Animal Rights in Islam: Examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Mercy Towards Animals

Dog in a Cage

Example 1

Following three narrations are all on the same topic.

1)  Ibn ‘Abbas reported Allah’s Messenger (s) having said: “Do not make anything having a soul as a target.” (Muslim)

2) Ibn ‘Umar happened to pass by some young men of the (tribe of) Quraish who had tied a bird (and made it a target) at which they had been shooting arrows.  Every arrow that they missed came into the possession of the owner of the bird.  No sooner did they see Ibn ‘Umar, they went away. Thereupon, Ibn ‘Umar said: “Who has done this? Allah has cursed him who does this. The Messenger of Allah cursed those who take anything that has a soul as a shooting target.” (Muslim)

3)  Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

He entered upon Yahya bin Sa`id while one of Yahya’s sons was aiming at a hen after tying it.  Ibn `Umar walked to it and untied it. Then he brought it and said. “Prevent your boys from tying the birds for the sake of killing them, as I have heard the Prophet (s) forbidding the killing of an animal or other living thing after tying them.” (Bukhari)

Note: This prophetic prohibition is for those who do so out of jest and play and does not apply to hunting animals or slaughtering them, according to Islamic guidelines, for food. Islam does not ignore the human need for food for a healthy way of life, however, it does not allow unnecessarily killing animals.  Similarly, it does not allow harming, torturing or overburdening them with workload as further reading below will show.

Example 2

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud:

We were with the Messenger of Allah (s) during a journey. He went to relieve himself. We saw a bird with her two young ones and we captured her young ones. The bird came and began to spread its wings. The Messenger of Allah (s) came and said: “Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it.” He also saw an ant village that we had burnt. He asked: “Who has burnt this?” We replied: “We.” He said: “It is not fitting that anyone but the lord of the fire should punish with fire.” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albani graded it sahih)

Example 3

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (s) say, “May Allah curse the one who disfigures/mutilates an animal.” (an-Nasa’i)

Example 4

Narrated Jabir:

There happened to pass before Allah’s Prophet (s) a donkey, the face of which had been cauterized, whereupon he (the Prophet) said: “Allah has cursed the one who has cauterized it.” (Muslim)

Example 5

Following two narrations are on the same topic:

1) Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (s) said, “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out.  He saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This dog is suffering from thirst just as I did.’ So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave water to it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.

The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger (s)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).” (Bukhari)

2) Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (s) said, “While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, an Israeli prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and gave it water. So Allah forgave her [sins] because of that good deed.” (Bukhari)

Example 6

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Messenger (s) said: “A woman was put into Hell Fire because of a cat which she had tied, thus, it could not eat.  And she did not let it free so that it could devour the vermin of the earth until it died [of starvation].” (Muslim)

Example 7

Narrated ‘Abd Allaah bin Jafar:

He (the Prophet (s)) entered the garden of a man from the Ansar (Helpers). All of a sudden when a camel saw the Prophet (s) it wept tenderly producing yearning sound and it eyes flowed. The Prophet (s) came to it and rubbed the temple of its head [and] then it kept silent. He [the Prophet] then said “Who is the master of this camel? Whose camel is this?” A young man from the Ansar came and said “This is mine, Apostle of Allah (s).” He said “Don’t you fear Allah about this beast which Allah has given in your possession? It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily [causing it to] fatigue” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

Example 8

Narrated Shaddid bin Aus:

Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (s) having said: “Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably [and quick].” (Muslim)

Example 9

Narrated Mu’awiya ibn Qurra from his father:

A man said, “Messenger of Allah, I was going to slaughter a sheep and then I felt sorry for it (or ‘sorry for the sheep I was going to slaughter’).” He (the Prophet) said twice [in return], “Since you showed mercy to the sheep, Allah will show mercy to you.” (Adab Al-Murad; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

Example 10

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

A man threw a goat on its side [to slaughter it] and then started sharpening his knife. When the Prophet (s) saw him he said: “Do you want to kill it twice? Why did you not sharpen the knife before throwing it on the ground?” (Al-Haakim)

Example 11

Narrated Abu ‘Umamah:

Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, Allah will have mercy on him on the Day of Rising.” (Adab Al-Mufrad; Al-Albaani graded it hasan)

Example 12

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet (s) said: “The Most Compassionate (Ar-Rahmaan) has mercy on those who are merciful.  Show mercy to those who are on earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

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