Animals in Islam
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In Islam, God has a relationship with animals: according to the Qur'an, they praise Him, even if this praise is not expressed in human language. Baiting animals for entertainment or gambling is prohibited.
The Quran explicitly allows the eating of the meat of certain ḥalāl (Arabic: حَـلَال, lawful) animals. Although some Sufis have practised vegetarianism, there has been no serious discourse on the possibility of vegetarian interpretations. Certain animals can be eaten under the condition that they are slaughtered in a specified way. "Stunning cannot be used to kill an animal, according to the Halal Food Authority (HFA), a non-profit organisation that monitors adherence to halal principles. But it can be used if the animal survives and is then killed by halal methods, the HFA adds," reports the BBC. Prohibitions include swine, carrion, and animals involved in dhabīḥah (Arabic: ذَبِـيـحَـة, ritual slaughter) in the name of someone other than God. The Quran also states "eat of that over which the name of Allah, hath been mentioned."
- 1 Animals in pre-Islamic Arabia
- 2 Quran
- 3 Sunnah
- 4 Views regarding particular animals
- 5 Muslim cultures
- 6 Controversy
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Animals in pre-Islamic Arabia
In pre-Islamic Arabia, Arab Bedouin, like other people, attributed the qualities and the faults of humans to animals. Generosity, for example, was attributed to the cock; perfidy to the lizard; stupidity to the bustard; and boldness to the lion.
Based on the facts that the names of certain tribes bear the names of animals, survivals of animal cults, prohibitions of certain foods and other indications, W. R. Smith argued for the practice of totemism by certain tribes of Arabia. Others have argued that these evidences may only imply practice of a form of animalism. In support of this, for example, it was believed that upon one's death, the soul departs from the body in the form of a bird (usually a sort of owl); the soul-as-bird then flies about the tomb for some time, occasionally crying out (for vengeance).
Although over two hundred verses in the Qur'an deal with animals and six surahs (chapters) of the Qur'an are named after animals, animal life is not a predominant theme in the Qur'an; haywan, the Arabic word meaning "animal" (plural haywanat) makes one appearance. On the other hand, the term dābba, usually taken to mean "beast of burden", occurs a number of times in the Qur'an, while remaining rare in medieval Arabic works on zoology. By implication, animals in the Qur'an and early Muslim thought are usually seen solely in terms of their relation to human beings, producing a tendency toward anthropocentrism.
The Qur'an teaches that God created animals from water. God cares for all his creatures and provides for them. All creation praises God, even if this praise is not expressed in human language. God has prescribed laws for each species (laws of nature). Since animals follow the laws God has ordained for them, they are to be regarded as "Muslim", just as a human who obeys the laws prescribed for humans (Islamic law) is a Muslim. Just like humans, animals form "communities". In verse 6:38, the Qur'an applies the term ummah, generally used to mean "a human religious community", for genera of animals. The Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an states that this verse has been "far reaching in its moral and ecological implications."
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.
The Qur'an says that animals benefit humans in many ways, and that they are aesthetically pleasing to look at. This is used a proof of God's benevolence towards humans. Animals that are slaughtered in accordance with sharia may be consumed. According to many verses of the Qur'an, the consumption of pork is sinful, unless there is no alternative other than starving to death (in times, for example, of war or famine).
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Sunnah refers to the traditional biographies of Muhammad wherein examples of sayings attributed to him and his conduct have been recorded. Sunni and Shi'a hadith (anecdotes about Muhammad) differ vastly, with Shi'a hadith generally containing more anthropomorphism and praise of animals.
Treatment of animals
Animals must not be mutilated while they are alive.
Muhammad is also reported (by Ibn Omar and Abdallah bin Al-As) to have said: "There is no man who kills [even] a sparrow or anything smaller, without its deserving it, but God will question him about it [on the judgment day]" and "Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself."
According to another hadith,[by whom?] Muhammad issued advice to kill animals that were fawāsiq (Arabic: فَـوَاسِـق "Harmful ones"), such as the rat and the scorpion, within the holy area ḥaram (Arabic: حَـرَم, holy area) of Mecca. Killing other non-domesticated animals in this area, such as zebras and birds, is forbidden.
