A Prophet and the Ant Hill

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Allah doesn’t love those who go beyond the limits even against trees, and animals. Islam prohibited this.  This is the reason Allah has made spreading corruption on Earth a sin. Included in this is destroying offspring and livestock. Allah will ask us on the Day of Judgement about a bird that we killed just for sport.

There are prophet’s that Allah mentioned in the Quran by name and some whose names He didn’t mention and their stories are in the Sunnah. Although the Prophets have a high status with Allah this doesn’t mean that at times they might have fallen short in certain actions. Therefore Allah corrected them

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

A prophet from amongst the prophets  of Allah encamped under a tree, and an ant bit him, and then he commanded his belongings to be removed from underneath that tree. He then commanded it to be burnt  and it was. Following this Allah revealed to him):” Why one ant (which had bitten you) was not killed?”[1]

 Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Once day a prophet amongst the prophets was taking a rest underneath a tree, an ant bit him. He, therefore, ordered that his luggage be taken away from underneath that tree and then ordered that the dwelling place of the ants should be set on fire. Allah sent him a revelation:– “Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to burn a single ant? (that bit you):[2]

Meaning of this Hadith:

Prophet Muhammad () informed us about a prophet who sat under a tree as he was probably relaxing and taking a break from his journey ,so he sat under the tree to catch some shade away from the hot sun. Next to the tree was an ant hill that was bothered by this prophet’s movement . The ants then attacked him in defense of his colony.

All Prophet’s() are human, so they get angry like all people do and at times react in a way that they later regret. His anger lead him to be quite mad at the ant , thus he decided to punish the ant’s entire community. He requested  his travelling bags to be removed from under the tree. After this he light a fire and torched the anthill and all the ant around it.

Collective punishment isn’t among the acts of justice. Only one ant bit him, so if this prophet was going to get revenge then it would have be correct for him to only go after the ant that attacked him.

Ants are a community like us. They praise and glorify Allah like all other animals. It’s prohibited for the son of Adam to transgress against them, except if they harm us. Then in this case, we can only remove their harm without excessive transgression or oppression. This is the reason why Allah (تعالى) criticized that prophet for his actions. He went beyond the bounds and punished the innocent for actions they didn’t do. That prophet killed an entire community that praised Allah. Following this Allah sent revelation to him saying ” Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to burn a single ant? (that bit you)”

Islam teaches us that killing ants is not allowed. The same way Islam takes safeguarding and preserving the life of man it has the same regard for the life of animals and their offspring.

Benefits for the Subject

  • It’s not allowed to kill ants.
  • Killing animal isn’t allowed for this which have harmful fluid or venom. There is an authentic hadith that forbade the killing of ants,bees, frogs and hoopoes.
  • Islamic legislation doesn’t allow killing one with fire. However, it might be allowed for the previous nations, so that is why that prophet used the fire.
  • Ants praise and glorify Allah. Allah said: ” The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification.” (17:44)
  • Ants are a community like we are. Allah has mentioned in the Quran that animals and birds are a nation just like we are. He said : |” There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you.” (6:38)

For more inspiring stories visit :

Taken from Authentic stories of the Prophets by Dr. Umar Al-Ashqar/ pg 165-168

Translated by Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Battle

Why not buy me a cup of coffee

[1] Muslim 2241

[2] Al-Bukhari 3319

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