Scholars — past and present — have explained the wonders of Allah in His creation. They exhort themselves thereby as they exhort others. We will quote below some of the conclusions reached by scholars of the past and the present.
Reading these quotes, the reader should bear in mind the words of Moosa (Moses) to Fir‘awn (Pharaoh):
“Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.” (Qur’an 20: 50).
Allah (s.w.t), has given each thing that He has created which suits it, and has guided it to that which befits it... we will see examples of this giving and guiding below.
i) Bodies are formed of cells, which divide
a) What are the living bodies formed of, and how?
Explaining this matter a modem researcher, Dr. Yusuf Izz Uddeen says, “Most animals and plants are formed of a huge number of these tiny units which we call cells, just as a building is formed of stones laid next to one another.”
b) Why are cells continually dividing?
Dr. Yusuf ‘Izz Uddeen explains the secret behind the division of cells:
“The cells of our bodies and the bodies of other animals are always dividing. This division makes the body grow, or makes up for cells that have been lost or have died for various reasons. Each of these cells is basically formed from a wondrous substance called protoplasm.
The contents of each cell perform specific functions; among these contents are minute “bodies” which carry the genetic factors. These are called chromosomes.
The number of chromosomes in the cells of each species of animals and plants is fixed. The number of chromosomes in cats, for example, is different from the number in dogs or elephants or carrots or beans.
In each cell of the human body, the number of chromosomes is forty- six.
When a cell divides into two in our bodies, each cell must contain the same number of chromosomes, i.e., forty-six. If this number were distorted or changed, man would not be man. As we have mentioned, this division of cells happens continually, at all hours of the day, even when we are sleeping. Even now, we still do not know the real nature of the forces that control this amazing action of cell division. Science stops as describing the practical steps that have been observed through regular microscopes or electron microscopes which can magnify things far more than regular microscopes.”
c) Why are reproductive cells different from other cells?
Dr. Yusuf says: “All the cells which are produced by cellular division in our bodies must contain forty-six chromosomes, apart from two types of cells, which are the reproductive cells, i.e., the male sperm and the female egg. When the tissue cells divide to produce these reproductive cells, they produce cells which do not contain forty-six chromosomes; instead, they contain half that number, so that each reproductive cell, whether male or female, contains twenty-three chromosomes.”
Then he explains why this happens, and says:
“This happens for a great reason: the male cell (sperm) must join with the female cell (egg) to form the first cell in the body of the embryo, which we call the fertilized cell, where the twenty-three chromosomes in the male cell join the twenty-three chromosomes in the female cell, so that the number of chromosomes in the new cell is restored to the original number, forty-six chromosomes.
This fertilized cell which now contains forty-six chromosomes continues to divide, becoming two cells, then four, then eight, and so on, until the foetus is fully formed and emerges from its mother’s womb. (The foetus) continues to grow by cell division until it becomes a fully-grown human being, with forty-six chromosomes in each of its cells, as in the cells of the bodies of its mother, father, grandparents and all other members of the human race.”
“This halving of the number of chromosomes in the reproductive cells so that they can join together and restore the number to the original could never happen as the result of blind forces. It has to be the result of precise calculation on the part of a sublime power that knows what it is doing.
At the same time, this operation cannot be the result of trial and error. If only one mistake had happened at the beginning of creation, it would have dealt a final blow to the life form before the second generation had been created. This arrangement has to have been completed before the first foetus ever to appear was formed. Is this not sufficient evidence of the existence of a wise, capable and controlling higher power?”
d) Why do not brain cells divide?
The other type of cell that is unlike all the others is the brain cell which, unlike all other cells in the body, does not divide. Concerning the reason why it does not divide. Dr. Yusuf says:
“It could not have come about through trial and error that the only cells that do not divide are the nerve cells from which the brain and the rest of the nervous system are formed. If these cells were to divide like other cells, the results would be disastrous. In this case the brain cells would not be able to preserve a person’s personality and all the features of his memory would disappear within a few hours.
The number of brain cells that are present in a person or animal does not increase even by one cell until the individual dies, whereas the red blood cells are cells which die and are replaced by new cells every hundred days or so. Red blood cells are manufactured in the bone marrow, then sent to join the flow of blood to take the place of cells that have died.”
e) The reason why muscles in the body vary in strength.
