The Second Meeting
Mufadhdhal says, “At dawn, I hastened early to my master and after being permitted to come in, he asked me to sit down. He said,
‘All praise is due to Allah, the Manager of all things and the Repeater of the ages; a stage after a stage and a world after a world to reward the righteous and to chastise the evildoers due to what they have done out of His justice. All His Names are exalted. His blessings are magnificent. He does not do the least injustice to His creatures, but man himself does injustice to himself. His saying confirms that, (Then he who hath done an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and he who hath done an atom’s weight of evil shall see it). There are other verses in the Holy Book to this same effect giving detailed explanations of all matters. Falsehood cannot come in front of nor behind it. It is a Book revealed by the Almighty Praiseworthy Allah. It is on this account that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) has said, “It is your actions that will be returned to you (reward and chastisement are just the consequences of actions, which you will receive; they do not benefit Allah, rather you yourself will be the beneficiary).”’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s) bent down his head for a while and said, ‘O Mufadhdhal, people are perplexed and bewildered, blind,
 Qur’an, 99:7-8.
infatuated moving in their perverseness, following their devils and spectres. They have eyes but they do not see, they have tongues but are dumb and do not understand. They have ears but do not hear. They are happy in their contemptible degradation. They presume that they are well‑guided. They are diverted from the rank of rational beings. They feed in the fields of polluted, dirty people. (They repeat what the irrational people say, denying the Almighty Allah and setting up nature or instinct as the creator of all things). They deem themselves safe from a sudden visitation of death and the retribution of deeds. Alas! How ill‑fated these people are! How frightfully prolonged their painful sorrow will be, and how dreadful the retribution on the day when no ally will avail anyone nor will he be succoured, except those to whom Allah grants Mercy (on the day of Resurrection).’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘I began crying when I heard him saying that.’ Imam as-Sadiq (s) said, ‘Do not cry! You have been saved where you have believed and you have been delivered where you have known.’
Imam as-Sadiq (s) continued, ‘Now, I will talk to you about the animal kingdom that you may have as much information thereabout as you have received about the rest. Just consider the physical constitution and the pattern of construction underlying animals’ builds. They are not hard as stone, for had they been so, they could not bend to perform actions, nor are they soft, for in that case they could not rear up their heads or stand erect by themselves without any prop. They are composed of such pliable muscles to bend, supported by hard bones which are gripped by the muscles and which are tied together with the others by tendons and covered by the skin which extends over the whole body. The wooden dolls with rags wound round them tied by strings and with a varnish of
gum over the whole will illustrate the point. Let the wood stand for the bones, the rags for muscles, the strings for tendons and the varnish for the skin. If it is possible in the case of living and moving beings to come into existence by themselves, the same can be said about these lifeless figures. And if it is impossible, as in the case of these toys, it is even more preposterous in the case of animals.
Then think deeply of their bodies! They are composed of muscles and bones like the human beings. They are endowed with eyes and ears, so as to enable man to obtain advantages from them. They would not have served his purpose if they had been blind and deaf. They are deprived of the faculties of intellect and reason, so that they may remain subservient to man and should not disobey even when subjected to intolerably heavy labour and burden.
One may say that man may have slaves who have intellect and reason, but they obey their masters abjectly despite hard laborious toil. The answer to this is that this kind of people (who remain obedient even under the stress of slavish toil) is few in number. Most slaves are unwilling toilers while the quadrupeds are obedient even under heavy burdens and when turning grindstones and other things. They cannot be affected by agitation as far as their particular duties to man are concerned. (Contrary to the quadrupeds, man is prone to such influence). If people were to do such labors, they would be busy all the time and may not be free to do other works and duties, for several men would be required to do the work of one camel or one mule. These simple tasks would have absorbed all man’s power, without leaving any hands spare for arts and professions. Besides that, man would suffer strain and face troubles in achieving his living affairs.
O Mufadhdhal! Just consider the constitutions of the following
three kinds of living beings, and the merits with which they are endowed.
Man, having been ordained to possess intellect and reason to undertake such professions as carpentry, masonry, smithy, sewing, etc., has been endowed with broad palms and thick fingers to enable him to grasp all types of tools necessary for these professions.
