And the Ravens are Black
Ravens are large, all black birds in the same family as crows and magpies. The Raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years, and they’re looked upon as an annoying pest, a trickster, and a highly intelligent creature. They are skillful hunters, but even more clever in finding easier sources of food. They will follow wolf packs, and then scavenge at the kill, or they will alert the wolves to a dead carcass, and let the wolves tear into it. Then the ravens will come in, grab a piece of meat and fly off before the wolves can react. They have no qualms about eating carrion, don’t hesitate to steal eggs or kill small animals, but they’re just as happy to eat grain, berries and fruit, and you’ll always find them around garbage dumps, feeding on whatever is there.
Just as God says, they are entirely black, right down to their beaks, their eyes and their legs. But God gave ravens so many other wonderful features besides their radiant jet-black color and their resourcefulness in finding food. They are considered a song bird. Their primary call is a raucous sort of “Caw” that can be very harsh-sounding, and can be heard for up to a mile. But they also have a wide range of other sounds, imitating many of the natural and man-made sounds around them.
It’s also been observed that they use non-verbal communication—pointing with their beak to indicate an object or holding up an object to get another bird’s attention.
They have a clever, fun-loving personality and will often work together to torment a dog or a cat in a yard, always staying just out of reach. Young ravens sometimes slide down snow-banks or snow-covered roofs, just for fun. They put on gymnastic displays mid-air, looping around each other and locking talons, or dropping twigs in order to dive and catch them again. They are excellent and acrobatic fliers on par with falcons and hawks. They put on amazing aerial displays, especially during breeding season, and then they mate for life. Ravens can live up to thirty years, making a nice long marriage. [42:11] Initiator of the heavens and the earth. He created for you from among yourselves spouses―and also for the animals. He thus provides you with the means to multiply. They lay three to seven eggs in spring, and when the fledglings fly off, these teenagers group together in large gangs until they find a mate.
Their intelligence has been tested over the years and researchers find them to be good problem solvers, inventive in their solutions. The Quran bears this out. It was the raven who came to show Cain how to bury his brother after he murdered him.
[5:31] GOD then sent a raven to scratch the soil, to teach him how to bury his brother’s corpse. He said, “Woe to me; I failed to be as intelligent as this raven, and bury my brother’s corpse.” He became ridden with remorse.
Both the Bible and Quran indicate that God has made the ravens to be just who they are.
He is the One who created them and He is the One who feeds them. “Who provides nourishment for the ravens when their young ones cry to God, and they rove abroad without food?” (Job 38:41) God is the One who provides for everything. “He [God] giveth to the beasts his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” (Psalm 147:9)
Yes, God feeds the young ravens. But what does that mean to us? Jesus put it best when he warned his disciples: “That is why I warn you, do not be concerned for your life, what you are to eat, or for your body, what you are to wear. Life is more important than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; they have neither cellar nor barn—yet God feeds them: how much more important you are than the fowls?” (Luke12:22-24)
The Quran, in 35:27, refers to the raven’s color, but the verse begins with the reminder that God is the Provider: Do you not realize that GOD sends down from the sky water, whereby we produce fruits of various colors? Even the mountains have different colors; the peaks are white, or red, or some other color. And the ravens are black. [35:27]
So, like the ravens, we need to realize that God provides for us; He gives us enough; He takes care of us. He sends examples from among all His wondrous creatures for us to learn from. The raven, with all his clever character traits, provides us with proof of God’s greatness.
[45:3-4] The heavens and the earth are full of proofs for the believers. Also in your creation, and the creation of all the animals, there are proofs for people who are certain.