Sent by: Sister Huma Balkan

Islamic guidelines:
A Muslim considers most animals to be deserving of a certain level of respect as creatures. He shows mercy to them due to the mercy of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) upon them. He also adheres to the following manners with respect to them, which are part of the etiquettes that Islam encourages Muslims to fulfill:

1. A Muslim feeds or gives water to an animal if he finds it hungry or thirsty. This is based on Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) statement:

في كلِّ كبدٍ رطبةٍ أجرٌ

”There is a reward (for serving) everything with a moist liver (that is, every living creature).” (Ahmad)

2. A Muslim should have compassion and mercy towards animals. The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) said:

من لا يَرحم، لا يُرحم

“Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

He said in other narration:

ارحموا أهلَ الأرضِ، يرحمْكم مَن في السماءِ

“Have mercy toward those on the Earth and The One above the Heavens will have mercy on you.” (Abu Daawood, At-Tirmizi and Ahmad)

The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) himself set the best example in this regard. When he saw a group of people using a live animal for archery target practice, he said:

لعن من اتخذ شيئًا فيه الروح غرضًا

“May Allah curse the one who uses any creature with a soul as a target.” (Muslim)

Once a bird was distressed because someone had taken its young from her nest. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) then said: “Who has distressed this one because of its baby. Return its baby to her.” (Abu Daawood)

3. The Muslim must be kind to the animal, even when he is about to slaughter it. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) has said:

إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيء، فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القِتلة، وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذِّبحة، وليُحدَّ أحدكم شفرته، وليرح ذبيحته

“Verily, Allah has

prescribed excellence in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill in a kind manner. If you slaughter, slaughter in a kind manner. Each of you should sharpen his blade and spare suffering to the animal he is slaughtering.” (Muslim)

4. A Muslim should never torture an animal by any means of torture, such as beating it, making it carry more than it can handle, mutilating it or burning it by a fire. The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) also prohibited the tying down of animals until they die. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) once said:

‏ دَخَلَتِ امْرَأَةٌ النَّارَ مِنْ جَرَّاءِ هِرَّةٍ لَهَا – أَوْ هِرٍّ – رَبَطَتْهَا فَلاَ هِيَ أَطْعَمَتْهَا وَلاَ هِيَ أَرْسَلَتْهَا تُرَمِّمُ مِنْ خَشَاشِ الأَرْضِ حَتَّى مَاتَتْ هَزْلاً ‏

“A woman entered the Hell-fire because of a cat that she tied down. She neither fed it nor let it free to eat the insects of the earth until it died.” (Bukhari)

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) once passed by an anthill that had been burnt to the ground and he said:

لا يعذب بالنار إلاَّ رب النار

“It is not becoming that anyone should punish by fire except the Lord of the Fire.” (Abu Daawood)

However, it is permissible to kill the harmful animals, such as voracious dogs, wolves, snakes, scorpions, rats etc. This is based on the Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam)’s statement: “Five noxious or harmful animals are to be killed whether or not one is in the state of pilgrimage: the snake, the speckled raven that has whiteness either on its back or stomach, the rat, the voracious dog and the kite (a bird similar to a hawk).” (Muslim)

It is also confirmed from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) that he cursed the scorpioncx and killed it. (Baihaqi)

Other related matters:
1. It is allowed to brand grazing animals in their ears for some overriding need. The Prophet was seen branding, by his own hand, the camels given in charity. As for other than camels, sheep, goats and cows, it is not allowed to brand them. The Prophet (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) saw a donkey branded on his face, it is reported:

نهى رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- عن الضرب في الوجه، وعن الوسم في الوجه

"Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) forbade striking the face and branding on the face.” (Muslim)

2. One must recognize the right of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) concerning his animals by paying the Zakaah (Obligatory Charity) due on them if they are from the animals concerning which one must pay Zakaah.

3. One must not become so preoccupied with animals or playing with them that one disobeys Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), or does not remember Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) properly. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has said, (what means):

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ [المنافقون: 9]

“O you who believe! Your riches (or properties) and your children must not divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And those who do that are the losers.” (Al-Munaafiqoon 63:9)

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe Wasallam) stated concerning horses:

الْخَيْلُ لِثَلاَثَةٍ لِرَجُلٍ أَجْرٌ، وَلِرَجُلٍ سِتْرٌ وَعَلَى رَجُلٍ وِزْرٌ‏.‏ فَأَمَّا الَّذِي لَهُ أَجْرٌ، فَرَجُلٌ رَبَطَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ، فَأَطَالَ لَهَا فِي مَرْجٍ أَوْ رَوْضَةٍ، وَمَا أَصَابَتْ فِي طِيَلِهَا مِنَ الْمَرْجِ أَوِ الرَّوْضَةِ كَانَتْ لَهُ حَسَنَاتٍ، وَلَوْ أَنَّهَا قَطَعَتْ طِيَلَهَا، فَاسْتَنَّتْ شَرَفًا أَوْ شَرَفَيْنِ، كَانَتْ أَرْوَاثُهَا حَسَنَاتٍ لَهُ، وَلَوْ أَنَّهَا مَرَّتْ بِنَهْرٍ فَشَرِبَتْ، وَلَمْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يَسْقِيَهَا، كَانَ ذَلِكَ لَهُ حَسَنَاتٍ، وَرَجُلٌ رَبَطَهَا تَغَنِّيًا وَسِتْرًا وَتَعَفُّفًا، لَمْ يَنْسَ حَقَّ اللَّهِ فِي رِقَابِهَا وَظُهُورِهَا، فَهِيَ لَهُ كَذَلِكَ سِتْرٌ‏.‏ وَرَجُلٌ رَبَطَهَا فَخْرًا وَرِيَاءً، وَنِوَاءً لأَهْلِ الإِسْلاَمِ فَهْىَ وِزْرٌ‏.‏

"A horse may be kept for one of three purposes: for a man it may be a source of reward; for another it may be a means of living; and for a third it may be a burden (a source of committing sins). As for the one for whom it is a source of reward, he is the one who keeps his horse for the sake of Jihad in Allah’s Cause; he ties it with a long rope on a pasture or in a garden. So whatever its rope allows it to eat, will be regarded as good rewardable deeds (for its owner). And if it breaks off its rope and jumps over one or two hillocks, even its dung will be considered amongst his good deeds. And if it passes by a river and drinks water from it, that will be considered as good deeds (for his benefit) even if he has had no intention of watering it. A horse is a shelter for the one who keeps it so that he may earn his living honestly and takes it as a refuge to keep him from following illegal ways (of gaining money), and does not forget the rights of Allah (i.e. paying the Zakaah and allowing others to use it for Allah’s Sake). But a horse is a burden (and a source of committing sins for him who keeps it out of pride and pretense and with the intention of harming the Muslims.” (Bukhari)

These are, in general, the etiquettes that a Muslim should adhere to with respect to animals, out of obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and His Messenger (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) and in adherence to what the Islamic law has ordered him… the Shari’ah of mercy… the Shari’ah of general goodness for all creatures, be they human or animal.