Islam and Animal Rights

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 Judgment."

“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 Dawud)

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 Allah’s 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.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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About Lutfiyah Suliman

Lutfiyah Suliman is a Master of Science student at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and the Media representative for Green Deen South Africa. Her research delves into the impact and influence of journalism and the media industry on environmental science communication. Lutfiyah’s interests lie in environmental communication, education and policy. For queries related to the content and media aspect of Green Deen please email at lutfiyah.suliman@gmail.com
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9 Responses to Islam and Animal Rights

  1. Very good piece of information and quotations from the Holy Quran and Sunnah

  2. Rashidah says:

    Lovely citation from the Qur’an and the Hadith.If the Prophet(SAW) enjoins us to be fair to the animals then who are we not to obey.I pray we all can imbibe this culture of being kind to animals,it would help us in our dealings with one another and the earth will be devoid of killings and hardship.

  3. subiya khan says:

    Barakallahufeeq for this information

  4. UDARW says:

    Thanks for the insight.
    As I am active of animal rights and welfare, I come across lots of cruelty an abuse reported towards animals; some so gruesome and inhumane that really makes you wonder if the individuals did those were in fact a creature of god. We all count of Karma to get some justice, as the authorities are not helping either.

    With that being said, I have a few question regarding the animal rights and welfare in Quran and Islam, and hoping you might be able to shed some lights on the matter.

    Why is that the majority of Muslims consider dog impure? I have not found any where in Quran that says that. Due to this in Islamic countries treat these innocent animals like garbage, and kill them in a brutal way.

    We have also noticed a great deal of bestiality happening among Muslims. I did a research and found that there is no mention of it in Quran. But some leaders of Islam States, even though they don’t recommend it, they say if it happened just get rid of the animal one way or the other. This was a short version some ranting that I read.

    What are your thoughts on these issues? I would need some proof from Quran please.

  5. Masood.k says:

    shall i use this article in our school magazine

  6. I was told that taking care of dogs are haram in the muslim religions. Is that true?

    • Salman Zafar says:

      Nowhere in the Quran are dogs prohibited, nor is there any mention of any contaminating effect of these lovely animals who are man’s best friend. 

      Nothing is haram unless it is prohibited by God Himself, and since God describes the Quran as complete, perfect and fully detailed, thus all the prohibitions decreed by God are found in the Quran. 

      God tells us in the Quran about the story of the dwellers of the Cave (Surah 18). In verse 13 God tells us that they were good believers and that God guided them. In verse 18 God tells us that they had their dog with them.

      Now if dogs are prohibited and dirty, would God speak of those dwellers of the Cave (who had a dog) as good believers?

      Please refer to this link for more rebuttals http://www.quran-islam.org/articles/dogs_(P1159).html

    • zak yusuf says:

      Whoever told you that needs to read the quran , dogs are muslims aswell . alhumdullah .

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