اعْجَبُوا لِهذَا الاْنْسَانِ يَنْظُرُ بِشَحْمٍ و يَتَكَلَّم بِلَحْمٍ وَيَسْمَعُ بِعَظْمٍ، وَيَتَنَفَّسُ مِنْ خَرْمٍ۔
How wonderful is man that sees with fat, talks with a piece of flesh, hears with a bone and breathes through a hole.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Nahj al-Balagha — Peak of Eloquence: Hadith #8)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he beautifully describes the marvel of human creation. Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith by exploring the meanings of the important words used.
The word (shahm) "شَحْمٍ" refers to fat or adipose tissue, which is an essential component of the human body. It serves as a protective layer and provides insulation. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) highlights the wonder of human sight, which is made possible through the presence of fat in the eye sockets. This emphasizes the intricate design of the human body and the wisdom behind its creation.
The phrase (lahm) "لَحْمٍ" refers to flesh or muscle. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) draws attention to the remarkable ability of humans to communicate through speech, which is made possible by the movement of muscles in the mouth and throat. This highlights the unique gift of language bestowed upon mankind and the power of expression that sets us apart from other creatures.
The word ('azm) "عَظْمٍ" refers to bone, which forms the skeletal structure of the human body. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) emphasizes the blessing of hearing, which is made possible through the vibrations transmitted to the inner ear via the bones of the skull. This highlights the intricate mechanism of hearing and the ability to perceive sound, enabling us to communicate and experience the world around us.
Lastly, the phrase (kharim) "خَرْمٍ" refers to a hole or opening. Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) mentions the act of breathing, which is made possible through the nostrils. This highlights the significance of the respiratory system in sustaining human life and the continuous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that keeps us alive.
Now, let us turn to the Quran to find verses that support and further elucidate the meaning behind this Hadith.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Mu'minun (23:12-14):
And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay. Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging. Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators.
These verses highlight the gradual process of human creation, starting from a mere extract of clay and culminating in the intricate formation of bones and flesh. It emphasizes the wisdom and perfection of Allah's creation, which Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) marvels at in his statement.
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Insan (76:1-2), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says:
Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned? Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.
These verses emphasize the humble origin of mankind and the miraculous transformation from a mere sperm-drop to a fully functioning human being with the faculties of hearing and sight. It highlights the purpose behind our creation and the tests we are subjected to in this worldly life.
Reflecting on Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) thought-provoking Hadith, we are reminded of the intricate design and functionality of the human body. It serves as a testament to the wisdom and power of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ), who has created us in the most perfect and remarkable manner. This Hadith encourages us to ponder upon the blessings bestowed upon us and to be grateful for the abilities we possess.
As Muslims, we should strive to deepen our understanding of the marvels of creation and recognize the signs of Allah's greatness in every aspect of our existence. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to appreciate His creation and to utilize our faculties in a manner that pleases Him.
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