By: Zia Mahmood Minhas
Animals are Allah’s marvelous creation. According to scientists they appeared on earth over 600 million years ago. They are in great numbers, have extreme diversity and exist all over the world, in all types of environmental conditions. They are stated to have over 2 million genera. Only a small fraction of this kingdom have been studied and classified. Plants and animals are interdependent for survival. The oxygen produced by plants is used for respiration by animals which is vital for their living. Animals exhale carbon dioxide which is utilized by plants for manufacturing food, while animals depend upon plants for food directly or indirectly.
Qur’an’s General Concept About Animals:
In the Qur’an there is elaborate coverage of topic of animals. There are seven Soorahs in Qur’an which are named on animals and several animals have been mentioned in the text ie.
|Al-Baqarah||: The Cow|
|Al-An’am||: The Cattle|
|An-Nahl||: The Bee|
|An-Namal||: The Ant|
|Al-Ankabut||: The Spider|
|Al-Adiyat||: The Charging Stallions|
|Al-Fil||: The Elephant|
Animals mentioned in the text:
|Mosquito||Soorah Al- Baqrah 2: 26||Hoopoe||Soorah An-Naml 27: 20-22|
|Monkey||Soorah Al-Baqarah 2: 65||Snake||Soorah Al- Qasas 28: 31|
|Cow||Soorah Al-Baqarah 2: 67||Spider||Soorah Al-Ankabut 29: 41|
|Swine||Soorah Al- Baqarah 2: 173||Donkey||Soorah Luqman 31: 19|
|Crow||Soorah Al-Maidah 5: 31||Worm/Termite||Soorah Saba 34: 14|
|Sheep/Goat||Soorah Al-An,am 6: 143||Ewe||Soorah S’ad 38:23-24|
|Frog/Lice||Soorah –Al A’raf 7: 133||Horse||Soorah S’ad 38: 31-32|
|Wolf||Soorah yusuf 12: 13-14||Livetock||Soorah Az- Zumar 39: 6|
|Mule||Soorah Al-Kahf 18: 61||Locust||Soorah Al-Qamar 54: 7|
|Bee||Soorah An-Nahl 16:18
||Lion||Soorah Al-Mudath-thir 74: 50-51|
||Soorah An-Nahl 16: 68-69||Camel||Soorah Al-Ghashiyah 88: 17|
|Quail||Soorah Ta Ha 20:80||Elephant||Soorah Al-Fil 105:1|
|Calf||Soorah Ta Ha 20: 88|
|Fly||Soorah Al Hajj 22: 73|
|Ant||Soorah An-Naml 27: 18-19|
There is wide coverage of the general concepts about animals in Qur’an i.e.
﴾إِنَّ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ﴿٣﴾ وَفِي خَلْقِكُمْ وَمَا يَبُثُّ مِن دَابَّةٍ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ﴿٤﴾ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن رِّزْقٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ ٥
In the heavens and earth are the signs for those who believe, As also in your creation, and in creatures He dispersed Are signs for people of firm faith. So too in the alternation of night and day ,and in what Allah has sent down from heaven of livelihood whereby He revived the earth after its death, and in varying the winds , are signs for a people who understand.
(Soorah Al-Jathiyah 45:3-5)
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ١٦٤
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, In the cycle of night and the day, In ships that plough the sea, to mankind’s benefit, In what Allah causes to descend from the sky of water, Giving life to the earth, hitherto dead, And peopling it with all manner of crawling creatures, In varying the winds and clouds, which run their course between sky and earth. In these are signs for people who reflect.
(soorah Al-Baqarah 2:164)
وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ وَمَن لَّسْتُمْ لَهُ بِرَازِقِينَ ٢٠
In it (earth) We created livelihoods for you as also for those for whom you do not provide.
(Soorah Al-Hijr 15:20)
In Qur’an the creation of human beings and other creatures have been mentioned as signs for people who have capability to understand and reflect while observing the creations of Allah. By mentioning different animals in Soorahs enlisted above Allah has stressed the importance of animals in terms of the absolute necessity, need and requirements for sustenance of human species on earth. It has also been stressed that Allah has created everything, living or non living and He is the provider of all the requirements essential for their existence. Every element, creature and living being has a significant role to signify, glorify and attest the infinite power and wisdom of Allah.
