"Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth a parable even of a mosquito or any thing above that;" (Quran 2:26)
As people are invited to contemplate their own creation, the Qur'an frequently calls people to investigate nature and to see the signs of Allah therein. The whole universe, with all its living and non-living elements, consists of the signs revealing that they have been 'created'. And they exist just in order to demonstrate the power, knowledge, and art of their 'Creator'. Mankind is responsible to know these signs and appreciate the Creator of all, Allah. All living things possess these signs, yet there are some specifically mentioned animals in the Qur'an. The mosquito is one of these. This is referred to in the Qur'an in the below verse:
"Surely Allah is not ashamed to set forth any parable- (that of) a gnat or any thing above that; then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord, and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable: He causes many to err by it and many He leads aright by it! but He does not cause to err by it (any) except the transgressors," [Al-Baqara (The Cow) 26]
When considering the life of the mosquito, we can say that it has a very extraordinary adventure. What is generally known about mosquitoes is that they absorb and feed on blood. Yet, this is not completely true. Because not all mosquitoes, but only the female ones absorb blood. And their need for blood is actually not related to feeding at all. Actually, both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar of flowers. The only reason that females, unlike males, do absorb blood is for their eggs, which need to mature with the help of proteins contained in blood. In other words, the female mosquito absorbs blood just to ensure the survival of the new generation.
The point to be stressed here is that the verse of the Qur'an points out only the 'female' mosquito. It is only the female mosquito which has the superior capabilities that will be detailed here. So, it is surely quite expressive that female mosquitoes are particularly emphasized in the Qur'an. Besides, it is a remarkable fact to point out that at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an, the specific biology of the mosquito was knowledge unknown to mankind.
The development process and its phases, is one of the most amazing aspects of the mosquito. This animal converts from a larva into a mosquito after passing through completely distinct phases. Let us see this adventurous story of the mosquito briefly.
The mosquito eggs, which are fed with blood, are layed by the female mosquito on damp leaves or dried ponds for maturation, during summer or fall. But prior to this, the mother initially examines the ground thoroughly by using a receptor placed under her abdomen, functioning as a humidity and temperature sensor. She aims at finding a convenient place for her eggs. When the most suitable area is found, she starts to lay her eggs. These eggs, which have a length of less than 1 mm, are arranged in a line, either in groups, or one by one. Some species lay their eggs joined to each other forming a raft, some of which may contain up to 300 eggs.
The carefully placed white eggs soon start to change their color. Only a few hours after they are laid down, they become completely black in color. With this change, they attain an excellent protection against birds and insects. Their dark color can not be recognized by these creatures.
It takes a winter for the incubation period to complete. Since eggs are created with such a structure to resist a long and cold winter, they survive until spring when their incubation period ends. When the incubation period is complete, the larvae start getting out of their eggs. The first egg is immediately followed by the others. As soon as they get out of the eggs, they start to swim in water. Now, the underwater days start for the mosquitoes.
The continuously fed larvae grow with great speed. Soon the skin covering their body gets too small to let them grow any further. This is the time for their first skin change. The hard and brittle skin gets easily broken. Until this developmental cycle is completed as a whole, the mosquito larvae will change its skin two more times.
Since the life of the mosquito initializes in water, the system designed for the feeding of the larvae is rather impressive. The larvae empowers whirlpools in the water with its feathered prolongations located at the two sides of its mouth, which lead bacteria and other micro-organisms for feeding. And a solution also exists for its respiration: each larva has innate diving equipment. They breathe via respiratory tubes at their back while standing upside down in water. This system may be resembled to "snorkels" used by divers. During the employment of this method, the larva secrete a sticky secretion from their body in order to prevent water from leaking inside, through the respiratory openings. Shortly, the animal lives with the help of the combined harmony of all these delicate balances.
If it did not have a respiratory tube, it would not survive; if it did not have a sticky secretion, its respiratory tube would be choked.
As the time goes by, most of the larvae change their skin once more. The last skin change is rather different from the others. With this last change, larvae pass onto the final phase of their maturation, the "pupa phase", and they are ready to become a real mosquito at the end. So, the time has come for the mature pupa to get out of the sheath covering its body.
However, the creature that gets out of the sheath is so different from its earlier phases, that it seems unbelievable for them to be just two developmental phases of the same being. And this metamorphosis is too complicated and delicate to be designed by the larva itself, nor by its mother, or any other thing.
During this last transition period, there is a threat for the creature, since the respiratory openings above the water may get closed with the leaking of water inside. This will naturally mean that the pupa will be out of breath, and die. But from then on, respiration will not be done via these holes. There emerge two new air tubes on the head of the pupa. Therefore, before the pupa gets ready for the last skin change, firstly these two tubes rise on the water. This will be its new method for respiration. During the three or four days of the pupa phase, there will be no nutrition for the coming mosquito.
Now, the mosquito within the pupa cocoon is mature enough and ready to fly with all its organs, like antennas, trunks, feet, chest, wings, abdomen and large eyes covering most of its head. Then, the pupa cocoon is torn at the top. This stage, where a complete mosquito will emerge, is the most dangerous stage of all. The greatest risk is water leakage into the cocoon. However, the torn top is covered with a sticky liquid preventing the head from contacting water. The mosquito must get out of water without having any direct contact with water, so only its feet touch the water surface. This instant is extremely important; even a light wind may cause its death. Finally, the mosquito leaves for its first flight after a rest of about half an hour.
It should be noted once again: The animal has gotten out of the water without even touching the water... At this point, the question that should come to mind is: how did the first mosquito attain such an 'ability'? Might it be that each individual larva has decided to transform into a mosquito after changing skin three times? Absolutely, that is impossible. This tiny animal, which Allah gives as an example, has specifically been created as it is. This leads the Muslims to ponder on the creation of Allah, and think of how Allah has not created all this for nothing, to fear Allah and act totally to comply with His Will.
Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): "Our Lord! Not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
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