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Animal rights in Islam

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Published on Jan 23, 2011

We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. -- [Quran 21:107]



It is encouraged for Muslim to let Animals eat of the plants that they have planted. Prophet Muhammad(saw) is reported to have said:
Narated By Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." -- [Bukhari Vol. 8, Book 73, #41] Even if an animal eats from a plant which has been planted by man, the person will receive rewards for it. Moreover, another hadith is as follows:

Narated By Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. Then he came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. The man said to himself "This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did." So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He said, "(Yes) There is a reward for serving any animate (living being)." -- [Bukhari Vol. 8, Book 73, #38] & [Muslim Book 26, Chapter 39, # 5577]
Prophet Muhammad(saw) taught people to be kind to animals. Allah(swt) rewarded the act of the person who quenched the thirst of a thirsty dog. While men were accustomed to be cruel to the animals, Prophet Muhammad(saw) by the command of Allah(swt) taught Mankind to be merciful and kind to all living things. Not only were humans given their rights, the animals too were given theirs. Islam is a religion which teaches man to be merciful towards all living things. Thus there is reward for a human even if he feeds an animal.
Animals have many purposes and are used for such by humans. This does not mean that men have the right to treat animals the way that they want to. While people would hit their animals on the face, Islam forbids such an act. Every creation is very sensitive as far as the face is concerned. If I were to lightly tap a person on the shoulder or on the back, they would not feel offended but if I were to do the same on the face then everyone would find that offensive. Allah(swt) realizes this and thus through Prophet Muhammad(saw) such an act was strictly forbidden as seen by the hadith below:
Narated By Salim: That Ibn 'Umar disliked the branding of animals on the face. Ibn 'Umar said, "The Prophet forbade beating (animals) on the face." -- [Bukhari Vol.7, Book 67, #449] & [Muslim Book 24, Chapter 21, #5281]

During the times of ignorance (Ja'hillah) people would cut the limbs of animals while they were alive. This was a disgusting act and Islam was the religion that brought an end to this practice. Not only this but shooting at an animal who is tied was also forbidden by Prophet Muhammad(saw).

Narated By Ibn 'Umar: The Prophet cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i e., cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive). -- [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #424]

Narated By Hisham bin Zaid: Anas and I went to Al-Hakam bin Aiyub. Anas saw some boys shooting at a tied hen. Anas said, "The Prophet has forbidden the shooting of tied or confined animals." -- [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #421; #422]
While the animal rights were being laid down by Allah(swt) through Prophet Muhammad(saw), the Prophet(saw) also narrated an incident regarding a woman who imprisoned a cat and made it starve to death.

Narated By 'Abdullah bin 'Umar : Allah's Apostle said, "A lady was punished because of a cat which she had imprisoned till it died. She entered the (Hell) Fire because of it, for she neither gave it food nor water as she had imprisoned it, nor set it free to eat from the vermin of the earth." -- [Bukhari Vol.4, Book 56, #689]

This hadith clearly suggests that being brutal towards animals is a grave sin and Allah(swt) will punish him who treats the animals without kindness. It is obligatory for the owner of the animal to feed it. Many rights have been given to animals and Muslims are required to obey these guidelines for transgression would make them sinful. While oppressing humans is wrong, Islam also teaches that oppression towards animals is wrong.

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