Worth of a Mosquito

Syed Sharfuddin

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بهذا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ

“Allah does not mind giving an example of a [small insect such as a] female mosquito or anything that is bigger than that [such as a bee, spider, dog or camel]. As for those who believe, they know that it is the Truth from their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, they say, “What did Allah intend by this example?” He leads astray many thereby, and He guides many thereby; but He misleads only the evil doers.”[2:26].

There is a great lesson for the believers in this verse in which Allah mentions the female mosquito as an example to understand His divine message and supreme power. Mosquitos have been inhabiting human habitat for many centuries and will continue to do so because their growth is directly linked with the life of humans. The life span of a mosquito is 6 weeks. A female mosquito needs human blood to obtain nutrients, lipids, and proteins which are necessary for production of their eggs. In some species of mosquitos, human blood also enables female to produce more eggs. Mosquitos can smell humans from more than 30 feet through their ability to process exhaled carbon dioxide.

Man has battled long and hard to eradicate this small insect with pesticides, larvicides, pyrethroids. Scientists in etymological labs have experimented with biological and genetic tools to stop the growth of female mosquitos, and block the disease spread by their bites which produce malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. These diseases are deadly for humans, and their pathogens have an extraordinary ability to mutate and come back to kill humans in thousands. Malaria has killed more people in human history than any other disease. In some countries, its spread dropped but Malaria has never been fully controlled. Its elimination is not on the horizon yet. Different malaria species have adapted to local conditions to survive. Where people used nets, repellents, plastic films, sprays, scents and smokes in night-time, mosquitoes changed their habits and started biting humans and cattle in their carriages, pens and during the day.

The non-believers who wondered at the wisdom of Allah choosing the example of a mosquito to illustrate His divine power, manifested in the devastating killer ability of a small creature of the wild, today realise their helplessness in controlling this small insignificant insect, despite the advances made in pathology and genetic engineering. According to statistics there were 575,000 malaria deaths in 2019, which rose significantly to 620,000 in 2021. The This year, Latin America recorded 3 million cases of outbreak of dengue. Bangladesh had 120,000 cases. Several other water-borne and mosquito spread diseases such as chikungunya also registered an increase in many regions of the world.

Allah has given several examples in the Quran to make believers distinguish right from wrong and make an informed choice. In the story of Cane and Able, Allah gives the example of a crow to show how ignorant and helpless man can become when he rejects good advice and insists on pursuing his desire only to regret it afterwards (5:31). In the example of a fly (22:73), Allah has challenged man to create a fly which has, to start with, eyes that are made up of thousands of individual lenses which make it extremely hard to catch it. In the example of dog, Allah shows the two sides of man, loyalty, and obedience to the master such as the dog of the companions of the cave (18:18), as well as greed and avarice, such as the simile of a dog that pants with a lolling tongue whether you drive it away or leave it alone (7:176).    

Nothing in the divine scheme of things is irrelevant or insignificant as man foolishly thinks he knows everything after learning a fraction of the knowledge of how this universe works. Allah says in the Quran: “the disbelievers who deny being accountable to Allah and whose efforts in this world are misguided, think that they are doing good work, but their deeds will be nullified, and Allah will give them no weight”. Only those who are rightly guided by Allah are blessed to attain everlasting success and truly appreciate His signs and examples.

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