Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Animals Go To Court

An interesting book has just come on the market, The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity. It is a translation of a fable in which eloquent representatives of all members of the animal kingdom – from horses to bees – come before the respected Spirit King to complain of the dreadful treatment they have suffered at the hands of humankind. During the ensuing trial, where both humans and animals testify before the king, both sides argue their points ingeniously, deftly illustrating the validity of both sides of the ecology debate. The ancient origins of this tale are thought to have been in India, possibility amongst Buddhists or more likely Jains, but the oldest existing written version of the story was penned in Arabic by members of the Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity), a Sufi order, in Basra, Iraq, sometime before the 10th century CE. In this version, the story was the 25th of 51 treatises comprising an encyclopedia in which were described the mysteries and meaning of life. Much later, this one story, The Letter of the Animals, was translated and adapted by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus, known among Christians as Maestro Calo, at the request of his patron, King Charles of France, in 1316. The story was popular in European Jewish communities up to the early 20th centuries. Besides being published in Hebrew, it was also translated into Yiddish, German and Spanish. Rabbi Kalonymus lived primarily in Arles in the Province region of France. He, like many others, was busy translating Aristotle and many others important classical thinkers into Hebrew, works that had been preserved in Arabic and transmitted by the Arabs to the West. How relevant this 10th century tale is today for both the young and old of all religions or none! It addresses environmental and animal rights issues with charming affectivity. An Indian story pleading human sympathy for animals, rewritten by an Iraqi Sufi, translated by a Rabbi into Hebrew, rendered into Latin for a Christian monarch and now translated from Hebrew by Jews into English, edited by a Christian and beautifully illustrated by a Muslim woman from India under the patronage of a Saudi princess. Wow! Talk about interspecies, interfaith and intercultural co-operation! Should be more of it.
The book is available from Amazon


Dhamma81 said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I have often thought about how these so called "compassionate" scientists do the most unspeakable things to animals simply to try to keep a growing human population alive longer. It would be interesting to get an animals perspective, even if it is only sort of a fictional account.

Terrance said...

Here is a similar story, but the ending is quite surprising
giving the reason why medicine only comes from plants.

There is a legend among the Cherokee that tells of the origin of medicine. It tells how the animals and birds met in council to decide what to do about the encroachment of man upon their world and how carelessly he was treating them. One by one they listed ailments and maladies that would afflict the humans. Had they succeeded, humans would surely have disappeared by now. But nearby, listening to the council were the plants and herbs and, not being troubled by the humans, they agreed to supply a remedy for each and every one of the diseases the animals wanted to thrust upon humankind.

A longer version can be found here: