Manifestations of Allah as the All-Merciful and Most Merciful in the Creation of Animals
We can also see clear proofs of Allah's endless mercy, compassion, and generosity in the world of animals. It is yet another proof of the All Merciful and Most Merciful Allah's compassion that He made animals to serve people as providers of meat, milk, leather, and honey, and for carrying people and loads, drawing chariots, and for hunting.
The gentle expression on the faces of young animals, their helplessness and obedience, are manifestations of Allah's compassion and love. Even young wolves, jackals, tigers, and crocodiles – all wild animals, awaken feelings of pity and compassion in human beings. This is a clear manifestation of Allah as the All-Merciful.
Every new-born animal is weak and helpless. Knowing nothing of the surrounding danger, it needs a protector to feed it so that it can grow up to be strong and survive. There is almost no chance of its surviving on its own. This role is filled by its parents, who will protect it from danger, feed it and, if necessary, give their lives for it, just as human parents do for their own young.
Weak and helpless baby animals can only survive if they are protected by strong adults. Their parents never neglect them and untiringly take on every responsibility for them. Some parents even do this when their young are still in the egg.
The most savage animals have great compassion for their young and protect them from danger at the cost of their own lives. Crocodiles carry their young in their mouths; birds collect branches and twigs to make nests, chirp shrilly to warn the flock of danger, and pretend to be wounded in order to draw an enemy's attention to themselves; zebras place themselves between a young zebra and its enemy; penguins sit on their eggs without moving for months and, during snowstorms, carry them between their feet without eating any thing.
Baby birds come out of their eggs blind and without feathers. Baby birds are defenseless but develop from day to day, thanks to the special care they receive from their parents by Allah's inspiration. The chicks are looked after by their parents until their feathers grow and they can move on their own.
Such types of behavior are amazing examples of self-sacrifice. But since animals have no intelligence, consciousness, or awareness, we can understand that Allah inspires these things in them. Allah, the All-Merciful and Most Merciful, makes wild animals serve their young. All animals show wonderful examples of self-sacrifice and feed their young with a great sense of duty. In His mercy, Allah supplies all animals with the food they need. These are just a few of the millions of proofs we will see when we look at the lives of animals.
The crocodile, one of the most savage animals in existence, pays great attention to its young. After the young hatch, the mother carries them in her mouth to the water. Until they can look after themselves, she carries them in her mouth or on her back. Her mouth is the most secure place for them, for it is a sack that has been created to carry and protect about six babies. Whenever they sense danger, young crocodiles hurry to this protective shelter. However, given that crocodiles are both savage and unaware, one would not expect them to protect their young, but to eat them indiscriminately. But Allah inspires them not to do so, for He is the merciful protector of every creature.
Even the python, which can be very dangerous, protects her eggs. She usually lays about 100 eggs at a time and then coils herself around them to provide shade to cool them in hot weather, and causes her body to shiver to warm them up in cold weather. This arrangement also protects them from other dangers.
Why do these animals protect their young and, without concern for themselves, meet their needs? Do they do this consciously? For example, can we really say that a bird consciously and determinedly risks its own life to protect its young?
The magpie decorates its nest with brightly colored objects to impress the female. This nest then becomes a secure shelter for its young.
Of course not. Animals cannot think and have no awareness. Thus, on their own they cannot have feelings of compassion and mercy. Here we see a single truth: Allah inspires all animals to love and feel maternal and other types of compassion for their young. Such self-sacrifice is only one proof of Allah's name as All-Merciful and Most Merciful.
Some mothers must leave their young behind in their communities at great risk until they are weaned. Many animals look after their young for days, months, or sometimes even years, giving them food and a warm nest, and protecting them from wild animals. Some birds feed their young between four and twenty times an hour. Female mammals have other responsibilities. When they are producing milk, they must eat more nourishing food and therefore hunt more frequently. In spite of this, the baby gains weight and the mother loses weight.
One would expect animals to abandon their young after giving birth, for they are not even conscious of what these young creatures are. Nevertheless, the fact that they assume all the responsibility for their babies becomes only possible by Allah's inspiration, another manifestation of His name as All-Merciful.
Male and female penguins defend their young to the death. A male penguin keeps its young between his legs for four months without interruption, during which he does not eat. Meanwhile, the female penguin goes into the sea to find food for the baby, which she brings back in her craw. These are well-known examples of great self-sacrifice.
Nests and dens are very important for protecting young animals. As a result, some species build nests and dens with various architectural qualities and techniques. Usually they make plans like an architect and work like an experienced bricklayer; they devise technical solutions like an engineer and sometimes adorn their nests and dens like an interior decorator. Sometimes these expert contractors work day and night. If they have mates, the two work together, sharing the effort. They prepare these nests and dens, which they construct with so much care and attention, for their young.
