8. ZOOLOGY

ANIMALS AND BIRDS LIVE IN COMMUNITIES

“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you.” [Al-Qur’an 6:38]

Research has shown that animals and birds live in communities, i.e. they organize, and live and work together.

THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS

birds888“Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but (the power of) Allah. Verily in this are Signs forthose who believe.” [Al-Qur’an 16:79]

Another verse also touches on birds:

“Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches over all things.” [Al-Qur’an 67:19]

The Arabic word amsaka literally means, ‘to put one’s hand on, seize, hold, hold someone back,’ which expresses the idea that Allah holds the bird up in His power. These verses stress the extremely close dependence of the birds’ behaviour on Divine law. Modern scientific data has shown the degree of perfection attained by certain species of birds with regard to the programming of their movements. It is only the existence of a migratory programme in the genetic code of the birds that can explain the long and complicated journey that very young birds, without any prior experience and without any guide, are able to accomplish. They are also able to return to the departure point on a definite date.

Prof. Hamburger in his book ‘Power and Fragility’ gives the example of ‘mutton-bird’ that lives in the Pacific with its journey of over 24,000 km in the shape of figure ‘8’. It makes this journey over a period of 6 months and comes back to its departure point with a maximum delay of one week. The highly complicated instructions for such a journey have to be contained in the birds’ nervous cells. They are definitely programmed. Therefore, should we not at least reflect on the identity of this ‘Programmer’?

THE BEE AND ITS SKILL

bee89“And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord.” [Al-Qur’an 16:68-69]

Von-Frisch received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his research on the behaviour and communication of the bees. The bee, after discovering any new garden or flower, goes back and tells its fellow bees the exact direction and map to get there, which is known as ‘bee dance’. The meanings of this insect’s movements that are intended to transmit information between worker bees have been discovered scientifically using photography and other methods. The Qur’an mentions in the above verses how the bee with its skill, finds the spacious paths of its Lord. The gender used for the bee in the above verses is the female gender (fasluki and kulee), indicating that the bee that leaves its home for gathering food is a female bee. In other words, the soldier or worker bee is a female bee.

In fact, in Shakespeare’s play, ‘Henry the Fourth’, some of the characters speak about bees and mention that the bees are soldiers and that they have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespearean times. They thought that the worker bees are male bees and they go home and are answerable to a king bee. This, however, is not true. The worker bees are females and they do not report to a king bee but to a queen bee. But it took modern investigations in the last 300 years to discover this.

SPIDER’S WEB, THE FRAGILE HOME

spiders-web“The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the Spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the Spider’s house —if they but knew.” [Al-Qur’an 29:41]

Besides giving the physical description of the spider’s web as being very flimsy, delicate and weak, the Qur’an also stresses on the flimsiness of the relationship in the spider’s house, where the female spider many a times kills its mate, the male spider.

The parable also has reference to the weakness of such relationship of the people who seek protection for this world and for the hereafter from those other than Allah.

LIFESTYLE AND COMMUNICATION OF ANTS

“And before Solomon were marshalled his hosts —of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks. “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.” [Al-Qur’an 27:17-18]

In the past, some people would have probably mocked at the Qur’an, taking it to be a book of fairy tales in which ants talk to each other and communicate sophisticated messages. In recent times however, research has shown us several facts about the lifestyle of ants, which were not known earlier to humankind. Research has shown that the animals or insects whose lifestyle is closest in resemblance to the lifestyle of human beings are the ants. This can be seen from the following findings regarding ants:

ant88(a) The ants bury their dead in a manner similar to the humans.

(b) They have a sophisticated system of division of labour, whereby they have managers, supervisors, foremen, workers, etc.

(c) Once in a while they meet among themselves to have a ‘chat’.

(d) They have an advanced method of communication among themselves.

(e) They hold regular ‘markets’ where they exchange goods.

(f) They store grain for long periods in winter and if the grain begins to bud, they cut the roots, as if they understand that if they leave it to grow, it will rot. If the grain stored by them gets wet due to rains, they take it out into the sunlight to dry, and once dry, they take it back inside as though they know that humidity will cause development of root systems which will cause the grain to rot.