Animals: The Islamic Perspective

Many people say that humanity is lost and in urgent need of Islam. We maintain that this does not apply to humanity only, but to planet earth and all that it contains: water resources, atmosphere, trees and animals. They all need Islam. 

We can prove this, citing just one good example from what we see in the world around us.

Fact: In China, millions of dogs and cats are skinned alive, then left to bleed to death so that their fur will be exported to other countries. China is the largest fur exporter in the world and it provides 50% of fur products in the United States.

Islamic legislation: An authentic hadith quotes Saeed ibn Jubayr: ‘I was with Ibn Umar when we passed by a group of lads who had tied up a hen to be a target for their archery. When they saw Ibn Umar they dispersed. Ibn Umar said: “Who has done this? The Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed whoever does this”.’ 

A curse means expulsion from God’s mercy. A person who has no compassion for animals does not deserve God’s mercy.   

Fact: Genetic modification techniques applied to poultry, so that they grow bigger and sell better on the meat market, make 90% of them; I repeat 90% of them get deformed and unable to walk properly. 

Another point, famous chicken restaurant franchises slit the throats of their chicken and immediately drop them in scalding water to remove their feathers, often while they are still conscious and feeling the pain.

Islamic legislation: Prophet Muhammad said: ‘God has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, when you kill, kill well; and when you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.’

Have you ever seen a smart guy with a dog that has had its tail cut off, so as to make the dog look more ferocious? You would certainly be disturbed by the sight. 

In the Qur'an, God tells us how Satan said he would tempt people:

‘Satan said: “Of Your servants I shall indeed take my due share, and shall certainly lead them astray, and fill them with vain desires; and I shall command them - and they will slit the ears of cattle [in idolatrous sacrifice]; and I shall command them – and they will corrupt God’s creation”.’

(4: 118-9) 

It is Satan who command people to slit the ears of cattle, so as to corrupt God’s creation. God is certainly unhappy with this.

According to Islam, kindness to animals is one way of earning God’s pleasure and forgiveness, which leads to admittance into heaven. The Prophet said: ‘As one man was walking along his way, he felt extremely thirsty. He found a well and he went down into it and had his drink. As he came up, he found a panting dog licking the dust because of his thirst. The man thought: ‘This dog is as thirsty as I had just been’. He went down into the well again, filled his shoe with water and held it with his mouth as he climbed the well. He gave the water to the dog to drink. God rewarded him and granted him forgiveness of his sins.’ The Prophet’s companions asked him: ‘Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness to animals?’ He said: ‘You are rewarded for kindness to any living creature.’

Cruelty to animals incurs God’s punishment, as Prophet Muhammad explains: ‘A woman is punished for her cruelty to a cat which she tied up until it died. The woman is in hell because she neither fed the cat when she locked it in nor let it fend for itself.’

Islam also forbids setting animals against each other as happens in cock fighting. Ibn Abbas reports: ‘God’s messenger prohibited setting animals against each other.’ It may be suggested that we are taking things too far, when we should focus our attention on man. It may be added that there is no relation between cruelty to animals and human abuse. This is wrong. There is strong relation between the two.

According to the American Human Association, 71% of women who sought refuge from domestic violence stated that their abusers used to be cruel to animals: torturing them in order to make their women submit to their bidding. Moreover, 70% of those accused of cruelty to animals also face other charges, such as domestic violence.

Perhaps we should not be surprised: a man who beats up a domestic animal is not expected to be all kindness to his woman. Clearly the two situations are related.

Long before the establishment of organizations that undertake studies and give us figures, Islam made its legislation clear. God is aware that man may tend to be cruel, and He wants man to control such deviant tendencies. 

Cruelty to animals is closely related to human relations. When a person tortures an animal, other people are at risk. Islam is well aware of this and it has stopped the problem at source.

People speak sometimes about the ‘bestial’ cruelty to man, but ‘that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts. No animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
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