On this topic Dr. Yusuf also says:
“The strongest muscles in the body of both humans and mammals are the muscles of the uterus in females, the muscles which push the foetus out of its mother’s womb. If these muscles had not been so strong from the beginning of creation, the first newborn would never have emerged from its mother’s womb.
The next strongest muscles after those of the uterus are the muscles of the jaw, and the muscles of the heart which must continue to work night and day to push the blood around the circulatory system for a period which may last for more than a hundred years. Similarly, the jaw muscles must remain able to bring the teeth together to chew tons of food over a lifetime.”
ii) Resistance of living beings to destructive factors
Dr. Yusuf says:
“There is an important characteristic which is shared by all living beings from the most primitive to the most advanced. This characteristic is the resistance to destructive factors, because the Creator of all these beings wants them to survive.
The influenza virus changes shape from time to time, to make it harder to resist and destroy. Generation after generation of insects gains immunity to chemical insecticides, thus resisting destructive factors and extinction.
In the case of man, too, it has been noted that more babies are born during times of war, and that when women take birth control pills for an extended period, if they forget to take the pills for a few days, the result is often twins, to make up for the lack of offspring caused by the period of contraception. If a person loses one of his kidneys for some reason, the remaining kidney increases in size in order to do the work of two kidneys. It is as if the body realizes that something is missing and is trying to compensate for it.
Allah Alone is the One Who has provided these created beings with this wonderful ability to maintain the balance so that they are not exposed to the risk of extinction. He has also equipped many animals with the means of defending themselves. In this sense man is no different than scorpions, snakes, centipedes, etc.
This principle or law, to which all living beings are subject, could not have come about as the result of a blind accident. An accident cannot take the shape of a law that applies to all creatures.”
iii) How Allah inspired the bee and the wonders of how Allah has created it
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) tells us about the wonders that Allah (s.w.t), has created in the universe. He tells us how Allah has guided the bee in the makers of its life: “The way in which the bee is guided is one of the most wondrous things. It has a leader and controller, the chief, which is bigger than all the other bees and more beautiful in colour and appearance.
The female bees give birth at the beginning of spring, and most of the offspring are females. If a male is born they do not let him stay among them. Either they expel him or kill him, apart from a few, because the males do not do any work of value or earn a living.
The bees are divided into groups, one of which stays with the king and never leaves him. Another group makes wax, which is made from the dregs of honey and is sweet like figs. The bees take great care of this, more than they do with the honey. They clean it and purify it from any contamination such as urine and the like. Another group builds the houses, another group brings water, carrying it on their backs. A third group sweeps the hive and cleans it of any dead bodies (of bees). If they see a slow, lazy bee, they kill it so that it cannot corrupt the other workers and infect them with its idleness and laziness.
The first thing to be built in the hive is the throne and house of the king. A raised house like a bed is built for him, and he sits there, with a group of bees like princes, servants and advisers around him, who never leave him. The bees make something like a trough in front of him, into which they pour the finest possible honey. They fill the trough with it, and this is the food of the king and his courtiers.
Then they start to build the houses in a straight line, like streets and shops. Their houses are regular six-sided shapes (hexagons), as if they have read the book of Euclid and know that this is the best shape for their houses, because what is needed when a house is built is a structure which is stable and spacious, and of all shapes, the hexagon takes on a round shape like a millstone when several of them are joined together. No holes or gaps are left, and the shapes support one another so that they form a single, solid layer, such that the point of a needle cannot be inserted between the houses.
Blessed be the One Who inspired the bee to build its houses in this solid, well-constructed manner which man cannot do. The bee knows that it needs to build its houses with two important qualities: the first is that the corners should not be so sharply-angled that this narrow space would be wasted, and the other is that the houses should be of such a shape that when they are joined together, no space is wasted.
The bee knows that the only shape which has these two qualities is the hexagon. Although triangles and squares could fill the space, their angles are too narrow, Other shapes may have wider angles, but they do not fill the space properly — they would leave gaps which would be a waste of space. The hexagon has these two qualities, so Allah guided the bee to build its houses in this shape, without any ruler or tools or example to follow. The most proficient of the sons of Adam would not be able to build a hexagonal house without the use of big tools.
Blessed be the One Who guided the bee to find its way to its “pasture” where it finds its food in an easy manner, without difficulty and without losing its way. It gathers the best of what it finds in the pasture, then comes back to its empty house and pours into it a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think (cf. Qur’an 16: 68-69).
