Maulana Wahiduddin Khan: Quranic Wisdom

According to the Quran, Cain and Abel were the first sons of Adam and Eve. As the result of a controversy which arose between the two brothers, Cain killed Abel. One part of this story is narrated in the Quran:

When they both presented an offering, it was accepted from one of them and not from the other. The latter said, ‘I shall kill you!’ The former said, ‘God accepts [things] only from the righteous. If you raise your hand to kill me, I will not raise mine to kill you…His lower self persuaded him to kill his brother, and he killed him and he became one of the lost. Then God sent a raven, which scratched the earth, so that He might show him how to hide the corpse of his brother. (5:27-31)

In this story the Quran depicts the raven as a teacher of man. This is not only an isolated incident. It has a general application. It teaches the lesson that in animal behavior there are good examples for man. Man should study such behavior and discover those good habits that are practiced by animals and imitate them in his own life.

Why can animals serve as teachers to man? The reason is that man and animals both were created with the same nature, that is, following the good universal model for behavior. But there was a difference. Man has been given freedom of choice, while animals have no choice other than to follow the universal pattern. There are deviations in human behavior but, in the case of animals, there is no deviation from the path of nature.

Due to this difference, man can be right or wrong, but animals are always right. So, man should emulate the behavior of animals in his life. This is the best way for man to stick to the straight path adopted by animals under the guidance of nature.

For example, tigers are the most powerful animals, but they always avoid fighting. Jim Corbett, the well-known hunter, has rightly said that the tiger lives like a noble person in the jungle. There have been no wars in jungles such as World War I or World War II. Warfare is quite unknown in the culture of the jungle. A jungle sets the high standard which society must live up to if it is to be peaceful. Man must also follow this pattern of the animals. Every animal, big or small, provides us with a good example of social behavior.