What Organisms are Classified As Animals?
Animals are multicellular organisms and have the following characteristics, though wide variations, deviations and adaptations occur.
– They are capable of free and independent movement.
– They do not manufacture their food, hence are dependent upon outside sources for sustenance. Technically such organisms are termed as ‘heterotrophs.’
– They are born, grow and then become fixed as they attain their size in the maximum range.
– Animals digest food inside their bodies in a chamber having one or two openings for intake and excretion.
– The cell walls of animals are flexible as against plants which are rigid. This quality gives them mobility, agility and flexibility through tissue formation.
– All animals reproduce sexually, though there are a few exceptions. The cells involved in sexual reproduction have half number of chromosomes. The reproductive cells of male and female fuse to form zygote. The zygote then develops into a new individual after going through a complex process of tissue formation.
Classification of Animals:
Animals are classified on different criteria such as presence or lack of vertebral column (backbone/spine), mode of feeding, activity time and physical features.
Classification Based on Vertebral Column:
- Protozoa: Phyla protozoa, unicellular organisms having capability of movement.
- Echinoderms: such as starfish
- Annelids: such as earthworms
- Mollusks: such as octopus
- Arthropods: such as crabs, spiders
- Crustaceans: such as crabs
- Arachnids: such as spiders
- Insects: all species of class insecta
- Fish: All species of group Pisces
- Amphibians: Such as frogs
- Reptiles: Such as crocodiles
- Birds: All species of class Aves
- Mammals: All species of class Mammalia including marsupials (kangaroos), primates (monkeys), rodents (mice), cetaceans (whales and dolphins).
Classification by Mode of Feeding:
Carnivores: These are predators and feed by preying of other animals such as felines (cats), canines (dogs) and big cats (tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, cougar and cheetah).
Herbivores: Feeds on plants such as cattle
Omnivores: Feed on both meat and plants such as humans, monkeys.
Parasites: Feed on other animals by assimilating food from their body systems such as leeches, mites.
Classification by Activity Time of the Day:
Diurnal: Animals who are active during the day. Such animals generally have poor visibility at night. Most of the pets and cattle belong to this group.
Nocturnal: These animals are active during night only. The animals in this category have been provided especially developed sense of vision by Allah which enables them to see in the dark. They often have excellent hearing as well. Bats, owls and most of the big cats are nocturnal animals.
Crepuscular: These animals are active during the twilight hours at dawn and dusk. By this timing they evade predators. Deer, rabbits and cats belong to this class.
Classification Given by Qur’an:
This is the simple but comprehensive classification. It classifies animals on mode of movement and based on description given in Soorah An-Noor:
وَاللَّـهُ خَلَقَ كُلَّ دَابَّةٍ مِّن مَّاءٍ ۖفَمِنْهُم مَّن يَمْشِي عَلَىٰ بَطْنِهِ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَمْشِي عَلَىٰ رِجْلَيْنِ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَمْشِي عَلَىٰ أَرْبَعٍ ۚ يَخْلُقُ اللَّـهُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ٤٥
Allah created every creature from water, some crawl on their bellies, some on two legs, some on four. Allah creates whatever He pleases and Allah is Omnipotent.
(Soorah An-Noor 24:45)
- Those who crawl on their bellies include reptiles.
- Primates I.e. monkeys, chimpanzees and some birds like penguin and ostrich are animals that walk on two legs.
- Those who walk on four legs include cattle, wild beasts and other mammals like squirrel, deer etc.
This classification is very simple, practical and covers almost all of the animals important to human society.
Adaptations for Defense and Predation:
Allah has designed all animals to fit perfectly in their environment for sustenance of their species. Animals have been provided with special physiological features and skills for survival in their abode on land, in water or air. Qur’an has dealt with this phenomenon in following verses.
قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَىٰ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَىٰ ٥٠
Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its likeness in form and then guided it.
(Soorah Ta Ha 20:50)
Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Highest! Who created and proportioned; Who measured and guided
(Soorah Al-A’la 87:1-3)
لَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ ۖوَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِن طِينٍ ٧
He Who perfected everything He created, and fashioned man’s creation from clay.
(Soorah As-Sajdah 32:7)
Animals have been inculcated with amazingly diverse ways to defend themselves for sustenance and so are the predators. There is intensive competition for survival between the prey and the predator which in the end creates a lasting inter-species balance where none is driven to extinction. Some of the adaptations for defense and predation are discussed below:
Speed: The prey when attacked runs for its life. It escapes if out speeds the predator. It is the end of life if predator overtakes. Rabbits, deer and cheetah are the examples.
Camouflage: Camouflage or protective body coloring is a phenomenon where the color of the animal is blended with its surroundings. This leads to avoidance of detection by the predator or prey. Camouflaged animals match so much with their environment that it is very hard to detect them.
– Polar bear is almost invisible in snow due to its white haired skin. Similarly the ptarmigan bird having its abode in Arctic Tundra cannot be detected easily due to white plumage.
– Some interesting examples of camouflage for defense are by Australian bird tawny frogmouth and patoo bird. The tawny frogmouth and patoo have plumage which resembles so much with the log texture that it is almost indistinguishable from the surroundings. Patoo further augments its camouflage by concealing its tail in the hole of the log. It then raises its beak to perpendicular angle and closes the eyes to perfect its mimicry by disguise.
– Chameleon, praying mantis and cheetah camouflage as predators. The chameleon has capability to change color according to different surroundings. Some insects look like green or dried leaves. The resemblance is so close that they are unlikely to be detected.
Trickery: Some animals trick their adversaries to avoid danger to themselves or their eggs and offsprings. False features that appear to be enormous eyes, queer appearance and attacking appendages are used to scare away the would be predators. Distraction displays are anti predatory behavior that is used to attract the attention of the predator away from an object by false pretence of being dead or injured, hence an easy target. This action is used to lure away the attacker from the young ones or eggs.
Cleverly made nests which trick the predators to false entrances and empty chambers are also used to frustrate their attempts. Some interesting examples are as under:
–Opossum has many tricks at hand for defense. It can play dead, foam at the mouth to convince the predator that it is toxic or sick, hence unfit to eat. When acting as dead body, it slows down its heart beat so much that the drama appears quiet real.
-Distraction by trickery is used by plovers, mourning dove and rain bird. These birds pretend to be injured by dragging one wing on the ground. It goes on luring away predator till the nest is safe, then it flies away.
-The sun bittern bird that lives in rain- forests of South America uses visual signals to protect itself. When confronted by the predator it raises its tail and spreads the wings wide. This exposes large spots on the wings resembling eyes. This sudden movement frightens the attacker and averts the danger. Similarly some butterflies exhibit false eyes on their wings when in danger. The adversary fearing a larger and fearsome prey is baffled and leaves in confusion.
– Some birds build hanging nests with decoy entrances and chambers. The real entrance is shut by using some adhesive material. The predator tries in vain to get entry from the decoy entrance and abandons pursuit finding nothing over there. Swamp birds build a number of nests as decoy along with the real ones to frustrate the predators. The male bird goes on changing nests, while the female sits on eggs for hatching in the real one. The male partner thus dodges the predators to let the female hatch the eggs in peace.
– The burrowing owl makes its nest on ground making a new one or occupying abandoned nest of some other bird. It makes a hissing sound like a snake to frighten away the predator.
– The pistol shrimp catches its prey by surprising it with a loud banging noise made with its claws.
– Herring gulls and some members of the crow family have been seen rapidly stamping their feet for several seconds. By this tactics they trap the insects by simulating rain drops which induce the prey to come to the surface.