When it has finished building these houses, the bee goes out with an empty stomach, wandering in the plains and mountains, feeding on the nectar in the tops of flowers and tree leaves, and it comes back with a frill stomach.
Allah (s.w.t), has created in its mouth a (kind of) heat which processes what it has collected and turns it into something sweet, then it brings it forth in the houses until they are full, then it seals them and covers the top with pure wax. When these houses are full, it goes to another place, if it finds a suitable site, and starts to build houses in it as it did with the first houses.
If it gets cold and the “pastures” are no longer available, and the bee cannot earn its living, it stays in its house and feeds on the stored honey. When it is easing its living, it goes out early and wanders in its pastures, and each group of bees does the work that it is designed to do. Then in the evening they go back to their houses.
The king only goes out of the hive on rare occasions when he wants to have fresh air. So he goes out, with his princes and servants, and goes around in the meadows and gardens for a while, then he goes back to his place.
One of the wonders of bees is that if someone offends the king, whether it is another bee, the owner of the hive or the person who is looking after the hive, he gets angry and leaves the hive and stays away from it. All the bees follow him, and the hive is left empty.
If their owner sees that and is afraid that the king may take all the bees away to another place, he plays a trick to bring the king back and make him happy. He tries to find out where he has taken the bees, which he can find out because all the bees are gathered around him. They never leave him, rather they gather around him until they look like a bunch of grapes. When the king goes out in anger, he settles in a high part of a tree, and the bees fly around him and join him, until they look like a ball. The owner of the bees takes a spear or a long stick, and puts a bunch of fragrant vegetation on his head, then he brings it near to where the king is. He has with him either a kind of tambourine or a reed, or some kind of musical instrument, which he starts to play, and he brings those (fragrant) plants near to him. He continues like that until the king is happy, and when he is happy and his anger has ceased, he jumps onto the plants, and his servants and all the other bees follow him, and their owner carries them back to the hive. Then he and his troops get down and go into the hive. Bees never feed on dead bodies, animals or food.
Another of the wonders of bees is that they kill corrupt and oppressive kings, and never obey them. The small, perfectly formed bees are the ones which make the honey, and they try to kill the long, useless bees and expel them from the hive. If they do that, the honey will be good. They try to kill the ones that they want to kill outside the hive, so as to protect the hive from (the contamination of) dead bodies.
There is a kind of bee that is of little use, with a large body. There is a war between these and the honey-makers. They try to get to them to kill them and destroy their houses, and get rid of them. The honey- makers are very alert and careful. If they are attacked in their houses, they try to push their attackers to the doors of their houses and make them fall into the honey, so that they will not be able to fly. So no one can escape them except the one who has a long life. When the war is over and everything has sealed down, they go back to the ones that have been killed and throw them out of the hive.
Among the bees there are noble workers who are energetic and strive hard, and ignoble, lazy bees who are of little use and prefer not to do anything. The noble workers always try to expel these from the hive; they do not like to live with them lest the good bees follow in their footsteps and thus become corrupted.
The bee is one of the most refined and clean of animals, so it only defecates when frying. It dislikes rotten, putrid smells. The young, virgin bees strive harder than the older ones; they sting less and make better honey. When they do sting, it is less harmful than the sting of older bees.
Because the bee is one of the most useful and most blessed of insects, it was singled out to be inspired by its Lord unlike other animals, and the product of its stomach has been made a healing for sickness and a light which shines in the darkness. Hence the bee in relation to other animals is like those who are guided in relation to the rest of mankind. The bee has more enemies than other animals and its enemies are the least useful and least blessed of animals. This is the way of Allah with His creation, and He is the Almighty, Most Wise.
Contemporary scientists describe the world of the bee
Science has advanced nowadays, telling us much about the wonders of creation and the mysteries of the universe. The scientists have confirmed for us that which we already knew about bees being divided into three groups: the queen bee, the male bees and the worker bees.
The queen bee is the mother of the whole hive; all the bees in the hive are her children. The queen bee lays between 1500 and 2000 eggs each day with the sun rise; the number may even reach 3500. This continues throughout the reproductive season, which starts in early spring and ends in late summer.
The huge number of eggs serves to make up for the continual shortfall which happens to bees. For the bee’s lifespan is short, lasting 5-7 weeks. Hence the hive needs new generations in large numbers to support the hive and to make up for the continual shortfall, so that the hive will continue to provide the necessities of the bee’s world and protect the bees from enemies and danger, otherwise the hive would cease to exist.
