Allah presents the following description of the disbelievers by way of comparison in surah al-Furqan:
أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا
Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are nothing more than like cattle. In fact, they are even more astray from the path. [25:44]
Commenting on this ayah, the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote:
فشبه أكثر الناس بالأنعام والجامع بين النوعين التساوي في عدم قبول الهدى والانقياد له
Allah has compared most of mankind to cattle here, and the characteristic that both groups have in common is their lack of accepting the truth and conforming to it.
وجعل الأكثرين أضل سبيلا من الأنعام لأن البهيمة يهديها سائقها فتهتدي وتتبع الطريق فلا تحيد عنها يمينا ولا شمالا والأكثرون يدعوهم الرسل ويهدونهم السبيل فلا يستجيبون ولا يهتدون ولا يفرقون بين ما يضرهم وبين ما ينفعهم والأنعام تفرق بين ما يضرها من النبات والطريق فتتجنبه وما ينفعها فتؤثره
And He stated that most people are even more astray from the path than cattle. That is because a herder drives the livestock, resulting in them being guided and following the path without deviating to the right or left. However, for most people, despite the messengers calling them and guiding them, they do not respond to the call nor do they adopt their guidance, nor do they even distinguish between what is harmful or beneficial to them. Meanwhile cattle do distinguish between what harms them, such as certain plants and paths which they thus avoid, and what benefits them, which they then take an interest in.
والله تعالى لم يخلق للأنعام قلوبا تعقل بها ولا ألسنة تنطق بها وأعطى ذلك لهؤلاء ثم لم ينتفعوا بما جعل لهم من العقول والقلوب والألسنة والأسماع والأبصار فهم أضل من البهائم
Allah did not make hearts for the cattle which can understand or tongues with which they care speak, but He did give these faculties to these people. But despite this, they do not even take the benefit of the intellects, hearts, tongues, seeing and hearing which Allah made for them. In this way they are even more astray than livestock.
فإن من لا يهتدي إلى الرشد وإلى الطريق مع الدليل إليه أضل وأسوأ حالا ممن لا يهتدي حيث لا دليل معه
For a person who does not take the guidance to what is right and to the correct path despite someone showing him the way is even more misguided and in an even worse state than a person who did not take the right guidance because they had no one to show them the way.
[A’laam al-Mawqi’een 1/123]
See also: Parables of the Qur’an Article Index