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A Drop from Nahjul-Balagha’s Sea: Ants

A Drop from Nahjul-Balagha’s Sea: Ants

By: Zoya Alemi

The Nahjul Balagha is a book from Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S).  He is not only the Prophet Muhammad’s (P.B.U.H) cousin; he was also brought up by the Prophet Muhammad.  Imam Ali (A.S) is the successor of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

     The Nahjul-Balagha contains Imam Ali’s sayings and writings. The whole book has been divided into Khutbahs, letters and advice. In his book Imam Ali (A.S) has talked about many issues and has drawn our attention to many points that we can learn from.

     Below is part of the Sermon 185 from the Nahjul Balagha that is about ants.  If we notice this part of the Khutbah, we can see how Imam Ali (A.S), over a thousand years ago asked people to notice everything in their environment.  He asked us to notice the differences and similarities between different species that has been created by the Almighty and Merciful Allah. 


 ……انْظُرُوا إِلَى الَّنمْلَةِ فِي صِغَرِ جُثَّتِهَا، وَلَطَافَةِ هَيْئَتِهَا، لاَ تَكَادُ تُنَالُ بِلَحْظِ الْبَصَرِ، وَلاَ بِمُسْتَدْرَكِ الْفِكَرِ، كَيْفَ دَبَّتْ عَلَى أَرْضِهَا، وَصَبَتْ عَلَى رِزْقِهَا، تَنْقُلُ الْحَبَّةَ إِلَى جُحْرِهَا، وَتُعِدُّهَا فِي مُسْتَقَرِّهَا. تَجْمَعُ فِي حَرِّهَا لِبَرْدِهَا، وَفِي وُرُودِهَا لِصَدَرِهَا مَكْفُولٌ بِرِزْقِهَا، مَرْزُوقَةٌ بِوِفْقِهَا لاَ يُغْفِلُهَا الْمَنَّانُ، وَلاَ يَحْرِمُهَا الدَّيَّانُ، وَلَوْ فِي الصَّفَاالْيَابِسِ، وَالْحَجَرِ الْجَامِسِ! وَلَوْ فَكَّرْتَ فِي مَجَارِي أُكْلِهَا، وَفِي عُلْوهَا وَسُفْلِهَا، وَمَا فِي الجَوْفِ مِنْ شَرَاسِيفِبط بَطْنِهَا، وَمَا فِي الرَّأسِ مِنْ عَيْنِهَا وَأُذُنِهَا، لَقَضَيْتَ مِنْ خَلْقِهَا عَجَباً، وَلَقِيتَ مِنْ وَصْفِهَا تَعَباً! فَتَعَالَى الَّذِي أَقَامَهَا عَلَى قَوَائِمِهَا، وَبَنَاهَا عَلَى دَعَائِمِهَا! لَمْ يَشْرَكْهُ فِي فِطْرَتِهَا فَاطِرٌ، وَلَمْ يُعِنْهُ عَلَى خَلْقِهَا قَادِرٌ. وَلَوْ ضَرَبْتَ فِي مَذَاهِبِ فِكْرِكَ لِتَبْلُغَ غَايَاتِهِ، مَا دَلَّتْكَ الدَّلاَلَةُ إِلاَّ عَلَى أَنَّ فَاطِرَ الَّنمْلَةِ هُوَ فَاطِرُ النَّخْلَةِ لِدَقِيقِ تَفْصِيلِ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ، وَغَامِضِ اخْتِلاَفِ كُلِّ حَيٍّ، وَمَا الْجَلِيلُ وَاللَّطِيفُ، وَالثَّقِيلُ والخَفِيفُ، وَالْقَوِيُّ وَالضَّعِيفُ، فِي خَلْقِهِ إِلاَّ سَوَاءٌ. {خلقة السماء والكون}…


“Look at the ant with its small body and delicate form. It can hardly be seen in the corner of the eye, nor by the perception of the imagination – how it moves on the earth and leaps at its livelihood.  It carries the grain to its hole and deposits it in its place of stay.  It collects during the summer for its winter and during strength for the period of its weakness.  Its livelihood is guaranteed, and it is fed according to fitness.  Allah, the Kind, does not forget it and (Allah the Giver) does not deprive it, even though it may be in dry stone or fixed rocks.

     If you have thought about its digestive tracts in it’s high and low parts, the carapace of its belly, and its eyes and its ears in its head you would be amazed at its creation and you would feel difficulty in describing it. Exalted is He who made it stand on its legs and erected it on its pillars (of limbs). No other originator took part with Him in its origination and no one having power assisted Him in its creation. If you tread on the paths of your imagination and reach its extremity it will not lead you anywhere except that the Originator of the ant is the same as He who is the Originator of the date-palm, because everything has (the same) delicacy and detail, and every living being has little difference.”

Here are some facts about ants for your information:


     We see ants everywhere in our houses, in the roads, even sometimes in our kitchens. It seems they like sweet things, especially sugar. Usually when we see one ant in our kitchen or close to our food, we know that soon is going to be many of them in that area.

     Today ants live almost everywhere in the world. But you won’t find ants living where it is very cold. 

     Ants are amazing because they work together so well. They all work and help one another. An ant’s body is hard on the outside.  The hard part is exoskeleton.  It protects the ant’s body.  Ants have three body parts- the head, the thorax and the abdomen. An ant’s head has two compound eyes and a mouth. Its antennae (feelers) are on the top of its head.

     Ants cannot speak but they can give one another message.

     Ants have no ears.  They hear by feeling vibration through their ‘feelers’ and other body parts.[1]

     Ants communicate with each other by releasing a kind of chemical substance known as ‘pheromones’.  There are differences in the smell of such chemicals depending on the message the ant wants to communicate.  Ants also use their sense of smell to identify objects around them.[2]

     Many species of ants make their homes called ‘nests’ by digging underground holes.  When they want to make their nest bigger they tunnel between the rooms.  Some species pf ants live on pieces of dead wood or old leaves.  Colony is the term given to a large group of ants living together in one nest.[3]

     [1]Ann Heinrichs.  Ants.  Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2002, p.9.


     [2]Kristin Petrie.  Bugs! Ants.  Minnesota: ABDO Publishing Company, 2009, p.10.


     [3]Suzanne Slade.  Ants.  New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2008, p.6.


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