One of the wonders of the way in which Allah has created the bee is that the queen bee lays her eggs in houses built by the workers in different sizes. The largest houses are prepared for future queens, and the eggs which are laid in these houses will become queens. The eggs which the queen lays in the smaller houses, which are 1/4 of an inch across, will become male bees, and the eggs that are laid in the small houses which are 5 inches across will become worker bees. It remains for us to note that the queen bee deposits three or four sperms with the worker eggs so that the eggs will be fertilized and will become worker bees, whilst she lays unfertilized eggs in the houses of male bees.
Another of the wonders of the way in which Allah has created the bee is that it does not mate except in the air when it is flying. There is a reason for this. The male bee cannot mate with the queen when she is sitting on the ground, because the male organ remains latent and invisible and can only emerge when it is soaring in the air, when air- sacs that exist in the male bee fill with air, exerting pressure on the male member, which then emerges.
One of the wonders of the way in which Allah has created the virgin queen bee is that she is able to call the male to mate with her, by making sounds which attract the male. She comes out of the hive and hovers around it, issuing these sounds, which are heard not only by the males in her hive, but in all the neighbouring hives. So groups of males come out and follow the queen, who keeps flying fast in the huge space; the strongest and fastest male is the one who gets to mate with her, but he loses his life in the process, because after mating he loses his male organ, which stays in the queen, and this results in his bleeding to death.
The reader may ask how the males hear the queen’s call. The answer is that Allah has equipped all bees with sensory antennae, consisting of connected rings, twelve in males, and eleven in workers and queens consisting a number of holes.
The number of holes in the sensory antennae of the male is 2800, in the worker it is 2400 and in the queen it is 1600.
The sensory antennae of bees work like a radio antenna; they are used to detect the sound made by the queen, and other sounds. They are also used to smell, hear and feel.
If a bee — worker, male or queen — loses its antennae, it cannot fulfil its role, because most of its senses — hearing, smell and touch — are concentrated in the antennae, as stated above.
The formation of the male bee suits the role for which it has been created. It is large and strong, it eats a lot and it does not do anything. It does not gather nectar, or make it, or build, or guard the hive. Even its food is placed in its mouth by the workers. All that it is able to do is to fertilize the queen. Therefore after it has played its role, the worker bees stop feeding it. They rather, attack the male members and kill or expel them.
We should also note that the number of males is small in relation to the total number of bees; there are no more than two hundred males in a hive.
The worker bees form the largest number in the hive, and are the active element in it. They are the ones that perform various tasks and difficult missions.
They are the ones that collect nectar, gather pollen, make honey, prepare the queen’s special food, build the honeycomb in which the honey is kept, raise the new generations of bees, guard the hive, keep it clean, maintain it and even ventilate and heat it.
The various tasks in the hive are distributed as specialized tasks, and these specialized tasks are connected to the age of the bee. At every stage in the bee’s life there is a task which it does, and the longer a bee lives, the more tasks she does in turn. Thus when a bee has completed her lifespan, she will have done all the tasks required for the upkeep of the hive. We may note that the bee starts with easy tasks which do not require a great effort, and ends with the most difficult task, which is going about in the fields to gather nectar and pollen and water, then making and storing honey. We may also note that the tasks become progressively more difficult according to the characteristics that Allah (s.w.t), has bestowed upon the bee. Each task that the bee does is suited to the physical characteristics enabling her to play the new role and do the new task.
During the first two days of her life, the worker bee cleans the houses from which the newly-hatched bees have emerged.She cleans these houses and prepares them for the next generation. The queen will not lay eggs in these houses until she has inspected them and found them to be perfectly clean.
On the third and fourth days, she takes care of the young worker and male bees which are older than three days, bringing to them something which the scientists call “bee’s bread,” a mixture of honey and pollen, which she takes from what the bees have stored in the hexagonal cells (of the hive).
From the fifth day to the twelfth day, she works to feed the queen bee with the royal food which the latter eats all her life. This special food is also fed to the small worker and male bees during the first three days of their lives. The bees do this particular task at this age (5-12 days) because of the emergence at that time of special glands on both sides of the oesophagus, which enable the bee to manufacture the royal food.
After the twelfth day, the bee is able to fry, but she does not go far. All that she does is learn and practise. Her main task from day 12 to day 18 is to build the wax honeycomb which is prepared for storing honey, and raising the new generation of bees.