-Bombardier beetle confronts the predator by spraying foul smelling, boiling hot and chemically toxic body fluid in the direction of the predator. The mixture has two ingredients i.e. hydrogen per oxide and hydroquinone. These chemicals are stored in separate chambers in the body. These are mixed in a third chamber for spray on the enemy. The fluid could be fatal for smaller challengers and painful for humans.
-Porcupine tackles the predator with its sharp pointed spines, which make it difficult to kill or eat. Pangolin has large and hard overlapping scales which act as armor against predators.
-Skunk is a cute small mammal and some people love to keep it as a pet. Skunk emits a foul odor which acts as a strong repellent for the attacker. The skunk lovers have to get the glands removed to avoid this bad smell. The musk of skunk is so hazardous that if sprayed directly it may cause temporary blindness. Similarly opossum emits green anal fluid with bad aroma to scare away the predator.
-Hoopoe has glands which produce unpleasant smell. The birds rub the fluid on their feathers as a defense against predators. The substance has antibacterial properties also that protect them from many diseases.
-Hagfish when under attack oozes a suffocating slimy substance. This sticky stuff entangles the predator in a fatal mass of fibrous goo.
-Large sized animal like elephant, bison and wild boar directly take on predators such as big cats and at times fight successfully for their life. Bison at times fight as a group with the predators.
Animals are Wonderful Creatures:
The animals are wonderful creatures. They add beauty, color and melody to this planet. Without them our world would have been a desolate, colorless and melancholic place. They give us lovely company as pets. They have skills and capabilities to live independently. They don’t need us for their survival; while we depend on them for our living, but alas our activities are threat to their existence. These have lead to extinction of some beautiful and beneficial species. Allah says in Qur’an:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا ۖمَّا تَرَىٰ فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ مِن تَفَاوُتٍ ۖفَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَىٰ مِن فُطُورٍ ﴿٣﴾ ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ ٤
He created seven heavens, piled one upon another. In the creation of All Merciful you cannot detect any disparity. Turn your gaze back: do you see any rift? Then turn your gaze back twice more, and your sight will return to you, humbled and flagging.
(Soorah Al-Mulk 67: 3-4)
They are creatures acting on instinct under direct guidance given to them by Almighty Allah. They have been bestowed with capabilities and senses which are different and superior to human beings except the mental power. They have special anatomical structures which enable them to exhibit amazing capabilities. These special qualities have been provided to them by Allah to suit their special requirements to enable them to survive. Scientists are,however, not able to fully understand how these capabilities work. Research is going on , but it may take long time before we fully understand these phenomena. These include the followings:
Echolocation: Some animals like dolphins, bats and shrews emit high frequency sound, pulses and detect the echoes produced by their sounds. They have special brain and ear structures which enable them to form a three dimensional picture and they react to the surrounding like a radar. Dolphin can hear frequencies up to at least 100,000 Hz.
Animal Premonitions: Animals have been reported to have the capability to react to and forewarn about calamities like earth quakes or volcanic eruptions. Rats and snakes have been seen to flee their burrows. Pet and farm animals become agitated and birds fly away from the scene in flocks behaving in abnormal ways. Humans with all scientific advancement, not withstanding, have not been able to predict these catastrophic events.
Pet animals have been reported to have sensed some events about to happen to their owners. Pets have been noted to foresee epilepsy seizure or accidents affecting their masters. How they sense these happenings before hand is not fully known. May be this is due to super sensitivity about some changes in body systems of their masters before even they themselves become aware.
Ultraviolet Light: Many species can see light with frequencies outside the human ‘visible spectrum’. Bees and many other insects can detect ultraviolet light which helps them find nectar in flowers. Plant species that depend upon insect pollination may owe reproductive success to ultraviolet colors of the flowers. Birds too, can see the ultraviolet (300-400nm) and some have sex dependent markings on their plumage that are visible only in the ultraviolet range. It is established that many species of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates have superior color vision to humans.
