“We have certainly created man in the best of compositions. Then we return him to the lowest of the low. Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward uninterrupted”―Al-Quran, Surah At-Tin verses 4, 5 and 6,
When the Creator has admitted that man has been conceived with the best possible elements and form then who are we to deny it? As human beings, we know that among all the living species in this world, man is unique, outstanding, intelligent, with capabilities that none of the others are endowed with. Even more astounding characteristic is his ability to control and manipulate almost all these different animate and inanimate forms. Thus we see, man surmounting oceans, mountains, air, soil, vegetation, animals, insects, birds, marine life etc. and harness them into advantage for himself and others of his kind. In other words, man has the gift of wielding power over anything that he sets his mind on. Even artificial intelligence has its limitations but man’s prowess knows no limits. One may conclude that there cannot be two opinions about the fact that man’s position in the world vis-à-vis other creatures is totally undisputable in that he is superior to all.
In a question posed to a class of a hundred students that where a teacher is confronted with the choice of saving his faithful dog or his teenaged student if they are both in a dangerous situation, whom would he prefer, they unanimously ticked, the student. Obviously, a logical answer because man has precedence over animals no matter how precious they maybe. Again, on the road while driving in perilous circumstances, if one has no option but to hit either a cat or a wayside beggar, the cat would be the most favourable target, sparing the human being. Only a mentally disordered person might make an opposite choice otherwise generally, humans are prone to having the upper hand.
Although ethical practices forbid the use of human beings as guinea pigs, yet there are innumerable instances of man being used to test drugs and vaccines. There are split opinions on this matter but definitely it is not considered moral to perform tests on humans for the purpose of research, especially if it relates to their physical or mental health. Therefore, mammals that have somewhat similar characteristics are used to carry out such research proving the point that where humans and animals are in a parallel position, humans are the ones to benefit.
Despite this elevated position, man was never worshipped by animals in the way man has been and is still worshipping animals. This weird history of bowing down before inferior creatures goes back centuries when various theories were propounded as to why animal worship or zoolatry came into existence. From prehistoric times man’s fascination with animals knew no bounds and admiration for their unique traits that were lacking within himself eventually led to adoration. Greek, Egyptian and Indian mythologies are fraught with tales of the powerful men considered gods, who, according to these stories were assisted by animals because of which they were held in high esteem and raised to a sacred position. These myths are full of the concept that gods disguised as animals in order to protect themselves from their enemies. They lived among the mortals who naturally began to show respect for these animals in case they had a godly soul hidden within their bodies.
In time cats, dogs, serpents, beetles, crocodiles, fish, birds, to name a few had become extremely sacred to many religious cults, especially those related to iconolatry faiths. When such wayward thinking becomes part of an unshakeable belief the probability that it would overtake rationality also increases manifold. With all the characteristics that man is blessed with it is quite strange that he, on account of such indoctrination debases himself to a point that he becomes more lowly than the lowly and in utter disregard to sensibility, is forced to act beyond logical comprehension,
Contrary to these pagan ideas, the Godly or Abrahamic religions base their ideologies on supremacy of man over animals and other than dietary restrictions, animals have been made subservient to humans, so any idea of prostrating before animals is nullified by obeisance to one deity—God. Apostles who came to preach these faiths negated animal worship declaring it to be acrimonious both for the purity of soul and for inculcating the spirit of brotherhood in mankind. Simply put, man’s position on earth is incomparable, what to say equal to, any other living being.
In this era of technology, the fundamentals of which rely on logic, observing man behaving in the most inhuman manner with respect to his obsession with animals sacred to his belief, is dumbfounding. Thus, the episodes of lynching, killing and dishonouring human beings, as occurring in our neighboring country, is truly baffling and condemnable. Where animals are preferred over humans can be termed as nothing more than a most inhuman society.
Even though evolutionists theorise that there could be a strong genetic link connecting man and animals but neuroscience has proved that there are many differences between humans and animals that make the former unique. Dr. Juan Carlos Marvizon, an American professor of medicine has done extensive research into the extraordinary characteristics of humans that distinguish them from animals. Despite these superior attributes, he winds up his research in the following words:
“Let me finish by saying that this is not an argument to treat animals cruelly or poorly. It is only an argument to treat humans better than animals and to keep using animals for our benefit. We should care about the welfare of animals, even as we try to understand how similar and how different they are from ourselves. What moves us to treat animals well is our empathy, our compassion, our sense of fairness and our cultural values. Things that animals do not have. Ultimately, we must treat animals right not because of what they are, but because of who we are.”
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)