In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The Quran has a story of Solomon and the hoopoe. As the story goes, one day Solomon was out and about with his troops. Not just ordinary troops, his special forces included a contingent of birds. One of the birds, a hoopoe, was missing from action. When the hoopoe returned, Solomon demanded an explanation. The hoopoe’s story was that he scouting the land of Sheba and had news for him. Solomon was not convinced of the hoopoe’s honesty, and put the hoopoe to the test.
The first thing that stands out of course is that, “Wow, God taught Solomon the knowledge of bird language”. But then, we also notice that he feels the hoopoe is capable of lying. Why is this significant?
In the past, researchers felt that primates were perhaps the only creatures capable of deception. Later studies showed that other animals, including squirrels, were capable of tactical deception. Why is this a big deal? Deception is not a simple act, it requires a lot of thinking as one blogger notes.
True deception assumes the deceiver knows that (1) other beings have minds, (2) different beings’ minds can believe different things are true (when only one of these is actually true), and (3) you can make another mind believe that something false is actually true. (Source: Mindful Hack)
Back to the story of Solomon. The Quran puts in print back in 600-650AD that animals were capable of meta-cognitive thought. Not only are they aware of themselves, they are aware of others and can ascribe motivation or intention to them and change their own actions and words accordingly.
In this context, the story of Solomon and the ant is fascinating. We post the Quranic verses below:
David and Solomon
[Quran 27:15-19] We endowed David and Solomon with knowledge, and they said, “Praise GOD for blessing us more than many of His believing servants.” ● Solomon was David’s heir. He said, “O people, we have been endowed with understanding the language of the birds, and all kinds of things have been bestowed upon us. This is indeed a real blessing.” ● Mobilized in the service of Solomon were his obedient soldiers of jinns and humans, as well as the birds; all at his disposal. ● When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, “O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving.”*
*27:18-19 The more unusual the events in a given sura, the stronger the mathematical evidence supporting them. This helps assure us that such strange phenomena are indicative of God’s power. This sura’s initials, T.S., constitute a complex part of the mathematical miracles related to the Quranic initials. The unusual birth and miracles of Jesus are in Sura 19, which is prefixed with five Quranic Initials. See Appendix 1 for the details.
The story tells us that the ant is aware of Solomon, the different troops with him, and that their intentions were not to crush them but they may accidentally do so. The ant also provides her companions with an effective solution to the march of Solomon’s army overhead. Solomon, furthermore was able to hear and understand the ant (Quran 27:19)!
[Quran 27:19] He smiled and laughed at her statement,* and said, “My Lord, direct me to be appreciative of the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Admit me by Your mercy into the company of Your righteous servants.”
The Quran has many verses that tell us the animals submit to God (Quran 22:18, 24:41, 6:38), glorify Him and worship Him. While humans may not necessarily understand animals or their behavior, they have been designed to fulfill certain roles on the planet and they go about their roles in complete Submission to God Alone.
[Quran 22:18] Do you not realize that to GOD prostrates everyone in the heavens and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and the animals, and many people? Many others among the people are committed to doom. Whomever GOD shames, none will honor him. Everything is in accordance with GOD‘s will.
[Quran 24:41] Do you not realize that everyone in the heavens and the earth glorifies GOD, even the birds as they fly in a column? Each knows its prayer and its glorification. GOD is fully aware of everything they do.
Animals and Birds: Submitting Creatures*
[Quran 6:38] All the creatures on earth, and all the birds that fly with wings, are communities like you. We did not leave anything out of this book.** To their Lord, all these creatures will be summoned.
*6:38 Animals were among the creatures who took advantage of God’s offer to repent after committing the original sin (see the Introduction).
**6:38 All information relevant to our eternal life of the Hereafter is contained in the Quran. The true believers accept, without hesitation, God’s assertion: “We did not leave anything out of this book.” The importance of this statement, and similar statements, is reflected in the fact that each of them consists of 19 Arabic letters (Appendix 19).
All praise be to God, Lord of the Universe!