Of the many teachings of the Quran, there are several key overarching principles that concern how people should interact with the world around them. In particular, Quran teachings about animals offer detailed and specific guidance on how we should treat our non-human companions.
All animals make up an essential part of the natural ecosystem that we rely on for every facet of life. The Quran stresses that animals are key for the food that we eat, the water that we drink, and the harmony and stability that societies need to thrive. As such, the Quran has a lot to say on animal welfare.
Any Muslim or non-Muslim that might be seeking guidance on how best to look after the natural world that they are a part of can learn a lot from the Quran and from the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. If you want to know why animal cruelty is expressly forbidden in Islam and how a Muslim can follow the Quran’s teachings on animal rights, read on to find out everything you need to know about animal welfare and Islam.
1. Why is Animal Welfare Important?
First, it is worth diving into why animal welfare is important in Islam. Muslims believe that Allah created the world and everything within it, meaning that, therefore, all of creation is precious. As such, all things in the natural world must be treated with appropriate care and respect, while also acknowledging human needs (such as agriculture and food).
Crucially, the Quran states that Allah has given humans dominion over animals and the natural world. However, this dominion comes with serious responsibilities and duties. All Muslims should exercise this power with responsibility and therefore not exploit the animals under their dominion.
Animals are acknowledged as being different from humans, in the sense that humans are able to think critically, use their compassion, and consider essential principles such as justice and faith. However, just because animals are not as intelligent as humans, does not mean that they are not worthy of our respect and care.
Humans can therefore use animals to meet their needs, but this must be done with care and compassion, with due respect and thought given to how human activity can affect the delicate natural world created by Allah.
In addition, although the Quran does not specifically discuss whether or not animals have souls (as some other religious texts do), it is largely believed that only Allah knows and can decide what happens to animals after they die. These essential principles around the sanctity of animals guide the core Islamic teachings around animal welfare.
2. What Does the Quran Say About Animal Welfare?
Unsurprisingly, as the central religious text of Islam, the Quran has a lot to say about animal welfare. There are, in addition, some important teaching on animal welfare in the hadith that are not found in the Quran, which we will get into later. Let’s take a look at what the Quran says about animal welfare, and why these teachings are important for Muslims to know.
“And the Earth, he has assigned it to all living creatures”
This is the most oft-quoted Quran line concerning animal welfare. It refers to the central tenet that Allah when creating the world gave his creation to all living things. This essentially means that, although not necessarily equally, all living things share in Allah’s creations. Therefore, humans have a responsibility to ensure that animals are able to partake in and share this creation in the same way that they are able to.
“There is not an animal that lives on neither the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end”
This important Quran quote is essentially saying that, just like humans, animals also form communities and live together in an interconnected system. The implication here is that animals obey the laws and Allah and live by his laws in the same way that humans must do. Therefore, animals are worthy of respect and care.
“Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise, and Allah knows well all that they do.”
This one is important, as it describes how animals live and experience the world. In a nutshell, the Quran is saying here that, much like humans, all animals are Muslim. As a result, there is a corresponding system of laws and norms that govern how animals should be treated and used by Muslim humans.
3. What Does the Prophet Say About Animal Welfare?
Now, let’s take a quick look at some hadith to see what the Prophet Muhammad said about animal welfare. The Prophet Muhammad has given no shortage of helpful and informative guide on how to ethically treat animals, such as:
“Whoever is merciful even to a sparrow, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgment.”
This oft-quoted line from Muhammad underscores the central teaching that all animals, no matter how great or small, are worthy of respect and care in Islam. It emphasizes that arbitrary cruelty or exploitation of any living creature is haram and that no living creature in Allah’s world is unimportant. This is a simple quote by which all Muslims try their best to live by.
“A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being.”
This saying that is attributed to the Prophet Muhammad is one that expressly warns against cruelty to animals while encouraging good treatment towards all living creatures. It emphasizes that committing cruelty towards an animal is still an evil thing to do, even if you do not think that animals can feel the impact of your cruelty in the same way that a human being might.
“‘Whoever kills a bird or anything else without its due right, God would ask him about it.’ It was said: ‘O Messenger of God! What is its due right?’ He said: ‘To kill it for food…and do not sever its head, and throw it!’”
This simple quote actually encapsulates many of the important Islamic rules governing the treatment of animals. It touches upon the fact that hunting animals such as birds for sport in Islam is expressly forbidden, as is the decapitation of animals. At its heart, this quote is emphasizing that any kind of needless cruelty or exploitation of one of Allah’s living creatures is not permissible and does not make the world a better place.
4. Halal and Animal Welfare Explained
There are many ways in which animal welfare is enshrined in everyday Muslim life, but none of these are more visible than the rules governing the halal slaughter and consumption of animals. Of course, we all use animals for purposes that are essential for human life, such as food and clothing.
However, it is important that humans are able to meet those needs in a way that is not unnecessarily or gratuitously cruel. Here are some of the essential halal teachings on animal consumption:
All meat consumed by Muslims must be slaughtered in a halal manner, which is designed to minimize any suffering felt by the animal. In order for meat to be halal, it must be slaughtered by an adult Muslim, who blesses the animal prior to slaughter.
In order to ensure that the animal dies quickly and with as little pain as possible, it should be killed by having its throat cut with one single, continuous motion with a sharp knife.
The animal must also be treated well before it is killed and it is important that the animal does not see other animals being killed before it is slaughtered. This is all designed to minimize suffering while meeting essential human needs.
In accordance with Islamic teaching on animal welfare, some foods are considered to be haram, or forbidden, such as:
- Any pork products (such as ham or bacon)
- The consumption of carnivorous animals or birds of prey
- Non-halal animal fat
5. Human Responsibilities Towards Animals
Given the extensive teachings on animal welfare in the Quran, there are a number of duties humans have towards animals that are outlined in the Quran, Sunnah, and Hadith. These are:
- Protection of animal lives
- Protection of the health of animals
- Protection of animal reproductive health
- Preventing cruelty to animals
- Avoiding punishment of animals
- Ensuring animals are properly fed
- Providing medication and shelter to animals
- Affording animals proper status
These duties govern all of the myriad ways in which Muslims are encouraged to interest in their furry, feathered, scaled, and four-legged friends.
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The Quran’s teachings on animal welfare are applied in many ways, including when it comes to money and finance. Islamic investing means investing in companies that do not promote cruelty to animals. If you wish to invest in a way that conforms to Islamic teachings on animal welfare, you have come to the right place. Make sure to get in touch today to find out how you can become a part of Australia’s largest Islamic Super Fund.
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