Lessons from Nat Geo’s Starving Polar Bear

On 11th December 2017 Nat Geo Wild posted a video of a starving polar bear on their official YouTube channel. The polar bear was spotted by National Geographic photographer; Paul Nicklen.

Seeing a spectacular creature like a polar bear starving and in such bad state was heart wrenching. Many comments have followed on twitter and other social media platforms; some were simply words of sympathy while others were advices for the government and humanity at large.

Slow motion and slow background tones were used to spice up the video, thus stirring emotions and contributing to making the video go viral. Some have even said the polar bear might be dying from cancer or other ailment not necessarily hunger.

However, pity and sympathy are two things that unite everyone who saw the video.

inspirationLessons from the phenomenon

A big lesson Nat Geo derived for humanity from this video is: beware of the dangers of climate change and global warming. Of course this is a big lesson and point to ponder on but…There are greater lessons for us to derive from this ‘ Starving Polar Bear’ phenomenon.

Yes, greater because pristinecreed’s benefits have to do with the soul and the hereafter while the lesson of Nat Geo Wild has to do with the body and worldly life.

First Lesson

The comments of Americans on the topic depicted the kind of heart they have; Americans love and cherish animals (not just starving polar bears). The pre-Islamic Arabs also had a number of good traits such as hospitality, truthfulness and charity. In fact, all societies have both good and bad traits.

Islam is a religion that is totally in accordance with the human instinct. The love of animals, not excluding starving polar bears, has been preached by our messenger (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) over a dozen centuries ago[1]. The Americans are not the first to preach or show compassion for animals. Perhaps many Muslims do not know that being merciful to animals is one easy way to get your sins forgiven[2]. So also being cruel to animals, including dogs and pigs, is one of the easiest ways to get a straight ticket to hell.[3]

But, no matter how much mercy a person has for animals, how much truth he says, how much hospitality he gives, they will not benefit him in the hereafter if he has no Islam because testifying that no deity has right to be worshiped except your One and only Creator, Provider and Sustainer is a condition for you to benefit from your good deeds[4].

Many people are shocked when we say philanthropists that have no Islam are not going to paradise but it’s the reality. Many pre-Islamic Arabs did more good than those of our time but they have no reward with Allaah. They didn’t do it for Him in the first place so why should they expect anything from Him?


Sheikhul Islam said: There is nothing in Islam that contradicts the human reasoning; however there are aspects of Islam that the human reasoning cannot comprehend. Just as even Nat Geo cannot fully comprehend the dynamism of our universe so also there are aspects of worship which we cannot fully comprehend.

Lesson Two:

What made people sad and cry when they saw the polar bear starving? Obviously it was the pain of seeing a poor creature at the brim of death and also being unable to render any bit of assistance to it. Guess what? You will be in that position one day! Whether you like it or not! The day the angel of death will stretch his hands at you saying: “submit your soul”.

No matter how much distress you are experiencing your close friends, relatives, fans, neighbours and all those who love you will not be able to assist you -even if they wish (and they will certainly wish they could). They will watch you as you struggle in vain with the pains of death.

What have you prepared for that day? Are you still spending your days and nights watching movies, listening to music, always keeping abreast of latest celebrity gossips and liking non-beneficial posts on the internet? My dear brother isn’t it time for you to wake up?! My dear sister isn’t it time for you to submit to Allaah and make your wishes and desires subservient to the dictates of your creator?

Many people think death is an extinction, my dear it is not so. Death is a transition not an extinction. When you die you are just beginning a new life or rather, you are just starting the real life. Let’s ponder on this verse of the Quran which mentions the words of regret that the disbeliever and heedless will utter on the day of recompense:

He will say: “Alas! Would that I had sent forth (good deeds) for my life!”

Note how he calls the hereafter “my life” meaning that the hereafter is his actual life and the worldly life is actually a fake.

This is the little benefit and admonition I have for you, I hope you benefitted from it.

Final Words

May Allaah soften our hearts and make it easy to take heed from His signs rather than play them off. May the commendations and peace of Allaah be upon the last and leader of the messengers, his household, companions and all those who follow his path till the day of recompense.

You could revive a dead soul by sharing this post. Simply choose the share button of your choice below. Allaah knows best.

Notes and References

[1] Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine. So he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any living (creature).” (Bukharee: 2466)

[2] See above hadith

[3]Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.” Allah’s Apostle further said, (Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), ‘You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.” (Bukharee:3482)

[4] ’Aishah said: I said to the messenger of Allaah commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) O messenger of Allaah, Ibn Jud’aan during the days of jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) used to join the ties of kinship and feed the poor, will that benefit him? He (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) said: No, he never said for once: “my Lord forgive my sins on the day of recompense” (Muslim:214)

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