Fasting of Silkworm
Lecturer of Entomology – Faculty of Agriculture – Al-Azhar University
World of insects introduces us patterns of fasting that indicate Allah’s Omnipotence and Wonder in His creation. Although it is well known that food is among the factors of growth for living organisms, silkworms prove that fasting and abstaining absolutely from food and drink do not impair the body. Rather, it reforms these creatures in a captivating and wondrous way. In order to grasp the secrets of this fasting, firstly we should delve into some facts about life cycle of this creature; this can be shown as follows:
In the beginning of Spring, the eggs incubate small gluttonous larvae. The newly hatched larvae does not take long before they feed on mulberry leaves for five days. Their bodies, thereby, grow up too quickly to the extent that their skin cannot bear this rapid development and thus be replaced by another spacious one. Thus, they are obliged to observe fasting for one or two days until their bodies are physiologically adapted to cast away the old skin. This process recurs five times during the earliest stage before the completion of this metamorphosis in a period amounting to thirty days. Eventually, they will have completed the stage of development and reached a remarkable bulk.
When the larva reaches this bulk, it inevitably enters into another kind of fasting that extends for about six days. Thus, it takes shelter in a quiet location to spin a covering for their pupal stage. Truly speaking, it’s very captivating to know that the larva spins only one thread of fine, strong, lustrous fiber whose length ranges from 400 to 1200 meters. This covering is called cocoons, which are the source of commercial silk that souls yearn to wear garments made of it but for Allah, Most High, has prohibited it (silky clothes) to men and made it lawful for women. At this very moment, we can say that the worm has entered into the no-feeding stage (between the larva and adult in the metamorphosis of holometabolous insects), during which the larva typically undergoes complete transformation within a protective cocoon. The pupal stage needs complete quietness for it is not actually one of the stages of development or hibernation however it seems as such. Rather, it resembles an important stage in the life of this wondrous insect, which is subject to various kinds of sequent and rapid transformations. This stage prepares these insects to transform and reshape into another following stage.
Eventually, the dormant fasting worm turns into a rebellious giant that destroys fetters to get out into the spacious world. It secretes a caustic liquid that dissolves a part of this cocoon to raise the covering, producing a beautiful organism called the silkworm moth, which lays its eggs after fertilization. It spends the remaining five days of its life in a state of fasting after it lays its fertilized eggs, which will be hatched in the coming spring to restart the cycle once again. Glory be to Allah, the Originator, the Restorer!