Stories for Thinking Children

 



ZAKI AN THE SPIDER

Zaki was lying in the garden reading a book. His eyes strayed from the book he was reading, and as he looked around he saw a spider's web on the branch of a tree. He got up and went up to the spider's web which he began examining with interest. The spider, which was near the web, then spoke to him.

"Hello, friend!" it said in a tiny voice.

"Hello," replied Zaki, who was always very polite. "This web you have made is very interesting. How do you make one like this?"

The spider took a deep breath and began to explain: "I start by finding the right place for it. It must be in a corner or between two nearby objects. Let me explain how I make a web between two tree branches. First I fix the thread tightly to one end of the branch. Then I go to the other end while continuing to produce thread. When I reach the right distance I stop producing that thread. Then I begin to pull the thread back towards myself until it is tight and I fix it where I am. Then I begin to weave the web inside the arc I have thus made."

Zaki thought for a moment: "I'd never be able to do such a thing as fixing a string tightly between two walls. Isn't it difficult to keep the thread tight?"

The spider smiled at him "Let me explain how I solve the problem. Sometimes I make a web between two branches that are a long way from each other. Because such webs are very big, they are also really good at trapping flies. But because the web is big it loses its tightness over time. That also reduces my success in catching flies. I go to the center of the web and I fix a thread that reaches down to the ground. I attach a small stone to the thread near the ground. Then I return to the web and try to pull the thread upwards from where the stone is. While the stone is in the air I fix the thread again tightly to the middle of the web. As a result, because the stone below the center is pulling it downwards, the web tightens up again. That's all there is to it!"

"What a great method!" said Zaki, who was really impressed. "How did you learn such a technique, and how do you use it so well ? Spiders must have been doing this for millions of years..."

"You're right, my friend," agreed the spider. "It would be stupid to think that we have enough intelligence of our own to manage this. It is Allah, Who owns and creates everything, Who gives me the skill to use this technique."

"Don't forget, Zaki," the spider went on to remind him: "For Allah everything is very easy. Allah has the power to create an infinite variety of living things and places."

"Thank you for what you've told me," said Zaki, who was a very polite little boy. "I will now understand rather better how powerful Allah is and what superior knowledge He has every time I see the living things He created, and their flawless designs."

FAROOQ AN THE DUCK

One day, Farooq's uncle took him somewhere he had been wanting to visit for a very long time. This was the zoo, where he could see in real life the animals he had always read about in books and magazines and watched on television. The journey was long, but fun. On the way his uncle explained to Farooq the signs of Allah in nature and gave examples from the Qur'an. At last they arrived at the zoo. Farooq's eyes widened in wonder. He had never seen so many different animals together in one place. When they came to the bird section Farooq left his uncle's side and went to the ducks' cage. "What a beautiful bird," he said about one of them. "Thank you," a voice answered; Farooq looked around, but there was nobody else there. Then he realized it was the duck he was looking at which had spoken.

"Hello," said the duck. "Thank you for your kind remark. As well as having a handsome appearance I have other interesting characteristics. Did you know that?"

Farooq answered in excitement, "No, but I'd really like you to tell me about them, please."

The duck settled down on a comfy branch and began: "Did you know we can fly very fast? When flying, ducks can travel at more than 30 miles (50 km) an hour. What's more, we continually change direction to avoid being caught by predators. And when we need to dive underwater we do it so quickly that we're a difficult target for hunters."

Farooq's eyes opened wide: "For a bird, that really is flying fast. You mean your enemies force you to fly that quickly?"

"Yes, Farooq," replied the duck: "Let me give you an example. Our friends the ice ducks are a regular target for an interesting hunting method used by seagulls. The seagulls attack them constantly from the air and make them dive underwater. They keep doing this until the ducks have to come to the surface, all out of breath and helpless. Then they hunt them by diving at them and pecking their heads. But the seagulls don't always win the battle. The ice ducks have their own special methods of protecting themselves. If they see a seagull in the sky they immediately gather together in large groups. This means that a seagull can't chase any individual one of that large number of diving ducks, and eventually it grows tired and gives up."

"How clever those ducks are!" marveled Farooq. "How are they able to do that?"

"The answer to that is obvious, Farooq," tutted the duck. "It is Allah Who created ducks and all other living things, and it is He Who teaches them how to protect themselves."

"Thank you so much, dear duck," said Farooq. "You've given me some very useful information today and reminded me of the signs of our Lord. See you later," he said, as he walked back to find his uncle.

Is He Who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed? (Surat an-Nahl: 17)

ALI AND THE OSTRICH

Ali was eating and watching a cartoon on television at the same time. In the cartoon, there was a huge ostrich running away from a dog. The ostrich was running so fast that it escaped and went back to its friends in the nest. Ali had always assumed that ostriches were birds which just buried their heads in the sand. He didn't know they were such good runners, too.

"You mean you didn't know we could run fast?" asked a voice.

Ali looked around startled, before realizing that the voice was coming from the television. He went up to it and began to talk to the ostrich on the screen.

