Friday Sermon: The Ant: A Lesson to Man

By Babatunde Jose

Man is an unthinking creature, hence the need to remind him of where he is coming from, why he is here and where he is going finally. Hence, the need for Prophets, Messengers and Holy Books. Because of his free will and dominion over other creations, man has arrogated to himself the ‘is it’ and ‘be all’ of life. He bestrides the world as if he created it for himself, forgetting that he is also a created being. Man forgets his purpose in life and treats his fellow man with disdain and condescension. He offers no succour to the poor and amasses the entire God-given bounty to himself. Man is the only creature that relish in aggrandizement. He is not only covetous but selfish. Half of the problems in this world would be solved if only man would emulate the life of other creations of God: And benefit from the guidance of Allah and become worthy of the good promises made by Him; and accept the realities which the Good Books presents as the basic realities of the universe, and then follow up their belief with obedience and submission in their practical lives as well. But the greatest hindrance for man to follow this way is the denial of the Hereafter. For it makes him irresponsible, selfish and given to worldly life, which in turn makes it impossible for him to submit himself before God and to accept the moral restrictions on his lusts and desires.

Let us look at the Ant; a creature that you know quite well, that you meet everywhere without actually giving it much attention but that is exceedingly skilful, vastly social and extremely intelligent – “The Ant”. It’s full of miracles and wonderment. We believe that these creatures that have the highest population in the world may open up new vista of appreciation of the awesomeness of the Creator and teach us some things about social understanding.

In the Qur’an, the type of person who thinks about nature and thus recognizes the omnipotence of Allah is praised as a model for those who believe: In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding: men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the wonders of creation in the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created all this in vain! Glory be to You! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.” (Quran 3:190-191)

They have the densest population of all living things; for every seven hundred million ants that come into this world there are only 40 new-born human beings.   

Since the concept of order in human societies has always been based on competition and individual interests, a perfect social order has never been possible. The ants on the other hand, have perpetuated the social system that is ideal for them for millions of year’s right down to the present day. Just like the Bee when we look at ants, we see that things are no different for them either:  (Quran 16:68-69)

Allah has inspired in them a social order also and they abide by it absolutely. This is the reason why each group of ant performs the duty assigned to it perfectly with absolute self-surrender and does not strive for more. Do we as a people perform the duties assigned to us perfectly? Do we obey simple instructions and keep regulations? Do we obey the laws? 

But as for the Ant, this is the law of nature. There is no random and coincidental “fight for survival” in nature as purported by evolution and there has never been one. On the contrary, all living creatures eat the “food” specified for them and perform duties Allah assigned to them. Because “there is no living being He (Allah) does not hold by the forelock and inspect.” (Quran 11:56) and “He (Allah) is the one who gives food.” (Quran 51:58) 

The ants, one of the most “social” groups among the insect genus, live in “colonies”, which are extremely well “organized.” Their organization is of such an advanced order. Ants care for their babies, protect their colonies and fight as they produce and store their food.  With their very strong communication network, they are so superior as not to be compared to any other organism, with respect to social organization and specialization. 

Today, people are working day and night in ‘think tanks’ formed to formulate successful social organizations and to find lasting solutions to social and economic problems. Ideologues have been producing social models for centuries. Yet when we look at the world in general, no ideal socio-economic order has so far been reached, since the concept of order in human societies has always been based on competition and individual interests. The ants on the other hand, have perpetuated the social system that is ideal for them for millions of years’ right down to the present day. 

How can these minute creatures form such an order? 

This brings us to the story of Solomon (see Surah An-Naml: The Ant. Quran 27)

Prophet Sulayman once was sitting on the bank of a lake deeply engrossed appreciating the various forms of Allah’s creation on earth. Suddenly his attention was drawn towards an ant creeping forward with a grain of wheat in its mouth. As it reached near the water, a tortoise came out, opened its mouth and the ant crept into it. The tortoise closing its mouth disappeared under the water. After a while, the tortoise again sprung out of the water and standing on the bank opened its mouth and the ant came out. But this time it had no grain of wheat in its mouth. The Prophet became anxious to know what had been happening under water. On inquiring, the ant explained that at the bottom of the lake, there was a stone and underneath it there was another ant that was blind. Allah had created it there and it could not move out. I have been appointed by Allah to provide its daily sustenance with the assistance of the tortoise. Hence I do perform this duty every day. Can man do such a thing? Do we care about our fellow men? Do we empathize and sympathize; a selfish and adulterous race, we care less about the plight of our fellow men. All we know is me! My money; my houses; my wives; my children; my . . . . : All of which in due course will not avail us in the grave or on the Day of Reckoning.

The sacrifice displayed here truly is at an advanced level. While human beings have not succeeded in fighting hunger in the world, the ants have found a practical solution to this problem: to share everything, including their food. Yes, a real example of sacrifice in nature which man in his state of selfishness and aggrandizement can never perform.  

While today, the metropolises of man are becoming hard to live in due to lack of infrastructure, misallocation of resources and unemployment, ants can manage their underground cities, without cases of fraud, embezzlement, high-wire corruption and ‘forgetting’ to declare their assets as required by manmade laws. But man will not believe even after seeing the miracles of the Ant. Rather they turn against those who invite them to goodness and piety. They persist in their evil ways which are held in abhorrence by every sensible person. They will not heed the admonition even until a moment before they are overtaken by the scourge of Allah.

Barka Juma’at and happy weekend

Lastline: Election time brings out the worst of animalism in political participants. Wole Soyinka.  . . . .’It brings out the Beast in us’. Fela in Beast of No Nation.


Babatunde Jose

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