Stories for Thinking Children

 



FARUQ AND THE TERMITES

It was a bright, sunny Sunday. Faruq had gone to the forest for a picnic with his teacher and his classmates.

Faruq and his friends began playing hide and seek.

Suddenly Faruq heard a voice crying, "Be careful!" Faruq began looking to right and left, unsure of where the voice was coming from. But there was nobody there.

Later on he heard the same voice again. This time it said, "I'm down here!"

Right next to his foot Faruq noticed an insect that looked very much like an ant.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"I'm a termite," the tiny creature replied.

"I never heard of a creature called a termite," mused Faruq "Do you live alone?"

"No," replied the insect, "We live in nests in big groups. If you like I'll show you one."

Faruq agreed, and they moved off. When they arrived, what the termite showed Faruq looked like a tall building with windows in it.

"What's this?" Faruq wanted to know.

"This is our home," the termite explained "We build these ourselves."

"But you are so small," objected Faruq. "If your friends are all the same size as you, how can you possibly make something as enormous as this?"

The termite smiled. "You're right to be surprised, Faruq. For little creatures like us to be able to make places like this really is very surprising. But don't forget, this is easy for Allah, Who created us all."

"What is more, besides being very tall, our homes have other very special features to them as well. For example, we make special children's rooms, places for growing mushrooms and a queen's throne room for our homes. And we don't forget to make a ventilation system for our homes. By doing this we balance the humidity and temperature inside. And before I forget, let me tell you something else, Faruq, we are unable to see!"

Faruq was amazed "Although you are so tiny you can hardly be seen, you still build homes just like the tall buildings people make. How do you manage to do all this?"

The termite smiled again "As I said before, it is Allah Who gives us these extraordinary talents. He created us in such a way that we are able to do all these things. But now Faruq, I must go back home and help my friends."

Faruq understood: "OK, I want to go and tell my teacher and my friends what I've learned about you right away."

"Good idea, Faruq" waved the little termite, "Look after yourself. Hope to see you again."

ASAD AND THE COLORFUL BUTTERFLIES

At the weekend, Asad went to visit his grandfather. The two days passed very quickly, and before Asad knew it his father had arrived to take him home. Asad said goodbye to his grandfather and went to sit in the car. He was looking out of the window as he waited for his father to collect his things. A butterfly sitting on a flower a short distance away fluttered its wings and flew to the car window.

"You're going home, aren't you, Asad?" asked the butterfly in a tiny voice.

Asad was astonished "Do you know me?" he asked.

"Of course I do," smiled the butterfly. "I've heard your grandfather telling the neighbors about you."

"Why didn't you come and talk to me before?" Asad inquired.

"I couldn't, because I was in a cocoon up a tree in the garden," explained the butterfly.

"A cocoon? What's that?" asked Asad, who was always a curious boy.

"Let me explain from the beginning," said the butterfly as it took a deep breath. "We butterflies hatch out of the egg as tiny caterpillars. We feed ourselves by nibbling leaves. Later we use a liquid which comes out of our bodies like thread and wrap ourselves up in it. That little package we weave is called a cocoon. We spend a while inside that package as we wait to grow. When we wake up and come out of the cocoon we have brightly colored wings. We spend the rest of our lives flying and feeding ourselves from flowers."

Asad nodded thoughtfully "You mean all those colorful butterflies were once caterpillars before they grew wings?"

"Can you see the green caterpillar on that branch?" asked the butterfly.

"Yes, I see it. It's nibbling away hungrily at a leaf."

"That's my little brother," smiled the caterpillar "In a while he'll weave a cocoon too, and one day he'll be a butterfly like me."

Asad had lots of questions to ask his new friend. "How do you plan this change? I mean, when do you come out of the egg, how long do you stay as a caterpillar and how do you make the thread to weave your cocoons?"

"I don't plan any of it at all," explained the butterfly patiently. "Allah has taught us what we need to do and when we need to do it. We just act in the way our Lord wills."

Asad was really impressed. "The patterns on your wings are wonderful. And all butterflies have different patterns, don't they? They are really colorful and eye-catching!"

Everything in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah... (Surat al-Hadid, 1)

Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the sky and by it We bring forth fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains there are streaks of white and red, of varying shades, and rocks of deep jet black. And mankind and beasts and livestock are likewise of varying colors. Only those of His servants with knowledge have fear of Allah. Allah is Almighty, Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir: 27-28)

"That's a proof of Allah's incomparable artistry. He created us one by one in the most beautiful way possible," explained his friend.

Asad agreed enthusiastically: "It's impossible not to see the beautiful things Allah has created. There are hundreds of examples all round us!"

The butterfly agreed: "You're right Asad. We need to give thanks to Allah for all these blessings."

Asad looked over his shoulder: "My father's coming. It looks like we're about to set off. It was really great to meet you. Can we talk again when I come next week?"

"Of course," nodded the butterfly. "Have a safe journey home."

