The teachings of the Qur’an and the Tradition of the Prophet led Muslims, regardless of their education or social status, to be kind to animals.
It is true that Prophet Muhammad’s main concern was the welfare of his people. He indeed labored very hard to give them security and sustenance, and before his death, Muslims were secured and well fed wherever they were. However, this concern extended to animals and the environment too. Whenever he saw a weak, bruised, working or riding animal, he found its owner and preached him to take good care of his animal. One day, the Prophet entered a grove which belonged to one of the Ansars, and there he saw a camel. When the camel saw the Prophet , he moved toward him. Tears were flowing out of his eyes. The Prophet approached him, rubbed his head, and the camel calmed down. The Prophet asked: ‘who is the owner of this camel?’ A young man from the Ansar said: ‘He belongs to me, O messenger of Allah!’ The Prophet said: ‘Don’t you fear Allah, Who handed you the ownership of this beast? He complained to me that you do not feed him and you over work him’ (reported by Abu Dawud). Then the Prophet asked the camel’s owner ‘What are you going to do with your camel?’ The man answered: ‘we want to slaughter him while he has some flesh’. The prophet said: ‘Don’t do that! Sell him to me.’ The man answered: ‘He is yours O Messenger of Allah’. The Prophet sent him to graze with the Sadaqah camels until he died naturally… (See Ibn Kathir – Shama’il ar-Rasul)
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal reported that once, Umar ibn al-Khattab, expressed his desire for a meal of fresh fish. His aid, Yarfa’, without telling him, jumped on the back of one of Umar’s camel and traveled for two nights going and two nights returning to buy a basket of fresh fish to Umar. When he arrived home, he washed the camel. But when Umar learned of what his aid did, he said to him: ‘let me look at the camel first.’ He went to the camel and inspected it very closely, suddenly he turned to his aid saying: ‘you forgot to wash the sweat and its ears. You tortured an animal for Umar’s desires! By Allah, ‘Umar will never taste the fish, take your basket away from me.’
Based on the enormous wealth of Islamic teachings regarding the respect and protection of animals and the environment, the renown Muslim jurist Izz ad-din abd as-Saalam, formulated the following legal opinion on the right of livestock and animals from human beings:
A person who owns livestock, must spend on them the provision that their kinds require, even if they have aged or sickened such that no benefit comes from them; he should not burden them beyond what they can bear; he should not put them together with anything by which they would be injured, whether of their own kind or other species, whether by breaking their bones or butting or wounding; he should slaughter them gently and with kindness; when he slaughters them, he must neither flay their skins nor break their bones until their bodies have become cold and their lives have passed away; he should not slaughter young within their sight but he should separate them; he should make comfortable their resting places and watering places; he should put their males and females together during their mating seasons; he should not discard those which he takes as game; and neither shoot them with anything that breaks their bone nor bring about their destruction by any means that renders their meat unlawful to eat.
Adapted from Animal Rights and Ecology in Islam
Islamic Educational Foundation
1995 CE/ 1415H