The wire pigeon’s nest

Afthkar Quayyum, Warrington Islamic Association

Pigeons are fascinating to watch. Their courting behaviour is quite entertaining and their affectionate attention to their mate is sweet and romantic. They animate our towns and cities and sometimes seem to be the only form of life in what would otherwise be a bleak urban landscape.

Pigeons provide stress relief and feeding them is recognised by the medical fraternity as a means of relaxation. Children are often moved by these friendly birds and they also provide company to senior citizens who enjoy spending time with them in parks and gardens. They are sometimes used for racing or for carrying messages and anyone who keeps them will attest to their loyalty and affection. They also provide a role model for society. Think about the traditional doves of love and peace. Pigeons mate for life and set a good example for humans by caring for their mate and their young ones, sharing feeding areas and living peacefully with each other.

What would Trafalgar Square, St Mark’s Square Venice, St Peter’s Square Rome or Paris be like without pigeons? Contrary to popular belief, they do not compete with other animals for food or shelter and cases of them spreading diseases to humans are very rare indeed. They eat the food we dispose of as litter and endangered peregrine falcons would not be staging a comeback in our cities without the pigeons as their prey!

Common city pigeons are actually European Rock Doves, the Biblical doves of love and peace which, in Muslim tradition, helped to honour the birth of Christ. They are the same birds that Noah released from the ark, returning with an olive branch to signify the end of the great flood.

It is said that the Prophet Mohammad (P B H), who was making his journey from Mecca to Medina (Hijra), took shelter in a cave. In order to save him from enemies a spider wove a cobweb on the face of the cave and a pigeon laid eggs to cover it.

Pigeons are monumentally important to the future of the world. They are the beacons of hope shining into a thousand universes, acting as a protector of every living species and the guardians of honour and hope…and all that from a bird that is approximately ten ­centimetres high.

A lot to think about, when we contemplate the pigeon!