The carnivorous animals, having been ordained to live on game, have been gifted with soft palms and claws to enable them to catch their preys. They are suitable for hunting but unfit for professional arts.
Herbivorous animals, having been ordained neither for professional arts nor for hunting, have been gifted, some with slotted hoofs to save them from the hardness of the ground while grazing, while others have solid round hoofs to be able to stand squarely on the ground for better fitness as beasts of burden.
Carnivorous animals in their constitutional composition have sharp fangs, hard claws and wide mouths to serve them in their nutrition on meat so that they are constituted accordingly. They have been armed with such tools and implements to serve them in hunting. And you see that birds have beaks and claws to help them in their particular tasks.
If such claws were given to non-hunting animals, they would have been worse than useless; for they neither hunt nor eat flesh. And if the carnivorous animals were given hoofs instead of claws, they would have failed to secure their necessities. Don’t you see that all these kinds of animals are gifted with exactly the things appropriately in consonance with their needs to maintain their survival?
Now, look at the quadrupeds – how they follow their mothers. They neither need to be carried nor to be nurtured as is the
case with human babies. This is so because the mothers of those young ones do not posses the tools which human mothers have. Human mothers possess kindness, love and the knowledge of the art of nurture with specialised hands and fingers to lift them. They are so constituted as to help themselves in all manner of work.
You see the same thing in birds, for example the young hens, partridges and grouse, that they begin to pick up corn and move about as soon as they are hatched from eggs. Birds whose young ones are weak, without the strength to stand, such as the wild and domestic pigeons, have mothers with extra maternal instincts so that they can bring to their young ones’ mouths nourishment garnered by them in their crops. Such feedings continue till the chicks can fend for themselves. Pigeons don’t have a large brood like hens to enable the females to rear them up adequately without starving them. Every one thus receives a due share from the bounty of the Almighty Omniscient Allah.
Just look at the legs of the animals! They have been created in pairs to enable them to move easily, which would have been difficult had they been created in odd numbers. A moving animal lifts up some of its feet while resting on the others. Bipeds lift one and are supported by the other. Quadrupeds lift one pair and rest on the other on the opposite side. If quadrupeds lift the pair of legs on the same side, and depend on the other pair for support on the other side, they grope and cannot standstill on the ground, like a bed and the likes. The front leg of the right side and the hind leg of the left side are lifted together and vice versa for steady movement.
Animals submit to man
Do you not see how a donkey submits to the grindstone and burdens, seeing that the horse is allowed to have rest and comfort? Do you not see how a camel can be led by a little boy though it cannot be controlled by several men if it becomes
stubborn? How does a strong ox submit to his master when ploughing the fields with the yoke on its neck? A bred horse rushes towards sword blades and spears like its master. A single person is able to look after a flock of sheep. If the sheep go astray, each one on its own way, how can one control them? The same is said about the other species of animals that are subservient to man. Why is that? It is simply because they have no intellect and no power to reason out matters. Had they possessed intellect, they would have shirked to implement a good deal of man’s requirements. The camel would decline to submit, the bullock would mutiny against his master, the sheep would scatter and so on. If the beasts of prey had intellect and reason and gathered together against people, they could defeat them. Can man stand against lions, tigers, wolves, bears and other beasts if they attack together?
Don’t you see how they have been deprived of that, and instead of man fearing them, they themselves fear man and avoid the abodes of people? They do not come out to search for food but at night. They fear man submissively; otherwise, they would attack man in his home and trouble his life.
Kindness of dogs
The dog, amongst the beasts, is endowed with a special loyalty to its master, his service and safeguard. It keeps watch during dark nights, roaming about the premises, safeguarding against burglars. It is ready to sacrifice its life to save its master, his properties and his flocks. It becomes wholly accustomed to its master. It can put up with hunger and pain for its master’s sake. Why has dog been created on this pattern, except that it should serve to guard man, with its strong teeth, stout claws, and frightening bark to frighten burglars and to prevent them from approaching the places that it watches and guards?
Organs of beasts
O Mufadhdhal! Look at the faces of the quadrupeds, how they are shaped. You will see that they have their eyes accommodated in the front, lest they strike a wall or fall in a pit. You will find their mouths cleft under the snout. If they were like those of men, animals would not be able to pick up anything from the ground. Don’t you see that man does not pick up his food with his mouth? He does so with his hands. This is a peculiar merit granted to man in comparison with other feeders. Since the quadrupeds do not possess such hands to enable them to pick up grass, the under part of the snout has been cleft to enable them to pick up grass and chew it. The mouth of quadrupeds is further helped with lengthened lips to reach out to farther as well as closer things.
Consider the tails of animals and the benefit ordained therein. It is a sort of covering for their excretory privities. It also helps them ward off flies and mosquitoes that settle on the dirt on their bodies. Their tails are patterned after fans with which they drive away flies and mosquitoes. They also get relief from constantly wagging their tails.
These animals stand on all fours. They have no occasion to move about and therefore feel relieved by wagging their tails. There are other benefits as well which human imagination is incapable of grasping which are known only when the need arises. Among these benefits is that the tail is the handiest weapon to extricate when the dog gets stuck in the mud. The tail hair may also be of advantage to man.
The trunk of such animals is made flat when lying on all four legs to facilitate riding and copulation because of the situation of the relevant parts ... and if the private parts of the female quadrupeds were under their abdomens like those in woman, the males would not be able to copulate with them.
Consider the trunk of an elephant and the great ingenuity in its pattern. With its trunk, it takes in food and water to the
stomach, like the human hand. Without it the elephant cannot lift anything from the ground, since its neck is not long enough, which it may stretch forward like other quadrupeds. In the absence of a long neck the elephant has been given a long trunk instead that it may extend it and meet its need. Who has given it an organ to compensate for the absence of a missing one? Surely, it is He Who is so very compassionate to His creatures. And how can this take place by itself without wise design as claimed by the perverse naturalists and atheists?
If someone asks: why has it not been endowed with a neck similar to that of other animals? The reply is that the head and the ears of the elephant are very big and heavy and if they were joined to a big neck, the elephant would suffer much and be easily disabled; hence, its head has been joined directly to the body to protect it against that contingency and instead thereof the proboscis has been constructed to serve all those purposes it needs, including those of feeding.
Just consider the constitution of the giraffe and the distinct nature of its organs in that each organ is similar to that of other animals. Its head is like that of a horse, its neck is like that of a camel, its hooves are like those of a cow and its skin is like that of a leopard. Some ignorant people have supposed that it results from the union of several kinds of animals. These ignoramuses say that the males of different species of land animals when coming to the watering places copulate with the females of other species who then give such offspring that are a composite of different species. This is out of ignorance and lack of the gnosis of the Almighty Allah, glory be to Him. No animal enters into sexual union with animals of other species. No union takes place between a horse and a she‑camel or a camel and a cow. Sexual union can take place only between animals of similar constitutional shape; for example between a horse and a she‑ass that gives a mule or a wolf with a hyena that gives a hybrid. Moreover, it never happens that the
offspring of such a union can have an organ from this and another from that. A giraffe has one organ resembling that of a horse, another that of a camel, and hooves like those of a cow. But you see that a mule has its head, ears, back, tail and hoof midway between those of a donkey and a horse. So is its cry midway between neighing and braying. This argument adequately shows that a giraffe is not the offspring of the union of disparate species, but is one wonder of the wonderful creations of the Almighty Allah, demonstrating His Omnipotence.
It should also be known that the Creator of the numberless species of animals creates the organs of whatsoever He likes. He adds to the creatures whatever He wills and curtails whatever He wills. This is so that His Omnipotence may be demonstrated and that nothing can hinder Him in anything He wills.
Why is the neck of the giraffe long and what advantages are accrued to it thereof? The advantage lies in enabling it to reach up to the leaves and fruits of high trees for it lives and grazes in places and dense forests of high trees.
Just consider the creation of the monkey and the similarity between its organs and those of man, such as the head, the shoulders, the chest and the internal organs. Moreover it has been gifted with brain and intellect because of which it understands the signals and the directions of its master. It generally apes man’s activities as it sees him. It is very close to man in its qualities, traits and constitutional build. It should serve as a lesson to man that he should bear in mind that he is so closely like an animal and if he had not been gifted with brain, intellect and speech, he would have been just like the animals.
There are certain additions in the constitution of a monkey that differentiate it from man, such as the mouth, the long tail,
and the hair covering the whole body. These differences, however, would not hinder it from becoming human if it had been gifted with reason, intellect and faculties of speech like man. The real line of demarcation between it and man is due only to the faculties of reason, intellect and speech.
O Mufadhdhal! Just consider the mercifulness of Almighty Allah towards these animals in giving their bodies different coverings of hair, wool, and fur to protect them against winter hardships. They have been gifted hoofs to protect them from the harms of badlands. They have neither hands, nor palms nor fingers to spin and weave; therefore, their clothing has been included as part of their bodily build to remain on them all their lives without renovation or change.
Man, however, possesses hands and skill to work. He spins and weaves cloths for himself and he changes his states with them. He receives many advantages from doing that. He becomes busy manufacturing his clothing and is thereby saved from harmful activities and idleness. He takes off his clothing whenever he wants and puts them on whenever he wants. He receives pleasure by putting on different kinds of beautiful dresses. He makes socks and shoes by way of fine industry to protect his feet. Labourers and traders thereby get their livelihood and the livelihood of their families. On the contrary, different kinds of hair, wool and fur serve the animals as clothing while their hoofs are as shoes for them.
Animals hide when dying
O Mufadhdhal! Just consider the constitutional trait of the animals! They hide themselves when dying just like people when they bury their deads. The carcasses of the beasts and animals are not seen. They are not so little to be overlooked. In fact their numbers are greater than that of men.
Look at the flocks of deer, addaxes, zebras, ibexes and stags and also at other different species like lions, badgers, wolves,
leopards and others, and the many kinds of insects living inside the bowels of the earth and moving on its surface in the deserts and mountains, and birds like crows, partridges, ducks, cranes, pigeons, and birds of prey! None of their corpses do we see except the few that hunters get as games or those that are devoured by beasts. As a matter of fact, when these animals feel they are about to die, they hide themselves in some secret place and die there. Had it not been so, the earth would have been filled with carcasses and would have been infected by epidemics and all kinds of diseases.
See the arts and lessons that man has learnt from these animals! The first example is that which has been mentioned by the Almighty Allah in the story of Adam’s children when Cain (Kabil) had murdered Abel (Habil). Cane saw two crows fighting, one killing the other and then burying the carcass of the killed one wherefrom Cain learnt to dig and conceal his brother’s corpse. These animals have been given this instinct to save man from the affliction of those troubles and epidemics which would result later on.
Wits of animals
O Mufadhdhal! Consider the wits with which animals have been naturally gifted by Allah the Almighty through His infinite mercy so as not to leave any creature deprived of His compassion. The stag eats snakes but it does not drink water, however thirsty it becomes, fearing that the poison may spread in its body because of water, which may kill him. It roams about water springs and cries because of thirst but does drink water for it dies soon.
You see the great restraint that these animals have before the intense thirst because of the fear of harm to an extent that a rational wise man would have been unable to undertake.
When the fox does not find food, it feigns death with its belly inflated to deceive birds into thinking it is dead. As soon as
birds come around it to eat from the dead body, it attacks and catches them.
Who has given this skill to the speechless, irrational fox? Surely He Who has taken upon Himself the responsibility of feeding it. As the fox cannot undertake those activities, like attacking its preys, which other beasts can, it has been gifted with skill and fraud as a means of livelihood. The dolphin hunts birds. It catches a fish, kills it that it may remain floating on the water while it hides itself underneath water, stirring the water all the time to keep its own body hidden. As soon as a bird pounces upon the fish, the dolphin attacks and takes hold of the bird. By this skill it gets its victim.’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘My master! Would you please tell me about the python and the cloud?’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s) said, ‘The cloud snatches a python wherever it may find it, just as the magnet stone snatches a piece of iron. A python does not raise its head from the earth due to fear of the cloud except in the summertime when the sky is clear without a trace of cloud.’
Mufadhdhal asked why the cloud had been made to overlord over the python and take it wherever it may find it and Imam as-Sadiq (s) said, ‘To save men from its harms.’