Conversation with the animals
In one account, a camel is said to have come to Muhammad to complain that despite its service to its owner, it was due to be killed. Muhammad summoned the owner and ordered the man to spare the camel. There is also an account in the Qur'an's sura an-Naml of Sulaymaan (Solomon) talking to ants. and birds.
Hunting and slaughter
Muslims are required to sharpen the blade when slaughtering animals to ensure that no pain is felt . Muhammad is reported[by whom?] to have said: "For [charity shown to] each creature which has a wet heart [i.e. is alive], there is a reward."[page needed]
Views regarding particular animals
Birds are commonly revered in Islamic literature, especially in the Sufi tradition, where they are a metaphor for the soul's divine journey to God (e.g. in The Conference of the Birds). In the Nahj al-Balagha, the Shi'a book of the sayings of Ali, an entire sermon is dedicated to praising peacocks.
Muhammad, the messenger of Allah (God) in Islam, is also reported as having reprimanded some men who were sitting idly on their camels in a marketplace, saying "either ride them or leave them alone". Apart from that, the camel has significance in Islam.
- The Quran talks about a miraculous nāqaṫ (Arabic: نَـاقَـة, 'she-camel') that came from stone, in the context of the Prophet Salih, Thamudi people and Al-Hijr.
- Al-Qaṣwā’ (Arabic: الـقَـصـوَاء) was a female Arabian camel that belonged to Muhammad, and was dear to him. Muhammad rode on Qaswa during the Hijrah (Arabic: هِـجـرَة, 'Migration') from Mecca to Medina, his Hajj in 629 CE, and the Conquest of Mecca in 630. The camel was also present during the Battle of Badr in 624. After the passing away of the Prophet, the Camel is reported to have starved itself to death, refusing to take food from anyone.
The dhi’b (Arabic: ذِئـب, wolf) may symbolize ferocity. As for the kalb (Arabic: كَـلـب, dog), there are different views regarding it. Most schools of Islamic law consider dogs as unclean (najis), which means, among other things, that Muslims should not pray after coming into contact with them.
All of the Kutub al-Sittah record Hadiths prohibiting one from keeping dogs except for farming, herding and hunting, with those not keeping them for such purposes punished with deduction of qirat from their rewards each day.
In a chapter on al-Musaqat (sharecropping), Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj records fifteen traditions on the spiritual loss incurred from domestication of dogs, with seven being on the authority of 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar and the other eight on Abu Hurairah's authority. While five reports of Ibn Umar state two Carats (Qiratan) as daily deduction for keeping dogs without a genuine purpose, the other two refer to deduction of only one Carat (Qirat). Only one report of Abu Hurairah mentions the deduction as two carat, while the other seven mention it as one. Three hadiths in "Dhaba'iḥ and Sayd" of Sahih al-Bukhari are among some of the hadiths which include Ibn Umar's traditon regarding deduction of two qirats for the same.
The historian William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad's kindness to animals was remarkable; he cites an instance of Muhammad, while traveling with his army to Mecca in 630 CE, posting sentries to ensure that a female dog and her newborn puppies were not disturbed. On the other hand, in a tradition found in the Sunni hadith book al-Muwatta’, Muhammad is reported as saying that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim's good deeds. However, in "two separate narrations by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet told his companions of the virtue of saving the life of a dog by giving it water and quenching its thirst. One story referred to a man who was blessed by Allah for giving water to a thirsty dog, the other was a prostitute who filled her shoe with water and gave it to a dog, who had its tongue rolling out from thirst. For this deed she was granted the ultimate reward, the eternal Paradise under which rivers flow, to live therein forever."
According to a Sunni narration classified as authentic by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, jet-black dogs with two spots on the eyes are a manifestation of evil in animal form; however, according to Khaled Abou El Fadl, the majority of scholars regard this to be "pre-Islamic Arab mythology" and "a tradition to be falsely attributed to the Prophet". It may derived from the belief in Hinn.[need quotation to verify] In spite of El Fadl's views, the hadith today continue to publish that dogs are unclean and they annul prayers. Sahih Muslim, one of the most authentic hadith collections describes Muhammad's order to kill dogs on a large scale.
