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Animal Rights and Islam

Animals and other living things were created by Allah, the Lord of the Universe. They have
their own independent existences and modes of living. (55:10) Allah has said in the Holy Qur'an
that every animal has its own communal life and its own way to do 'Ibadah, or service, to Allah.
Every animal praises Allah, the Exalted, in its own way. (6:38)
It is Allah who gave every animal its ability. He enabled birds to fly, fish to swim and horses
to gallop. Animals were here on Earth long before humans. The first man and woman on Earth
were Adam and Hawwa. Allah gave them the responsibility to be caretakers on Earth, or, as the
term used in the Qur'an states, a Khalifa in the world.
Humans, who have been created with a greater intellect than animals, have a special
responsibility to be fair, just and kind to all other living things. The Blessed Prophet Muhammad
(p) once said that every injustice will be paid back on the Day of Judgment, even if one goat hits
another with its horns it will be taken account of. Therefore, in our use of
animals for our own survival we must do justice.
Allah gave us the free use of the plants and animals of this Earth. He
said, "Eat and drink of the good things of the Earth." He also said, "It is Allah Who has provided

you livestock of every kind. You can ride some kinds and others you eat..." (40:79) But we must
balance our use of animals and plants with our primary role as a caretaker on the Earth.
For example, we are not allowed to harm animals or plants for no reason. The Blessed
Prophet forbade people from capturing baby birds, burning ant hills and whipping animals
cruelly. All the people he stopped from doing these things were doing them "for fun." Well, as
the Prophet pointed out, it wasn't fun for the animals.
If we use animals for our work, we must feed them and not over work them. If we eat animals
we are supposed to slaughter the animals according to Dhabiha rules which prevent all cruelty to
animals and if we have them as pets we are to feed them and care for them. The Prophet once
told a story in which he noted that a woman who starved her pet cat to death will be tormented
by that cat on Judgment Day by way of revenge.

So as we can see, we have a responsibility to all living creatures around us and even though
many non-Muslims assert that animals have no rights, Islam says otherwise.
The Prophet on Humane Treatment of Animals

1. Allah has ordained kindness (and excellence) in everything. If the killing (of animals) is
to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by
first sharpening the knife, and putting the animal at ease.(Muslim).
2. If someone kills a sparrow for sport, the sparrow will cry out on the Day of Judgment, "O
Lord! That person killed me in vain! He did not kill me for any useful purpose."
3. Any part cut off a living animal is dead flesh.
(Unlawful to eat. The implication is that it is not allowed to mutilate a living animal.)
(Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Hakim).
4. The Prophet said, "Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause,
Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment." The listeners asked, "O Messenger of
Allah, what is a just cause?" He replied, "That he will kill it to eat, not simply to chop off its
head and then throw it away."(Nisai, Hakim).
5. When you set your dog (for the chase), mention the name of Allah, if he catches the game, and
you reach it while it is still alive, cut, its throat quickly (so it won't suffer)."
(Bukhari, Muslim).
6. If you send your dog after the game, and it eats part of it, you should not eat of it, for the dog
has hunted for itself and not for you; but if you send the dog and it kills the game without eating
it, you can eat it, as it has caught it for its master.(Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim).

Islam and Animal Rights

By Lutfiyah Suliman | May 3, 2015 - 11:45 pm | Environment, Islam, Nature

All living beings humans, birds, animals, insects

etc are worthy of consideration and respect. Islam has always viewed animals as a special part
of God's creation. Mankind is responsible for whatever it has at its disposal, including animals
whose rights must be respected. The Holy Qur'an, the Hadith, and the history of Islamic
civilization offer many examples of kindness, mercy, and compassion for animals. According to
Islamic principles, animals have their own position in the creation hierarchy and humans are
responsible for their well-being and food.
Islam strongly asks Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. The Holy
Qur'an states that all creation praises God, even if this praise is not expressed in human language.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) often chastised his Companions who mistreated
animals, and spoke to them about the need for mercy and kindness.
Holy Quran and Animal Welfare
The Holy Quran contains many examples and directives about how Muslims should treat
animals. The Quran describes that animals form communities, just as humans do:
"There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they
form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be
gathered to their Lord in the end"(Quran 6:38).

