By Richard Foltz

This booklet, the 1st of its sort, surveys Islamic and Muslim attitudes in the direction of animals, and human responsiblities in the direction of them, via Islam's philosophy, literature, mysticism and artwork.

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Extra info for Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures

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For example, the camel describes the ruthless manner in which his species is treated by the Bedouin: One of the strange acts of humans is that, when they want to travel in a country without water, they deprive the camels of water for eight days, then, when they are all but exhausted from thirst, they let them drink their fill. Then they go into the desert; and if water is scarce, they cut their bellies open and drink the liquid contained in it ... They drink our blood, which they let in times of drought ...

Animals in Muslim Literature As in the philosophical texts described in the previous chapter, animals in the popular literature and art of Muslim societies are most often used as embodiments of specific human traits - lions for bravery, faxes for cunning, donkeys for stupidity, peacocks for vanity - and for purposes of teaching moral lessons relevant to humans. Works which refer to actual animals in their own right and on their own terms are extremely rare. In fact animal characters are mostly, though not always, mere caricatures of humans.

I am not a houri [heavenly maiden J with a cloak over my shoulder. I am not a zealot, but I can travel as a devout servant of God. I am religious, but I have wings. I am not a king, but I am worthy of a high position. I am not a scribe, but I am eloquent. " Though it is not hard to imagine some actual Muslim parrotowner training his bird to recite the Qur'an, the description of this particular parrot is obviously exaggerated. His role perhaps mimics that of a faithful servant (who would have had to be a eunuch under the circumstances), but of course parrots are more colorful.

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