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Abraham and the Birds

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The following excerpt is taken from “The Holy Quran in Today’s English” under the translation of the above verse note #246:

Even Abraham had once asked, “My Lord, show me how You bring the dead to life.” replied, “Don’t you believe (that I can do it)?” “Of course!” answered Abraham. “I’m only asking for my own satisfaction.”  So (God) said, “Take four birds, and train them to come to you (when you call); then divide them up, placing them on separate hills.  Call to them, and they’ll come swiftly to you. (In this lesson), know that God is powerful and wise.” [260]

Note 246: In other words, God can bring the dead to life by merely commanding it to happen in the same way that Abraham called the birds and they came immediately.  (Also see 3:47.)  Many commentators are of the view that this verse is saying that Abraham was commanded to kill the birds and dismember them and then put random pieces of the birds on the separate hills.  Then when he called them, they would miraculously reassemble, come to life and then fly to him.  I am not inclined to accept that interpretation for the very reason that Abraham’s efforts at ‘taming’ the birds would have been useless and superfluous.  If the demonstration was meant to bring dead birds to life, then there would have been no need to train them to come when called.  Therefore, I am of the view, which other commentators espouse, that the purpose of the test was to show the power of command, i.e., God can raise the dead with a word of command only.  (He only needs to say, “Be,” and it is!)


Emerick, Yahiya. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an in Today’s English (p. 827). Unknown. Kindle Edition.