Nearly a third of the content of the Quran can be classified as narratives. These include stories of the prophets and people of the past. One such story is the story of Prophet Suleiman (Solomon) and the incident of the ants as related in ch. 27, an-Namal, the Ants:
At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: "O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.
"So he smiled, amused at her speech; and he said: "O my Lord! so order me that I may be grateful for Thy favors, which thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants" (27: 18-19).
It is understood that Suleiman ordered his army to step aside so as to avoid stepping on the ants. Suleiman was grateful to Allah for the special gift of understanding the speech of animals and all the other gifts that Allah had bestowed upon him.
These verses also invite our attention the miracle of the ants. Scientists have recently been able to actually hear ants by placing recording devices in nests. See "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Ants" for more.
Creative Ideas For Teaching This Story:
- Read to children the entire story of Prophet Suleiman, peace be upon him. You can use any popular Prophets of Allah series. Islam101.com also has an excellent resource.
- Recite or listen to a recitation of Surah An-Naml.
- Check out library books on the anatomy of ants and the way ant colonies function.
- Summarize recent scientific studies on ants including “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Ants” and “Heroic altruistic ants face death alone to save colony.” Older or more advanced students can be assigned to present summaries of these findings themselves.
- Explore further using the BBC Earth News website, which has an entire section devoted to ant species.
- Hold a discussion on how to treat insects: When should we leave them alone? When is it okay to squash them?
- Give students a magnifying glass to look at ants close up outdoors.