Creatures in the Earth
By: A. Muhammad

The Arabic word 'dabbah' means: a living creature. In the Quran, this word is used to include all living creatures that God created, be they in the heavens or the earth:

A
mong His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the creatures that He has spread in them. He is Capable of gathering them if He wills. 42:29

The word
"creature" appears in 14 Quranic verses.
- In 10 out of the 14 verses, the words speak about creatures in the earth, such as:

There is not a single creature in the earth whose provision is not due from God.
11:6

- In 4 out of the 14 verses, the word
"creature" is mentioned but not the word earth, such as:

Many a creature that does not carry its own provision, God provides for it as well as for you. He is the Hearer, the Knowledgeable. 29:60

This research is focused on the 10 verses where both words, creatures and earth, are mentioned.
The 10 verses are split into 4 types. They differ with regards to the preposition used with the word earth. Prepositions are connecting words such as (in, on, to, from, etc).

1- We have 6 verses that speak about creatures
"in" the earth.
2- One verse speaks about a creature "from" the earth
3- One verse uses no preposition, but only the words "earthly creature"
4- Then we have 2 verses that speak about creatures "on" the earth

It is therefore necessary to inquire as to why more than one preposition was used when the subject in all verses related to the same two words: the creatures and the earth.

FIRST:
Creature "in" the earth" (6 verses)

In verses 2:164, 6:38, 11:6, 16:49, 31:10 and 42:29, the words (creature and earth) are connected with the preposition
"in". The creatures are said to be "in" the earth, such as:

There is not a single creature in the earth whose provision is not due from God.
11:6

Normally, the phrase to use would be
"creature on the earth" since we live on the earth and not inside it. So why did God use the word "in"?
Rather than inquiring why God used the word "in" in such verses, almost all translators of the Quran used the phrase "creatures on the earth".

Not only does that make their translation an inaccurate representation of God's words, but more seriously, it implies that God has made grammatical mistakes and that they are correcting such mistakes!

To understand why God used the word
"in", we need to examine this matter from a pure scientific perspective. We know that the earth's atmosphere is an integral part of the earth. We also know that all creatures live either on land, in the sea, or in the air. What this means is that all creatures live in the earth because no creatures live above the earth's atmosphere. The phrase "in the earth" is therefore the accurate phrase to use.

We also note that all 6 verses in this group speak about all creatures in the earth and not just land dwelling creatures. Many creatures live in the air, they do not live on the surface of the earth. Birds, such as the frigate birds and the alpine swifts spend most of their lives in the air. The common swift in particular spends at least 10 months out of every year in the air.
In addition, there are countless microscopic creatures that live exclusively in the air.
And since the word "creatures" in all 6 verses referred to all living creatures, on land, in the sea and in the air, it would not be accurate to use the phrase "on the earth".

SECOND:
Creature "from" the earth" (1 verse)

When the Word is carried out upon them, We will bring out for them a creature from the earth that will say to them that the people have not been certain of Our signs.
27:82

The use of the preposition
"from" in 27:82 describes what the creature is made from and not where it lives. The creature mentioned in 27:82 is made from earthly materials.
We now know that these words refer to the computer, which is made from earthly materials, and which was instrumental in unveiling the signs/miracle of God (code 19), just as the words in the verse says it will do.

THIRD
: "Earthly creature" (1 verse)

In one Quranic verse, no preposition was used to link the two words (creature and earth):

Then when We decreed death for him, nothing informed them of his death other than the earthly creature that started eating his staff. Then when he fell down, the jinn realised that had they known the unseen, they would not have remained in the humiliating punishment.
34:14

The earthly creature in 34:14 refers to the earthworm.

FOURTH:
Creature "on" the earth" (2 verses)

The final 2 verses, reference is made to creatures
"on" the earth. They are 16:61 and 35:45
Naturally, if all creatures live in the earth as shown above, why did God use the word "on" in other verses?

If God were to hold people accountable for their transgressions, He would not have left a single creature on it, but He allows them respite for a specified term. Once their term is fulfilled, they cannot delay it by one hour, nor advance it.
16:61

The word earth is not mentioned by name in 16:61, however, reference is made to the earth with the word
"it".

