One ‘green’ with many products

One Green with many products


GREEN is common in nature and is abundant in growing grass and leaves that contain the green pigment chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is a complex biomolecule that is critical in photosynthesis. It is green because it absorbs other colours of visible light, like red and blue, while reflecting green.

Now, photosynthesis is a process whereby the ‘green‘ in the plant utilizes sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into chemical energy in the form of carbohydrates, or sugars, which allows the plant to grow. The process also releases oxygen.

These carbohydrates, i.e. simple and complex sugars, are then stored in grains, fruits and various parts of the plant. They provide the basic energy source for all life on Earth for its survival and sustenance.


At this point we come across the Verse of ‘Green’ (‘the Photosynthesis Verse’):

And He it is who has sent down water from the Heaven; and therewith have We brought forth all living growth, then have We brought forth out of it GREEN, from which We produce grain heaped up; and out of the date-palm, out of its sheaths, clusters low-hanging; and gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates: each alike yet unlike. Deeply observe the fruit thereof, when it comes to fruition, and its ripening! Most surely in all this there are messages for people who acknowledge! 6:99

Note in the above the stress on ‘GREEN’ (‘khadir’), the very central word which the description actually starts with and revolves around.

Here ‘green’ unmistakably reminds a modern reader about the green pigment chlorophyll, the basis of photosynthesis, which  produces all food for virtually all living creatures on Earth (‘We brought forth out of it GREEN, from which We produce …’).

The rest of the verse continues with the description about the photosynthetic products of green.

This involves various fruits, their appearances and properties and the processes of fruition and ripening.

It is interesting to observe how the Quran precisely describes all different fruits and grains as the products of ‘GREEN’.

The Verse of ‘Green’ is better understood when read together with the Colour Verses (35:27-28; see We are called to observe the colours).


The main product of photosynthesis is GLUCOSE, which is the fundamental building block of all carbohydrates.

Thus all carbohydrates are eventually produced through photosynthesis. They include monosaccharides (glucose and fructose e.g. in ‘grapes’), disaccharides (sucrose in ‘dates … grapes … pomegranates’), starch (sugar polymer in ‘grain’) and cellulose (sugar polymer in ‘sheaths’).

The water-soluble sugars like glucose, fructose and sucrose are used for immediate energy. The insoluble sugars like starches are stored (‘grain heaped up’) as tiny granules in various parts of the plant – chiefly the leaves, roots, and fruits – and can be broken down again when energy is needed. Cellulose is used to build the rigid cell walls representing the principal supporting structure of plants.

Photosynthesis manufactures, apart from carbohydrates – i.e. sugars, starches and cellulose – also acids (e.g. in ‘olives’ and unripe fruits: ‘deeply observe the… ripening!’) including amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and derive from the intermediate products of photosynthesis.


There is an emphasis in 6:99 on ‘green’ (‘khadir’), depicted as the fountain of an endless range of harvests.

This is in line with the constant call in chapter 6 (see Abraham’s observation of the Universe), as well as throughout the Quran, to observe the One in the Many (‘each alike yet unlike’).

The emphasis on green in 6:99 is elaborated by a rich description of multiple fruits and grains as the products of green. Rendered into modern scientific language, the verse also alludes to various carbohydrates (sugars) including monosaccharides, disaccharides, starch and cellulose.

Obviously, ‘green’ in this specific context concurs with our current understanding about chlorophyll, i.e. the green pigment in the plants, and its vital role in the process of photosynthesis, which is the basis of all life on Earth.

Then, importantly, we are called to reflect on the divine messages in ‘photosynthesis’, in this great miracle of nature (‘in all this there are messages …’). These messages are expounded throughout the Quran in many other places.

For instance, 36:77-82 describes the natural phenomenon of storage of solar energy in the form of fuel, via GREEN, and then its rebirth into activated life-forces and flames as a proof of God’s ability to resurrect the dead (see Every kindling of fire is a reminder!).

Thus the messages in ‘photosynthesis’ are not only about the unity in diversity (16:10-13) but also about God’s oneness and greatness and His infinite creative and re-creative power (17:44, 57:1, 36:77-82).


Photosynthesis and the Quran

Every kindling of fire is a reminder!

Every kindling of fire is a reminder of God’s power to resurrect the dead.

Every kindling of fire is a reminder!