THE WOODPECKER AND IRFAN

That Sunday, Irfan went for a walk in the woods with his father. While he was walking, he was thinking about how beautiful the trees and all of nature were. His father then bumped into a friend, and as the two grown-ups were chatting Irfan heard a sound:

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

The sound was coming from a tree. Irfan walked up to the bird that was making it and asked:

"Why are you hitting the tree with your beak like that?"

The bird stopped what it was doing, and turned to look at Irfan. "I am a woodpecker, " it answered. "We make holes in trees and build our nests in them. Sometimes we store our food in these tree holes. This is the first hole I've ever made. I will make hundreds more like it though." Irfan looked closer at the hole. "Fine, but how do you store food in such a small place?" he wondered.

"Woodpeckers mostly eat acorns, and acorns are quite small," the woodpecker explained. "Inside each hole I make I'll put one acorn. That way I'll be able to store enough food for myself."

Irfan was puzzled: "But instead of struggling with lots of small holes," he said, "you could make one big one and store all your food there."

The woodpecker smiled: "If I did that, other birds would come and find my food store and steal my acorns. But the holes I make are of different sizes. When I put the acorns I find into the holes, I store them according to their size. The size of the acorn exactly matches the hole I put it into. That way the acorn fits tightly into the hole. Because Allah created my beak so that I can take the acorns back out of the holes easily, I can take them from the trees without any problem. But other birds can't do that, so my food is safe. Of course, I don't have the brains to think all that out. I'm only a woodpecker. Allah makes me do these things. It is Allah Who taught me how to hide my food and Who created my beak in the right way for me to do it. Really, it isn't just me-all living creatures are able to do the things they do because that is what Allah taught them."

Irfan agreed: "You're right. Thank you for telling me all that... You reminded me the great power of Allah."

Irfan said goodbye to his little friend and went back to his father. He was very happy because wherever he looked he could see another of Allah's miracles.

JALAL AND THE SEAGULL

When he was traveling by ferryboat in hot weather what Jalal liked to do best was to sit outside on deck. That way he got a closer view of the sea and could look around more easily. One day Jalal boarded the ferryboat with his mother. Right away he went and sat down on deck. A group of seagulls were following the ferryboat as though they were racing one another. The seagulls put on a wonderful display, swirling and turning in the air, and fought one another over pieces of bread thrown to them by the passengers.

One of the seagulls glided slowly down and landed on the seat next to Jalal.

"How did you like our flying display?" it asked. "I noticed that you were watching us very carefully. What's your name?"

"My name's Jalal. Yes, I was really enjoying watching you flying. I see you can stay up in the air without flapping your wings at all. How do you do that?"

The seagull nodded its head. "We seagulls position ourselves according to the direction of the wind. Even if there is very little wind, rising air currents lift us up. We make use of this movement, and we can make long journeys without flapping our wings at all."

"We move backwards and forwards inside the masses of air rising up from the sea," it went on. "These currents mean that we always have air under our wings, and that allows us to stay up in the air without using up too much energy."

Jalal was still not sure he quite understood: "I saw you up there in the air without moving your wings, just as if you were hanging there. And you do all this by acting according to the direction of the wind? I can see that, but how do you calculate the strength of the wind and which direction it will come from?"

"It's impossible for us to do that from our own knowledge," began the seagull. "When He created us Allah taught us how to fly and how to hang in the air without wasting energy. These are examples given us so that we can realize Allah's existence and understand His power."

Jalal thought of another question: "Yes, you stay hanging in the air as though you were held up there by a string... To be able to do this you'd need to know math very well and be able to make detailed calculations, but you do it without any problem right from the first time you fly, don't you?"

"Absolutely," the seagull agreed. "Our Lord gave every living creature the inspiration it needs. We all do what we are told to do. Never forget that Allah embraces everything and keeps everything under His control. He is the Lord of all things. You can find a lot of verses about this in the Qur'an. The ferry is approaching land now, and I'm going to fly off to join my friends.
See you again..." Jalal watched his new friend fly away, growing smaller and smaller in the distance.

When he arrived home Jalal looked for a verse in the Qur'an about everything being under Allah's control. He found it in the Surah Hud, and learned the verse by heart right away:

[Hud said,] "I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path." (Surah Hud: 56)

Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly Signs in that for people who believe. (Surat an-Nahl: 79)

Dear children, have you heard of a kind of bird known as megapode? When these birds have chicks to raise, it is always the male birds which look after them. First the mother bird digs a big hole to lay her eggs in. After she has laid her eggs, the male has to keep the nest at a temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).

In order measure the temperature of the nest the male bird buries its beak in the sand which covers it, using its beak like a thermometer. The bird repeats this operation over and over again. If the temperature of the nest goes up, it immediately opens air holes to bring the temperature down again. Also, the bird's beak is such a delicate thermometer that if somebody throws a handful of soil on top of the nest and the temperature rises even the tiniest bit, the bird can detect this. Such measurements are only possible for us to make by using a thermometer, and yet megapodes have been doing this for centuries, and never make the slightest mistake.

This is because Allah taught them everything, and it is the Almighty Allah Who created a beak with the sensitivity of a thermometer.