Animal Welfare in Islam: Everything You Need to Know
With the holy month of Dhul Hijjah upon us, and the time to give Qurban fast approaching, you may be wondering what Islam says about animal rights and welfare. We take a look below.
Animals in Islam
Islamic teachings are clear that we must treat animals respectfully and humanely at all times.
Every living being is a creation of Allah (SWT) and we are all obliged to treat animals with compassion. In fact, Islam has a rich tradition of animal welfare dating back more than 1400 years, and it is an important part of our faith.
“You will not have secure faith until you love one another and have mercy on those who live upon the earth.”Bukhari, Muslim
The Qu’ran and Hadiths are rich with reminders about the immense worth of animals and obligation to care for them.
Allah (SWT) made us caretakers of Earth
He has given us the responsibility to be stewards (khalifa) of the natural world, including animals:
“The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.”[Muslim]
All animals are worthy of respect
Although Allah (SWT) created animals to fulfil the multiple needs of humans, He tells us that animals have their own intrinsic value and deserve respect:
“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”[Qur’an 6:38]
Allah (SWT) rewards kindness to animals
Allah (SWT) is all seeing and He loves it when we raise animals ethically, giving them the dignity they deserve and providing their needs for food, water and comfort. One of the Hadiths tells us:
“There is a reward for helping any living creature.”[Bukhari, Muslim]
Inflicting unnecessary pain is forbidden
The Qur’an forbids any human action that causes harm to animals:
“Transgress not in the balance, and weigh with justice, and skimp not in the balance … earth, He set it down for all beings”[Qur’an 55:8-10]
Any form of cruelty is strictly forbidden:
- Abuse, neglect or mistreatment of animals
- Overworking or overloading animals
- Allowing or encouraging animal fighting as sport
- Hunting for sport (hunting for food is allowed)
- Removing tails or other parts of animals
- Putting animals in cages, unless it is for their protection
Wasting animal lives unnecessarily will be judged
The Prophet (PBUH) taught people to treat animals with compassion, sacrificing them only for genuine human need. He warned:
“Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.”[An-Nasa’i]
Humane treatment before and during slaughter
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so, when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way.”[Sahih]
The action must be performed in the best possible way, to avoid fear and reduce suffering:
- Animals are to be well rested and well fed beforehand
- An animal must not see the sacrifice of another animal
- The knife must be sharpened for every animal
- An animal must not see the the knife being sharpened
- The animal is not in an uncomfortable position
- The motion is swift so that life departs quickly with minimum suffering
Islam forbids eating any meat that has not been prepared in strict accordance with these guidelines.
Allah (SWT) provides for us
As we celebrate Eid, or any time we enjoy nutritious meat, we should always remember the immeasurable mercy of Allah (SWT) who provides it for us, and our responsibility to His creatures who serve us.
“So eat of the halal and tayyib food which Allah has provided for you…”[ Qur’an 16:114]
Give your Qurban now.