Volume 3, Book 39, Number 517 :
Narrated by Abu Huraira (radiallaahu `anhu)
The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “While a man was riding a cow, it turned towards him and said, ‘I have not been created for this purpose (i.e. carrying), I have been created for ploughing.” The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) added, “I, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar believe in the story.” The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) went on, “A wolf caught a sheep, and when the shepherd chased it, the wolf said, ‘Who will be its guard on the day of wild beasts, when there will be no shepherd for it except me?’ “After narrating it, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said, “I, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar too believe it.” Abu Salama (a sub-narrator) said, “Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhumaa) were not present then.”
(It has been written that a wolf also spoke to one of the companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) near Medina as narrated in Fath-al-Bari: Narrated Unais bin ‘Amr: Ahban bin Aus (radiallaahu `anhu) said, “I was amongst my sheep. Suddenly a wolf caught a sheep and I shouted at it. The wolf sat on its tail and addressed me, saying, ‘Who will look after it (i.e. the sheep) when you will be busy and not able to look after it? Do you forbid me the provision which Allah has provided me?’ ” Ahban (radiallaahu `anhu) added, “I clapped my hands and said, ‘By Allah, I have never seen anything more curious and wonderful than this!’ On that the wolf said, ‘There is something (more curious) and wonderful than this; that is, Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) in those palm trees, inviting people to Allah (i.e. Islam).’ “Unais bin ‘Amr further said, “Then Ahban (radiallaahu `anhu) went to Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and informed him what happened and embraced Islam.”)
This hadith shows the importance of using animals for their purpose and nothing else – unless there’s evidence to prove otherwise. For example, Allah says in the Quran:
وَالْخَيْلَ وَالْبِغَالَ وَالْحَمِيرَ لِتَرْكَبُوهَا وَزِينَةً ۚ وَيَخْلُقُ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know. [16:8]
It is forbidden to eat the meat of donkeys and mules, but as for horses, Allah’s Apostle made them permissible.
It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: On the day of Khaybar, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade eating the flesh of domestic donkeys, but he granted a concession with regard to horses. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3982; Muslim, 1941.
More on the ruling on eating horse meat here.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning here is the story of the wolf who spoke to Ahban ibn Aws (radiallaahu `anhu). To some extent, this reminds me of the Red Riding Hood and her Granny. It’s a fairy tale with no truth to it, but the story in the Hadith is real and 100% true. Narrations like these could replace the bed time story content for our children. We don’t have to tell them made-up stories to teach them morals after all!