Mufadhdhal said, ‘Sir, you have told me much about the animal kingdom so fully as to serve as a lesson to everyone. Would you please tell me about ants and birds?’
Imam as-Sadiq said (a.s), ‘O Mufadhdhal, look at the weak, little ant! Do you find any deficiency therein affecting its benefit? Where has this propriety and measure come from? It is the same ingenuity and design which has gone into the build of all creatures whether big or small. Just see how these ants gather together to garner food for themselves. You will find
that when several ants want to carry a grain to their home, they resemble several men carrying food or other things. Ants, in fact, are so serious and active to an extent that even men are not. Do you not see how they help each other in carrying food as people do? They break the grains into pieces lest they would sprout and become useless to them. When the grains become moist, they take them out and spread them so they can dry. Ants burrow their holes at elevated places away from the danger of flooding. All these activities are not out of reason, but instinct with which their constitutions are endowed by the kindness of Almighty Allah.
Consider the insect called “layth” which is called “the lion of the flies” by the public. It has been granted skill, ingenuity and mildness to secure its livelihood. You will see that when it feels a fly approaching it, it feigns ignoring it for a while as if it is a lifeless body. When it feels that the fly feels safe and becomes ignorant of its presence, it begins moving slowly step by step till it gets near enough, to catch it and then pounces upon it and captures it. Getting it, it embraces it with its whole body to prevent its escape. It holds on till it feels that the fly has become weak and relaxed and then it begins to eat it, and in this way it survives.
The ordinary spider weaves its web and uses it as a trap to catch flies. It sits hidden within it. As soon as a fly is trapped, it pounces upon it stinging it time after time. The hunting of “the lion of flies” is like the hunting of dogs and cheetahs, while the hunting of spiders is like that of nets and traps.
Just see how this weak insect has been gifted with the instinct to catch its prey, which man cannot do without using artifice and implements. Do not despise anything, for in everything can be found a clear lesson, like ants and other creatures. A
 A kind of spider.
fine meaning may be found in an insignificant thing without depreciating its value just as gold is not depreciated when weighed against iron weights.
O Mufadhdhal, consider the structure of birds! When it has been ordained to fly high in the air, it has been gifted with a light body and a comparatively compact constitution. It has only two feet instead of four, four fingers instead of five and only one orifice for excretion instead of two. It has been gifted a sharp chest to cut through the air just as a boat is built to cut through water. It has long stiff feathers on its sides and tail to help it fly high. The whole body is covered with feathers that can get filled with air for high flights. Since it has been ordained that its food will be grains and flesh that it will swallow without mastication, it has not been given teeth, and a stiff beak has been given to it instead. The beak is not injured in picking up nor broken by nibbling flesh. Since it has no teeth and it swallows grains and raw flesh, the food is ground by the means of the heat that is inside its inners which makes it in no need of mastication. It is just an example that the seeds of grapes pass out of a man’s stomach intact while they are completely ground in the bird’s inners. Birds have been created to lay eggs rather than to give birth to young ones so that they may not become heavy and unable to fly. If the foetuses were to stay inside the inners of birds until they were fully developed, birds would not have been able to rise or fly. Everything in its build has been created so as to be fully appropriate to its situation in life. It has also been ordained that birds which have to fly in the air should sit for a week, two or three on the eggs until the chicks hatch out of the eggs. They then blow air into the crops of the chicks so that the crops become wide enough to receive food with which it can subsist. Who has ordered birds to pick up grains and foods and then take that
food out of their crops to put it into the crops of the young ones? Why do birds bear all that burden although they have no faculty of reasoning nor do they have any expectations from their chicks like the expectations of man from his offspring to bring him honour and support and keep his name alive? This is an activity which demonstrates that it is a special boon from Almighty Allah which the bird itself does not know nor can figure out. It is an arrangement for the survival of the race.
Look at the hen! How anxious it is to lay the eggs and to bring forth the chicks although it has neither any particular nest nor have the eggs been gathered. It clucks, spreads its feathers and gives up its nourishment, unless it is given eggs to sit on and to bring forth the chicks. Why is that? It is to preserve the race. Had it not been instinctively ordained who could have obliged it to preserve the race, while it has no intellectual or reasoning faculty?