The reason why the bee performs this task at this stage in its life is because it grows four pairs of glands on the rings of its abdomen, and from this wax, by using its jaws, the bee at this age builds these houses which are so perfectly constructed with precise dimensions and geometrical shapes of the utmost beauty and order.
On the nineteenth and twentieth days, the bee cleans and guards the hive. After the twentieth day, she goes out to the fields and gathers nectar and pollen, and makes honey, and brings water to the hive. This final stage forms the largest part of the bee’s life cycle.
Generations of bees come and go, and the bees progress through this sequence of tasks which ensures that all jobs are done continually, without allocating groups of bees to do one task all their life; each stage of life has its own specialty.
Glory he to the One, the Only, the Unique, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who has created these small beings, and taught them to do these tasks with such precision. This beauty and wonder point to the existence of the All-Knowing, All-Aware.
Among the wonders of the way in which Allah has formed the bee is that He has given it two stomachs, one of which it uses to collect all the raw materials derived from the nectar of flowers, or to carry water, and bring it to the hive, and the other it uses only for its own food, to digest it and be nourished by it.
Another of the wonders of the bee is that when it collects in its first stomach all the nectar that it gathers, it does not simply transport it; whilst it is bringing it to the hive, it performs the preliminary process required to turn it into honey, by producing the yeast that is required for this process.
The bee needs pollen for a variety of purposes in the hive. Its Creator has equipped it with special hollow pouches, called pollen sacs, for storing this pollen, on the outside of its hind legs. He (Allah) has given it something that looks like brushes on the inside ankle of its hind legs, which the bee uses to sweep up the pollen and collect it in the pollen sacs.
Another of the amazing features that the scientists have discovered in bees is the gland in the bee’s hack which the scientists call Nasanov’s gland. This gland produces a special scent, and amazingly the bees of each hive have their own scent which distinguishes them from the bees of other hives. A bee can return to its own home from far away by following this unique scent which is distinct from the scent of other bees. The doorkeepers and guards of the hive recognize the bees which belong to their hive by the distinctive scent emitted by the bee.
What is amazing is that bees are able to agree upon a new scent if there is a reason for doing so. For example, when a group of bees set out to form a new hive, the members of the new hive agree upon by a new scent. By way of experiment, scientists mixed one group of bees with another, and found that after the bees had mixed, they agreed upon one new scent that distinguished them from others.
Another of the wonders of bees is that they build six-sided houses of pure wax which are completely airtight. But when they seal the doors of the houses which contain the larvae, they mix the wax with pollen, which allows air in through the grains of pollen, so the larvae stay alive. If their Lord did not inspire them to do this, the larvae would die and the bees would become extinct and vanish from the face of the earth.
Our Lord has told us about the things we have mentioned here, in eloquent aayaat (verses) which invite us to think about and ponder the wondrous way in which He (s.w.t), has guided the bee:
“And your Lord inspired the bee, saying: ‘Take you habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy [for you].’ There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think.” (Qur’an 16: 68-69)
The Muslims were guided to the great benefits that exist in honey, but those who have gone astray from the guidance of Allah have only recently discovered the benefits in it. Researchers have discovered amazing facts. They have found out that honey is both food and medicine. It is a high quality food that contains features that can hardly be found elsewhere, and it is a medicine which can be used to treat almost all diseases. Science is still discovering new benefits in honey everyday.
How do bees tell one another where food is?
One of the things noted by contemporary scientists is the way in which bees tell one another where food is to be found, Dr. Yusuf ‘Izz Uddeen says:
“If one of the worker bees discovers a field or a certain amount of vegetation which it thinks is a source of food, it goes back to the colony to tell the rest of the workers about the treasure that it has found. It does this by performing a ritual dance which it does by instinct, without knowing why it does so.
This strange dance has a certain significance, during which its body makes angles which refer to the angle of the sun. If the field that the bee has discovered is near to the colony, the dance in this case is different from the dance which it performs if the field is further away.
From these dances, the bees know that the field of clover or other flowering plants from which they gather their food, is a certain distance away, and that they have to travel at a certain angle in relation to the position of the sun in order to get there.
