How should we understand the hadith about the talking of an ox and a wolf?

Details of the Question

- What would we say to the people who criticize the narration about the talking of an ox and a wolf by uttering sarcastic words like “The proud animal cannot accept it when a person rides it. Are you making fun of us? Can an ox talk? A wolf becomes foresighted and gives information about the future?”

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith in question is as follows:

Abu Hurayra narrates: I heard the following from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh):

"While a shepherd was amongst his sheep, a wolf attacked them and took away one sheep. When the shepherd chased the wolf, the wolf turned towards him and said, 'Who will be its guard on the day of wild animals when nobody except I will be its shepherd. '

And while a man was driving a cow with a load on it, it turned towards him and spoke to him saying, 'I have not been created for this purpose, but for ploughing."

The narrator of the hadith said, ‘The people were astonished by this story and said, "Subhanallah (Glorified be Allah)."’ Thereupon, the Prophet said,

'I believe that those animals talked like that. So do Abu Bakr and Umar Ibnul-Khattab.' (Bukhari, Fadailul-Ashab, 5)

The first lesson to be taken from this miraculous incident is the respect shown to animal rights. This incident attracts attention to the rights of a living being that was oppressed and asks people to show respect to animal rights. Allah, who has power over all things, expresses the complaints of animals by making an ox talk as a representative of other animals through this miraculous incident. He enabled the animals to express their complaints about humans with the language of humans. For, it is the most appropriate way “to speak with the language of your addressee”.

It is an example of excessive levity to ignore the lesson given by the true religions, especially the religion of Islam, about animal rights through this incident. It is a big disrespect toward the Creator, true religions, humans and animals to ignore Allah’s endless mercy shown through the window of heavenly religions and to accuse the ox that expresses its right because of being oppressed as “proud” unjustly.

- Can Allah make an ox talk?

The answer of believers to this question is “yes”. The answer of deniers can be  “no”. Those two answers are related to the mind and the education of the hearts of those two groups of people. Those who do not accept the existence of Allah or prophets might not accept that Allah can make an animal talk. According to them, Allah does not exist; thus, something non-existent cannot make an animal talk.  

Those who believe believe in the existence of Allah; they also believe in prophets and that Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) is His true messenger. According to them, whatever Hz. Muhammad said as a prophet was true. For, the Quran, which is a miracle in terms of forty aspects, proves that he is the true prophet of Allah; hundreds of thousands of scientists from various branches believed in him based on the miracles he showed and the evidences of his prophethood.   

The same sound resources, which are shown as the resource of that incident, include important miracles of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh). It is an unforgivable contradiction, a hypocritical approach and a biased ignorance for the deniers to believe that incident but not to believe the other miracles included in the same resources.

The biggest skill of a prejudice fanatic is to show diamond as coal and coal as diamond, and gold as copper and copper as gold.

However, on the one hand, the tremendous material Quran called the universe and on the other hand, the miraculous Quran, which is known as Allah’s word and which challenges people by declaring that there is nothing similar to it for fifteen centuries, made people with good sense accept the existence of Allah through hundreds of thousands of evidences. In fact, there is no religious, scientific, mental or scholarly evidence negating the existence of Allah. For instance, those who do not accept the talk of an ox and similar animals have no evidence at all but their prejudice.     

A believer would not say, “Are you making fun of me? Can an ox talk like that?

A believer believes in Allah’s endless power, Hz. Muhammad’s (pbuh) honesty, which is his most distinguished attribute; he believes in heartily not only the talking of an ox and wolf in the past but also the talking of the camel that complained to Hz. Muhammad about his owner due to its heavy load and even the glorification of non-living pebbles in his hand.  

Besides, the substance of the tongue in man’s mouth and in the mouth of an ox and other living beings is the same: a piece of flesh. Can any sane person claim that Allah, who makes humans talk all the time, cannot make some animals talk only once based on a wisdom?

It is a known fact that animals that have ears made of the same substance as the ears of humans can hear like humans and that some of them can hear even better than humans.  

Everybody knows that a parrot can repeat the words taught by humans in the same way.

Who would have believed if somebody had said a century ago that devices like television, radio, tape recorder, wireless and telephone would repeat the statements of people in the same way?  

Thus, those who believe in only what they see through their eyes will be bound to be embarrassed by the facts in the future.

We understand that unbelief is a dark labyrinth from which denial and ignorance gush forth and that belief is brightness and a ray of light that emits luminous light.  

Let them make fun of the facts by saying “An ox is an animal that does not like humans to ride it and cannot accept it because of its pride...” It is stated in the Quran that such people who do not believe in Allah are lower than animals in terms of philosophy of life.

Mehmet Akif Ersoy, the poet of the Turkish national anthem, expresses it as follows:  

“Animals do not go out of the limits determined for them by Allah
/But humans are unaware of the existence of such limits.”

Animals do not exceed their limits; they know their duties very well and fulfill them properly.

For instance, an ox helps humans by ploughing fields and a camel helps humans by crouching so that load will be placed on it or humans will mount on it. A horse allows a ten-year old child to take it anywhere by holding its reigns.  

However, unfortunately, some people are not aware that they have responsibilities toward Allah and that they have duties to perform. Such people cannot regard themselves as an animal with its halter around its neck, wandering in the desert at large. Can a human ridicule himself so much?  

The lesson to be taken from the talking of the wolf is not whether “the wolf is foresighted or not“ but how retrogressive those atheists who think they are foresighted are.  

Why?

Can there be a more retrogressive person than the one who ignores the words of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), who is the prophet of the religion of Islam, which established the biggest civilization of the world in fifteen centuries, which guided at least one-third of the world population in every century, which ruled half of the world in terms of surface area, which owns about one-third of the world population today, which is a universal religion that includes only the truth, and who returns to the dark labyrinth of unbelief of the Era of Ignorance before Islam?   

The real source of all of the foresight that exists today, that existed in the past and that will exist in the future is the mind granted by Allah and the inspiration bestowed upon that mind. This issue is very clear and does not necessitate any evidence.  

Thus, let alone the wolf, even man cannot forecast anything true about the future independently. If there is a foresight for man and animals like the wolf, it is a grant by Allah.

In addition, consider the following:

What man can produce honey like the bee, which is clearly stated to have received inspiration in the Quran?

What man can weave silk like the silkworm, which has no eyes?

What man can build a web like a spider, which startles scientists with the wonderful work of art?

Is it possible to attribute them to blind coincidence, nature or inanimate causes? Why should Allah, who makes them talk with this wonderful tongue of art, not make a wolf talk like humans to give people a lesson?

Questions on Islam

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