How to treat animals in Islam

Muslims should show a certain level of respect to animals especially because they are also creatures of Allah SWT and because Allah SWT shows mercy to us. We should also show mercy to them. There are manners in which one must treat animals, these are also practices of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). If a Muslim sees a thirsty or hungry animal, he/she should feed it as there is reward for assisting a needy creature. This has been mentioned by Muhammed SAW that: “There is a reward (for serving) everything with a moist liver (that is, every living creature).” [Ahmad]

One must show mercy and compassion towards animals because we would also want Allah SWT to show mercy towards us. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In another narration, the Prophet SAW said: “Have mercy toward those on the Earth and The One above the Heavens will have mercy on you.” [At-Tabaraani].

The Prophet (SAW) is an example to mankind and he encountered a situation related to this issue. He sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam said: “May Allah curse the one who uses any creature with a soul as a target.” This was said to the group of people he saw using a live animal for archery target practice. [Muslim]

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) has said:

“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].

This shows that Muslims should show kindness and compassion to animals even if he is going to slaughter it. The animal should be respected until the end.

In addition to treating animals with kindness, one must never torture them or exploit them. The Prophet (SAW) also prohibited the tying down of animals until they die. He once said:

“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.” [Al-Bukhari].

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) once passed by an anthill that had been burnt to the ground and he (SAW) said: “It is not becoming that anyone should punish by fire except the Lord of the Fire.” [Abu Daawood]

However, the Prophet’s (SAW) stated that:

“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].

This shows that the only time it is permissible to kill animals is when they are harmful animals, such as voracious dogs, wolves, snakes, scorpions, rats etc. it is also a confirmed report that Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam cursed the scorpion and killed it. [Al-Bayhaqi]

Other than these scenarios mentioned, it is generally important that to treat animals with the utmost respect, love and compassion.

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