Many Muslim jurists consider dogs to be najis. Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree in 2002 banning public dog walking and sale of dogs, calling them as "offensive to the sensitivities of Muslims." In Malaysia in 2016, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, a religious government body, prohibited the use of the term hot dog to refer to the food of that name. It asked food outlets selling them to rename their products or risk refusal of halal certification. Per local media, Malaysian halal food guidelines prohibit naming halal products after non-halal products.
However, "jurists from the Sunni Maliki School disagree with the idea that dogs are unclean." Individual faṫāwā (Arabic: فَـتَـاوَى, "rulings") have indicated that dogs be treated kindly or otherwise released and earlier Islamic literature often portrayed dogs as symbols of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty, which, in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers, become oppressive instruments.
Abou El Fadl "found it hard to believe that the same God who created such companionable creatures would have his prophet declare them 'unclean'", stating that animosity towards dogs "reflected views far more consistent with pre-Islamic Arab customs and attitudes". Furthermore, "he found that a hadith[which?] from one of the most trustworthy sources tells how the Prophet himself had prayed in the presence of his playfully cavorting dogs."
Islamist organization Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip, banned public dog walking in May 2017, stating it was to "protect our women and children". Hamas officials stated that the ban was in response to rise in dog walking on the streets which they stated was "against culture and traditions in Gaza".
The Quran contains three mentions of dogs:
- Verse 5:4 says "Lawful for you are all good things, and [the prey] that trained [hunting] dogs and falcons catch for you."
- Verse 18:18 describes the Companions of the Cave, a group of saintly young men presented in the Qurʼan as exemplars of religion, sleeping with "their dog stretching out its forelegs at the threshold." Further on, in verse 22, the dog is always counted as one of their number, no matter how they are numbered. In Muslim folklore, affectionate legends have grown around the loyal and protective qualities of this dog, whose name in legend is Qiṭmīr.
Hunting dogs and the dog of the Companions of al-Kahf (Arabic: الـكـهـف, the Cave) are described in a positive light, and the companionship of these dogs is mentioned with approval. The Qurʼan, thus, contains not even a hint of the condemnation of dogs found in certain ḥadīths.
The angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and said to him: You promised me and I waited for you, but you did not come, whereupon he said: It was the dog in your house which prevented me (to come), for we (angels) do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.
Ibn Mughaffal reported: "The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered the killing of rabid dogs, and then said: What about them, i. e. about other dogs? and then granted concession (to keep) the dog for hunting and the dog for (the security) of the herd, and said: When the dog licks the utensil, wash it seven times, and rub it with earth the eighth time." (From Muslim Book #002, Hadith #0551)
Ibn 'Umar reported "Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) giving command for killing dogs..." (From Muslim Book #010, Hadith #3809)
Some Muslim commentators (e.g. Bassam Zawadi) suggest however that these killings were to be limited to "rabid dogs".
A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.
The majority of Muslim jurists consider dogs to be ritually unclean, though jurists from the Sunni Maliki school disagree. However, outside their ritual uncleanness, Islamic fatāwā, or rulings, enjoin that dogs be treated kindly or else be freed. Muslims generally cast dogs in a negative light because of their ritual impurity. The story of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in the Qur'an (and also the role of the dog in early Christianity) is one of the striking exceptions. Though dogs are not recommended as pets, they are allowed to be kept, especially if used for work and protection, such as guarding the house or farm, or when used for hunting purposes.
Domestic cats have a special place in Islamic culture. Muhammad is said to have loved his cat Mu‘izzah (Arabic: مُـعِـزَّة) to the extent that "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it."
Big cats like the asad (أَسَـد, lion), namir (نَـمِـر, leopard), and fahd (فَـهـد, cheetah), can symbolize ferocity, similar to the wolf. Verses 50 and 51 of Surat al-Muddaththir in the Quran talk about ḥumur (حُـمُـر, 'asses' or 'donkeys') fleeing from a qaswarah (قَـسـوَرَة, 'lion', 'beast of prey' or 'hunter'), in its criticism of people who were averse to Muhammad's teachings, such as donating wealth to the less wealthy. Apart from ferocity, the lion has an important position in Islam and Arab culture. Men noted for their bravery, like Ali, Hamzah ibn Abdul-Muttalib and Omar Mukhtar, were given titles like "Asad Allāh" (أَسَـد الله, "Lion of God") and "Asad aṣ-Ṣaḥrā’" (أَسَـد الـصَّـحْـرَاء, "Lion of the Desert").
