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The Prophet?s true compassion

Prophet stopped the use of living birds as targets for marksmen. He forbade ill-treatment meted out to animals because of the prevalent superstitions.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 18:26 IST

RecentlyI read a book, The Sayings of Muhammad, compiled by Abdullah Suhrawardy with a foreword by Mahatma Gandhi. Published early in the last century, its inputs are worth sharing.

A man once told Prophet Muhammad that while passing through a forest, he heard the voices of birds and had managed to trap baby birds even as their mother kept fluttering about in great agony. The moment the Prophet heard this he ordered the man: “Do you wonder at the affection of the mother towards her young? Return them to the place from which you took them, and let their mother be with them!”

In his lifetime the Prophet stopped the use of living birds as targets for marksmen. He forbade various forms of ill-treatment meted out to animals because of superstitions prevailing in that era. I quote DS Margoliouth from this book: “No more was a dead man’s camel to be tied to his tomb to perish of thirst and hunger. No more was the evil eye to be propitiated by the bleeding of a certain proportion of the herd. No more was the rain to be conjured by trying burning torches to the tails of the oxen…the manes and tails of horses were not to be cut.”

The Prophet forgave his worst enemies and urged people to practice compassion. There are numerous sayings of his on this alone:
To gladden the heart of weary, remove the suffering of afflicted, hath its own reward.
He who helpeth his fellow creatures in the hour of need and he who helpeth the oppressed, him will God help on the day of Travail.
Deal gently with people and be not harsh. Humility and courtesy are acts of piety.

First Published: May 22, 2006 18:24 IST