The Qur’an presents nature as a model for human behavior. An explanation of this is given in the chapter Al-‘Imran (The Family of Imran). A translation of the relevant verse is given below: Do they seek a religion other than the religion of God, when everything in the heavens and the earth has submitted to Him, willingly or unwillingly? To Him they shall all return. (3:83)
In other words, the religion of God means the law of nature. The whole world is controlled by this law, and the crux of this law is submission. Therefore, the religion of the universe is based on submission. Submission to God is the only religion for both man and the universe. This natural model for man is referred to in several parts of the Qur’an. For example, in one verse the Qur’an says: “The sun cannot overtake the moon, nor can the night outpace the day: each floats in [its own] orbit.” (36:40) This means that the sun and moon follow their own prescribed orbits, and the same is required of humans. Of course, all men and women are allowed to organize their own activities, but it is with the caveat that they should not go beyond limits, that is, they should not do anything which could be harmful to others.
The sun supplies light and heat every day, but it never sends out any bills. Heat and sunlight are supplied free to all living beings. The same service is required of man. Man must adopt the principle of selfless service. The honeybee enters the world of plants; along with the flowers it encounters thorns. But when the bee takes nectar from the flowers, it always ignores the thorns. The same conduct is required of man. Man must be positive in his behavior; it is not permissible for him to behave in a negative way. Animals are provided with horns, but no animal uses its horns for aggression. Its horns are used only in self-defense. The same principle has to be observed by man. Man has been endowed with many powers, which he may use for his own benefit, but he must refrain from using them against his fellowmen. This is true of all things in nature, where everything serves as a model. Nature’s behavior is always impeccable, it shows to man the right path.
Therefore, man should always follow nature’s perfect models. The religion of the universe is based on submission. Submission to God is the only religion for both man and the universe. These natural models do not speak: they never announce that they are models for men. So it is the duty of man to study nature and discover the models hidden in its conduct. He should then apply what he learns from these models to the affairs of his daily life. In principle, all the kinds of behavior required of man have been set forth in the Qur’an, and the whole of nature has been created in such a way that it serves as a role model for mankind. The models in nature are first and foremost of a mechanical kind. Because it is compulsory for them to behave with total propriety, they do not merit any reward for their behavior. But man is free. If he behaves in any particular way, whether it be right or wrong, it is by his own choice. So for good behavior, man will be amply rewarded. Man being the special creation of God Almighty, he will be given a special reward for good conduct in this world as well as in the world hereafter.