In attestation to their intelligence, it is sufficient what Allah the Mighty and Majestic stated in His Book; that an ant said to a group of ants when it saw Sulayman – ﷺ – and his troops:
O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulayman and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not.
It spoke with ten different categories of speech [in Arabic] in its advice:
- Al-Nida-a (to call)
- al-Tanbeeh (to draw attention)
- at-Tasmiyah (to name something)
- al-Amr (to order)
- an-Nass (to cite )
- at-Tah-dheer (to warn)
- al-Takh-sees (to specify)
- al-Taf-heem (to explain)
- at-Ta’meem (to generalize)
- and al-‘Itidhaar (to make an excuse)
So its advice, though concise, consisted of these ten [categories of speech], and this is why Sulayman was amused by its speech. He smiled and asked Allah to enable him to be grateful for the blessing that He bestowed upon him when he heard the ant’s speech.
Also, contemplate over the frail ant – the intelligence and dynamics it was granted in gathering, storing, preserving, protecting and maintaining its provision. You will indeed see many signs and lessons in this.
You see that if a group of ants want to gather and store their nutriment, they depart from their swarm searching for it. When they find it, they make a pathway from their home to the food, and embark on carrying it back. You find that they form two groups; a carrier group that transports the nutriment home in one line, and another group that heads towards the food, and the two groups do not cross paths. They are like two threads, like a group of people departing in one path, and another group beside them returning.
If something is too heavy for one ant, a group of ants gather to help it carry the weight, like a group of people helping each other carry a boulder or log. If one ant discovers [a big piece], its companions help it carry it home, then leave it with the big piece that it found. If a group of ants find a big piece together, they would help each other carry it then split it at the entrance.
An experienced person related that he saw wonders with ants while watching them one day. He said: I saw an ant approach a grass hopper’s wing, it tried to carry it but was unable to. It then went nearby and returned with a group of ants. I lifted the wing off the ground, so when the ant reached the area, it started walking in circles around the area and so did its companions, but they weren’t able to find anything. They left and I replaced the wing. The same ant found it again and tried to carry it unsuccessfully, it then brought the group once again, and I once again lifted the wing. They circled the area and left and I replaced the wing again. The ant came back and found it yet again, and yet again brought a group with it.They circled the area and when they didn’t find anything, they formed a circle around the first ant and attacked it, cutting it to pieces as I watched!
Their intelligence is incredible, when they carry seeds to their homes, they break them so that they would not sprout. If the seed is of the type that sprouts when split into two, they split it into four pieces. If the seeds are moistened or damp and the ants fear they may be ruined, they take them out [to dry] in the sun and then return them. This is why you sometimes find a lot of broken seeds outside an ant home, and if you return later you wouldn’t find even one seed.
Another aspect of their intelligence is that they do not build a nest except on high ground in order to protect themselves from being drowned by running water. You wouldn’t find an ant nest at the bottom of a valley, rather you would find it on top or above the water level.
Do not think that this level of intelligence is far fetched for a whole nation/species of the many that glorify their lord, as was authentically related that the Prophet – ﷺ – said:
One of the prophets rested under a tree and was bitten by an ant. He ordered for equipment to be brought and then burnt down the whole anthill. Allah revealed to him:Just because one ant bit you, you burnt down a one whole nation [of ants] that glorify [their lord]?! Because of one ant?