From the above verse we are informed that all God’s creatures were supposed to submit to God but some of His creatures failed to submit to Him recognizing Him to be their Creator, and the human being was one of them.Thus, the majority of creatures took the opportunity to kill their egos and submit to God’s absolute authority.
Of the billions of creatures that live on earth, which do you think are the largest in number? The first reaction would be to say “human being”, of course. Why, our species (Homo sapiens) seems to be just about everywhere. Well, for all our arrogance we would be surprised to learn that we are very wrong. And, we would be astounded to find out that the record for the most abundant organisms on Earth is held by insects that are addressed in two suras of the Quran: Al-Nahl (The Bee) and Al-Naml (The Ant), and even among insects, it is the ants that dominate.
From the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America, there are over 20, 000 species of ants, and those are only the ones that have been discovered so far. In the rain forests, ants make up ten percent of what scientists term the biomass. That is, if all the animals, birds and insects in the forest were to be collected, dried and weighed, for every 100 kgs. of combined weight, 10 kgs. would be made up of ants alone.
Did you know that for every 100 kgs. of people, there are 1,000 kgs of termites!!! Did you know that a single tree in the tropics can have more than 1, 000 different kinds of insects living on it at the same time!!! No one is quite sure how many species live on our planet. Scientists believe that less than 5 per cent of the world’s species have been recorded by humans. So far 1.4 million species have been identified but scientists estimate that the total number of species could be anywhere between 10 and 100 million. Data from “The Diversity of Life” by E. O. Wilson provide us the breakup of the 1.4 million species identified (see appendix for the definition of species in the scientific classification):
- Bacteria 4, 800 species
- Fungi 69, 000 species
- Algae 26, 900 species
- Trees, shrubs and higher plants 248, 400 species
- Protozoa 30, 800 species
- Sponges 5, 000 species
- Corals and jellyfish 9, 000 species
- Flatworms 12, 200 species
- Roundworms 12, 000 species
- Earthworms 12, 000 species
- Clams and other Mollusca 50, 000 species
- Seastars and relatives 6, 100 species
- Insects 751, 000 species
- Spiders and other non insect anthropoids 123, 400 species
- Fishes 18, 800 species
- Amphibians 4, 200 species
- Reptiles 6, 300 species
- Birds 9, 000 species
- Mammals 4, 000 species
Total: 1402, 900 species
And if you think you are beginning to see zeroes instead of stars, how about this? How many viruses do you think will fit into a teaspoonful of unpolluted water? Scientists in Norway have estimated that the number would exceed ONE BILLION!!! That is a teaspoonful of 1, 000, 000, 000 viruses!!!!
Scientists estimate that the deep ocean floor could be home to 10 million undiscovered species. The tremendous diversity of life is not limited to those habitats that seem to obviously offer the basics of food, shelter and space. Scientists have found life in regions which would be considered uninhabitable. It is the inhabitants that have developed special features to survive in the harshest of conditions.
Would the unbelievers not realize that there is a SUPREME POWER that has created and controls this method of adaptation and everyone and everything else? In the bays of Antarctica, the coldest marine habitats on earth, where the water is cold enough to turn normal blood into ice, fishes live and thrive. These fishes generate an anti-freeze element in their own bodies. Around the fishes are host of other marine creatures – each with their own protective devices to survive the freezing waters.
In the burning heat of the deserts live unique collection of plants, insects and reptiles adapted to survive the harshest of conditions. In the perpetual darkness of the world’s deepest and dampest caves live numerous insects, feeding on the fungi and bacteria that grow there, and in turn being eaten by larger – all of them blind – specialized for a life in the dark.
And even in the boiling water of hot springs, deep down at the bottom of the seas, scientists have discovered unique one celled microorganisms that thrive in waters up to 110 degrees centigrade. Thanks to God, diversity and adaptability have made life possible in the most remote regions of our planet.
Imagine that you are on a journey upward from the Centre or core of the earth. You are walking at a leisurely pace. For the first twelve weeks you would travel through burning rocks and molten lava where no life exists. Three minutes before you reach the surface, you would encounter the first organisms in the form of bacteria feeding on nutrients that have filtered deep underwater. As you reach the surface of the earth, you would be dazzled by the millions of life forms that you see – microorganisms, plants and animals – spread right across the earth’s surface. Still walking upwards at the same pace, you would find that only half a minute later, almost all life has disappeared. Upwards still, two hours later on your walk, you would only find traces of life very faint – consisting mainly of people in aero planes etc. The region with all this multitudes of life makes up only 1 part in 10 billion of the Earth’s mass. This layer of earth which consists of living organisms and their environment is called the “biosphere”. This is the only region of earth where life can exist naturally and it extends only from the bottom of the sea to the highest point of the atmosphere.
Finally, let us imagine that all the tremendous variety of living things on earth are finally discovered and then described. Let us imagine that we had to put together a compilation of all this information. We then decided to devote one page per species. The description would contain the scientific name, a photograph or drawing and a brief description and information on where the species is found. All this would be compiled in order to be published as a book. These would be bound in volumes of 1, 000 pages making each volume about 17 cms. wide. By the time the information about all the species were to be compiled, the volumes covering a million species would occupy 60 meters of space in a library. If we assumed that there were 100 million species of organisms on earth, the volumes would extend through 6 kms. of space in a library. Such is the Greatness of God who made these millions of species by merely saying to it “Be and it is” (2:117; 3:47; 6:73; 16:40; 19:35; 36:82; 40:68), “without the least effort” (46:33) and “no fatigue touched us” (50:38).
We are proud being the most intelligent creature of God but are with the minority who failed to submit to God in the past. Now if we can use our intelligence and experience suppressing our arrogance as well as denouncing our past ignorance, we would submit to God and glorify Him to ensure our safe return to Him being His submitting creature.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Note: The present world population is more than 7 billion (source: United States Census Bureau) but all belongs to the species, Homo sapiens being one of the species of mammals that may better explain the concept of species as an example for those who are not aware of scientific classification of living organisms.