Aisha’s Office: Photosynthesis in the Qur’an


Essential in the production of not only light, but also hydrogen and oxygen, the sun plays a primary role in sustaining all of creation across the globe. Swearing, “by the dawn when it breathes“ (“itha tanaffasa”), Allah reveals in the Qur’an the life-sustaining production of oxygen, which is performed only during daylight. Ceasing production as the night “closes in,” oxygen production once again resumes as the horizon approaches the dawn.

So I swear by the retreating stars –
Those that run [their courses] and disappear –
And by the night as it closes in
And by the dawn when it breathes
[That] indeed, the Qur’an is a word
[conveyed by] a noble messenger

{Surah Al-Takwir 81:15-19}

Earth’s Oxygen Production Resumes Daily at Dawn

Making up 21% of the air we breathe, oxygen is produced only during photosynthesis – a process used by plants to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water into sugar. The resulting sugar, glucose, becomes the nutritional fuel supplying plants with energy needed for growth.

Harun Yahya, in A Scientific Miracle of the Quran: The Dawn that Breathes, states, “While 30% of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by plants on land, the remaining 70% is produced by plants and unicellular organisms in the seas and oceans – which are capable of performing photosynthesis.”

Yahya points out that “itha tanaffasa”(“when it breathes”), in Surah Al-Takwir, “metaphorically means to breathe deeply or respire.” He notes, “The phrase emphasized in the verse is remarkable in the sense that morning is the time when oxygen production starts, as well as being the time when the oxygen is produced most. In addition, the importance of this fact is emphasized in the verse with the oath being made upon this fact.”

Only with solar energy can Earth’s plants perform photosynthesis, a respiration cycle of inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen in the chemical production of glucose. Thus, the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere could not be produced without the daily dawning of the sun.


Just as the daily dawning of the sun is critical for the process of photosynthesis, so too is the nightly approach of darkness. As the Qur’an reveals in the above verse, the two phenomena are paired in a joint relationship: As the darkness “closes in,” the absence of light halts the cycle of glucose production, and reverses the cycle of respiration. At nights, plants, just like humans and animals, inhale oxygen and exhale CO2.

The Complex Process of Photosynthesis

As discussed by the scientific research team at Istanbul Quran Research Association (IQRA), in Respiration and Photosynthesis, identification of the scientific process now known as photosynthesis is fairly recent. A research team led by American Chemical Engineer Melvin Calvin was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for work on photosynthesis.

“At the time of the descent of the Quran,” IQRA notes, “people knew nothing about photosynthesis or transformation of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or again, about the role played by the sun’s rays in the realization of this process.”

When oxygen is released during photosynthesis, energy in the molecules of nutriments stored in the plant’s cells is chemically released. “So the act of respiration must not be considered exclusively as an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but as a more complex process that forms the basic energy source of plants and animals.”

Photosynthesis and the Carbon Cycle

Holli Riebeek, Education and Public Outreach Specialist of NASA Earth Observatory, writes in The Carbon Cycle, “Carbon is both the foundation of all life on Earth, and the source of the majority of energy consumed by human civilization.”

Carbon cycles through Earth’s atmosphere geologically and biologically. The geological, or Slow Carbon Cycle primarily involves carbon compounds expelled by volcanoes, eroding from land into the ocean, sinking to Earth’s mantle and once again expelled by volcanoes.

The biological, or Fast Carbon Cycle, primarily involves photosynthesis. Riebeek reports the two most significant components of the fast carbon cycle are respiration of land-based plants and microscopic organisms in the ocean, called phytoplankton.


Photosynthesis impacts the Fast Carbon Cycle so significantly that monthly CO2 fluctuations associated with plant-growing seasons are measurable. Riebeek reports, “In the Northern Hemisphere winter, when few land plants are growing and many are decaying, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations climb. During the spring, when plants begin growing again, concentrations drop.” She continues, “It is as if the Earth is breathing.”

Every Dawn Breathes New Life Into Earth’s Atmosphere

Providing an excellent fuel source for growing plants, the bonds of carbon molecules are highly-energized. However, without the catalyst provided by sunlight, and the resulting oxygen generation during photosynthesis, the chemical energy to sustain life can never be released.

In Miracles from Quran and the World of Plants, Dr.Nazmy Kaleel abu al Ata states, “Photosynthesis is the basic source of almost all energies on earth and food substances.” Dr. Nazmy, a Biology Specialist at Ain Shams University in Egypt, continues, “and if it hadn’t been for light this process wouldn’t exist and all means of life would vanish.”