The Quran further describes animals, and all living things, as Muslim - in the sense that they live
in the way that Allah created them to live, and obey Allah's laws in the natural world.
Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do
celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode
of) prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do. (Quran 24:41)
"And the earth, He has assigned it to all living creatures" (Quran 55:10).
Animals are living creatures with feelings and connections to the larger spiritual and physical
world. We must consider their lives as worthwhile and cherished.
"And the earth, He has assigned it to all living creatures" (Quran 55:10).
These verses serve as a reminder to us that wildlife, like humans, are created with purpose. They
have feelings and are part of the spiritual world. They too have a right to life, and protection
from pain and suffering.
Ahadith and Rights of Animals
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) exhorted Muslims to show kindness and compassion
towards animals and birds, and repeatedly forbade cruelty towards animals.
"Whoever is merciful even to a sparrow, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of
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."
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) once passed by a camel that was so emaciated that its back had
almost reached its stomach. He said, "Fear Allah in these beasts who cannot speak." (Abu

Humans were created by Allah, the Almighty, to be custodians and guardians of the Earth.
Killing without need- that is killing for fun- is not permissible.
The Companions said,O Allahs Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the
animals? He replied: There is a reward for serving any living being. (Bukhari)
A group of Companions were once on a journey with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant
him peace, and he left them for a while. During his absence, they saw a bird with its two young,
and they took the young ones from the nest. The mother bird was circling above in the air,
beating its wings in grief, when the Prophet came back. He said, "Who has hurt the feelings of
this bird by taking its young? Return them to her." (Muslim)
In Islam, hunting for sport is prohibited. Muslims may only hunt as is needed to meet their
requirements for food. This was common during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, and he
condemned it at every opportunity.
Few Points to Ponder
We need to seriously ask ourselves is the Muslim community upholding the rights of animal
despite explicit orders from Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (SAW)? What should our role be, not
only in the debate on such subjects, but in conservation and protection of animals and the
environment as a whole? Have we disenfranchised wildlife? How do the laws of the country in
which we live stand up to the Islamic principles? And finally, how does Islam help us to find
solutions to the dilemmas we face?
It is not impossible to demand greater action and consideration for the natural world. Bolivia has
gone as far as to legally grant nature equal rights with humans and has introduced the Law of
Mother Earth which reportedly assigns 11 new rights to nature, including: the right to life and to
exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure

water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have
cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Ecuador has also changed its constitution to
give nature "the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure,
functions and its processes in evolution".
These laws are considered radical, but what it enshrines does not ask for much, indeed only that
animals, and nature are given equal respect and care- as much as is expected of us in Islam.
Individuals and governments have an important role to play in educating the public animal
welfare and establishing institutions to support animal well-being.

Humans are responsible for whatever they have at their disposal, including animals whose rights
must be respected. 'Ali Ibn Abu T alib (PBUH) says, "Be obedient to Allah regarding His
subjects and the lands at your disposal, for you are responsible even for the survival of animals."
According to Islam, when someone takes possession of an animal, he/she has a responsibility for
its living conditions and in case that he/she would not accept the responsibility, it would be the
Islamic ruler's duty to obligate him/her to observe animal rights. Different books attribute many
divine favors to feeding animals. In general, major animal rights in Islam are preparing suitable
feed and water as well as mental and physical living conditions for animals, observing hygiene
and specially treating sickness, manipulating them correctly, and no abusing, maltreating and/or
misusing of them (Naeinei, 2000).
Several Islamic manuscripts state that animals have their own position in the creation hierarchy
and humans are responsible for the facilities and animals at their disposal, including animals'
health and feed. Islam determines the living costs of animals and orders humanity to respect and
not to abuse them.

1. Feridooni, H. (2000) Evaluation of animal rights in Islam and updated laws. Thesis of Tehran
University, Iran.
2. Naeinei, A. and Rabbani, M. (2000) Animal rights in the Quran and Hadiths' points of view,
Daneshvar, 26, 43-50.
3. Pourmohamadi, SH. (2002) Vast of animal rights in Islam and west, Islamic law and Feghh
Journal, 40, 30-34.
4. Russell, W.M.S. and Burch, R.L. (1959) The principles of humane experimental technique, pp
239, Methuen, London, UK.
5. Shahidi, S.J.(1996) Translation of Nahj-albalagheh by Imam Ali enbe Abu
Talib,pp.286,Cultural and Scientific Publishing Co., Iran. 6. Smyth, D. (1978) Alternatives to
animal experiments. pp. 218, London, Scolar Press, UK.