Animal Rights in Islam
It is not only humanity that was liberated by the coming of Islam but Animals too. Animals had rights, owning an animal never meant it was absolutely your property any more. Britain’s oldest animal shelter was formed in the nineteenth century, whilst 1200 years ago Muslims set up the first animal welfare centres.
There is a popular but often neglected Hadith where the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being.”
Humans are custodians of this beautiful planet, which also means giving something back, like the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) had done, always caring for Animals and the environment. The words of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) were never uttered to be taken lightly, he wanted the compassion he had for Animals to be reflected by the whole Muslim Nation. The Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) reprimanded those who sat idly on their camels and horses with the warning: “Do not treat the backs of animals as chairs”. Muslims know that, the way they treat Animals will be accounted for on the the day of Judgement.
Mercy to animals goes hand in hand with faith
Historian Gustave le Bon writes animals enjoyed a ‘paradise’ in the Muslim world. In Cairo, Muslims set up bread and water foundations for dogs. In Damascus, a municipal area was dedicated to aging horses where they could pasture in dignity until the end of their lives. Animal rights weren’t taken lightly, It is incumbent upon all Muslims who own animals, whether for farming or work purposes or as pets, to provide adequate shelter, food, water, and, when needed, veterinary care for their animals. Arrangements must be made, if one is going to be away from home, to have one’s animals taken care of as well.
Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) advised people to take the life of an animal only for food (as ordained by Allah), and to be as humane as possible, urging that the creature should not see the blade and should not be killed in front of other animals. Just comparing the way Animals are slaughtered, shows how Islamic Slaughtering is far more merciful and superior to the current capitalistic way of slaughter (or stunning) practised in the west.
“He who takes pity even on a sparrow and spares its life, God will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgment.”
Abd al-Rahman, a well-known companion and a major authority of Hadith was nicknamed Abu Hurayra; The name literally translates to the “father of cats” to denote his love for cats. He would take care of stray cats and make sure they were all fed.
This form of treatment is practised in the 21st century but Muslims were keen on giving Animals the best care centuries earlier. This ethic is still alive today around the Muslim world.
Always begin with the name of Allah, Do you really understand the meaning of of Bismillah Hirrahman Nirrahim? Check out this post on: The Power of Bismillah
Check out this beautiful analogy of life by Imam Ghazali
What do you think about having more than one wife? Check out my Post on Polygamy
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