“Stop it!” yelled Ali at the top of his lungs.
Hana casually went on demolishing the ant hills in their backyard. Samra Apa gently scooped the one-year-old in her arms. “What’s happening, my angel? Why aren’t you listening to Bhaiya?”
“Angel? She has murdered millions of ants in the last five minutes.”
Samra Apa rolled her eyes over Ali’s exaggeration and continued rocking Hana. “See, now you have upset Bhaiya. We can’t kill ants. They feel pain like we do.”
“Besides they only live for 45 to 60 days in this world. Why make their lives shorter?” Ali protested with a frown, still annoyed with his younger sister.
Samra Apa raised her eyebrows in surprise, “Really? I didn’t know that.”
“Most people don’t. They just conveniently trample and crush the poor creatures, and have no clue what these little engineers accomplish in just two months of their life on this earth,” Ali said, sounding like a defense attorney for ants.
“Hana, let’s hear more about this from Bhaiya – I am intrigued,” glowed Samra Apa’s pretty eyes. Hana just hugged her older sister playfully, oblivious to the conversation.
Ali’s eyes widened with excitement, “You see… every ant acts like an engineer, building small ant hills in mud houses, plains, jungles and even in our home gardens at times. These are ant colonies that house hundreds of millions of ants and are called a super colony.”
“Until the year 2000, the biggest super colony of ants was discovered by the sea in the Japanese city of Ashikari. This colony had 4,500 nests and was 3 sq km long. In 2002, another super colony was discovered along the Mediterranean Sea, stretching to 6004 km. In 2004, a 900 km long super colony was found in Mexico,” he went on.
“And what was the most amazing thing about them all? They were built by the same engineering techniques. Their maps and structures were alike. Their entry and exit points for the polluted air were the same, too,” explained Ali.
Thoroughly impressed, Samra Apa asked her 10-year-old brother, “How do you know so much about ants?”
“We did a school project on Surah Naml. Imagine! Allah (swt) has dedicated a whole chapter of the Quran to ants. How important this small wondrous creation really is! And that’s not all. It is Allah (swt) Who has guided them to build and behave the way they do, explaining the similarity among the 10,000 different species of ants on the planet.”
Ali continued breathlessly, “Their organized cities have a green house to preserve their millions of eggs. Then they have a royal room where the queen ant, who is bigger in size, lays her eggs and is served by the worker ants. Their colonies consist of barracks for the fighter ants who defend the rest of their community. The doors are guarded by soldier ants. Any passing ant has to strike its antennae with the guard to pass a signal code. In case the signal code mismatches, the intruding ant is instantly killed by the guard ant.”
“Subhan’Allah!” Samra Apa gazed intently at the pre-occupied ants crawling in the grass.
“They even have a mortuary in their colony to keep the dead ants. They also store their left over food in this room. And guess what?” Ali quizzed Samra Apa. “They even have a child house, where baby ants are cared for by maid ants. The maids excrete a water-like substance from their bellies, which serves as food for the babies.”
“How can people deny Allah (swt) after learning about such miracles?” Samra Apa mumbled thoughtfully, as if talking to herself.
Suddenly, there was another wild scream from Ali, “Hana is attacking the ants again!”
Samra Apa quickly whisked the baby up, “Oh no you don’t! We need to learn to respect and protect Allah’s (swt) creations. Ants are not toys to be played with. Come along now.”
Hana just gurgled and smiled, happily clinging to Samra Apa.