Parent birds fill their nest with soft feathers to keep it warm for their babies.
One would not expect unaware or non-intelligent animals to be able to do such things. In the following pages, we will give some examples of these amazing nests and dens, none of which they could have built on their own. Such constructions cannot be built in the absence of a plan.
First, the animals must determine that they need a nest or a den to protect their young. Then, they must decide upon the best place to build it. To construct the nest or the den, they select the most appropriate local materials. For example, sea birds that live on the shore build their nests with grass that floats so that the eggs will be protected even if the water rises. Birds that live in reedy areas make wide, deep nests so that the eggs will not fall out when the wind blows. And desert birds build their nests in the tops of bushes, where it is 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding temperature. Otherwise, the 45 degree temperature at ground level would soon kill their young. Such choices demonstrate knowledge and intelligence, neither of which these birds have. So, how are they able to protect their young? The only answer that makes any sense is that they are inspired by Allah's awareness, intelligence, and knowledge.
The survival of their young is very important for animals and, from the moment they are born, their only concern is to protect them and their nests and dens. For example, weaver birds build many false nests in the area to protect their young from predators. Of course, this could not come from the weaver birds' own intelligence; it is an extremely well-planned diversionary tactic inspired in them by Allah.
Albatrosses fly great distances to find food for their young.
Another common protective measure is to hide the nest in dry leaves or thorny trees. Some species make their nests in hollow cavities in trees and, to protect the mother and the egg during incubation, cover the entrance with mud or with a square wall made from secretions mixed with soil. Some bird species knit plant fibers, grass, twigs, and small branches together to make interesting and secure nests for their young to grow up in. A young female bird who has never laid eggs before can build a perfect nest, even though she had never seen how to build one before. Surely, all of these birds cannot possess these abilities on their own. So, what is the power that urges them and other creatures to build perfect nests? From where do animals get their protective and generous behavior? It is the most merciful and most generous Allah Who inspires this behavior in them and creates them with their wonderful abilities.
In addition to the expert architecture of their animals' nests and dens, we can also see the sacrifice that it takes to build them. For example, birds build nests for their young with great care; they make more ordinary nests for themselves. When we consider the stages of nest-building, we can understand the great pains, energy, and sacrifices it takes to build them. A bird makes hundreds of flights just to collect the necessary twigs and branches. It can bring back only one or two pieces in its bill each time. However, it continues to transport the required materials without interruption. In never tires while building the nest and, because sufficient materials are always available, no detail is neglected. Allah gives these creatures their sense of self-sacrifice, patience, industriousness, and determination. By His inspiration, weak creatures are protected by stronger ones and the balance of nature continues.
Special areas in a beehive are prepared for the young. These areas are cleaned in an orderly fashion, and the young are fed at regular intervals.
Every bird species shows great concern for its young. For example, albatrosses always mate in the place where they were born and thus gather in colonies when mating time comes. Weeks before the females arrive, the males come to repair the nests so that the females and the new-borns will be comfortable. The attention that albatrosses give to their eggs is very noticeable; they sit on them in their well-prepared nests without moving for about 50 days. Moreover, they will have to fly more than 1.5 kilometers (a mile) just to find food for their young.
We can see from the examples given so far that every animal species uses different methods to protect its young. And yet these techniques are so complex that we wonder how creatures with no awareness, intelligence, or ability to think or plan can implement them so successfully. Here we have creatures with no awareness of intelligence and without the will required to demonstrate compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice, and other virtues in any planned way. But at the same time, we can see that they produce works that require intelligence, awareness, planning and that they show mercy and self-sacrifice. Clearly, such abilities and feelings can only come from Allah.
Ants, termites, bees, and other creatures that live in communities concentrate on their eggs and larvae. Ants place their eggs and larvae in rooms in the underground nests prepared for them. Worker ants often place the eggs and larvae in their mouths and move them from room to room, depending on the temperature and humidity. If another creature attacks the eggs, the worker ants empty the rooms and hide the larvae somewhere outside the nest. One would expect these unaware creatures to abandon their young after giving birth; however, they assume total responsibility for them and protect them from every danger.
Every creature assumes responsibility for its young until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Clearly, the source of such behavior cannot be their own intelligence, for they have no intelligence. A bird, a tiger, or any other creature cannot consider the needs of another creature and act to fulfill them down to the slightest detail. All of them act under His inspiration, for they are all subject to Allah, Who created them.
For ants, their larvae are so important that one group of ants are entrusted with looking after the larvae.
In Africa, the Sun's rays are sometimes so strong that they can kill animals. Thus, some animals look for shady places to protect themselves. When protecting its eggs and its young from the Sun's rays, ostriches in South Africa sit on their eggs and frequently spread their ample wings to prevent the rays from affecting the eggs and the babies. But to do this, they have to leave themselves exposed, a striking proof of self-sacrifice.
