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Sulaiman (as) and the Ant

By Yahya Ibrahim

Allah (swt) narrates to us in the Quran the story of Sulaiman and an ant. We must first understand that Sulaiman (as) was a Prophet who had been given dominion that surpassed all other human beings past and present.  'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin al-'Aas () reports that Rasool ul Allah () said, 'When Sulaiman (Solomon) son of Dawoud (David) (re-)built Baitul Maqdis he requested from Allah three things in intervals: 


- He asked Allah governorship with Justice that is in accordance with the Laws of Allah
- He asked to possess dominion that cannot be attained/possessed by anyone after him
- He asked, after having completed the (re-)building of the Masjid, that anyone who comes to it, seeking only to pray in it, that he departs from it (exits him) sinless as the day he was given birth to by his mother (In another narration he said, 'As for the (first) two requests, then he received them. I am hopeful that he was granted the third as well.')1

One of the blessings extended to Sulaiman was his ability to converse with the natural living environment.

Allah (swt) says in Surat al-Naml:

"And there were gathered before Sulaiman (Solomon) his hosts of jinns and men, and birds, and they all were set in battle order (marching forwards). Till, when they came to the valley of the ants, one of the ants said: "O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaimân (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not."

So he [Sulaiman (Solomon)] smiled, amused at her speech and said: "My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves."
Surat an-Naml (27: 17-19)

Shaykhul Islam Ibn al-Qayyim discusses in Miftaah Dar as-Sa'aadah (Vol. 1, Pg. 243) the linguistic power of the ant's speech. 

He says: The dialogue of the ant – "O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not" – involves 10 different communicational tools. This single statement carried in its message the following 10 linguistic parameters:

1. A Call and plea 
2. An indication 
3. Identification 
4. Mandating 
5. Stating 
6. Warning 
7. Specification 
8. Discerning and proving 
9. Generalizing 
10. Excusing

The simple and concise exhortation of the miniscule ant carried all that has been listed above. As a result, Sulaiman felt compelled to thank Allah for the Ni'mah that Allah extended to him. So Sulaiman invoked Allah saying:

So he [Sulaiman (Solomon)] smiled, amused at her speech and said: "My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves." Surat an-Naml (27: 19)

Here is the break down of the ant's exhortation.

"O"   : A call and plea

"ants!"   : Identification and Indication

"Enter"   : Mandating and Commanding

"your dwellings,"   : Stating what to do

"lest Sulaiman"   : Specifying and Labeling

"and his hosts"   : Discerning and Proving

"crush you"   : Warning

"while they perceive not"   : Excusing


SubhanAllah! An ant's sentence contained all of that eloquence and precision. Let us ponder the words of Allah (swt):

"There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered." Al-An'aam 6:38

 


 

1 Reported by an-Nasaa'i, Ahmed, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak, Al-Bayhaqi in ash-Shu'ab and others.

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