Infrared Radiation: Rattle snakes and other pit vipers use their infrared sensory organs at night to detect warm blooded preys. The infrared sensor eyes are cup like structure to form crude images as infrared radiations hit a heat sensitive retina. Humans have no capability for infrared vision and have to depend upon equipment for night vision, using similar technology provided to animals by nature. Pit vipers have a heat sensitive organ between the eyes and the nostrils, about 0.5 centimeters deep. This organ has nerve endings that respond to fraction of centigrade difference. A rattle snake can detect a mouse 40 centimeters away at night if the target has a minor temperature difference than the surroundings.
Electrical Sense: Electric fields are used in numerous ways by animals. Electric eels and have modified muscle cells that produce an electric charge strong enough to shock and sometimes kill their prey. Other fish use weaker electric fields to navigate murky waters or to monitor their surroundings. Bony fish and some frogs have a lateral row of sensory pores that enables them to detect electrical current in water.
Magnetic Sense: Earth has a magnetic field that surrounds it. A number of animals are able to sense this magnetic field .By this sense are able to identify the direction and navigate long distances. This sense has been found in honey bees, sharks, sea turtles, homing pigeons, migrating birds, tuna and salmon.
Perseverance and Resilience: Animals have enormous physical capabilities unmatched by humans as far as speed, power, vigor, vision and other senses are concerned. The human beings excel them with the use of technology only. Let us have a look at these capabilities and comparative performance of human beings:
-Rhinoceros beetles are capable of carrying up to 850 times their own body weight. A human with relative strength would be able to lift 59 metric tons.
-A flea can jump about 130 times of its height. It is like a person jumping over 630 ft high-rise building. The froghopper or spittle bug, a tiny insect jumps 70 centimeters which is equivalent to 690 feet by man.
-Cheetah is the fastest animal on land. It gains speed of up to 120 kilometers per hour within seconds. World record of 100 meter sprint was set by Usain Bolt when he dashed to the finish line in 9.58 seconds which, comes to 37.58 km per hour.
-Impala, an African antelope has got a very high jumping capability. It can bound up to 33 feet to the height of 10 feet.
Sacrifice and loyalty: Animals exhibit amazing degree of love and sacrifice for their young ones.
– The mother of mammalian animals take extreme care of the young ones since these are dependent upon care of mothers and cannot survive independently.
-Bitches and cats (canine and feline) look for a safe place for births of young ones. They shift their young babies from place to place if they sense danger. They shift by holding the puppies and kittens in their mouth from the neck. The same sharp teeth which crush the bone of preys are very soft in this situation and cause no harm to the young ones.
-The Malaysian exploding ants set an example of sacrifice for the community. When facing real and present threat, they combust internally and explode when the adversary is quite close. This suicidal attack kills both the predator and prey.
Communities: There are several species which live as families or groups. This fact has been pointed in Soorah Al-An’am.
وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلَّا أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم ۚ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِي الْكِتَابِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ ٣٨
There is no creature that crawls on the face of earth, no bird on the wings, but they are nations like you. We have not neglected any matter in this Book and then to Allah they shall be mustered.
(Soorah Al-An’am 6: 38)
– Normally there is family head and is recognized by the members. There are different levels of attachment of the members. Some groups have greater parlance of relationships such as penguins, pelicans, lions and elephants.
-There are other groups which live in communities. They are highly organized, skilful and have well defined jobs for various community groups. Ants, termites and honeybees live in highly well managed colonies.
-Small birds generally live together in flocks. This community life has a powerful impact. When they sense the predator poised for attack, they congregate to form a flock like a cloud. This step foils any attempt on part of predator for attack.
Some Fascinating Facts About Animals:
-Duck-billed platypus is a unique Australian animal since it appears to be a combination of several animals. It is the only mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth but gives milk to feed the young. It has webbed feet like an otter, beak like a duck, and flat tail like a beaver. It is one of the few venomous mammals.It feeds the young ones in a unique way. The milk is released through skin pores. The milk pools in grooves on mother’s abdomen enabling the babies to lap it up
-Sloth is the slowest mammal which spends most of its life hanging on trees. It feeds on tree leaves which provide very little nutrition. The animal has a very slow metabolic rate to conserve energy. The digestive process may take a month to complete. It sleeps 15 -18 hours daily and comes to the ground only when necessary. Urination and defecation is once a week. Climbing or coming down a tree may take hours.
