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Islam and animal rights



Islam is a true religion of mercy, not just a religion of mercy for human beings, but a religion of mercy for every living creature. As the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) (PBUH) taught:

Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 38:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. Then he came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. The man said to himself "This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did." So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He said, "(Yes) There is a reward for serving any animate (living being) ."

As one can see, the religion of Islam rewards the believer for looking after an animal, as the Muslim even asked the prophet in the hadith, is there a reward for serving animals? The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) replied in the affirmative, thus making it clear that Muslims must look after animals, and make sure of their well being.

There is another similar hadith that says the following:

Bukhari 4:538 

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that."

So in this incident a lady was forgiven for her sins for simply helping a dog that was in thirst, so forgiveness is even linked to the simple act of helping an animal. Therefore what should we say about the one who harms an animal? The obvious implication would be that if one wrongfully harms an animal for no reason then obviously this would be a sin, therefore not only do humans have rights in regards of being treated properly, but so do animals according to Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did speak out and teach against the abuse of animals:

Narated By Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i e., cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive). – [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #424]

Narated By Hisham bin Zaid: Anas and I went to Al-Hakam bin Aiyub. Anas saw some boys shooting at a tied hen. Anas said, "The Prophet has forbidden the shooting of tied or confined animals." – [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #421; #422]

Narated By 'Abdullah bin 'Umar : Allah's Apostle said, "A lady was punished because of a cat which she had imprisoned till it died. She entered the (Hell) Fire because of it, for she neither gave it food nor water as she had imprisoned it, nor set it free to eat from the vermin of the earth." – [Bukhari Vol.4, Book 56, #689]

So the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was very clear in this regard, that animals should not be wrongfully harmed, especially in the third hadith that was quoted, in which he states that a lady was punished for locking a cat up and basically starving it to death.

Hence the hadith makes it very clear that a Muslim will indeed be punished if he harms an animal and causes it’s death through abuse, in other words, animal abuse will be punished by God.

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