and prevent the sea from becoming polluted and disgusting with their corpses. If those public health officals of the sea did not carry out their extremely regular duties, the sea would not sparkle like a mirror; it would rather display a sad and touching turbidity.
Also, Almighty God has created carniverous and carrion-eating birds, and wild animals to be like cleansing and public health officials which collect the corpses of the wild animals and birds that die every day in their millions, cleanse the face of the earth of those putrid remains, and save other animate beings from such sad, discomforting sights. Some, like eagles for example, through a divine impulse, wonderfully perceive the location of a corpse from a distance of five or six hours, though hidden and distant, and hasten to remove it. If those health officals of the land were not extremely efficient and orderly in carrying out their official duties, the face of the earth would become such so as to make all weep.
The licit food of carniverous animals is the flesh of dead animals. The flesh of living animals is unlawful for them. If they eat it, they receive punishment. The Hadith which states: “Retaliation shall be made for the hornless sheep on the horned on Resurrection Day”1 points out that although the bodies of animals with immortal spirits perish, they will receive reward and punishment in a manner appropriate for them in an eternal realm. In consequence, it may be said that the flesh of live animals is unlawful for wild animals.
Furthermore, ants are employed as cleansing officials to collect the corpses of tiny creatures and small particles and fragments of bounty. They are given duties as public health officals to preserve tiny particles of divine bounty from waste, from being trodden underfoot, contempt and futility, and to gather up the corpses of other small creatures.
Similarly, flies are charged with duties of cleaning away poisonous substances and microbes which breed disease and are invisible to the human eye. They do not transmit microbes, on the contrary, through sucking up and imbibing harmful microbes they destroy them and cause them to be transformed into a different state; they prevent the spread of many contagious diseases. A sign that they are both health workers and cleansing officials and chemists and that they exhibit extensive wisdom is the fact that
Musnad, ii, 235.