Ponder on the creation of the egg and the white and yellow matters in it. One part is for the chick to be constituted while the other is to serve it as its nourishment till the time when it leaves the egg. Just see the ingenuity underlying it, since the rise of the chick is to be carried on safely in the shell that nothing can enter from outside, its nourishment is provided within it which is sufficient till it comes out, like one who is imprisoned in a closed prison and provided with enough food to suffice him till his release.
Just consider the bird’s crop and the ingenuity underlying it. The way of food to the gizzard is narrow and allows food to reach it only in small quantities. Without the crop, the grain would take time to reach the gizzard. The bird, out of care and fear, fills up its crop hastily. Its crop is constructed as a haversack suspended in front of it so that it may fill it up hastily with whatever it gets, and then slowly transfer it to the stomach. There is another advantage in the crop. Certain birds
have to transfer food material to their young ones. The crop helps them to transfer it easily from a nearby place.’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘Some people of the materialistic school claim that the variegated hues and shapes of birds are merely due to the compounding of elements and humours in varied proportions. They are out of disturbance and indifference (created by themselves).’
Imam as-Sadiq (s) said, ‘This ornamentation which you see in the peacock or the partridge and the perfect symmetry as if some artist with a fine brush has accomplished the art of picturesqueness, how can irrational compounding bring it forth without any flaw? If these artistic models have come into being without planning, they would be imperfect and full of differences and faults.
Consider the feathers of birds! You will find them like cloth woven with fine strings. One hair is interwoven with another just as one piece of thread is interwoven with another. Look at its composition. If you open it, it opens up without being split to allow air to be filled in and to allow the bird to fly when it likes. In the middle of the feather you will find a stout stick covered with hair-like material. The stick is hollow so as to not be a burden to the bird and hinder its flight.
Have you ever seen the long-legged bird and ever thought of the advantage in the long legs it has? It is often found in shallow water; you will find it standing on its long legs as though it were keeping watch at a watchtower. It keeps watching the movements in the water. When it finds anything edible, it slowly moves towards it and catches it. If its legs were shorter, its belly would touch the water in its movements towards its victim and it might then swell and fail to catch its
 It might be the flamingo or its like.
victim. It has therefore been gifted with two long props to fulfil its need without any obstacle.
Consider the creation of birds. You will find that every long‑legged bird has a long neck as well to enable it to pick up its food from the ground. If a bird had long legs but a short neck, it would not be able to pick up anything from the ground. A long-legged bird, besides its long neck, might have a long beak so that it would be easier for it to get its food. Do you not see that anything you consider in the creation you will find exact, perfect and out of utmost wisdom?
Look at sparrows and how they seek their food during the day. They do not miss it nor do they find it collected in one place but they get it through continuously moving and searching about here and there. Thus it is with all the creatures. Glory be to Allah the Almighty Who has apportioned sustenance and arranged it in different ways to be obtained. It has not been placed out of reach when the creatures need it nor has it been made to be obtained so easily without any efforts. There would be no use if sustenance were ready and at hand because animals would not leave it until they had become over-satiated, and that would lead to indigestion and perishment. People also would be so reckless and careless until corruption and vices would spread everywhere.
Do you know about the food of the birds that do not come out except at night like owls and bats?’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘I do not know.’
Imam as-Sadiq (a.s) said, ‘The food of such creatures consists of varied kinds of insects scattered in the atmosphere such as mosquitoes, butterflies, locusts and the like. Such creatures are scattered everywhere and no place is free from them. When you light up a lamp at night on the roof or in the yard, many kinds of such insects will gather round it.
Where do they come from? Surely from near about they come.
If any one says that they come from the forests and deserts, he will then be asked how they can reach so near so soon and how they can see the lamp lit inside a building surrounded by many other buildings, while as a matter of fact they take no time to gather around the lamp. It is clear that these creatures are spread everywhere in the atmosphere and the birds that come out at night feed on them.
See how nourishment has been arranged for the birds that come out at night by means of such insects scattered in the atmosphere. Try to understand the purpose of the creation of such living creatures, lest some one may think that they are created in vain without any advantage.
