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Living The Quran

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From Issue: 938 [Read full issue]

Apes
Al-Baqarah (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 65

"And you are well aware of those amongst you who violated the Divine law in the matter of the Sabbath, so We said to them: 'Be you apes despicable.'"

This is a punishment that they incurred as a result of their violation of the sanctity of Sabbath in blind pursuit of their desires. The scholars differ concerning the nature of their transformation into apes, and whether it was merely mental or had any bearing on their spiritual condition. In our view, this difference is of little real significance.

Where the human being and animals really differ is in the ability to reason and to make conscious moral decisions of their free volition. The true distinguishing feature of the human being is his ability to discriminate between what is permissible and what is not, his ability to restrain and control his desires and emotions and his ability to act within the prescribed moral limits, in order to satisfy his legitimate physical needs. As against this, an animal is not bound by any moral or legal rules. It knows no limits when pursuing its sensual gratification. It is driven by pure animal instincts and no moral considerations come into the equation. That is why, when a person or a group of persons is unconcerned with moral questions or rules of behaviour and their sole purpose is the gratification of their desires, howsoever possible, the line between the human being and an ape becomes blurred. In such a condition, there is no substantial difference between the two, the human and the animal, excepting a small difference in their physical appearances. As their moral and mental degeneration hits the bottom, even this seemingly slight physical difference between them also vanishes.

Compiled From:
"Pondering Over The Qur'an: Surah al-Fatiha and Surah al-Baqarah" - Amin Ahsan Islahi

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