabbatin): but He gives them respite for an appointed term. When their term expires, verily God has in His sight all His Servants"
IS THE CREATURE A REFERENCE TO A COMPUTER?
Given the above understanding, it would be difficult to support a modern interpretation (such as the one advanced by Rashad Khalifa) that the 'dabata-minal-ardi' (a creature from the earth) is a reference to a computer.
Albeit, one may attempt to reconcile 'moving parts' as hard discs and other moving media in a computer, this does not address the inherent meaning of the term 'Da'aba' which implies movement of the whole object analogous with creatures that slither or move with legs or wings.
Furthermore, to reconcile a computer with 'Da'aba' as a creature created from water would be equally difficult. The implication that 'dabata-minal-ardi' in verse 27:82 refers to a creature not formed from water (implying a computer) is further complicated by the fact that the term 'Da'aba' (creature) inherently carries the meaning of a moving water based creature whether it is from the earth or otherwise.
Also to reconcile 'Da'aba' with a human messenger would also be difficult to support as the term 'da'aba' is used by the Quran negatively when applied to humans.
SO WHAT IS THE CREATURE?
What is important to note is the subject of the address of verse 27:82. Who is the word (Arabic: Qawlu) fulfilled against?
"And when the Word is fulfilled against them..."
If this is understood in light of its previous verse (27:81), then the addressees are those who were present at the time of the Prophet but remained in error. If interpretive lean is administered with the following verse (27:83) which implies the Day of Judgment, then the addressees against whom the word is fulfilled refers to a people of the future.
In either case, the 'creature of the earth', if referring to a human, would have negative connotations. As noted already in the verses cited above (8:22, 8:55, 35:45), the Quran mainly refers to humans as 'Da'aba' in a negative sense. This negative connotation is further supported by the Arabic 'waqa'al-qawlu alayhim' (the word is fulfilled against them). In the Quran, when the 'word is fulfilled against one' in such a manner, their case is abandoned and they are branded as 'kaffir' (disbelievers).
"To warn whosoever is alive, and that the word (Arabic: Qawlu) may be fulfilled / proved true against the disbelievers"
Therefore, such a creature is designed only to lead abandoned people further into an abyss of spiritual darkness. This would have been as applicable to those in the past against whom the word was fulfilled, as it is to those of the present and of the future.
The creature can therefore be interpreted as any evil living entity who will communicate to a person once they have disbelieved.
THE ASSIGNED EVIL COMPANION - THE QARIN
If the generic address of 'dabata-minal-ardi' (a creature from the earth) is admitted with its negative connotation and which speaks to man once their case is abandoned (and the Word is proved against them), then there are other verses which support such an interpretation.
"And We have destined for them intimate companions (Arabic Quranaa), who made alluring to them what was before them and behind them; and is justified against them the Word (Arabic: Qawlu) among nations that have passed away before them of the jinn and the men. Indeed they were losers"
The Arabic word 'Quranaa' or 'Qarin' (from the root word Q-R-N) inherently implies to join one object with another, to couple, to make something into a companion.
Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon
Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon
“And whoever turns away from (the) remembrance of the Beneficent, We assign to him a devil who becomes his companion (Arabic: Qarin)”
And indeed, they surely, turn them from the Path and they think they (are) guided
“Until when he (such a one) comes to Us, he says (to the companion): "O would that between me and you were the distance of East and West!" Ah! How wretched / evil is the companion indeed (Arabic: Qarin)!”
The interpretation that the creature of the earth represents a computer is difficult to support.
A 'Da'aba' is inherently a moving creature composed of water. When used in conjunction with a human, it usually carries a negative connotation.
The term has been interpreted generically above to represent a creature that is conjoined with one against whom the word (Arabic: Qawlu) is fulfilled and their case is abandoned. This creature which can be a human, then leads the abandoned further into an abyss of spiritual darkness by whispering and speaking to them.
It is important to note that evil whisperers exist in both jinn and humankind (114:5-6) and the Quran often speaks about evil ones from mankind as 'shayateen' (devils).
And When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;" but when they are alone with their evil ones (Arabic: shayatinihim), they say: "Indeed, we (are) really with you: We (were) only jesting."
We must all remain vigilant of the truth when it reaches us and not deny it in whatever capacity if we come to recognise it. Otherwise, we risk being abandoned by God and once that awful judgment has taken place while we are alive, we will continue walking spiritually blind on earth even though we think we are rightly guided. The walking dead are indeed one of the most unfortunate of creatures.
May God help us all, if it is His will.
Only God knows best.
(1) The Walking Dead
(2) Do Aliens Exist?
(3) Understanding 'Kufr' (Disbelief) from a Quranic Perspective
Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.
 Ibid., Page 2988
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