Then some of the workers will perform the same dance, from which the bee which discovered the field will be sure that the other bees have understood what she was trying to tell them. Then the other bees will fly off and head directly for the field, to gather more food. The bee which made the discovery conveys a number of pieces of information to the other bees in the colony by her dance. If we humans tried to match the bee’s achievement in understanding these mysteries by drawing diagrams, it would take us no less than twenty minutes, if we had sufficient understanding of mathematics. But the bee understands that in an instant, and flies directly to the field in a straight line to get what it needs of food.
This is an amazing thing which we cannot explain unless we believe in the existence of Divine inspiration whereby the Creator of these small beings which are not able to think or reason, has enabled them to do what they need.”
The bee sees a colour that we do not see
Dr. Yusuf also tells us that another of the bee’s wonders is that it is able to see “a colour which we humans are unable to see or imagine. This colour is ultra-violet, which we see as black, so the bee is able to see ultra-violet rays.” Then he explains to us the reason behind the bee’s ability to see this colour:
“The reason for that is that these rays are the only ones which are able to penetrate clouds.
Bees may live in areas where there is cloud cover for much of the year, and it is essential for them to see the sun in order to know the way to the fields where their food is. This is the reason why bees are able to see this ultra-violet colour: this enables them to see the sun through the clouds, so they do not die of hunger when the sun is hidden behind the clouds. This is a wondrous fact which indicates that there is a Creater Who controls and decrees and know what He is doing, and that the ability to see this colour could not have been acquired by bees with the passage of time. It has to have been present from the very moment that Allah created bees, otherwise bees would have become extinct in those (cloudy) areas a long time ago.”
iv) How Allah guides the ant and the wonders of its creation
Ibn al-Qayyim tells us of another of Allah’s creatures, and explains to us how Allah (s.w.t), has guided it in the way in which it lives:
“The ant is one of the most guided of creatures, and the way in which it is guided is most wondrous. The tiny ant comes out of its home and looks for its food, even if it is far away, even it is far away. When it finds it, it carries it and drags it through winding paths, uphill and downhill, no matter how difficult the route, until it brings it hack to its home, where it stores its food when possible.
When it has stored it, it goes to the things that can grow and splits them into two so that they will not grow. If they grow even after being split into two, it then splits them into four. If (the stored food) gets wet and the ant is afraid that it may go rotten, it waits for a sunny day, then it brings the food out and spreads it out by the entrance to its house, then it puts it back, and no ant eats the food that another has collected.
In order to know how Allah (s.w.t), has guided the ant, it is sufficient for us to know what Allah has said in the Qur’an about the ant which Sulaymaan (Solomon)(a.s) (may peace he upon him) heard speaking to its companions and saying,
“O’ ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaymaan and his hosts should crush you, while they perceive not.” (Qur’an 27: 18)
The ant started by calling out in a manner that would be heard by those whom she was addressing, then she mentioned the ants in general terms because she was addressing them as a whole. Then she told them to enter their dwellings and protect themselves from the army, and told them why they should go in, which was because she was afraid that the army would step on them and that Sulaymaan and his army would crush them. Then she excused the Prophet of Allah and his army by noting that they would not realize that. This is amazing guidance.
Think about how Allah (s.w.t), speaks highly of the ant when He says:
“And there were gathered before Sulaymaan [Solomon] his hosts of jinn and men, and birds, and they all were set in battle order [marching forward].” (Qur’an 27: 17)
Then He (s.w.t) says:
“Till, when they came to the valley of the ants...” (Qur’an 27: 18)
Allah tells us that they all passed through this valley, and that this valley was known for its ants, as Wadi as-Sibaa ‘(valley of the wild animals) (was known for its wildlife) etc. Then Allah tells us something which indicates how clever and precise this ant was, because she told the other ants to go into their homes.She and the other ants knew that each group of them had its own home which others would not enter. Then she said:”…Lest Sulaymaan [Solomon] and his hosts should crush you...” (Qur’an 27: 18). So she both referred to him by name and acknowledged who he was; she knew that they were his troops and he was their leader. Then she said: “…while they perceive not...” (Qur’an 27: 18). It is as if she both excused the army for not realizing the harm that they caused, whilst blaming the ants for not taking precautions and entering their homes. For this reason the Prophet of Allah smiled at what she said, because it was appropriate to smile in amazement at this point.
Az-Zuhri narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Uyaynah from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w),
“forbade the killing of ants, bees, hoopoes and hawks.”
