The Shade, the Mannah, and the Quail
After mentioning the calamities that the Children of Israel went through and how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala saved them, we now learn about His favors:
When the Children of Israel escaped the tyranny of Pharaoh they were to commanded to go to Jerusalem and fight their enemy. They, however, refused and were left to wander in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years.
Despite their repetitive transgression, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not abandon them completely. In the wilderness of Sinai where there were neither homes to take shelter from the scorching sun nor food to eat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent clouds to protect them for the sun’s heat. Ibn Jarir said that several scholars said that they type of cloud the ayah mentions were cooler and better than the type we know. And Allah knows best.
Not only the clouds, but their food needs were also taken care of. Every morning fresh mannah used to descend on the trees and the Children of Israel would eat whatever they wished of it. Qatadah said, the mannah, which was whiter than milk and sweeter than honey used to rain down on the Children of Israel just as the snow falls from dawn until sunrise. One of them would collect enough for that particular day for if it remained more than that it would spoil. On the sixth day, Friday, one would collect enough for the sixth and the seventh day, which was the Sabbath during which one would not leave home to seek his livelihood, or for anything else. All this occurred in the wilderness. The type of mannah that we know provides sufficient food when eaten alone, because it is nutritious and sweet. When mannah is mixed with water, it becomes a sweet drink. It also changes composition when mixed with other types of food.
As for the quail (Salwa), ‘Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu said, “The (Salwa) is a bird that looks like the quail.” This is the same opinion reported from Mujahid, Ash-Sha’bi, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, ‘Ikrimah and Ar-Rabi’ bin Anas, may Allah have mercy upon them. Also, `Ikrimah said that the Salwa is a bird in Paradise about the size of a sparrow. Qatadah said “The Salwa is a bird that is similar to a sparrow. During that time, an Israelite could catch as many quails as was sufficient for that particular day, otherwise the meat would spoil. On the sixth day, Friday, he would collect what is enough for the sixth and the seventh day, the Sabbath, during which one was not allowed to depart his home to seek anything.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala had commanded, “Eat from the good things which We have provide you,” meaning eat from the pure and fresh. Do not store food allowing it to rot and become unfit for consumption. They should have had tawwakal on Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that the Lord Who provided them food will continue to do so. Therefore, He says, “And they wronged Us not – but they were [only] wronging themselves.”
The Children of Israel rebelled, disbelieved and committed injustice against themselves, even though they saw the clear signs, tremendous miracles and extraordinary events.
Here, it is important to point out the virtue of Muhammad’s Companions over the companions of the other Prophets. This includes firmness in the religion, patience and the lack of arrogance, may Allah be pleased with them. Although the Companions accompanied the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his travels and battles, such as during the battle of Tabuk, in intense heat and hardship, they did not ask for a miracle, though this was easy for the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by Allah’s leave. And when the Companions became hungry, they merely asked the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – to invoke Allah – for an increase in the amount of food. They collected whatever food they had and brought it to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he asked Allah to bless it, told each of them to take some food, and they filled every pot they had. Also, when they needed rain, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked Allah to send down rain, and a rain cloud came. They drank, gave water to their camels and filled their water skins. When they looked around, they found that the cloud had only rained on their camp. This is the best example of those who were willing to accept Allah’s decision and follow the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam .
We should learn from the stories of rebellious nations and correct ourselves. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us to eat the pure and nutritious. What comprises of our diet? We eat the junk, then fall sick, gain weight and miss out on our worship. We should always give preference to what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala made over the man-made. eat tayab and do not forget to take His Name before the meal and thank Him at the end.