Pork is ḥarām (Arabic: حَـرَام, forbidden) to eat, because its essence is considered impure, this is based on the verse of the Qur'an where it is described as being rijs (Arabic: رِجـس, impure) (Quran 6:145).
Usually, in Muslim majority cultures, animals have names (one animal may be given several names), which are often interchangeable with names of people. Muslim names or titles like asad and ghadanfar (Arabic for lion), shir and arslan (Persian and Turkish for lion, respectively) are common in the Muslim world. Prominent Muslims with animal names include: Hamzah, Abd al-Rahman ibn Sakhr Al-Azdi (called "Abu Hurairah", the Father of the kitten), Abdul-Qadir Gilani (called al-baz al-ashhab, the white falcon) and Lal Shahbaz Qalander of Sehwan (called "red falcon").
Islamic literature contains many stories of animals. Arabic and Persian literature boast a large number of animal fables. The most famous, Kalilah wa-Dimnah or Panchatantra, translated into Arabic by Abd-Allāh Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ in the 8th century, was also known in Europe. In the 12th century Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawadi wrote many short stories of animals. At about the same time, in north-eastern Iran, Attar Neyshapuri (Farid al-Din Attar) composed the epic poem Mantiq al-Tayr (meaning The Conference of the Birds).
The ritual methods of slaughter practiced in Islam (dhabihah) and Judaism (shechita) have been decried by some UK animal welfare organisations as inhumane and causing "severe suffering". According to Judy MacArthur Clark, Chairperson of the Farm Animal Welfare Council, cattle require up to two minutes to bleed to death when halal or kosher means of slaughter are used: "This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous." In response, Majid Katme of the Muslim Council of Britain stated that "[i]t's a sudden and quick haemorrhage. A quick loss of blood pressure and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain."
In permitting dhabiha, the German Constitutional Court cited the 1978 study led by Professor Wilhelm Schulze at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover which concluded that "[t]he slaughter in the form of ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to the EEG recordings and the missing defensive actions." Muslims and Jews have also argued that traditional British methods of slaughter have meant that "animals are sometimes rendered physically immobile, although with full consciousness and sensation. The application of a sharp knife in shechita and dhabh, by contrast, ensures that no pain is felt: the wound inflicted is clean, and the loss of blood causes the animal to lose consciousness within seconds."
- Animal rights
- Animal sacrifice
- Animals in Christian art
- Legal aspects of ritual slaughter
- Relate animals in the Quran
- Sulayman and animals
- Surat an-Naml
- Yunus and the Nun
- See Quran 17:44
- "Islam, Animals, and Vegetarianism" in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (Bron Taylor (chief ed.), Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 2008).
- Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Book 1, Hadith 1232
- Susan J. Armstrong; Richard G. Botzler. The Animal Ethics Reader. Routledge (UK) Press. pp. 235–237. ISBN 0415275881.
- See Quran 5:1
- Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (2001): The Dietary Laws Archived May 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- John Esposito (2002b), p.111
- See Quran 6:118
- "Hayawān" ("Haywan") in the Encyclopaedia of Islam (vol. 3, p. 308).
- "Animal life" in the Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an.
- "Islam" in the Encyclopedia of Science and Religion (op. cit.)
- "Community and Society and Qur'an" in the Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (vol. 1, p. 371)
- See Quran 2:173 and Quran 6:145)
- "He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of God. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then is he guiltless. For God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."[Quran 2:173]
- Susan J. Armstrong, Richard G. Botzler, The Animal Ethics Reader, p.237, Routledge (UK) Press
- Jürgen Wasim Frembgen (Völkerkundemuseum), "The Scorpion in Muslim Folklore", Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 63 (2004), p. 95-123.
