The Ant

The Ant by “Shaykhul Islaam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah”

Also, ponder over the frail ant – the intelligence and dynamics it was granted in gathering, storing, preserving and repelling harms/disease from its provision. You will indeed see signs and lessons in this.

You see a group of ants, if they want to gather and store their sustenance, they depart from their swarm in search for it. When they find it, they make a pathway from their home to the food and embark on transporting it [back]. You find that they are two groups; a carrier group that carries the sustenance to their home in a line, and another group that does not cross paths with the first group which leaves it’s home headed for the sustenance. They are like two threads, like a group of people parting in one path, and another group beside them returning.

If something is too heavy for one of them, a group of ants gather to help it carry the weight, like a group of people helping each other carry a boulder or log. So if one ant discovers [a big piece], its companions help it carry it home and clear the way for it. If a group of ants meet it, they would help with the weight and break it into small pieces at the door.

An experienced man once stated that he saw a wondrous thing while watching them one day. He said: I saw an ant approach a grass hopper’s wing, it tried to carry it but was unable to lift it off the ground. It then went nearby and returned with a group of ants. I lifted the wing off the ground, so when the ant reached the area, it walked in circles around it and so did its companions but they weren’t able to find anything. They left and I replaced the wing. The same ant found it again and brought the group once again and I also lifted the wing again. They circled the area and when they didn’t find anything, they formed a circle around the first ant and attacked it, cutting it to pieces as I watched!

Their intelligence is also bewildering, when they carry seeds to their homes, they break them so that they do not sprout. If the seed is of the type that sprouts when split, they split it into four pieces. If the seeds are moistened or get wet and the ants fear they may spoil, they take them out [to dry] in the sun and then return them. This is why you sometimes find a lot of broken seeds outside an ant home, and if you return a little while later you wouldn’t find one seed.

Another aspect of their intelligence is that they do not build a nest except on high ground in order to protect themselves from being drowned by running water, so you wouldn’t find an ant nest at the bottom of a valley, rather you would find it on top or above the water level.

In attesting for their intelligence, it is sufficient what Allaah the Majestic, the Elevated, stated in His Book: what an ant said to a group of ants when it saw Sulaimaan, عليه الصلاة والسلام, and his troops:

{O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaimaan (Solomon) and his hosts should crush you, while they perceive not.}

It spoke with ten different categories of speech in its advice: Al Nida-a, al Tanbeeh, at Tasmiyah, al Amr, an Nass, at Tah-dheer, al Takh-sees, al Taf-heem, at Ta’meem and al I-‘itithaar. So its advice, though summarized, consisted of these ten [categories of speech] and this is why Sulaimaan was amused by its speech, smiled and asked Allaah to enable him to be grateful for the blessing that He bestowed upon him when he heard the ant’s speech. Do not think that this level of intelligence is far fetched for a whole nation/species that glorifies their lord, as was authentically related that the Prophet said:

“One of the prophets rested under a tree and was bitten by an ant [he removed the sting?] and then burnt down the ant hill so Allaah revealed to him: Just because one ant bit you, you burnt down a one whole nation [of ants] that glorify [their lord], because of one ant.”


Shaykhul Islaam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Reference: Miftaah Dar as Sa’aadah: 2/150

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