Animal Rights in Islam

To everything in this world are rights, guaranteed by the sacred laws of Islam. Everywhere we look around us today, we see cruelty to animals.  Especially, in the food industry, where animals are treated with extreme inhumanity in "civilized" nations in the name of wealth and profit! Such atrocities are widespread, well-documented and a sad fact of the materialistic modern world. 
Even though such actions are extremely disturbing, in spite of us closing our eyes, they will not disappear.  Therefore, it is our duty to reform our outlook and attitudes in order to change this world for the better.  Lest we transgress against the rights of others; and by others, in the context of this article I mean "animals". 
One day, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saw a man overloading his donkey, so the prophet (peace be upon him) became very angry and said,
"Do not overload your animal!  Verily, he who is not merciful shall not be shown mercy (by God)!"
He (peace be upon him) also taught his followers that if they are traveling that they should not ride their animal for the entire trip, but rather to divide the time, riding for an hour then walking for an hour to allow the animal to rest.

God (Glorified is His Name) says: 

"Verily, every fish that swims in the sea, every bird that flies in the air, every beast that trod over the land and every insect...are only nations and communities like yourselves!  Indeed, We have not left out anything in this book!" 

God (Glorified is His Name), addressing His prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says: 

"We have sent you as a mercy to all the worlds (O' Muhammad)!" 

The word utilized by God (Glorified is His Name) in this verse is 'Alamiin, which is defined as everything aside from God!  Therefore, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a mercy to the animals, to the environment, to the cosmos and the list goes on!

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 

"He who does not show mercy; to such a person no mercy shall be shown!  Have mercy on all those on earth and the Lord of heaven shall be merciful to you!" 

Mercy to all!  Without exception! When most in the western world, a hundred and fifty years ago, refused to believe that dark skinned people and women had "souls", Islam thirteen hundred years prior declared that not only do they have souls and rights, moreover, even animals have have souls and rights! 

"They ask you (O' Muhammad) about the true nature of the soul, say, its true essence is only known by God!

Just this year, after many years of study, scientists are finally discovering that animals, birds, fish and yes even insects communicate with each other and have feelings!  On December 9th, 2011, CBC published an article called, "Rats show empathy for others in chocolate chip test".  The article stated,"New experiments show rats demonstrating compassion and helping other rodents. It is a trait some scientists thought was reserved only for humans and higher primates.  And it is certainly not the sneaky, selfish rap that goes with calling someone a dirty rat. In repeated tests, rats freed another trapped rat in their cage, even when yummy chocolate served as a tempting distraction. Twenty-three of the 30 rats opened the trap by pushing in a door. The rats could have gobbled the chocolate before freeing their partners, but often didn't, choosing to help and share the goodies."

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was once among his companions when they glanced two rams butting their heads and said:
"Do you know why they are butting their heads?" 
The companions responded with,
"God and His Messenger know best!" 
Thus, the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said:
"Nay, but God does know why and He shall resurrect them on the day of judgement and judge between them!  Verily, even if a ram transgresses against another ram, God will get justice for it!"

If God (Glorified is His Name) is going to ensure that animals will get justice against other animals who transgressed against them, what do you think is the case with humans who transgress against such animals.  Indeed, animals are treated  with dignity and respect under the sacred laws of Islam and have rights just as human beings have rights! Thus, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 

"Verily, God has decreed excellence and kindness in all that you do! So if you slaughter (an animal), then do so with kindness, compassion and mercy..." 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 

"A woman was condemned to damnation for cruelty to a cat!  She confined her with cruelty; neither did she feed her nor did she release her to eat from that, which is upon the earth!" 

Conversely, the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 

"A prostitute was once walking through the desert and coming upon a well, she descended to quench her thirst.  Upon ascending from the well, she saw a dog with his tongue stretched out showing signs of extreme thirst.  At that moment, the prostitute's heart softened and out of mercy she descended into the well several times bringing water to the thirsty dog with her shoe. Due to this act of benevolence and mercy towards a dog, this prostitute earned eternal salvation and complete absolution from God. " 

 Indeed, Islamic civilization set the bar so high when it came to animal rights.  Since, animals are to be treated with respect and dignity as required by the law, major Islamic cities such as Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad and many others had specially designated lands set aside for the use of animals.  Hundreds of hectares were set aside as sanctuaries for animals.  Fully funded and operated through the Islamic trust (Waqf) funds.  When a horse, or dog or cat for example became old and "useless", instead of being "put to sleep" as is done in the "civilized" world today, such animals were brought to the sanctuaries where they were free to roam, being fed, housed and looked after by specially trained people to ensure that they were given the chance to rest, burden-free until they died naturally.  Such sanctuaries were wide-spread throughout the Islamic world until the collapse of the Islamic systems and their replacement with suppressive and unjust systems established by colonialists, imperialists and tyrants.  These lands were forcibly annexed by these new governments and lost.

I pray our Most Compassionate God, our Wise Lord and Benevolent Master to bless my nation, our beautiful home, protect its people from harm and guide its rulers to govern with benevolence, wisdom and justice. 


Source: [] Published: 30 December 2011 Link: Click here


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