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Scientific Interpretation of “Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha"

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Scientific Interpretation of “Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha"

Scientific Interpretation of “Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha (ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ)” Mentioned in Verse 15:22 of Al-Qur’an

Prof. Dr. Md. Mamunur Rashid
Vice-Chancellor (Acting)



Allah (SWT) stated in the verse 15:22 of Al-Quran that:

وَأَرْسَلْنَا ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ فَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءًۭ فَأَسْقَيْنَـٰكُمُوهُ وَمَآ أَنتُمْ لَهُۥ بِخَـٰزِنِينَ


“And We have sent the fertilizing winds and sent down water from the sky and given you drink from it. And you are not its retainers.” [Saheeh International]


Arabic words “Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha (ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ)” of this verse is translated by many interpreters as “fertilizing winds.” “Lawaaqiha; fertilizing” qualifies the word “Ar-Riaaha; winds,” of this verse. The “Lawaaqiha” is also translated as: fecundating [Yusuf Ali], and impregnating [Dr. Ghali] that are synonyms of fertilizing. Allah sends the winds of having these characteristics and sends down rain from the sky. Taking all the translations into account, the “fertilizing winds,” literally, refers to the following three roles:


  1. to fertilize two substances and form a new substance (formation of clouds in this case) similar to the “zygotes” as created in case of humans and animals;
  2. to produce fertilizers for the plants, crops, etc.; and
  3. to fertilize (pollinate) the plants.


However, all available interpretations are mostly focused on the “formation of clouds and rain” with few exceptions of mentioning to fertilize and pollinate the plants. Recently “formation of clouds” has been explained according to the Science of Meteorology through some electronic media. However, production of fertilizers, in this regard, has not yet been taken into account by any translator or interpreter. In this article, the three roles of “fertilizing winds” have been explained according to the knowledge of Science in this regard.


Science about Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha (ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ); Fertilizing Winds


The Science of Meteorology gives us the clear understanding about the formation of clouds and rain. Moreover, we know that the lightning bolts cause the chemical change of nitrogen molecules of winds, and the water molecules of vapor to form fertilizers. Pollination of plants by winds is also a well-known scientific phenomenon. Through the perusing of these three scientific phenomena, we have found scientific interpretations of “fertilizing winds.”


The mixture of gases that makes up the Earth’s atmosphere is known as air. Nitrogen makes up 78 % of this gas, which is mixed with oxygen (21%), water vapour (variable), argon (0.9 %), carbon dioxide (0.04%), and trace gases. We know that water present in oceans and rivers evaporates during summer and escapes into the air. Thus water vapour is one of the components of the air. It occupies very less percentage of the earth’s atmosphere. Smoke is present in our atmosphere due to the burning of fuels as well as because of volcanoes, coal-burning furnaces, etc. Apart from these, dust particles are also present in our atmosphere which we observe when we see a ray of light in a dark room. Smoke and dust particles occupy less than 1% of earth’s atmosphere. Other particles like dust and smoke; pollen, dirt, and sea salt (from breaking ocean waves) are also found suspended in the air.


Then what is wind? Wind is the movement of air, caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun and the Earth's own rotation, and due to the pressure difference between two places. Winds range from light breezes to natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorm. It has been observed that the winds contain:


  1. the necessary components of forming the clouds,
  2. the necessary components of producing the fertilizers, and
  3. the necessary components to pollinate the plants.


Formation of Clouds


The winds have an important role in forming the clouds as it carries water vapor from seas and oceans to the upper layers of atmosphere. However, the water atoms of vapor have to be collected and condensed to form clouds. Dust particles provide surface to the water vapors present in the atmosphere to condense. Each particle of dust works as a “nucleus” for the water vapors to be condensed onto it to form a “cloud droplet.” However, a dust particle can only serve as a “nucleus” for the condensation of water vapors if the size of the particle is around 0.2 microns. The dust particle is then called condensation nucleus; the plural form is nuclei, and is scientifically named, “Cloud Condensation Nuclei” abbreviated as “CCN.” The size of a cloud droplet is around 100 times the size of a CCN nucleus.

Just like the nucleus is the core or center of a cell in biology, cloud nucleus is the center of cloud droplet. The formation of a “cloud droplet” can be compared to the formation of a “zygote” by the fertilization of a male gamete (sperm) and a female gamete (egg) in case humans and animals as well as pollination of a pollen and a stigma in case of plants.

Other solid particles similar to dust; pollen, dirt, smoke and sea salt also act as nuclei for the formation of cloud droplets. However, these particles can only serve the purpose of CCN if they are available in proper sizes (0.2 microns). A bunch of cloud droplets get together and form the clouds. When the clouds no longer can hold these water vapors because of saturation, then they fall on earth in the form of rain.

Formation of Fertilizers

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants and other organisms, being a fundamental part of nucleic acids, amino acids and proteins. It’s also the single most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere, accounting for about 78 percent of its composition. Despite that abundance, atmospheric nitrogen (N2) is not readily available to most lifeforms, basically because in this tightly bonded form it is not very reactive with other molecules. Only a relative few living things can directly use it as is. Other organisms require nitrogen to be transformed into more reactive compounds such as nitrates (NO3) or ammonia (NH3) before they can be used as fertilizers.


The tremendous heat released by a bolt of lightning can split apart a nitrogen molecule to free up two nitrogen atoms. The liberated nitrogen atoms can then bond with oxygen atoms to form nitrogen oxides that, dissolving into raindrops, become nitrates. The lightning-freed nitrogen may also bond with atmospheric hydrogen to form ammonia. These soluble nitrogen compounds then fall to the Earth in rainfall, providing a natural, lightning-produced fertilizers for grass, herbs, crops and other plants.


Pollination of Plants by Winds


Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Pollen grains are transmitted by winds, water, birds, bees, insects, butterflies, bats, etc. We know that pollen grains from the flowers, carried by the winds, are suspended in the atmosphere for the longer period. Some of them act as CCNs during the formation of cloud droplets in the upper atmosphere. The pollen grains transported by wind, in the lower atmosphere, cause the role of wind-pollination of plants. Many of the world's most important crop plants are wind-pollinated. These include wheat, rice, corn, rye, barley, and oats.




After going through the scientific phenomena, relevant to the verse-15:22 of Al-Quran, we find three interpretations of “Ar-Riaaha Lawaaqiha (ٱلرِّيَـٰحَ لَوَٰقِحَ); fertilizing winds”:


  1. it fertilizes the two of its components, ‘cloud condensation nuclei (CCN)’ and ‘water vapor’ to form ‘cloud droplets’ and then assemble the cloud droplets into clouds and then brings down rain from the clouds;
  2. it produces the fertilizers; nitrates and ammonia, through a series of chemical reactions of nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen, after breaking of the chemical bonds of nitrogen molecules by lightning bolts; and
  3. it helps the pollination of a pollen and a stigma in the case of plants.


It may be noted that according to the verse 15:22, Allah (SWT) sends down water from the sky for us to drink. It seems to be unnecessary here to include the second interpretation of the fertilizing winds. However, Allah (SWT) stated in other verses that, by sending down rains, He causes to grow foliage, crops, plants, fruits, etc. Hence, the second interpretation; it produces the fertilizers, may have to be taken into account. The third interpretation is the very common role of winds but not linked with clouds and rain.


The most important thing is that, we can put our efforts to understand and interpret the message of Allah (SWT) just by our available knowledge. We may or may not be correct or successful in finding the fruitful outcomes of our efforts. However, Allah (SWT) knows the best.