Surah An-Naml Ayat 18 in Arabic Text
Here you can read various translations of verse 18
Until, when they came upon the valley of the ants, an ant said, “O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they perceive not.”
At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: “O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.”
(Solomon was once on the move with them) until when they reached a valley of ants one of the ants said: “O ants, get into your holes, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under their feet) without even knowing.”
Till, when they came to the valley of the ants, one of the ants said: “O ants! Enter your dwellings, lest Sulaiman (Solomon) and his hosts crush you, while they perceive not.”
Till, when they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving.
Till, when they came up to the Valley of Ants, an ant said, “O you ants, enter your dwellings so that Sulayman and his hosts would not definitely crush you, (while) they are not aware.”
and when they came to the Valley of the Ants, one ant said, ‘Ants! Go into your homes, in case Solomon and his hosts unwittingly crush you.’
Quran 27 Verse 18 Explanation
For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah An-Naml ayat 18, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.
(27:18) (Solomon was once on the move with them) until when they reached a valley of ants one of the ants said: “O ants, get into your holes, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under their feet) without even knowing.”
24. This verse also has been greatly misconstrued by some commentators of the present day. They say that wad-in naml does not mean “valley of the ants”, but it is the name of a valley that was in Syria, and namlah does not mean an ant but it is the name of a tribe. Thus, according to them, the verse means this: “When the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) reached the valley of the ants, a Namilite said, O people of the Naml tribe ……” But this also is an interpretation which is not supported by the words of the Quran. Even if we took wad-in-naml to be the name of a valley and supposed that it was inhabited by the tribe of Bani an-Naml, it would be against the Arabic idiom and usage to speak of a member of the tribe as namlah. Although there are many Arab tribes which have been named after the animals, e.g. Kalb (dog), Asad (lion), etc. Yet no Arab would ever say in respect of a member of the Kalb or the Asad tribe: “A dog said, or a lion said, etc.” Therefore, it would be against the Arabic idiom to say in respect of a member of the Naml tribe: “An ant (namlah) said this.” Then a member of the Naml tribe’s warning the people of his tribe, saying, “O Namilites, get into your houses lest Solomon’s hosts should trample you down without even knowing it,” becomes meaningless, It has never happened that an army of men should have trampled down a group of men without knowing it. If the army has come with the intention of an attack, it would be useless for the other side to get into their houses, for in that case the invaders would follow them into their houses, and trample them more ruthlessly. And if the army is only on the routine march, it is just enough to clear off the way for it. Human beings may be harmed by the marching columns, but it can never happen that the soldiers on the march would trample down other men without knowing it. Therefore, if Bani an-Naml were a tribe of human beings, and one of its members were to warn his people, then in case of an attack, he would have said, “O Namilites, flee your houses and take refuge in the mountains lest Solomon’s armies should destroy you.” And in case there was no danger of an attack, he would have said, “O Namilites, clear off the way lest one of you should be harmed by the marching columns of Solomon’s armies.”
This error in the interpretation is on account of the Arabic idiom and the subject-matter. As for the name of the valley and the tribe of Bani an-Naml inhabiting it, it is a mere hypothesis for which there exists no scientific proof. Those who hold that wad-in-naml was the name of a valley have themselves pointed out that it had been so named because of the abundance of ants in it. Qatadah and Muqatil say, “It is a valley in the land of Syria where ants are found in abundance.” But in no book of history and geography and in no archaeological research it is mentioned that it was inhabited by a tribe called Bani an-Naml. Thus, it is merely a concoction that has been invented to support one’s own interpretation.
This story is also found in the Israelite traditions but its latter portion falls against the Quran as well as against the real dignity of the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him). According to it, when the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) was passing through a valley which abounded in ants, he heard an ant calling out to the other ants to say, “Get into your holes, otherwise you will be trampled down by Solomon’s hosts.” At this, Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) displayed great vanity before the ant to which the ant said, “What are you? – the product of a mere sperm drop!” Hearing this the Prophet Solomon felt greatly ashamed. This shows how the Quran corrects the wrong traditions of the Israelites, and cleanses the filthy spots with which they had themselves branded the characters of their prophets. It is these traditions about which the Western orientalists shamelessly claim that the Quran has plagiarized them for its narratives.
Rationally also, it is not at all inconceivable that an ant should warn members of its own species of an impending danger and tell them to get into their holes. As for the question as to how the Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) heard it, the answer is: It is not all difficult to understand the crude speech of an ant for a person whose senses can comprehend and receive a subtle message like the word of revelation.
The tafsir of Surah Naml verse 18 by Ibn Kathir is unavailable here.
Please refer to Surah Naml ayat 15 which provides the complete commentary from verse 16 through 19.
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