The Prophet Sulaiman (AS) was the son of Daud (David) (AS) who himself was a prophet. Both father and son were granted great wisdom by Allah and ruled with justice and compassion.
Sulaiman (AS) was one of the very few prophets who was rich. He prayed to Allah for a kingdom that no one would have after him, and Allah granted him a glorious kingdom to rule. He also made the animals, birds, clouds, wind and even the jinn subject to Sulaiman's (AS) command. Sulaiman (AS) was a great leader and was just to both human and animal. He was also granted the talent and ability of understanding the language of the birds and animals.
During this time, there lived an ant. From various accounts, the ant possessed beautiful qualities, and was helpful and useful to her community, continuously putting the needs of her community above her own.
One day, Sulaiman (AS) gathered his troops of jinn, humans and birds. They marched in strict discipline towards the direction of the valley of ants. If they were to trample on the ant's nest, it spelt doom for the entire ant community residing there.
The ant heard the approach of the army. She was aware that ants, being one of the smallest insects and often most overlooked by people, were barely noticeable. What more amidst such a large army and their beasts of burden! She knew that Sulaiman (AS) and his troops were likely to crush them. She urgently warned her community of the great danger and ordered them to take refuge in their dwellings.
Until, when they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said, "O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Sulaiman and his soldiers while they perceive not." (Al Qur'an 27:18)
As a side note, observe the language used in the Qur'an. First, the Qur'an refers to this ant as a female ant. It has since been discovered that within the hierarchy of an ant-house, the females are the ones responsible for the security detail. Secondly, the word "crushed" was referred to. Unlike us, whose skeletons are surrounded by flesh, the skeleton of the ants is external. The word "crush" is more appropriate to describe what would happen if ants were stepped upon, given their exoskeletal structures.
It is said that during this time, Sulaiman (AS) was riding on the clouds. However, Allah made the tiny ant's plea audible to him even with the distance between them and the noisy march of the army. Sulaiman (AS) comprehended her language, could not hold back his smile of amusement and began to laugh.
He said, "My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into [the ranks of] Your righteous servants." (Al Qur'an 27:19)
Even though Sulaiman (AS) possessed all the worldly materialism, when he heard the ant talking about him, he was immediately reminded of Allah and his countless blessings. He acknowledged that it was a gift from Allah and showed gratitude immediately. He commanded the army to change its course, and the destruction of the ant colony was avoided. All this because of the plea of a single ant!
Let us reflect on the power that this single ant wielded. She was not physically outstanding, and according to some accounts, was even crippled. Yet, this small and insignificant creature was named and mentioned in the last revelation of Allah to mankind. Allah loved this ant so much because of her bravery, sincerity, selflessness, belief and devotion: putting the benefit of her community above her own. She was willing to sacrifice her life to save the rest.
The ant took responsibility over her community, without any second thought, blaming or complaining. She behaved in a responsible fashion and took action immediately when it was required, without anyone prompting or ordering her to do so. Allah shows us how insignificant an ant is, but how much one single creature can achieve.
In the history of mankind, one person can be called a great person because of his accomplishment and contribution to mankind and society. Now it is time to reflect: are we responsible and what are we doing to change the status quo of aggression, oppression, injustice and zulm of mankind. We see it on the news daily, and each one of us is responsible to help according to his ability.
Compare the ant's caring behaviour to the stinginess, selfishness and greed that mankind harbour for each other. We have lost to the feeling of caring and goodness for each other. Whereas, a mere ant, without our sophistication and education, did the noble thing and called and prayed to Allah to save her own community from destruction.
This apparently insignificant incident contains a great message. Allah SWT loves those who have piety, more so if they try to support others and sacrifice what they have for the benefit of others. Through this story, we learn the importance of acknowledging the guidance and bounty of Allah over us and to thank Him for it.
One female ant was bestowed with such honour and recognition. How many of us think what we are famous with or assess our contribution to society and mankind? Part of striving to believe in Allah is by developing the qualities beloved to Him to benefit others and to elevate the name of Allah, which simultaneously elevates our own names and develops a legacy for us in this life and the hereafter and the kingdom of Allah.
Let's rise up and prove that Allah SWT had indeed made us the best of creation – we should be higher, kinder, more responsible and more compassionate to each other, more than this single ant to her own kingdom.
May Allah open for us, purify our hearts from stinginess, greed and selfishness, and decorate us with qualities beloved to Allah and enable to depart from this life with the legacy in this earth and the Kingdom of Allah. Ameen.