Thursday, August 18, 2011

#Animal rights in #Islam

 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.

According 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.

Animals 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.

Allah 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.

Ali 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 animals.”

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 mouth.

The Prophet said that, because of this one act of kindness, all her sins would be forgiven her.

In 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).

A 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).

During 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 living animal.”

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)

Ibn Umar 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".

The 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.

Every animal 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.

It 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.

The 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.

Prophet 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.

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