Islam has emphasized on Showing kindness towards Animals and being cruel to them is considered as a sin. The Noble Book of Allah (SWT) and the teachings of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) guide and give us numerous examples and instructions about how we should treat animals.
The Holy Quran tells us the animals are from communities, as humans. Allah (SWT) says:
“And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” (Al-Anam 6:38).
Allah (SWT) described them as an Ummah, just like humans and Jinns. The knowledge of all things is with Allah, and He never forgets any of His creatures, not their sustenance, nor their affairs, whether these creatures live in the sea or on land. Allah (SWT) has the full record of their numbers, movements, and lack of movement. All these creatures will be gathered on the Day of Resurrection, the beasts, birds and all others. Allah’s justice will be so perfect, that the un-horned sheep will receive retribution from the horned sheep.
As Muslims, we consider all animals to be respectable creatures. We should show mercy and kindness to them due to the mercy and kindness of Allah upon us. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the best ideal of kindness and mercy, he showed kindness to all people around him and even the opponents and enemies. He (PBUH) also treated the animals with due respect and kindness. He (PBUH) taught us that because animals are part of Allah’s creation they must be treated with due honor and care. We must adhere to the following manners with respect to them, which are part of the religious ethics that Islam exhorted us to fulfil:
- One should feeds and gives water to an animal seeking the reward from Allah, if he finds it hungry or thirsty. It is because the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a don panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This don is suffering from thirst as I did.’ So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said: “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” he replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).” (Al-Bukhari 2466).
- One should have compassion and mercy towards animals. This is supported by following narration of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he saw some people using a live animal as a shouting target while practicing their archery. The Prophet (PBUH) said to them:
“Do not take any living being as a target.” (Muslim 1957).
- Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) prohibited us from tying down animals in order to be kill. Once a bird was distressed because someone had taken its young from her nest. On seeing this the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Who distressed her because of her chicks, give her chick back to her.” (Abu Dawud 2675).
- One should put animal to ease while slaughtering and sympathy should be observed. Slaughtering by the good way means the animal should not be hurt before its proper slaughter, or a blunt knife should not be used in this procedure. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said:
“Allah has prescribed Al-Ihsan (Proficiency) in all things. So if you kill, then kill well, and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let one of you sharpen his blade and spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim 1955).
- One should never torture an animal by any means of torture, such as imprisoning it, starving it, beating it, forcing it carry more than it can handle, mutilating it or burning it with fire. This is based on the following narration of the Prophet (PBUH):
“A woman was punished because of a cat which she imprisoned until it died, and she entered Hell because of that. She did not feed it or give it water when she imprisoned it, and she did not let it eat from the vermin of the earth.” (Muslim 2242).
The Prophet (PBUH) also saw an ant colony which was burnt, so he said:
“It is not allowed to punish with fire, except for the Lord of the Fire.” (Abu Dawud 2675).
- One should not brand animals and strike them on their faces. The face whether of man or animal, is the most respectable part of the body. It is, therefore, prohibited to strike it. A donkey, which had been branded in the face, passed by the Prophet (PBUH). He said:
“Has it not reached you people, that I have cursed those who brand animals on their faces, or strike them on their faces? So he prohibited that.” (Abu Dawud 2564).
- It is permissible in Islamic law to kill harmful and injurious animals, such as vicious dogs, wolves, snakes, scorpions and rats. This opinion is supported by the statement of Allah’s Messenger:
“Five are Fawasiq which may be killed in the Haram: the mouse, the scorpion, the cow, the kite, and the barbed dog.” (At-Tirmidhi 837).
Fawasiq is a plural of Fasiq which is derived from Fisq which means being out. These animals have been identified as Fasiq due to their harmful and injurious nature and they have been treated differently by Shariah. These animals, due to their harmful nature, can be killed even in the Haram.
In general, these are the manner and etiquette that a Muslim should adhere to with respect to animals, out of obedience to Allah and His Prophet and Messenger (PBUH) and out of awareness of what the Islamic Shariah has ordered him. Islamic law, is the law of mercy and goodness for all living creatures, be they human or animals.