Animals can be quite savage and dangerous when protecting their young. When they sense danger, they prefer to take their young and leave the area quickly. But when there is no chance of escape, they do not hesitate to throw themselves at the attacker. For example, bats and birds will attack researchers taking their young out of their nests.
When attacked by such enemies as hyenas, zebras and other large animals immediately separate into groups, put their young in the middle, and quickly run away. If they are caught, the herd's adults bravely defend their young. When giraffes are attacked, they put their babies under their bodies and kick the attacker hard with their front feet. Deer and antelopes are generally timid and excitable who, when their young are not present, run away. But if their young are threatened by a fox or a wolf, they do not hesitate to use their sharp hooves.
Some birds pretend to be wounded to divert an enemy's attention toward themselves. A female bird who sees an enemy approaching will quietly leave her nest, place herself in front of the enemy, and start to flutter on the ground, striking it with a wing, making painful cries, and trying to convince the enemy, while staying beyond its reach, that she is helpless. As the enemy tries to catch her, it gets farther away from the nest. When the enemy is far enough away, she stops her imitation and escapes before the enemy can catch her. This display fools dogs, cats, snakes, and even other birds. Several birds that make their nests on the ground protect their young in this way. For example, when a predator approaches her ducklings, a mother duck pretends to be wounded and unable to fly by fluttering her wings. But she always keeps her distance from the attacker. When the hunter is far enough away from the ducklings hidden on the shore, she immediately flies off and returns to them. Scientists cannot explain this phenomenon of the wounded bird.
The ostrich uses its body as a shield to protect its young from the heat.
For a bird to invent such a display, it would have to be highly conscious, intelligent, and talented. Such defenses show great courage and determination. More interesting, birds are born with such knowledge; they do not learn it from their parents. All animals have their own innate defense systems, but more important than the systems themselves is the conclusion we can draw from them. For example, is it sensible to maintain that a bird will consciously risk its life to protect its young, despite the fact that they have no awareness or intelligence?
Of course this is not logical; here we have unaware and unintelligent animals. What makes them act with such awareness, compassion, and mercy is the All-Merciful Allah, Who created and sustains them.
Dogs and people do not have the same perception of smell. For example, a dog's nose is so sensitive that it can detect scents left by other dogs as well as people, gather information from them, and detect the slightest scents in the air without any difficulty. Some types of dog have a sense of smell that is a million times more sensitive than a human being's, a characteristic that enables them to do things that people and even sophisticated electronic devices cannot manage, such as finding rugs, missing persons, explosive materials, wild animals, criminals, accident and disaster victims.
For example, blood hounds can follow a four day-old scent and the traces of a person for more than 80 kilometers (50 miles). Amazingly, they never lose the scent in spite of the countless other scents on the ground. In experiments, a trained dog could find an item from among several things that had been sprayed with the scent of a skunk. The Schlieren photography technique has revealed that dogs breathe differently. When a dog breathes, the air goes in through side openings toward the back. Because of this special creation, the air goes out in a different direction from the source of the scent and thus does not mix with the scent. In giving creatures such special abilities, the merciful Lord has given them to the service of human beings. Dogs are especially helpful to human beings with regard to security. In ways that we cannot fathom, Allah has given His blessings and His mercy to His beloved servants. In this way, He makes our lives easy and secure. His generosity is great and His kindness is abundant.
Zebras risk their own lives to protect their young and even throw themselves into the path of danger. Allah looks after and protects everything, and gives them their strong protective instinct.
Animals usually carry their small and weak young when they have to move or in times of danger. Each animal's method of carrying its young is different: on their backs, in their mouths, or in special pouches in their abdomen. The babies being carried thus are not injured. The fact that animals carry their babies away from danger is an important example of self-sacrifice, because doing so greatly reduces an animal's speed and ability to move. Despite this, animals never abandon their young in times of danger.
Most animals carry their young on their backs. For example, monkeys carry their babies everywhere. The mother monkey can move very easily while carrying her baby, because it firmly grasps the hair on her stomach and back with its hands and feet. At such times, a female monkey can jump into a tree, run along a branch, and jump into another tree. Kangaroos and other animals with pouches carry their young in fur-covered pouches in their abdomens. A young kangaroo lives for five months in its mother's pouch and, even when it comes out, always remains at her side. If it senses danger, it runs to its mother and jumps head first into her pouch. Then the mother kangaroo escapes by hopping on her powerful hind legs. Squirrels pick up their young by the loose skin of their abdomens. If her nest is destroyed, a mother squirrel carries her baby even further away. She carries one baby at a time and returns to the nest until every baby has been safely evacuated.
