First of all, we have to know that saving the lives of all human beings is a must and one of the most important objectives of Islamic law (i.e., the Sharia). Thus, anything that causes harm to humans has to be removed. However, getting rid of anything that causes harm to people has to be done mercifully and without any kind of torture. Also, this should be done by using the best scientific methods according to the instructions of experts and specialists.
Explaining this in more details, Dr. Rajab Abu Mleeh, a Shari `ah consultant, stated that ‘we have to distinguish between two matters of utmost importance:
First: We should strive towards preventing any disease and ward off any harm that would result from transmission of infections, such as swine flu from animal like pig, to humans, and then from one human to another, thus, becoming an epidemic.
Second: At the same time, we are required to show mercy to animals and not to cause them pain or harm. Indeed, pigs did not commit any fault or offence. Rather, they are animals that glorify Almighty Allah Who has created them in order to test us and see which of us is best in deeds: whether we will abide by the limits set by Him or transgress them and fall into what is prohibited—to eat these forbidden animals or buy and sell them.
No one can argue about this first matter, since every human, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, is naturally disposed to do all he or she can to ward off any harm that might inflict him or her.
Islam urges us to seek treatment and follow the reasons that lead to a cure. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “There is a remedy for every malady, and when the remedy is applied to the disease it is cured with the permission of Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.” (Muslim)
Stressing the law of cause and effect, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) reportedly said in no uncertain terms, “Allah has not sent down a disease except that He has sent down its cure; still some will know it and some will be unaware of it; except As-Sam (i.e., death).” (Ahmad)
Narrated `Abdullah ibn `Abbas that when `Umar ibn Al-Khattab and the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) departed for Ash-Sham and reached Al-Jabiyah, news reached them of an epidemic that caused a massive number of deaths. There were two opinions among the people. Some said: We should not enter the place where there is an epidemic, thus, throwing ourselves into destruction. Another group said: Rather, we should enter depending on Allah and not escape from the fate predetermined by Him; we should not flee from death like those about whom Almighty Allah says: (Have you not regarded the ones who went out of their residences and they were in thousands, wary of death…] (Al-Baqarah 2: 243) So, they went to `Umar and asked about his opinion. He said: Let us return and not enter the plague-stricken place. Those who had an opposing view, said to him: Would we run away from the fate of Allah the Almighty? To this `Umar replied: Yes, we will run away from the fate of Almighty Allah toward (yet another) fate of Almighty Allah. `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf came in the morning. `Umar consulted him on this issue, and he said: O Commander of the Faithful, I have heard something from Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) regarding this; he said, “If you hear about it (an outbreak of plague) in a land, do not go to it; but if plague breaks out in a country where you are (already) staying, do not run away from it.” (Agreed-upon)
Ibn Hajar (May Allah have mercy on him) said:
“In fact, if a person puts his trust in Allah and has certainty that His decree is surely fulfilled, his reliance on Allah shall not be deemed incomplete due to his pursuit of the proper reasons in compliance with His and His Prophet’s Sunnah. He (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fight, using two shields and a helmet; he positioned the archers at the mouth of the mountain pass; he ordered (and took part in) the digging of a trench around Madinah; he permitted the Hijrah to Abyssinia and to Madinah, and he himself made Hijrah; he followed the proper reasons whereby he obtained food and drink and stored as much food for his family as would suffice for a year, not waiting for it to descend from heaven, even though he was the most entitled to such a privilege; and in response to the person who asked him: Should I tie my camel or leave it loose?, he said: Tie it and put your trust in Allah. Thus, he pointed out that taking precautions does not contradict reliance on Allah the Almighty”.
Also on this, Ibn Al-Qaiyyim said the valuable words for those who comprehend the Sharia of Allah:
“Receiving medical treatment does not contradict putting trust in Allah as it does not contradict it [trusting Allah] repelling hunger, thirst, heat and cold with their respective opposites. On the contrary, true monotheistic faith is not fully achieved except by following the causes laid down by Allah as a requirement for the occurrence of effects. Failing to do so, amounts to a deficiency in the trust put in Allah and also undermines the issue and wisdom involved. This being the case, a person who refrains from adopting the required reasons thinks that his act indicates stronger reliance on Almighty Allah; whereas it truly is reliance of the heart on Allah in achieving what is beneficial and warding off what is harmful to the servant as far as his religious and worldly affairs are concerned. Such reliance should be accompanied by pursuing the required reasons. A servant should not label his inability as reliance on Allah or his reliance on Him as a sign of inability.
From the foregoing, we conclude that we are required to follow the reasons after consulting physicians and scientists and adopt the scientific methods that ward off any particular harm. While doing so, we must know that first and foremost, Allah is the One Able to bring about benefit and to cause harm and that what we do is merely pursuit of the proper reasons, while the results are left to Allah the Almighty.
As for the second matter, which is the duty to deal kindly and mercifully with this animal that glorifies Allah the Almighty, Allah says in the Qur’an: (The seven heavens and the earth and whoever is in them extol to Him, and decidedly not a thing (is) except that it extols His praise, but you do not comprehend their Extolment. Surely He has been Ever-Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving.] (Al-Israa’ 17: 44)
(And to Allah prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth of every beast, and the Angels; and they do not wax proud. They fear their Lord above them, and they perform what they are commanded.] (An-Nahl 16: 49-50)
(Have you not seen that to Allah prostrate themselves whoever are in the heavens, and whoever are in the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and (all) beasts and many of mankind? And to many torment will (come) true; and whomever Allah degrades, then none will honor him. Surely Allah performs whatever He decides.] (Al-Hajj 22: 18)
Based on these proofs, we understand that a pig is a creature that glorifies Almighty Allah and that it has not committed any fault or offence. Almighty Allah has created it for certain wisdom that may be known to some and unknown to others. Moreover, the fact that it is impure and we are forbidden from eating or dealing with it does not mean that we are allowed to torture it or kill it in a way that is not humane.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade mutilation, even if it were to be done to a vicious dog, and he informed us that a man had given water to a dog and was forgiven by Almighty Allah because of this act. Furthermore, a woman was tortured and put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked up (till it died of hunger).
Islam urges its followers to deal peacefully and mercifully with the whole universe along with all of its elements and components: the earth and the sky, humans and animals, plants and birds and inanimate objects. Moreover, it urges compassion and mercy toward non-Muslims.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us gentleness and mercy through his own actions and statements. For instance, he used to deliver sermons standing by an old palm tree trunk. When a pulpit was made for him, he started to use it instead. The trunk then started moaning with a sound that was heard by all the attendants in the mosque. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) went down from the pulpit interrupting his sermon, held the trunk, and said: Calm down, calm down.
Another example is that he stood when the funeral of a Jew was passing by. When some companions asked why he did that, he answered: Was he not a soul?
He (peace and blessings be upon him) would greet trees and stones and forbid the murder of women, children and the elderly, the burning of palm-trees and plants and the killing of animals – except for food- during battles.
In conclusion, it is permissible to get rid of pigs through any scientific method that ensures the elimination of this epidemic and, at the same time, does not inflict torture or cruelty on this animal.’