Regarding Allah’s oath, “And by the dawn when it breathes,” Harun Yahya points out, “this single feature is enough to prove that the Earth and the whole universe is certainly not an idle place that accidentally came into being. The universe, the Earth we live in all the systems that sustains life on Earth, animals and men, are all created by the Almighty Allah, in all their intricate detail.”

Every morning brings a fresh, new start to the cycle of photosynthesis. Every dawn brings a new day, literally breathing new life into Earth’s atmosphere, a blessing from Allah for all of His creation. We may be reminded by this to recite the following du’a upon waking every morning:

Alhamdulillaahil-lathee ‘aafaanee fee jasadee,
wa radda ‘alayya roohee,
wa ‘athina lee bithikrihi.

“Praise is to Allah
Who gave strength to my body
and returned my soul to me
and permitted me to remember Him.”
(–The Prophet Muhammad, recorded by At-Tirmithi 5/473)

Sunrise from the International space station

Sunrise from the International space station


(This is an article I wrote for, but their website disappeared, unfortunately, and it was never published. Insha’ Allah, I hope you found it interesting!)


“The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191″ Saladin And The Crusades, from Lane-Poole, Part IV, Chapter XVII

Siege of Acre 1189-91 from medieval illustration

Siege of Acre 1189-91 from medieval illustration. (Wikicommons)

Excerpt from Chapter XVII: “……(T)he French…had put Acre under strict blockade. Saracen ships indeed still forced their way in to the relief of the garrison; one was smuggled in under a French disguise, but generally they had to run the gauntlet.

“One such adventure happened in September. Three Egyptian dromonds or ships of burthen opportunely arrived, when there was not enough food in the city to last another day. The Christian galleys were upon the new-comers in a moment. The beach was lined with the Moslem army, calling aloud upon God to save the ships.

“The Sultan himself stood there in an agony of suspense, watching the struggle, ‘like a parent robbed of his child.’ The battle raged, but fortunately for the garrison there was a fair wind, and at last the three ships sailed into the harbour safe and sound, amid the furious shouts of the enemy and the loud thanksgivings of the Faithful.”

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Birds of Egypt: “Abu Ghuttaas,” The Pied Kingfisher

A Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), also known as "Abu Ghuttaas" ("father of those who dunk") sits on the wire hunting for fish in an irrigation canal fed from the Nile River in our rural village in Egypt

A Pied Kingfisher in our rural Egyptian village… (Please click image for more)

Another frequent visitor to our rural little corner of Egypt’s Nile delta is this handsome fellow nicknamed by the birdwatching locals, “Abu Ghuttaas,” loosely translated as “Father of those who dunk.” Ducking under water and coming back up quickly (as the ducks do) is referred to in my husband’s french chocolate tongue as “making ghuts.”

A Pied Kingfisher, this black and white beauty is properly known by his Latin name, Ceryle rudis, but the Ancient Egyptians reportedly called him “cnHb.t” or maybe it’s “cn-nHb.t.” Gutenberg doesn’t tell us how to say it, but is certain this translates into “the one turning around the neck (when hovering above water spying fish),” — I tried very hard to confirm this with the local Ancient Egyptians, but everyone around here insists he is just Abu Ghuttaas.

This particularly handsome bird up on that wire is a male, as he has two bands of black around his neck. Similar to his more strikingly colored cousin, Mr. Fairuz, (Turquoise) the Collared Kingfisher, Abu Ghuttaas loves to hang around our home, hunting for fish in the irrigation canal. All of Egypt’s delta region is watered by a wide network of irrigation canals fed by the Nile River, and we commonly see many little fish swimming around in the canal from our second floor windows.

Abu Ghuttaas favorite fishing canal on our corner in egypt

Abu Ghuttaas’ favorite fishing canal on our corner in Egypt

The electric wires coming to our home provide a perfect perch for many beautiful birds, and I always feel amazingly blessed and thankful to get such a perfect view from our windows. But I go way over the top of that when I get a good clear picture of a beautiful bird!! (or sheep, or donkey…lol)

Pied Kingfishers are not very picky eaters, hovering over water and diving straight down to capture fish, snails, bugs, it’s all good to Abu Ghuttaas. Eating on the wing, so to speak, they can continuously forage without needing to sit down to eat. Here’s a great photo by Karthik Easvur with all the stages of dunking, or “making ghuts,” superimposed on the image — it gives a great illustration of the amazing beauty of this handsome bird in action:

Pied Kingfisher's fishing manoeuvre, combined in a single image, c. Karthik Easvur (Wikicommons)

Pied Kingfisher’s fishing manoeuvre, combined in a single image, c. Karthik Easvur (Wikicommons)

On the other side of our corner, near our garage, are several “Toot” (Mulberry) trees. This must be a favorite hangout for the beautiful birds of Egypt, at least in our rural little corner, anyway — it was up in a nearby Toot tree that I was able to capture a couple of great shots of Cleopatra, the Green Bee-Eater, another favorite of mine. Here’s one more photo of Abu Ghuttaas, perched up in a Toot tree:

Abu Ghuttaas, a Pied Kingfisher, in a Toot (Mulberry) Tree

Abu Ghuttaas, a Pied Kingfisher, in a Toot (Mulberry) Tree… (Please click image for more)


You might like to learn more at Wikipedia about Abu Ghuttaas, the Pied Kingfisher, and here’s a YouTube video to watch, too:

Click here for the previous bird in this series: Abu Maghazil, The Spur-Winged Lapwing


Gold Wire and Tiger Eye Choker

aishas tiger eye choker w workshop background 8x8 300dpi

Taking a break from writing lately has left me with free time to enjoy my beading projects once again! This is my latest creation, a choker made from gold-filled wire, with tiger-eye drop beads dangling from it. I liked it so much, I made a bracelet in the same style, and then added earrings and a ring, too.

Recently I was commenting with my new blogging friend, GRADMAMA2011 about making jewelry, because she mentioned in a post about getting off her computer chair to sit down at her beading table. I mentioned that I do just the opposite, because I do my beading early in the morning and then move to my computer after that. She made a beautiful necklace with tiger eye beads lately for her daughter, I hope you’ll take a look.

When I told her I had also lately done something with tiger eye beads, she encouraged me to post a photo of mine, too, saying, “Let’s put our creations on our blogs so they don’t just languish in a drawer someplace. :-)”

What a great idea! I haven’t posted anything in my jewelry category in ages, so I took a few pictures of the new set I made. In the top photo you can see how I display my jewelry on a sheer curtain beside my beading table. I probably get more enjoyment out of looking at all my fun projects than by actually wearing them. They are collecting dust, but I can’t bear to hide them away in a drawer. They are eye-candy to me!

Do you have a spare time hobby? If you haven’t posted about it, take GRADMAMA2011’s advice and put your hobby on your blog – leave me a link and I’ll enjoy checking it out – let’s share the fun!

Here’s a closeup photo of the wire and tiger eye set:

aishas tiger eye and wire choker set 5x7 300dpi


Ep. 19, Joyride to Egypt: Did I Sleep?

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July Dawned Softly in the Eastern Sky

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“Out, Out, Out, Out, OUT!!!!” I screamed at that damn monkey in my hot tub. In the darkness of my little patio I watched his eyes grow wide with surprise, and I wondered suddenly if any of my neighbors had heard me yelling. A quiet, gated condominium community nestled in a tiny scrap of forested wetlands fortunately preserved by eco-visionary legislature, my neighbors and I were grateful beneficiaries of the 1990’s federal wetland protection acts.

Monkeys are probably covered in one of those eco-protection laws governing what goes on in my neighborhood. But this monkey was clearly in the cross-hairs of Scheri’s smoking wand of rose-scented incense, glowing softly from its stand in the flower planter beside the hot tub.
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Aisha’s Egypt: The Potter’s Wheel

Egyptian potter with vase on wheel

The Potter’s Wheel
Spinning like the Potter’s wheel
Ancient days and ancient ways
Traverse this earth in cycles
Spinning into foggy dawn
Recycling into sunset
In boring revolution
Time without evolution
Spinning like the Potter’s wheel
Until the potter is gone
Swallowed by oblivion
Ancient days and ancient ways
Unnoticed until missing
Like faithful dedication
Enduring pain with patience
Or aging gracefully
Spinning like the Potter’s wheel
Finally the ancient ways
Spin into eternity
© 2015 Aisha Abdelhamid
Dedicated to the Potter’s wife, whose husband is now passed away –
May God have mercy on him, his family, and us all.

A few more photos of the Potter’s workshop, kiln, and pottery for sale:

pottery kiln and workshop and pottery for sale-small
pottery for sale on table
potter with vase on wheel-small