Almost every newborn creature is weak and helpless, unaware
of the dangers that surround it. It is very unlikely that it could survive
and grow on its own. From the moment it is born it will always have adults
nearby to feed it, protect it from danger and, if necessary, sacrifice
their own lives for it.
Young animals can survive only if they are looked after by
strong grown-ups. A gazelle abandoned at birth or bird's eggs left uncared
for have no chance of survival. But young animals usually can survive
because they have careful parents who do not neglect their responsibilities,
even before their young are still in the egg or the womb. Many creatures
go to a lot of trouble to protect their eggs, hiding them where they will
not get broken, keeping them warm and when necessary, protecting them
from too much heat. They will guard over their eggs for weeks and even
carry them around in their mouths without harming them in any way.
This book documents the tenderness that creatures have for
their young and the conscious acts of self-sacrifice performed throughout
the animal world. You will read about the great care taken by animal parents
to build comfortable nests for their young. You will learn how they clean
their offspring, how hard they work to feed them, protect them from cold,
and even how they place their own lives in danger when an enemy is nearby.
But why do these creatures work so tirelessly on behalf of
their young? Why don't they leave them on their own, instead of dutifully
attending to all their needs? Do they do so consciously? For example,
is it reasonable to think that a bird can be consciously determined to
risk its own death to protect its young? Of course not! An animal cannot
possess such feelings of tenderness and compassion on its own. The plain
fact is that God has inspired in these creatures a wondrous sense of tenderness
and parental love. And one of creation's greatest wonders is the self-sacrifice
of parents for their babies.
Another wonder is how cute all young animals are, as some
examples in the following pages will show. Babies of most species usually
have big eyes and round faces; and an expression that we humans interpret
as innocent, helpless, and bewildered. Also, their behavior makes them
loveable and awakens in us the instinct to protect them.
These qualities in young animals are manifestations of God's
gentle artistry (gentle in this sense also includes the ideas of "lovable,"
"friendly," "tame" and "docile"). As with everything else in the universe,
these animals are submissive to God, as He reveals to us in the following
… when everything in the heavens and Earth, willingly or
unwillingly, submits to Him and to Him you will be returned... (Qur'an,