Lessons and Blessings in Cattle and the Fruit of the Date-palm and Grapevine
(there is for you) – O mankind –
(in the cattle) – meaning camels, cows and sheep,
(a lesson) meaning a sign and an evidence of the wisdom, power, mercy and kindness of the Creator.
(We have made a drink for you out of what is in its belly) meaning its singular forms refers to one cattle, or it could refer to the whole species. For cattle are the creatures which provide a drink from what is in their bellies and in another Ayah it is `in their bellies.’ Either way is plausible. He said,
(from between excretions and blood, pure milk;) meaning it is free of blood, and is pure in its whiteness, taste and sweetness. It is between excrement and blood in the belly of the animal, but each of them goes its own way after the food has been fully digested in its stomach. The blood goes to the veins, the milk goes to the udder, the urine goes to the bladder and the feces goes to the anus. None of them gets mixed with another after separating, and none of them is affected by the other.
(pure milk; palatable to the drinkers.) meaning nothing to cause one to choke on it. When Allah mentions milk and how He has made it a palatable drink for mankind, He follows this with a reference to the drinks that people make from the fruits of the date palm and grapevine, and what they used to do with intoxicating Nabidh (drink made from dates) before it was forbidden. Thus He reminds them of His blessings, and says:
(And from the fruits of date palms and grapes, you derive strong drink) This indicates that it was permissible to drink it before it was forbidden. It also indicates that strong drink (i.e., intoxicating drink) derived from dates is the same as strong drink derived from grapes. Also forbidden are strong drinks derived from wheat, barley, corn and honey, as is explained in detail in the Sunnah.
(strong drink and a goodly provision.) Ibn `Abbas said: “Strong drink is the product of these two fruits that is forbidden, and the good provision is what is permitted of them.” According to another report: “Strong drink is its unlawful, and the goodly provision is its lawful,” referring to the fruits when they are dried, like dates and raisins, or products derived from them such as molasses, vinegar and wine (of grapes, dates) which are permissible to drink before they become strong (becomes alcoholic), as was stated in the Sunnah.
(There is indeed a sign in this for those of reason.) It is appropriate to mention reason here, because it is the noblest feature of man. Hence Allah forbade this Ummah from drinking intoxicants, in order to protect their ability to reason. Allah says:
(And We placed gardens of date palms and grapes in it, and We caused springs of water to gush forth in it. So that they may eat of its fruit – while their hands did not make it. Will they not then give thanks Glory be to Him Who created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind (male and female), and of that which they know not.) (36:34-36)