Muslim narrated from Ahu Hurayrah (r.a) that the Prophet (s.a.w) said:
“One of the Prophets stopped beneath a tree, and an ant hit him. He ordered that his luggage should be taken away and that the ant’s village (nest) should he burned.Then Allah revealed to him: one ant hit you and you burned an entire community of ants who glorify (their Lord)! Was not one ant enough?”
‘Awf ibn Abi jameelah narrated that Qusaamah ibn Zuhayr said: Abu Moosa al-Ash‘ari narrated: ‘Everything has a leader, even ants have leaders.’
Among the wonders of the way in which ants are guided is that the ant knows that its Lord is above the heavens on His Throne. Imam Ahmad narrated in Kitaab az-Zuhd from Abu Hurayrah, (r.a) who attributed it to the Prophet (s.a.w):
“One of the Prophets went out with the people to pray for rain, and they saw an ant raising its legs to heaven, praying lying on its back. He said; ‘Go back, for someone else has sufficed for you, or has ensured that you will be granted rain.”
There are a number of lsnads for this report, which is also narrated by At-Tahaawi in At-Tahdheeb, and by others.
In Musnad al-lmam Ahmad it says that Sulaymaan ibn Dawood went out to pray for rain, and he saw an ant lying on its back, raising its legs towards the heavens and saying, “O’ Allah, we are part of Your creation, and we cannot do without Your rain and Your provision. Either send us rain and provision or let us die. He (Sulaymaan) said: Go back, for you will be given rain by the du ‘aa ’ of someone else.”
I was told about an ant which came out of its home and found part of a locust’s body. It tried to carry it but was not able, so it went and brought others to help carry it. I (the person who told this story) picked it up, and the ant walked around in the place where it had been, and did not find it. The other ants went away and left the first ant. Then I put the locust down, and the ant tried to carry it and could not, so she went to bring the others back. I picked it up, and the ant walked around in the place where it had been, and did not find it, so the others went away. I did this several times, and the last time I did it, the ants made a circle around the first ant and tore it apart. I told this story to our shaykh and he said: Allah has created these ants in such a way that they hate lies and punish liars.
The ant is one of the most careful of creatures whose caution is proverbial. It is mentioned that when Sulaymaan (Solomon) saw how cautious the ant was and how careful it was to store food, he brought out an ant and asked it how much an ant eats each year? It said, three grains of wheat.So he ordered that the ant should be placed in a bottle, and be given three grains of wheat, and the bottle should be sealed and be left there for a year. When the year had passed, he commanded that the bottle should be opened, and he found one and a half grains of wheat left. He said, Did you not claim that you needed three grains of wheat per year?
The ant said, Yes, but when I saw that you were busy with the affairs of your own kind, I thought of how much of my life was left, and I realized that it was longer than the time that you had allocated for me, so I limited myself to eating half of the food, and I left half in order to ensure my survival. Sulaymaan was impressed by how cautious the ant was, which was part of the guidance given to it.
This caution makes the ant strive hard all summer, gathering food for the winter, because it knows that it will be difficult to find anything during the winter. Although the ant is small, it is very strong and is able to carry many more times more than its own body weight, and drag it to its home.
Ants do not have a leader who is in charge, as is the case with bees, but they do have scouts who look for food. If the scout finds something, it tells its companions, who all come out. Each ant works hard for the good of all, without stealing any grain to keep for itself.
Among the wonders of the ant is that if a man wants to prevent ants from falling into honey etc., if he digs a hole and surrounds it with water or fills a large vessel with water, and puts that thing (honey or whatever) in it, then an ant comes and cannot get to it, it will try to climb a wall and walk across the ceiling until it is above the thing, then it will drop down onto it. We ourselves have tried this.
A craftsman once heated a ring in the fire, then threw it on the floor to cool off. It so happened that some ants were trapped in the middle of the ring. The ants tried in all directions to get out, but the heat pushed them back. So they stayed in the middle of the ring, precisely in the centre, which was the furthest point from the circumference.
The white ant (termite): its food and habitation
Professor Yusuf ‘Izz Uddeen teds us about what science has discovered about the mysteries of this creature:
“Among the instincts that Allah, the Almighty, has given to such tiny creatures are amazing things which make every thinking person fall down in prostration to the Mighty Creator.
