Indeed, Islam is a practical religion; it does not float in the stratosphere of imaginary ideals but remains with the human being on the ground of realities and day-to-day concerns. It does not regard people as angels but accepts them as mortals who eat food and walk in the marketplace.
Islam does not require of Muslims that their speech should consist entirely of pious utterances, that their silence should be a meditation, that they should listen to nothing except the recitation of the Qur’an, nor that they should spend all their leisure time in the mosque. Rather, it recognizes that Allah has created human beings with needs and desires, so that, as they need to eat and drink, they also need to relax and enjoy themselves.
Visiting zoos for the purpose of relaxing and reflecting on Allah’s Creation is not only permissible but rather a recommended act.
The prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid states the following: “It is well known that keeping animals in cages is permissible. On the basis of this opinion, it is also permissible to visit places designed for the purpose of displaying these animals such as those known nowadays as zoos.
There is no exaggeration to say that visiting zoos is in fact a recommended act or mustahab, especially when the motive is to contemplate over the Creation of Allah and His Signs by looking at animals and finding out about their different lifestyles and so on. This, indeed, has a good effect on a person’s heart, as it strengthens his faith in His Lord and in His Exalted Attributes, His Power, Ability and Wisdom.
When we understand the good effects of visits to these zoos, the wisdom behind the Qur’an’s call to think about the greatness and majesty of creation will become clear. Allah Almighty says, “Do they not look in the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allah has created…?” (al-A’raf :185)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Think about the signs of Allah and do not think about Allah.” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Shu’ab, 1/136)”
Finally, we remind all muslims that when visiting a zoo, as in any other public place, women should wear hijab and both men and women should lower their gaze from the opposite sex and try to avoid crowded places.