Inquiries to resolve

1-
To determine why the word "on" was used in 16:61 and not the word "in", the first inquiry we need to make is to find out if there are any differences between 16:61, where the word "on" is used, and the 6 verses where the word "in" (the earth) is used.
And so, let us look at the two verses one more time:

There is not a single creature in the earth whose provision is not due from God.
11:6

If God were to hold people accountable for their transgressions, He would not have left a single creature on it, but He allows them respite for a specified term. Once their term is fulfilled, they cannot delay it by one hour, nor advance it.
16:61

One immediate difference between the two verses becomes apparent. This difference, as will be shown, is quite significant in resolving this inquiry.
The words in 11:6 speaks of all creatures in the earth, and as mentioned, these are all the creatures that live on land, in the sea, or in the air.

In contrast, the creatures mentioned in 16:61 are exclusively the humans/people.
In 16:61, God is saying that if the "people" are held accountable to their transgressions, none (of the people) will be left on earth. In other words, God would have instantly wiped all people off the face of the earth.

2- What about the word "creature"? This word has also been used in 16:61 and we have already established that this word refers to all creatures and not just the human being. The word "creature" in isolation does indeed refer to all creatures created by God, however, we have a clear evidence that the word "creature" in 16:61 refers only to the human being.

The evidence is found in 2 phrases, they are:
- "their transgressions"
- "He allows them respite for a specified term."

Animals, fish, birds, and all microscopic creatures do not commit transgressions. As a result, they do not need a respite to correct their sins. All such animals are pure believers who glorify God constantly:

Have you not seen that everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies God, even the birds in their flight formation? Each has known its prayer and its glorification. God is Knowledgeable of what they do.
24:41

Therefore the words
"He would not have left a single creature on it" speak only about the people.

3-
Even if the word "creature" in 16:61 refers only to the human being, has it not already been established that we humans live inside the earth's atmosphere and thus "in" the earth?

Indeed, we do live
"in the earth". The reason why it is told that we live "in" the earth in some verses, then "on" the earth in other verses is because as shown above, in the verses that state that we live "in" the earth, the word "creature" refers to all living creatures and not just the human being. And so, it would not be accurate to say that all creatures live "on" the back of the earth when many live in the air as shown above.

However, when God referred only to the human being, the word
"on" the earth would be more precise to use since no humans live in the air.

4-
That is all fine so far, however, the words in 16:61 do not say the 'back' of the earth. Where is the Quranic evidence to confirm that this is the intended meaning?
The Quranic evidence that the word "on" in 16:61 refers to the back/surface of the earth is provided in the following verse:

If God were to hold people accountable for what they have earned, He would not have left a single creature on its back, but He allows them respite for a specified term. When their time comes, then indeed, God is Seer of His servants.
35:45
The words in the verse preceding 35:45 confirms that "its back" refer to the back of the earth.
Now let us look at the words in the two verses, 16:61 and 35:45 in conjunction:
If God were to hold people accountable for their transgressions, He would not have left a single creature on it, but He allows them respite for a specified term. 16:61
If God were to hold people accountable for what they have earned, He would not have left a single creature on its (earth) back, but He allows them respite for a specified term. 35:45
The following can be derived from the conjunction of the 2 verses:
1- In both verses, the word "creature" refers only to the "people".
2- The subject of the two verses is identical, and the words are almost identical.
3- It follows that the words "creature on its back" is the common meaning to both verses.
5- One of the functions of the code 19 in the Quran is to establish a connection between various Quranic words/verses in order to confirm a specific Quranic truth. So do we have any mathematical pattern that confirms the common meaning (on its back) between 16:61 and 35:45?
The Sura and verse number of the 2 verses are 16:61 and 35:45.
The number 1661 (sura 16, verse 61) is not a multiple of 19.
The number 3545 (sura 35, verse 45) is not a multiple of 19 either.
Only when we add the 2 numbers do we get a multiple of 19.
1661 + 3545 = 5206 = 19 x 274
This mathematical link confirms the common meaning in the two verses, 16:61 and 35:45. Hence, when God says "on" the earth in 16:61, the meaning is identical to that in 35:45 which is: on the back of the earth.
CONCLUSION

The meticulous choice of words by God is evident in the 10 verses reviewed. The disparity in the preposition used is totally justified and it demonstrates the immaculate accuracy of God's words.
When the word "creature" was used in reference to all living creatures, on land, in the sea and in the air, the word "in the earth" was the accurate phrase to use.
However, when the word "creature" referred only to the human being, the words "on" the back of the earth were the more precise words to use.