First of all, it is to be noticed that Islam is a mercy not only for all humans, but it extended 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.”
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 ibn 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)
Thus, Islam orders for the kindness of animals especially the endangered species and the latter is supposed to take priority in man’s care and kindness. A Muslim is to try his best to rescue all Allah’s creatures from any possible danger that may jeopardize their lives or cause harm to them. This is surely part of the kindness a Muslim is required to apply when it comes to dealing with such animals.
Shedding light on the question of treating animals kindly and Islam’s stance on that, we would like to cite for you the following comprehensive fatwa issued by 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.”
Based on what is mentioned above, we can conclude that a Muslim is required to join hands with all societies that help take care of the endangered species. It is a religious obligation to rescue such species from any possible harm they are exposed to. This is part of the kindness Islam orders its followers to stick to when dealing with the animals and the environment around him.