"You're a bird," he began. "Of course it surprises me that you can run so quickly. And with such a huge body, too."

"You're right," puffed the ostrich, which was still a little bit out of breath. "We're the biggest birds in the world. We're taller than people. Take me, for example, I'm about two and a half meters tall and I weigh 265 pounds (120 kg). We can't fly, but Allah gave us a different talent so that we can escape from our enemies. We run very fast with our long legs, so fast that nobody can catch us on foot. In the world of living creatures, we're the fastest runners on two legs. We can reach a speed of around 45 miles (70 km) an hour if we really go all out."

Ali had a closer look at his new friend: "Unless I'm very much mistaken, your feet have only two toes. Is that correct?"

The ostrich raised one foot for Ali to have a better look at: "Yes: We have only two toes on our feet. And one of those toes is much bigger than the other. We only run on our big toes. As you can see, Allah created us as He did all living things, from nothing and in a unique way. He gave us a number of characteristics to help us survive. We have a lot of very different characteristics from other birds you may know about..."

"That's very true," mused Ali. "I wonder how you bring your babies into the world."

"Well, Ali," replied the ostrich: "Just as we are very big, our eggs are very big too. We dig a big hole in the sand and we bury our giant eggs in it. We lay 10 or 12 eggs at a time and we have to make a hole big enough for them. In other words, we dig a very big hole indeed."

Ali considered for a second or two, "Why do you make these holes in sand?" he asked his new friend.

The ostrich smiled and preened its feathers: "If we made them in soil instead of sand, it would take a long, long time. It would also make us very tired. Moving sand is a lot easier than moving soil. You can even dig up sand with your fingers, but for soil you need a shovel. That's why we prefer sand. With sand we can do the job quicker and without tiring ourselves too much."

"After laying our eggs, it is also much easier to cover them with sand. You know, in the world there are millions of different kinds of living things. All creatures have their own wonderful characteristics. Allah created us all. It is Allah Who teaches us everything we do."

Ali stood up, as the program was coming to an end: "Meeting you has increased my love for and nearness to Allah even more. Thank you for what you have told me. Bye bye."

Flying fish do not fly with wings like birds, they just glide on their fins, which resemble wings.

They can reach speeds of up to 35 miles (56 km) an hour. These small fish can also move more quickly in water by spreading their fins and lifting their tails out of the water.

This allows them to glide on the surface.

DID YOU KNOW?

THE BOOBY, THE SWIMMING BIRD

The booby, a species of deep-diving seabird, has large webbed feet. These feet have been given to it by Allah so that it can swim on the surface of the water or underwater. Boobies dive as well. They dive into the sea to catch fish with their beaks, and mostly stay under water for a long time without coming out and swimming long distances.

KASHIF AND THE HONEY-LOVING BEAR

The same way he did every morning before going to school, Kashif sat down at the table for breakfast. While his mother was making the tea, Kashif's eye was caught by a picture of a bear on the honey jar. While his mother was busy, the bear in the picture winked at Kashif and spoke to him.

"Hello, Kashif! I reckon you must love honey as much as we bears do..."

"Yes," agreed Kashif. "My mother never forgets the honey at breakfast. But ours comes from jars from the supermarket.Where do you find yours from ?"

The bear wrinkled its nose before answering, "Our Lord, Who meets the needs of all living things in the best possible way, gave us bears long noses which are very sensitive to smell, and that allows us to find food easily."

Kashif, who had once been stung by a bee, was intrigued, "When you find a hive with honey in it, how do you get it out?" he wondered.

This time the bear held up a paw for Kashif to see. "When we find a hive we give it a couple of sharp knocks with our paws to chase all the bees away, and then we enjoy eating the honey inside. But whatever you do, don't try the same thing, or the bees will sting you everywhere and make you very, very ill. Thanks to our Allah, we bears are protected from their stings by our thick fur."

Kashif promised he would not: "There's something else I've been wondering about. Don't you bears ever get hungry during your winter sleep?" he asked.

The bear nodded its furry head: "Before we go to sleep for the winter we eat plenty of food. To build up the fat layer under our skin we eat lots of beech nuts and chestnuts. That way we store fat in our bodies, because we lose most of our weight by the time we come out of our shelters in the spring. But we survive even though we lose most of our body weight. Of course we couldn't think of storing fat in our bodies before going to sleep by ourselves. Our eating plenty before sleeping is inspired in us by Almighty Allah."

"I see now," said Kashif, "that every living thing on the face of the earth is proof of Allah's supreme creation. Thank you for reminding me of that, my friend..." The bear nodded in agreement.


Kashif was then startled by his mother's voice telling him breakfast was ready. While he was enjoying his honey he thought about the bear and was grateful to Allah, the infinitely compassionate, Who has created bears so perfectly.

The seven heavens and the earth and everyone in them glorify Him. There is nothing which does not glorify Him with praise but you do not understand their glorification. He is All-Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving. (Surat al-Isra: 44)