above has transformed their physical matter into bounty. It is because of this that their immaterial attributes have been considered, and their physical beings disregarded, and this is expressed with the phrases, “And He sent down,” and, “And We sent down.”
These two phrases state the above-mentioned point both in regard to reality, and they miraculously express an important meaning in respect of eloquence. It is as follows:
Together with its extremely tough nature, and its being hidden, frequently deep underground, iron is found everywhere, bestowed with the quality of being easily softened. Everyone can therefore obtain it easily everywhere for everything. In order to express this, it states through the phrase “And We sent down iron,” that iron tools are obtained so easily they are as though sent down from a workbench above as natural, heavenly bounties, and placed in man’s hand.
Furthermore, although some animal species, from the mosquito to snakes, scorpions, wolves, and lions are harmful to human beings, large beasts like the water-buffalo, ox, and camel, who are important among animals, are extremely docile and submissive. So much so they may be led by even a child. To express the idea of their submissiveness, the verse “And He sent down for you eight head of cattle in pairs” states that being neither wild nor dangerous, these blessed beasts do not resemble worldly animals. They are rather useful and harmless like paradisaical animals. They have been sent down from above, that is, from the treasury of mercy.
Perhaps this is why some Qur’anic commentators have said that these animals have been sent down from Paradise. It is hardly prolix to write a whole page about a single letter of the All-Wise Qur’an,1 for it is God’s Word. It has therefore not been wasteful to write two or three pages on the expression “And We sent down.” Sometimes one letter of the Qur’an is the key to a treasury.
What some Qur’anic commentators intended by saying “Their origins were the heavens” was this: the continued existence of the animals known as “an‘am” is through sustenance, and their sustenance is fodder. The fodder’s sustenance is rain. Rain is the water of life and mercy; so sustenance also comes from the heavens. The verse, “And in the heavens is our sustenance”(51:22) alludes to this. Since those animals’ continually renewed existences lie in the rain which comes from the skies, the expression “And He sent down” is apt, for it expresses the meaning of having been sent down from the sky.