-Chameleon can move its eyes independently. This enables it to see in two different directions at the same time.
-Snakes have no external ears, so they cannot hear the music of a snake-charmer.
–Animals act on their instinct. They may fight amongst themselves for food, access to females or space, but they never kill for pleasure.
-You can measure the temperature by checking the chirping pattern of cricket. They have their ears on their front legs.
-Sea otters float on their backs while eating.
Islamic Concept of Animal Behavior and Capabilities:
Islamic concept about animals is different from the contemporary theories of evolution. It contradicts the chance appearance of life on earth and its evolution to higher animals, culminating in human beings, the ‘Homo sapiens’.
Following are some of the verses of Holy Qur’an that indicate Islamic concepts regarding animals and their capabilities and sustenance of life on the planet earth:
Glorifying Allah is all that exists in the heavens and earth—Almighty, All—Wise! To Him belongs sovereignty of heavens and earth. He grants life and He deals death, and He has power over all things.
(Soorah Al-Hadid 57:1-2)
إِلَيْهِ يُرَدُّ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ ۚ وَمَا تَخْرُجُ مِن ثَمَرَاتٍ مِّنْ أَكْمَامِهَا وَمَا تَحْمِلُ مِنْ أُنثَىٰ وَلَا تَضَعُ إِلَّا بِعِلْمِهِ ۚدٍ٤٧
To Him must knowledge of the Hour be reffered. No fruits issue from sheaths, and no female bears or delivers except with His Knowledge.
(Soorah Fussilat 41: 47)
Allah is Creator of all things, the Guardian of all things. To Him belong the reins of the heavens and earth. But those who blasphemed against Allah’s revelation– they are the losers
(Soorah Az-Zumar 39: 62-63)
فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ١٤
Blessed is Allah, The Most excellent of Creators!
(Soorah Al-Muminun23: 14)
هُوَ اللَّـهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ ٢٤
He is Allah, The Creator, Originator, Giver of Forms, To Him belong the Names most beautiful; All on earth and in heaven magnify Him; He is the Almighty, the All-Wise!
(Soorah Al-Hashr 59: 24)
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالطَّيْرُ صَافَّاتٍ ۖ كُلٌّ قَدْ عَلِمَ صَلَاتَهُ وَتَسْبِيحَهُ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ ٤١
Do you not see how all is in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah. And the birds with wings outspread? Each has learnt his prayer and his glorification. And Allah Knows full well what they do.
(Soorah An-Nur 24:41)
وَمَا مِن دَابَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّـهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا ۚ كُلٌّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ ٦
No beast there is on earth but their livelihood rests with Allah. He Knows its berth and its final resting place. All in a manifest Book.
(Soorah Hud 11: 6)
أَمَّن يَبْدَأُ الْخَلْقَ ثُمَّ يُعِيدُهُ وَمَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۗ أَإِلَـٰهٌ مَّعَ اللَّـهِ ۚ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ ٦٤
Is it not He Who originates Creation, then restores it? Who grants you a livelihood from sky or earth? Is there to be another God with Allah? Say:’Show me your proof if you speak the truth’
(Soorah An-Naml 27:64)
We have created all things in due measure and Our Command is but a single word, Like twinkling of an eye.
(Soorah Al-Qamar 54: 49-50)
وَالْأَرْضَ مَدَدْنَاهَا وَأَلْقَيْنَا فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مَّوْزُونٍ ﴿١٩﴾ وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ وَمَن لَّسْتُمْ لَهُ بِرَازِقِينَ ﴿٢٠﴾ وَإِن مِّن شَيْءٍ إِلَّا عِندَنَا خَزَائِنُهُ وَمَا نُنَزِّلُهُ إِلَّا بِقَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ ٢١
We spread out the earth and cast upon it mountains firmly anchored, and cause vegetation to grow there in balanced in all its kinds. We created livelihood for you as also for those whom you do not provide. There is not anything, but We have its treasures with us and We send it down only in Well –Known measures.