For example, let us look at a colony of the kind of insects that are known as ‘white ants’ (termites). These insects also live in colonies, and when the number of individuals in the colony is too much in proportion to the amount of food available, they know this instinctively, so they start to eat a large number of their eggs. This solves both the problem of overpopulation and the problem of food shortages, because eating the eggs provides some nourishment and at the same time reducing the numbers of offspring.
These insects do not know why they do this; it is divine inspiration which makes them do things which they cannot understand, but which are of benefit to them and help them to avoid extinction.
These insects themselves feed on wood, which they devour avidly. In some places which are infested with termites, a family may eat their food at the table, then the following morning they go to eat their breakfast, and they find that the legs of the table have collapsed in a single night.
In some areas of Australia which are infested with this destructive insect, tourists have been known to ask the name of a village which they can see in the distance from the train in which they are travelling; they are astounded when they are told that no people live in that village, and that these are the dwellings of white ants.
These dwellings may be several meters tall, and they are made from a strange substance which is a mixture of the termites’ saliva and other things. It is stronger than reinforced concrete, and the walls cannot be penetrated by insects or by water. Inside these dwellings is a network of tunnels in which the white ants live.
These ants use a kind of code like Morse code to communicate from afar. One ant taps its head on the wall of the tunnel a certain number of times, and the other ants understand what it is trying to say from these coded taps. They do that without knowing what they are doing; they do it because of the divine inspiration which is called instinct.
The scientists were confused for a long time about how these insects could live by eating wood, because wood does not contain any digestible organic substances, but finally they discovered the secret.
In the digestive tracts of this insect, they discovered tiny, primitive, one-celled animals which secrete a substance which turns wood into easily-digested material, and this nourishes the termite.
It is amazing indeed that there are no termites whose digestive tracts are free of these primitive creatures. If these creatures had not existed in the digestive tracts of termites from the very beginning they would not have been able to survive, and they would have become extinct in the first generation. Could this have happened by accident or is it something that has been planned and decreed [by Allah (s.w.t)]?”
Ants keep flocks and plow the soil
Among the wonders of the ant is that which has been mentioned by Dr. Yusuf Izz Uddeen, who says that ants have tamed hundreds of kinds of creatures which are inferior to themselves, whilst man has tamed only about twenty kinds of wild animals which he has subjugated for his own benefit. Ants know how to farm and care for their “flocks” by instinct.
The insects called aphids, which we see on the leaves of some plants, are tended by ants who gain some benefits from them. In early spring, the ants send out scouts to gather the eggs of these aphids. They bring the eggs to the colony and keep them in the same place where they keep their own eggs, and take care of them just as they take care of their own. When the eggs hatch, they feed the small aphids and take care of them. After a short while, the aphids start to excrete a substance which is sweet like honey, just as cows excrete milk. The ants “milk” the aphids for this substance, just as if they were cows.
Ants do not only care for these “flocks,” they also engage in farming and plowing the soii. One of the scientists noticed a piece of land in a forest where a semi-wild kind of short-grain rice was growing. This plot of land measured five feet by three feet, and the rice was growing nearly six centimeters tall. It seemed to the observer that there should be someone taking care of this piece of land, for the soil around the roots was well-tilled and the weeds had been uprooted. Strangely enough, there were no other rice plants growing nearby. This rice had not planted itself there - someone was tending it.
It was noted that groups of ants were coming and going from this plot of land. The scientist lay on his stomach on the ground, and watched what they were doing. It was not long before he realized that these ants were the ones who were tending the rice in that piece of land. They had taken it upon themselves to “farm” that land, where they worked all the time. Some of them tilled and plowed the land, whilst others uprooted the weeds. If any shoots of other kinds of plants showed themselves, some of the ants would go to them and cut them, then carry them far away from the “farm.”
The rice grew until it reached a height of sixty centimeters and the grains of rice had matured. When the “harvest season” began, a line of worker ants was seen to come non-stop to the stems of rice, which they climbed until they reached the grains. Then each worker ant would take a grain of rice and quickly bring it down to the ground, then take it to their underground stores.
What is amazing is that one group of ants would climb the stem, pick up the grains and throw them down, then other ants would take the grains to the stores.
This kind of ant lives a civil life in houses like ours, with chambers and stories, parts of which are below ground and others above ground. In these cities we find servants and slaves.
What is more amazing is that they have nurses who tend the sick night and day, and others who take away the dead bodies of ants which have died...
They do all this kind of work without thinking. It happens by instinct, which Allah (s.w.t), has instilled in their tiny bodies.