Islam has been one of the earliest religions to care about animal rights. Kindness shown to animals has been promised a reward in the hereafter. Consider this line from Abu Umama, Al Tabarani: ‘He who takes pity even on a sparrow and spares its life, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgment.’
The Holy Prophet categorically
forbade the fighting of animals such as bears, dogs, cocks etc. he
admonished those who whipped their animals.
to Islam human beings are not at liberty to take lives at their beck
and call but only when it is necessary. Hunting of birds and animals for
sport is clearly forbidden.
Animals represent the wonders of
nature created by Allah and they have their own special place in the
hierarchy of living beings. There is a purpose behind every living
creature and humans do not possess the right to violate their lives.
are divine signs for humanity to take lessons from, to get inspired by
and to learn from. A bee, for example, eats only clean things, drops
only sweet stuff, any branch it perches upon does not break.
says, “There are [manifest] signs [of truth] in the creation of
[humanity and numerous types of] animals scattered [on the earth] for
those who believe [in Allah]” (45:4).
Allah says, “Do they see
how [useful] a camel is created?” (88:17). Several Quranic verses invite
humans to learn lessons from animals, birds, ants, and honeybees.
Abu Talib says, “Be obedient to Allah regarding His subjects and the
lands at your disposal, for you are responsible even for the survival of
Once the Prophet came upon a donkey which had been
branded on its face. He is reported to have exclaimed: ‘May Allah
condemn the one who branded it.’ He also disapproved of the cutting of a
horse’s tail, for example, as unnatural and interfering with the
natural beauty of the horse.
There is the story of the Prophet
hearing the call to prayer one day. He wanted to take along his prayer
mat, but one of his cats was curled up on the carpet, comfortably
asleep. Not wanting to disturb the cat, and yet being required to take
his mat along, the Prophet solved the problem by carefully cutting off a
portion of the carpet and taking it with him.
Then there is the
story he told his followers about a prostitute, according to Muslim. On
a hot day, a poor dog lay panting from thirst near a well. When this
woman came along, she took pity on the poor creature. She lowered her
socks into the well, drew water in them and squeezed it into the dog’s
The Prophet said that, because of this one act of kindness, all her sins would be forgiven her.
the same source, we find out that he had a vision about a woman. She
was chastised after death because, on earth, she had tied up her cat
continually and neglected to feed it or give it water. It therefore,
indicates the importance of bestowing mercy upon animals according to
the teachings of Islam.
The Prophet not only preached to the
people to show kindness to each other but also to all living souls. He
forbade the practice of cutting tails and manes of horses, of branding
animals at any soft spot, and of keeping horses saddled unnecessarily. (Sahih Muslim).
If he saw any animal over-loaded or ill-fed he would pull up the owner and say, “Fear Allah in your treatment of animals.” (Abu Dawud in Kitab Jihad).
companion came to him with the young ones of a bird in his sheet and
said that the mother bird had hovered over them all along. He was
directed to replace her offspring in the same bush. (Mishkat, Abu Dawud).
a journey, somebody picked up some birds eggs. The bird’s painful note
and fluttering attracted the attention of the Prophet, who asked the man
to replace the eggs. (Sahih Bukhari).
As his army
marched towards Makkah to conquer it, they passed a female dog with
puppies. The Prophet not only gave orders that they should not be
disturbed, but posted a man to see that this was done. He stated,
“Verily, there is heavenly reward for every act of kindness done to a
On another occasion he was traveling on his
camel over hilly terrain with a disciple, Uqba Bin Aamir. After going
some distance, he asked Uqba to ride the camel, but Uqba thought this
would be showing disrespect to the Prophet. But the Prophet insisted and
he had to comply. The Prophet himself walked on foot as he did not want
to put too much load on the animal. (al-Nasai)
said I heard the Prophet say, "Whoever mutilates a living creature and
then does not repent, Allah will mutilate him on the day of judgment".
messenger is reported to have said: "Allah has prescribed excellence in
everything. So if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter
well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and spare suffering to the
animal he slaughters."
It is related by Anas Bin Malik, ‘when we
stopped for the night, we used not to say our prayers until we had
taken the saddles and the baggage off (our animals)’. Allah has said in
the Holy Qur’an that every animal has its own communal life and its own
way to do ‘ibadah, or worship, to Allah.
praises Allah, the Exalted, in its own way. (6:38) therefore humans who
have been created as superior creatures on this earth, have been
entrusted with the responsibility of expending care on animals.
is abiding on us to take care of the animals we use for work or as
pets. To feed them, not to whip them cruelly or starve them.
Holy Quran has made human beings the masters, the dominators over the
animals. However, it must be borne in mind that dominion does not imply
mistreatment. It does not give the authority to break all moral rules of
kindness and mercy and show barbarianism. Protection and upholding of
animal rights is incumbent upon every Muslim.
Ali Abi Talib has
this to say about those who misuse their authority over the weak: “A
savage and ferocious beast is better than a wicked and tyrant ruler.”
It is encouraged for Muslim to let Animals eat of the plants that they have planted.
Muhammad is reported to have said: Narated by Anas bin Malik, quoting
the Prophet, “If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an
animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in
charity.” (Sahih Bukhari).
Even if an animal eats from a
plant which has been planted by man, the person will receive rewards
for it. Even in a state of war, the Muslims are prohibited from killing
the animals in the lands of the enemies and are also forbidden from
burning or cutting down trees for no reason.
Indeed Islam is a
mercy for everyone. It is not only a religion but a complete code of
life which even secures the rights of animals.