First and foremost, Islam is a mercy not only for all humans but it extends its mercy to all creatures as well. Almighty Allah says: “We sent thee not save as a mercy for the beings.” (Al-Anbiya’: 107)
Being a mercy for all creatures, the Prophet of Islam (the religion of mercy) has shown us through his commandments and teachings, how to tend and care for these creatures. Thus he said, “The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Show mercy to those on earth, and He Who is in heaven will show mercy unto you.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
It suffices here to quote the following two Ahadith which indicates the Prophet’s mercy towards animals and the extent to which he was keen to protect animals’ natural rights.
Ibn Mas`ud said: “Once we were traveling with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he went to do something, meanwhile (we found a bird with its young ones) so we took them. The bird came and started flapping its wings continuously. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked: ‘Who has distressed this bird by taking its young? Return them to it at once.’”
Sahl bn Al-Hanzaliyya reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, saw a camel which was carrying a huge load to the extent that one could neither see its back nor its belly, so he said: “Fear Allah when you deal with these beasts of burden. They must be healthy for riding and eating.” [Reported by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and Ibn Hibban]
Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) related to his Companions the story of a man who found a dog panting out of thirst. The man went down into a well, filled his shoes with water and offered it to the dog to quench its thirsty. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Then Allah was grateful to him and forgave him his sins.” The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Is there a reward for us with relation to animals?” He replied “There is a reward with (relation to) every living creature.”
Besides this wonderful image of Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, drew another one depicting Allah’s anger and punishment. He said: “A woman was deemed to enter the Fire because of a cat. She imprisoned her and neither fed her nor set her free to eat the rodents of the earth.” (Bukhari and Muslim)