Home / Islamic Insights / Man and Animals

Man and Animals

Man and Animals

Man himself being a kind of animal, has many things in common with other animals. At the same time he has many dissimilarities which distinguish him from other animals and make him superior to them.

The main and basic features distinguishing man from other living beings, on which his humanity depends and which constitute the source of what is known as human culture, pertain to two spheres: attitudes and inclinations.

Generally speaking the animals are endowed with a quality of perceiving and knowing themselves and the outer world, and in the light of this knowledge they strive to secure what they want and desire.

Like other animals man also has many wants and desires and in the light of what he knows and understands, he makes efforts to secure and realize them. Man differs from other living beings in that he knows more, understands better and his wants and desires are of a higher level.

This characteristic of man distinguishes him from all other animals and makes him superior to them.


Awareness and Desire in Animals

An animal knows the world through its external senses only. That is why, firstly, its knowledge is superficial and seeming. It does not penetrate the things and has no access to their internal relations. Secondly, it is partial and particular, and is neither universal nor general. Thirdly, it is regional, for it is confined to the living environment of the animal, and does not go beyond that. Fourthly, it is limited to the present and is unconcerned with the past and the future. As animal is not aware of its own or world’s history, it neither thinks of the future nor does it plan for it.

From the viewpoint of knowledge, an animal cannot come out of the framework of the exteriors, the particularity, the living environment and the present time. It never escapes from these four prisons. If by chance it does, it does so instinctively and unconsciously, and not by its own choice and will.

Like the range of its knowledge, the level of the wants and the desires of an animal also has a limited scope. Firstly, all its desires are material and do not go beyond the limits of eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, mating and building a home or a nest. For an animal there is no question of any spiritual needs, moral values etc. Secondly, all its desires are personal and individualistic, pertaining to the animal itself or, at the most, to its mate and the young ones. Thirdly, they are regional related to its living environment only. Fourthly, they are instantaneous, pertaining to the present time.

In other words, the dimension of the desires and inclinations of an animal’s existence has the same limitations as the dimension of its perceptive existence. From this point of view also, an animal has to live within specific limitations.

If an animal pursues an objective which is outside these limitations and which, for an example, pertains to its species in general and not to one individual or pertains to the future and not to the present, as is observed in the case of certain gregarious animals like bees, it does so unconsciously, instinctively and by the direct order of the power which has created it and which manages the whole world.

Check Also

Hazrat Zahra (S.A)

Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari has narrated: Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H&H.P) had not eaten anything for several ...