Birds are frequently mentioned in the Qur'an. They appear in episodes in the life of
Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon and Jesus. These references do not however have
any bearing on the subject in hand.
The verse concerning the existence of animal communities on the ground and bird
communities in the sky has been noted above:
--sura 6 verse 38:
"There is no animal on the earth, no bird which flies on wings, that (does not belong
to) communities like you. We have not neglected anything in the Book (of Decrees) .
Then to their Lord they will be gathered."
Two other verses highlight the birds' strict submission to God's Power.
--sura 16, verse 79:
"Do they not look at the birds subjected in the atmosphere of the sky? None can hold
them up (in His Power) except God."
--sura 67, verse 19:
"Have they not looked at the birds above them spreading their wings out and folding
them? None can hold them up (in his Power) except the Beneficent." The translation
of one single word in each of these verses is a very delicate matter. The translation
given here expresses the idea that God holds the birds up in His Power. The Arabic
verb in question is amsaka, whose original meaning is 'to put one's hand on, seize,
hold, hold someone back'.
An illuminating comparison can be made between these verses, which stress the
extremely close dependence of the birds' behavior on divine order, to modern data
showing the degree of perfection attained by certain species of bird with regard to the
programming of their movements. It is only the existence of a migratory programme
in the genetic code of birds that can account for the extremely long and complicated
journeys which very young birds, without any prior experience and without any guide,
are able to accomplish. This is in addition to their ability to return to their departure
point on a prescribed date. Professor Hamburger in his book, Power and Fragility (La
Puissance et la Fragilité), gives as an example the well-known case of the
'mutton-bird' that lives in the Pacific, with its journey of over 16,500 miles in the
shape of the figure 8. It must be acknowledged that the highly complicated
instructions for a journey of this kind simply have to be contained in the bird's
nervous cells. They are most definitely programmed, but who is the programmer?