(Soorah Al-Hijr 15: 19-21)
Following are some basic concepts on animal life based on Qur’anic verses:
-According to Islamic concept the whole universe and whatever in it, living or non-living has been created by Allah.
-All celestial bodies and whatever exists in them, living or non-living has been created according to a well thought plan and elaborate design. This plan is perfect to the minutest details and functions. Everything is meticulously formed and there is no flaw from any aspect.
-All creations and creatures are bound by Allah’s Edicts and cannot overstep the limits and functions assigned to them by Him.
-Allah is aware of everything, all hidden or open moves of its creations and these are under His direct control.
– Animals were created in the form they exist. Their behavior and capabilities are well defined and are in conformity with the requirements of their existence and duties assigned to them by the Creator.
-Allah caters for food and other requirements of all creatures. All the necessities have been provided in ample quantities and forms which can be easily consumed. These arrangements are for a predetermined period, known only to Allah. When the hour comes on the Day of Judgment everything in the universe will be wound up and destroyed.
Following arguments can be put forward in support the above mentioned facts:
-Looking at the ways the animals defend themselves or predate for food is manifest of the fact that these techniques have been inbuilt in their bodies by Allah. Otherwise how can an animal develop camouflage body coloration when they have no control on their body forms? No human being has control over graying hair. Can a praying mantis adopt green coloration to its body to hide it from the prey? Has a patoo bird intelligence to camouflage it on the log in a way that it is quiet difficult to distinguish it from the tree trunk?
-Trickery by animals as defense tactics is another queer phenomenon. Who coached the animals to dodge the predators for survival? Who taught plovers, rain birds and certain other birds to trick by posing as injured for distraction of predators from their nests? How can birds build decoy nests to trick the predators? All birds build special types of nests. But how can birds reared in captivity build exactly similar type of nest typical to their species when freed? Certainly these things are imparted in their instinct over which they have no control nor they have intelligence level to learn these tactics. Then who guides them but Allah, the Almighty and All-wise?
-The defense through chemical combat and poisons also needs close examination. Chemical manufacturing is highly complex process and requires sophisticated technology and equipments. Can animals with their rudimentary intelligence level manufacture highly complex and effective organic compounds like poisons, repellents, toxic materials and antibiotics? Definitely Allah gave them the means and body systems for production of such complex materials.
-The food chain is a miracle in itself. Every creature has been provided with materials and means to feed itself. Herbivorous animals feed on plants. They in turn become prey to the carnivores. The smaller animals become prey to larger predators. Parasites attack on other animals for survival. Mysteriously this intense competition does not disturb the delicate population balance of plants and animal species as if being controlled by some invisible hand. That hand is nobody except Allah
-The insects living in communities like honeybee, termites, and ants show amazing organizational structure. They have division of labor, intricate designs of their colonies and defense systems. They have capability to travel long distances to collect food and store it for their future needs. Every individual is subject to strict discipline. Their way of living cannot be explained except it has been decreed by Allah. The same thing has been pointed out in Soorah An-Nahl.
وَأَوْحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ ﴿٦٨﴾ ثُمَّ كُلِي مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا ۚ يَخْرُجُ مِن بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِّلنَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ ٦٩
Your Lord inspired the bees: ‘take the mountains for your habitation, as also the trees and what they erect on a trellis. Then eat of all fruits and follow the path of your Lord, made easy for you’. From their bellies comes a drink of diverse colors in which there is healing for mankind. In this there is a sign for people who reflect.
(Soorah An-Nahl 16:68-69)
–Huge and powerful animals have been made subservient to humans by Allah. How can you, otherwise, explain animals like camels, elephants, bulls and horses working like slaves, performing difficult and laborious jobs? This aspect has been touched in Soorahs Ya-Sin and An-Naml. It is also conveyed in these verses that human beings are not fully aware of what Allah has created. As a matter of fact only a fraction of species has been discovered and scientific study of the discovered so far is at rudimentary stage.
