pigeons in various tasks and teaching birds like parrots to speak, he has added fine things to the virtues of human civilization. In the same way, if the tongues of innate capacities of other birds and animals were known, there are many species which could be employed in important tasks like their brothers, the domesticated animals. For example, against plagues of locusts: if the tongue of starlings was known, who eat and destroy locusts, and their movements could be regulated, what valuable services they could be employed in free of charge.
Thus, this verse traces the furthest limit in subjugating birds and benefiting from them in this way, and in making lifeless beings speak like a telephone or gramophone, and in profiting from birds. It specifies the most distant goal. It points a finger at it in majestic fashion and in a way urges man towards it. Through the allusive tongue of these verses, Almighty God is therefore saying in meaning:
“O men! In order to honour his prophethood and the complete justice of his rule, I subjugated to one of your fellow men who was totally submissive to me, the huge creatures in my dominions, causing them to speak, and I made most of my troops and animals his servants. In which case, since I have committed to each of you the Supreme Trust, from which the sky, earth, and mountains shrank, and I have given you the ability to be My vicegerent on earth, you should yield to Me, the One in Whose hand are the reins of these creatures, so that the creatures in My dominions may yield also to you, and you may obtain in the name of the One Who holds them, their reins, and rise to a position worthy of your abilities.
Since the truth is this, rather than listening to the gramophone, playing with pigeons and making them deliver letters, and teaching parrots to speak, you should strive to attain to the most agreeable and elevated amusement. Then the mountains may be huge gramophones for you like David’s, and the harmonious recitations of Divine praises may reach your ears from the trees and plants at the touching of the breeze, and the mountains may show their true nature as wondrous creatures who recite the Divine praises in thousands of tongues, and most birds may be clothed in the form of intimate friends or obedient servants, like Solomon’s Hoopoe. Then they may entertain you and drive you eagerly towards the perfections and attainments of which you are capable, and not make you fall from the position required by being a human being, like other amusements.”
And, for example, in the verse,
We said: “O fire! Be cool and [a means of] safety for Abraham,1