We Subdued Them For Them
Cont’d from page 2
We’ll never know who was the first person to put a goat in
a pen. Such a simple act, yet it totally changed human history.
Was it a conscious act or a wonderful accident? Did one or two goats
become trapped by chance or did some forward-thinking cave man have
the inspiration to build a crude enclosure? It wouldn’t take
long to realize how much easier it was to keep a few goats close
to the cave. The goats would make more goats, so that when meat
was needed, there was a fresh supply within easy reach. If a man
needed to travel, he could bring his food along, and he didn’t
even have to carry it; it walked on its own.
Goats are almost certainly the first livestock animal to be domesticated,
perhaps as long as 15,000 years ago. Sheep were domesticated soon
after. Sheep are even more docile than goats, and soon man was breeding
selectively for the most desirable traits—gentleness, smaller
size and woolly coats.
Domestication changed lifestyles completely. The migration of herds
of wild animals no longer mattered; man didn’t have to depend
on or follow these movements. So people began congregating together
and trading. They could settle in one area, improve it and expand
it, so cities were created. All of this because someone decided
to put a goat in a pen!
Chickens began to be domesticated from wild fowl about 10,000 years
ago. It would be easy to take eggs or the hatchlings from a nest.
Birds tend to imprint on whatever they see first, so they would
be more than willing to hang around. Today we have many birds that
are kept as pets, but they’re not truly domesticated; they
will fly away. But chickens walk around a barnyard, expecting to
be fed by us. In return, they give up their eggs without too much
At about this same time, man began
domesticating the pig. Wild boars are quick and dangerous animals,
and they don’t like to be herded like sheep or goats. But
they probably began rooting around in garbage heaps created as people
formed communities, becoming less and less afraid. They would have
been a valuable animal for early man because they will eat almost
anything; they grow fast; and they have large litters. They’re
an easy animal to keep in a small enclosure which fit in well as
man began to settle and stay in one place.
God tells us in the Quran not to eat the meat of the pig because
it is unclean, but if we are starving and not being malicious, we’re
allowed to eat whatever is available. In our modern world, there
are so many choices; early man had to survive on what he could get.
Over the next few thousand years, man also domesticated camels,
horses, and cattle. They found so many uses for these tamable animals.
Certainly food was their first concern, but they discovered how
much these beasts could carry, how they could be put in harness
to plow fields and how riding a horse could drastically change all
aspects of their lives (see SP July 2003).
Domesticated animals have provided us with so many benefits, not
least of which is the milk they give. It’s easy to imagine
how milking came about. A mother dies in childbirth and there’s
a hungry, crying baby to feed, and a goat or cow outside feeding
its young. Milk is mentioned throughout the Old Testament and in
Sanskrit writings at least 6000 years old. How it became such a
huge industry—with whole milk, skim milk, cream, ice cream,
sour cream, butter, cheese, and so many other choices—is amazing.
Early humans, like all animals, had
no further need of milk once they were weaned. It required a chemical
change in our bodies to be able to tolerate milk as adults, and
in fact, many people today are lactose intolerant and become ill
when they consume dairy products. Yet what a gift from God. Milk
is often referred to as nature’s most nearly perfect food.
It’s essential for growth and development of all young mammals.
And in the livestock there is a lesson for you: we
provide you with a drink from their bellies. From the midst of digested
food and blood you get pure milk, delicious for the drinkers. (16:66)
The whole process of domestication is God’s gift to man.
Much, if not all, of our progress over the centuries happened because
there were animals easily accessible for us to eat, to ride, to
milk, to wear and to burden. We need to be mindful of this gift.
This is a partnership that God gave us. As we domesticated animals,
they changed and became dependent. We had to provide for them. They
have paid us back many times over. And it’s a blessing we
must be appreciative of.
As you rest on top of them, you shall appreciate
such a blessing from your Lord, and say, "Glory be to the One
who subdued this for us. We could not have controlled them by ourselves.
God is the One who created the livestock for you;
some you ride, and some you eat. They also provide you with additional
benefits that satisfy many of your needs. (40:79-80)
Also in your creation, and the creation of all the
animals, there are proofs for people who are certain. (45:4)