All creatures, from insects to lions and from frogs to birds, protect their young by carrying them in this way. But what causes them all to take such great pains and risk their own lives to protect their young? Once again, we can only conclude that they act according to the inspiration that Allah, Who controls everything that exists, has placed within them. In one of these verses our Lord says:
His Footstool encompasses the heavens and Earth, and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Surat al-Baqara, 255)
Another miraculous characteristic is the cuteness and sweetness that characterize many young animals. Young animals look very sweet. Their eyes are larger than normal, their faces are round, and they are loveable because of their baby-like expressions of surprise and dependence. Their manner awakens a protective instinct in people. Adult tigers, lions, and bears are wild and aggressive, and yet their young stir up a sense of compassion and mercy within us. Like everything else, they are subject to Allah, for "when everything in the heavens and Earth, willingly or unwillingly, submits to Him and to Him you will be returned?" (Surah Al 'Imran, 83). In this way, Allah makes us want to protect them. On the other hand, He has made them a source of blessing and great pleasure for us.
Kittens are born blind, defenseless, tiny, and only weigh about 100 grams (3.6 ounces). The mother sleeps very little in order to look after them, keeps them close to her to keep them warm, and gives them milk when they are hungry. Although the kittens' eyes are closed for the first week, they have no difficulty finding their mother's teats. The mother's milk contains just the right amount of rich nutrients needed by the kittens to grow and protects them from illness. Kittens can take care of themselves after about eight weeks, and so their mothers stop carrying them around.
Lions are among the most powerful creatures in the world. They are very savage toward their enemies, but very gentle with their young. Baby lions which are born very small and begin to eat meat when they are three months old, nevertheless are suckled until they are six months old. Lions, tigers, and other large cats carry their young by the scruff of their necks. Since the babies remain motionless while being carried, they suffer no injury. Almighty Allah, the Creator of all, teaches these animals to be compassionate and merciful toward their young, as well as the other lions in the pride to take care of, protect, and look after them. Such characteristics are displays of His limitless power and infinite compassion.
Ducks, inspired by Allah, pretend to be wounded in order to protect their young.
Among the elephants' most important characteristics is their attachment to each other. They help and sacrifice themselves for members of their family and for the entire herd. For example, when hunters shoot at the herd, elephants rush toward the elephants that are in danger. The foundation of this closely knit society is the group of young elephants. New-born elephants are welcomed by other members of the herd with great love and compassion. If the mother elephant dies, another elephant with milk will suckle the calf. For the first six months, mother elephants follow her calf everywhere and continually make sounds expressing their connection with each other. If the calf makes a sound indicating that it is in the slightest distress or danger, the entire herd will come to see what the trouble is.
This is quite effective in dissuading an enemy. But how do they know that they should do these things, given that they have no intelligence or determination of their own? This amazing sense of self-sacrifice found among all animals is one of the miracles of Allah's creation and reminds us that we should ponder over such things: "There is instruction for you in cattle" (Surat an-Nahl, 66).
In the middle of winter, bear cubs are born blind and furless while their mother hibernates. They are the size of a squirrel and are only strong enough to climb up to where the milk is. This milk is rich in fat and calories, and so the cubs grow quickly throughout the winter. When the mother wakes up in the spring, the cubs are strong enough to follow her out of the den. Being very active and quite defenseless, they stay at their mother's side for a whole year, during which time they are protected from danger, learn to look after themselves, and grow quickly. Like other adult animals, bears may behave very savagely toward an enemy they think is threatening their young. A mother bear tirelessly looks after her cubs for three years.
Wolves are among the most savage of animals, and yet adult wolves cooperate in protecting their young. A wolf pack consists of a male, a female, their pups, and sometimes one or two young wolves. The females assist each other. Sometimes one of them stays in the den all night to look after the cubs so that the mother wolf can go hunting. Allah, the All-Merciful and Most Merciful, inspires the intelligence, compassion, and mercy that these animals demonstrate. He created animals to be hardworking and self-sacrificial in order to perpetuate themselves, and has inspired in them how to hunt, reproduce, and protect and feed their young.
Allah tells us that He inspires honeybees to know where to build their nests: " Your Lord revealed to the bees: 'Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect'" (Surat an-Nahl, 68) In addition, He inspires within them how to build these nests and what materials to use. Some animals show great self-sacrifice and experience much difficulty in reproducing and protecting their eggs or their young from extremes of heat and cold, predators, and all sorts of other dangers. Some animals migrate vast distances to lay their eggs, take great care in building their nests and dens, die after mating or laying their eggs, go without food for weeks while they carry their eggs in their mouths, stay with their eggs for weeks… all examples of self-sacrifice serves to propagate the species. Weak and powerless baby animals can survive only if they are looked after and protected by strong adults. Certainly, an abandoned baby gazelle or an untended nest of eggs have almost no possibility of survival. But animals take on these responsibilities with tireless and unflagging commitment. Each one of them perfectly performs the duties that Allah inspires in them.