The bat has been created in a strange shape between birds and quadrupeds. In fact, it is nearer to quadrupeds with its two protruding ears, teeth and fine hair. It bears and gives birth to its young ones. It suckles its children. It urinates and excretes. It walks on all fours when walking. All these traits are contrary to those of birds. It comes out only at night and feeds on insects scurrying in the air. Some say it does not eat anything but lives only on cool air as nourishment. This is incorrect for two reasons: it urinates and excretes, which presuppose solid food. It has teeth and if it did not eat, the teeth would be useless, whereas there is nothing in creation that is useless. This creature (the bat) has well‑known merits. Its excreta are useful in certain cases. Its strange constitution is in itself a wonder that shows the infinite powers of Allah the Almighty Who does whatever He wills for the benefit of His people and that He is more aware (of them than they themselves are).
The weaverbird builds its nest on the trees. Sometime a big snake comes towards its nest opening its mouth to devour it. The weaverbird gets worried and looks about for a means of safety. When it finds a thorny seed, it picks it up and throws it
into the open mouth of the snake. The snake begins writhing until it dies.
If I had not told you of this, could you have imagined that a thorny seed could have such benefits, or could any one think that a bird, big or small, could hit upon such a plan? You may learn a lesson from this: there are many things with unknown benefits, which may not be known except through an event or news to be told.
Bees and locusts
Consider the bees and their concerted efforts to produce honey and build the hexagonal hives and consider the subtleties of skill that subsist therein. When you consider the work (of the bees) you will find it extremely wonderful and subtle, and when you consider the result of the work you will find it magnificent and great among people. And when you look at the artisan (the bees), you will find it completely devoid of intelligence and ignorant of itself besides other things. There is a clear evidence in this that the exactitude in skill and ingenuity comes not from the bee but rather from the Omnipotence of Him Who has created the bee in such a pattern and subjected it to the benefit of man.
Look at the locust, how weak yet how strong they are. If you ponder on the creation of a locust, you will find it as one of the weakest creatures. Yet, no one can protect his village against a swarm of locusts if they invade.
Don’t you see that if any of the monarchs of the world came out with all his armies to fight the locusts, he would not succeed? Is this not an evidence showing the Omnipotence of Allah the Almighty that the strongest of his creatures should be unable to withstand the attack of the weakest of His creatures? See how locusts flow over the earth like a flood, covering mountains, deserts, and plains, and they may even hide the light of the sun because of their great numbers. If this is done
by hand, contemplate when such huge numbers would ever gather and how many years would be required for that! It is another evidence of the Omnipotence of Allah the Almighty to which nothing can ever aspire.
Consider the creation of the fish and its compliance to the environment in which it has been created to lead its life! It has no legs, for it does not need to walk. It has no lungs, as it cannot breathe under water. Instead of legs it has been endowed with stout fins with which it strikes water on both sides, just as a boatman strikes water on both sides of the boat with his oars. Its body has been covered with thick scales interlocked with each other like a coat of mail to protect itself against plagues. It has a penetrating faculty of smell, as compensation for its week eyesight blurred by water. It smells its food from a distance and heads for it. Otherwise, how could it find its food and where it is? Know, too, that it has orifices from the mouth to the ears, through which water passes and gives it the same recreative breathing as other animals breathing fresh air.
Now consider its reproductive characteristics. The number of eggs inside a fish is beyond computation. It is to increase the food for other living beings, for most of them live on fish – even beasts lie in wait for fish at the banks of water pools. As soon as a fish passes by, a beast pounces upon it. Since beasts, birds, people and even other kinds of fish feed on fish, Allah has made it so in great numbers.
If you want to recognize the vast wisdom of the Creator and the limited knowledge of the creatures, look at the different kinds of fishes, shells, and other numberless aquatic creatures. Many of their merits are not known, so that man may come to know them, one after the other, through opportunities that may arise. As an example, the cochineal was found by man through,
as it is stated, a dog roaming on the seashore, having found and eaten a snail. Its mouth got coloured. People admired the color and began using the cochineal. There are many other things that people come to know after some time and by chance sometimes.’
Al-Mufadhdhal said, ‘It was noon. My master got up for the prayers, asking me to come to him early the next morning. I came back so pleased with the knowledge he had taught me and thanked Allah for what He had given me. I spent the night very pleasantly.’”