Animal Rights in Islam:
Social recognition of animal rights and treaties on international level are of recent origin, mainly from late nineteen eighties. The Qur’an, however, outlines obligatory rules for treatment to animals. In Islamic concept animals are signs of Allah so they deserve care and kindness by human beings. Humans should not interfere in their lives to disturb them or lead them to extinction. Allah has mentioned in Soorah Al-Baqarah about mosquito and said that Allah is not ashamed of citing the examples of mosquito or other large or smaller animal. Allah has conveyed that for Him all creatures are equal, since all are created by Him.
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖوَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِ هَـٰذَا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ ٢٦
Allah shies not from drawing a parable even from mosquito or else anything large or small. Those who believe know it is truth from their Lord. Those who disbelieve say:”What did God intend by this parable?” Allah thereby leads many astray, And guides many. But the dissolute alone he leads astray.
(Soorah al-Baqarah 2:26)
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ ٤
We created man in fairest proportions.
(Soorah At-Tin 95: 4)
It has been mentioned in Qur’an that everything in this universe has been made subservient to human beings. The human beings have been created with superior intelligence and capability than other animals and appointed as care taker on earth (khalifa). They have been empowered to use everything in this world for their benefit and sustenance within limits fixed by Allah. Humans have been allowed to eat all permissible (Halal ) food including meat of animals. These resources provided by Allah are, however, to be utilized with restraint to keep balance in the planet. Treatment to animals has been outlined in Qur’an and Hadith and these are to be followed strictly by all believers. The treatment to animals will be one of criteria for evaluation of human conduct for reward or punishment on the Day of Judgment.
Following are animal rights as envisaged in Qur’an and Hadith.
-The Prophet Muhammad forbade people from capturing baby birds before they mature. Separation of young ones from the mother has been declared as sinful.
-Cruelty to animals is forbidden. Whipping especially on face is prohibited. All animals are to be used for which they have been created. Works unnatural to them are disallowed.
-Collection of produce for human consumption should leave enough quantity for utilization of animals and their young ones.
-Abu Hurerah quoted from the instructions of the prophet “Ride animals as much as is necessary for your needs and do not use animals as your sedan chairs”.
-Another Hadith quoted from the prophet is that ‘There is no beast of burden that does not pray to Allah every morning so that Lord may bestow it an owner who would give it enough forage and water and would not overload.’
-Dabiha rules for slaughtering of animals have been spelt out in Muslim and Nisai i.e.
- Do not slaughter animals in the presence of others.
- Water and feed them before slaughter.
- Sharpen the knife and put the animal at ease to minimize pain .
-Cutting any body part of animal while alive is prohibited. It is to be treated as dead animal’s meat’ hence’ unusable (haram). (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Hakim).
-Hunting for sport is sinful. The prophet said “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment. The explanation of just cause is to kill for eating. (Nisai, Hakim)
-Similarly animal fighting as sports or races beyond the capacity of animal are prohibited.
-Elimination of harmful animals has been allowed, which justifies killing of animals attacking you, your crops or household.
-Spending on charity for facilitation of animals like construction of drinking troughs has been declared a virtue (Abu Dawoud)
We conclude this chapter by quoting the verses from Soorah Al Hajj:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ لَن يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَابًا وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ ۖ وَإِن يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئًا لَّا يَسْتَنقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ۚ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ ٧٣
O mankind, a parable is struck, so listen to it. Those whom you worship instead of Allah cannot create a fly, even if they join forces to do so. And if flies were to rob them of something, they could not retrieve it from them: weak is the seeker and week is the thing sought! (Soorah Al-Hajj 22: 73)
We can now see why Allah has termed the animals as His signs for people of understanding, who reflect while seeing wonderful creations of Allah. Everything how big or minor and every creature in any environment is working and living in a flawless way. Those who ponder on these phenomena have no choice but surrender to the will of Allah, The only Sovereign in the universe.