Every kindling of fire is a reminder!2


GREEN PLANT is the main storage of SOLAR ENERGY on Earth. And, like a photoelectric battery, it releases latent FIRE as per demand:

He who has appointed for you the fire from the GREEN plant, so that you kindle therewith. 36:80

Please note that, while thus referring to the metamorphosis of GREEN PLANTS into fuel, the verse adds some special importance to ‘GREEN’ in relation to the ‘fire’ that we ‘kindle’.

But with green plant we kindle not only the visible fire. With green plant we, like all living organisms, also kindle the invisible fire, the very flames of our own biological existence (‘so that you kindle therewith’).

Let us try to understand this from a biological perspective.

All living organisms including humans are made of living cells, and all living cells live through breathing in and out, a process called cellular respiration.

Now, in cellular respiration all the billions of cells in living organisms are like tiny furnaces, while the sugar – produced by green plants via photosynthesis and consumed by organisms – is the fuel …

This sugar (fuel) – after burning with oxygen received through ‘breathing in’, while producing heat and releasing CO2 through ‘breathing out’ – unlocks its sleeping energy to kindle the life-processes in the cells.

In brief, derived from solar energy via photosynthesis, hidden flames remain preserved within the green plants in the form of chemical energy in carbohydrates (‘He who has appointed for you the fire from the GREEN plant; cf. 6:99). They are then resurrected through the process of burning into active, living flames as well as into the flames of life (cf. ‘so that you kindle therewith.’).

Thus, it is the ‘fire’ received from the converted solar energy stored in GREEN plants wherewith we kindle not only the burner but also the biochemical processes of our own cells, and so ourselves.


Now let us read the above verse in its context to get the underlying moral and the bigger message.

By exemplifying this daily experience of ignition (36:80), the Quran negates the materialistic argument about the illogicality of resurrection (36:77-79) and instantly infers that the almighty all-knowing God – who has launched the entire Universe out of nothing simply through a single creative impulse of ‘kun fayakoon’ (36:81-82) – is as easily able to preserve all the life-forces in order to re-create them in a similar fashion as kindling of fire (36:80-83):

Does not man see that it is We who have created him from a tiny drop? Then, lo! the same is an obvious reasoner!

And he thinks of Us in terms of comparison, and forgets his own creation, saying, who could give life to bones that have crumbled to dust?

Say: He will REVIVE them who produced them at the first, for He is Knower of every creation,

He who has appointed for you the fire from the GREEN plant, so that you kindle therewith.

Is not He who created the Heavens and the Earth able to create the like thereof? – Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge!

Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, ‘Be’, and it is! 36:77-82


Thus the Quran refers to the storage of solar energy – through photosynthesis via GREEN (6:99) – and its rebirth into activated life-forces and flames as a proof of God’s ability to resurrect the dead.


Have you considered the fire which you kindle?

Is it you that originated its tree, or are We the Originators?

We, We have made it a REMINDER and a useful tool for the starving/ wanderer. 56:71-73

There are several possible reasons the source of fire is mentioned here as tree. First, all fire we kindle comes from bio- and fossil fuels, all of plantal origin. Also, fire, like a living organism, cannot breathe or even exist without oxygen, which fire ultimately gets from ‘its tree’ (green plant). Then, because fire too goes through a life-cycle of birth, growth and death, similar to a living tree, fire itself can be perceived as a tree (‘tree of fire’).

The phrase ‘originated its tree’ further draws our attention to a very important historical issue: the role of the spreading fire as an ‘useful tool’ for the origin and development of civilization. It was the discovery of fire – from green-plant-based fuel, probably by Paleolithic hominid – which emerged as a gigantic tool that kindled human civilization by revolutionizing all aspects of life, from cooking to lighting to heating to signalling, and triggered the cascade of its progress like a ‘tree of fire’ (‘fire … originated its tree /… useful tool for the starving/ wanderer’).

The phrase ‘useful tool for the starving/ wanderer’, however, appears to have yet another connotation: it makes us ponder on the spiritual fire, i.e. the fire of divine Truth – the truth of God’s oneness – which was ‘perceived’ by Moses while ‘wandering in the desert of confusion’ (20:10, 27:7-13, 28:29). Metaphorically, it is the same fire that illuminates our mind’s Universe with the truth of GOD’S ONENESS by generating multi-layered consciousness (‘Light upon light), as described in The famous light verse (24:35).