First of all, we would like to tell you, dear Bilal, that we are mainly concerned with answering questions pertaining to that which is lawful and that which is prohibited in the daily lives of Muslims, and that is why we won’t be able to answer the unrelated question about zoology that has nothing to do with the juristic aspects of the animals in Islam.
- We don’t know of any authentic source stating that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had a cat that saved his life although he continually urged Muslims to treat animals kindly and mercifully even at the time of slaughter. He is reported to have 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.”
- Indeed, Islam has preceded all international animal welfare soceities when the protection of animals’ rights found its realization in Shari`ah as represented in legal textbooks. It is really interesting to notice how the idea of animals’ rights occupied the minds of medieval Muslim jurists.
- Man is permitted to eat certain animals that are declared lawful for him to eat and consume. With this in mind, we would like to stress that Islam has prohibited every aniaml with a canine tooth and every bird with talons. Thus, Lions and Tigers are forbidden.
- As for the behavior of some animals and their voices at certain times, there is no solid evidence to support that from either the Qur’an or the Sunnah.
Having clarified the above, we would like to furnish you with the following fatwa which shows how Islam encourages kindness to animals as issued by the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in which he states the following:
“Islam preceded Animal Care Societies by thirteen hundred years and made kindness to animals a part of the faith and cruelty to them a sufficient reason for a person to be thrown into Hell-fire.
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.
Kindness to animals reached such an extent that when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, saw a donkey with a branded face, he denounced such a practice saying: “I would not brand an animal except on the part of its body farthest from the face.”
In another incident, he passed by a donkey with a branded face and said: “Have you not heard that I have cursed anyone who brands an animal on its face or who hits it on its face?”
Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, saw some people practicing archery using a hen as a target, he said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, cursed anyone who took a living thing as a target.”
Ibn `Abbas said: “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, forbade that animals be made to fight each other, thus denouncing people’s habit of goading animals into fighting each other until one of them was pecked or gored to death, or close to it.”
Ibn `Abbas also reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, strongly condemned the castration of animals.
the Qur’an condemned the Arabs of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period) for their slitting the ears of cattle, calling this a practice inspired by Satan.
In relation to the method of slaughtering an animal, Islam made it clear that the animal should be made comfortable and slaughtered in the least painful way. Islam also required that the knife should be sharpened but not in front of the animal and prohibited slaughtering an animal in front of another.
If we are to review the history of mankind, we will realize that the world has never witnessed such an extraordinary kindness to animals.”
The protection of animals’ rights found its realization in Shari`ah as represented in legal textbooks. It is really interesting to notice how the idea of animals’ rights occupied the minds of medieval Muslim jurists.
It is a distinctive characteristic of the Shar`iah that all animals have legal rights which must be enforced by the state. Othman Llewellyn even argues that Shari`ah has mechanisms for the full repair of injuries suffered by non-human creatures including their representation in court, assessment of injuries and awarding of relief to them. The classical Muslim jurist `Izz ad-Din ibn `Abd as-Salam, who flourished during the thirteenth century, formulated the following statement of animal rights:
“The rights of livestock and animals upon man: these are that he spend on them the provision that their kinds require, even if they have aged or sickened such that no benefit comes from them; that he not burden them beyond what they can bear; that he not put them together with anything by which they would be injured, whether of their own kind or other species, and whether by breaking their bones or butting or wounding; that he slaughters them with kindness when he slaughters them, and neither flay their skins nor break their bones until their bodies have become cold and their lives have passed away; that he not slaughter their young within their sight, but that he isolate them; that he makes comfortable their resting places and watering places; that he puts their males and females together during their mating seasons; that he not discard those which he takes as game; and neither shoots them with anything that breaks their bones nor brings about their destruction by any means that renders their meat unlawful to eat.”