Oh, those dreaded dogs and those seemingly innocent but deviously scheming cats! To love or not to love? The dilemma of humanity is that we want to be loved by all regardless of our short comings, but we do not wish to reciprocate the same sentiment and are selective in our sympathy, generally with humans and particularly with animals. In fact, we find it easier to disregard, discriminate or just outrightly ignore the existence of another specie other than ourselves, the ‘Vicegerents’ of Allah on Earth.
The justification of crimes and cruelty against animals, particularly dogs (because well of course we are very paak and they are na paak so they must be exterminated, culled or at least pelted with stones to be kept at a fair distance) and cats ( because well they may be cute to look at but are a nuisance nevertheless with their constant meowing aka call for tidbits of food which we would rather throw in the bin anyway) is atrocious.
A recent trip to Turkey blew me away not because of their mega malls, not because of their breathtaking architecture and a civilization seeped in rich history but because of how they treated every stray animal as their own. Coexisting was the norm! There is no such thing as a stray cat and dog because all of them belong to EVERYONE! Since they belong to everyone, they are literally fed out of their own plates or from bowls of dry food and water that are kept all over the city at random places. The sheer audacity with which a cat would approach a human to be pet or stroked was a reflection of how safe they felt and was a testament of how this nation owns everything that is theirs: from people to places, from metros and motorways to EVEN animals…
One of the greatest attributes of Allah swt is wisdom which implies that He is far above creating anything without reason and sublime purpose which we may or may not comprehend due to our limited intellect. The same Omnipotent God who perfected us created these animals in a myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes as a stunning display of His might and supremacy. When we demean another specie, we demean His creation, and this can only stem from one emotion: ARROGANCE. Its not too late to make a U turn and leave a legacy of love for generations to come. Here is how:
- Make peace with your fear:
Research suggests that fear is often a learned behavior or a ‘caught’ response and scientists who study fear conditioning have noticed that it is easier to train human brain to fear snakes, spiders and the likes. This is especially true for children—indeed, some very young children are afraid of these animals before ever encountering or hearing about them due to the fact that they see parents, peers , books or media portraying these as scary creatures. A pragmatic approach to this would be to acknowledge your fear of a certain animal but not exaggerate or propagate it especially in the presence of young impressionable kids. Remember, you are your child’s first teacher!
- Instinct vs intellect
Just like we are blessed with high level of intellect, these animals are endowed with strong instincts by none other than the Creator. They have a fight/flight or attack/defend response to stimuli and nothing more than that. Unlike humans, they are not devious, coy or corrupt. We abuse them and when they fight back as per their natural god given instinct, we take satisfaction in our ‘rightful’ belief of loathing them. Full of hate, devoid of empathy and intolerant towards anything other than ourselves is a poor use of intellect, no?
- Share because you care
A packet of dry cat/dog food to refill once or twice a week in an old throw away kind of container on the street outside, some milk, leftover remains of food, an odd carboard sheet for the cat to sleep upon in places which experience harsh climate if not a cat house as the ones that cats in Turkey are lucky to call HOME..
- Donate to animal shelters
In Pakistan, these are almost nonexistent but if you know of even one, donate whatever you can as sadqa for your loved ones. One such shelter is Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation whose relentless efforts have saved many severely abused cats, donkeys and dogs. One cannot imagine the kind of distorted mind which would spew acid on a helpless animal and leave it to die a slow painfully agonizing death. The graphic images and ghastly stories of animal cruelty at the hands of people around us, are cringe worthy and enough to put any heart which has an ounce of kindness, to shudder. Follow and support through their Instagram page @acfanimalrescueofficial
- Support TNVR campaigns
This is the internationally practiced and humane way to curtail breeding of feral cats/dogs instead of mass culling. TNVR stands for trap, neuter, vaccinate and return and is a harrowing effort on behalf of these teams who strive to live beyond the philosophy of Me , Myself and I.
Alas, if you don’t have a conscience when it comes to the most vulnerable and voiceless segment of the society, then you have no conscience at all.
کرو مہربانی تم اھل زمیں پر
خدا مہر باں ہو گا عرش بریں پر
By Nadia Kashif
Teacher – Senior Section