- Foltz (2006), pg.22-23
- See Quran 27:18
- See Quran 27:20
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- Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: Allah's Messenger said, "If someone keeps a dog neither for guarding livestock, nor for hunting, his good deeds will decrease (in reward) by two Qirats a day.' (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 72, Hadith 8)
Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger as saying: He who keeps a dog other than that meant for watching the herd or for hunting loses every day out of his deeds equal to two qirat. (Sahih al-Muslim, Book 22, Hadith 62)
It was narrated from Salim, from his father, that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever keeps a dog. Except a dog for hunting or herding livestock, two Qirats will be deducted from his reward each day." (Sunan an-Nisa’i, Book 42, Hadith 25)
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet as saying: If anyone gets a dog, except a sheeping or hunting or a farm dog, a qirat of his reward will be deducted daily. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 17, Hadith 1)
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Whoever keeps a dog, one Qirat will be deducted from him (good) deeds every day, except a dog for farming or herding livestock.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Volume 4, Book 28, Hadith 3204)
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: That the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever keeps a dog" - or: "acquires a dog" - "neither of hunting nor to guard livestock, then two Qirat are deducted from his reward, daily." (Jami' al-Tirmidhi, Book 18, Hadith 29)
- Israr Ahmed Khan. Authentication of Hadith: Redefining the Criteria. International Institute of Islamic Thought. p. xviii.
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Abu Zubair heard Jabir b. 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) saying: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) ordered us to kill dogs, and we carried out this order so much so that we also kill the dog coming with a woman from the desert. Then Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) forbade their killing. He (the Holy Prophet further) said: It is your duty the jet-black (dog) having two spots (on the eyes), for it is a devil.
- Khaled Abou El Fadl (2004). "Dogs in the Islamic Tradition and Nature". Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature. New York: Scholar of the House. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- Amira El-Zein Islam, Arabs, and Intelligent World of the Jinn Syracuse University Press 2009 ISBN 9780815650706 page 124
- Sahih Bukhari 1:9:493, See Also Sahih Bukhari 1:9:486, Sahih Muslim 4:1032, Sahih Muslim 4:1034, Sahih Muslim 4:1038, Sahih Muslim 4:1039
- Sahih Muslim.
Maimuna reported that one morning Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) was silent with grief. Maimuna said: Allah's Messenger, I find a change in your mood today. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Gabriel had promised me that he would meet me tonight, but he did not meet me. By Allah, he never broke his promises, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) spent the day in this sad (mood). Then it occurred to him that there had been a puppy under their cot. He commanded and it was turned out. He then took some water in his hand and sprinkled it at that place. When it was evening Gabriel met him and he said to him: you promised me that you would meet me the previous night. He said: Yes, but we do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture. Then on that very morning he commanded the killing of the dogs until he announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog meant for the protection of extensive fields (or big gardens).24:5248.
- Ahmad Ibn Shu‘ayb al-Nisa’i, Sunan al-Nisa’i (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, n.d.), 7: 309 (The commentaries by al-Suyuti and al-Sanadi are in the margins). Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, 4:426. All reported in El Fadl.
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The seven pious youths 'and the eighth with them was their dog' (Sūra 18:22) have turned into protective spirits, whose names, and especially that of their dog Qiṭmīr, written on amulets, carry baraka with them.
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Al-Thaʻlabī cites an opinion according to which the dog of the Dwellers of the Cave[...] will dwell in heaven. Al-Thaʻlabī, al-Kashf wa-al-Bayān (Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʼ al-Turāth al-ʻArabī, 2002), 2:251.
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Amir b. Sa'd reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) commanded the killing of geckos, and he called them little noxious creatures.Sahih Muslim 26:5563, Sahih Muslim 26:5564, Sahih Muslim 26:5565 and Sahih Muslim 26:5566
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- Foltz, Richard C. (2006). Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1-85168-398-4.
- Gill, H. A. R. Shorter Enclyopaedia of Islam. Netherlands: Brill Publishers.
- Khan, Tauseef, Honey Bee, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol. I, pp. 263–265. ISBN 1610691776
- Tlili, Sarra, Animals, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol. I, pp. 24–29. ISBN 1610691776
- Islamic concern, a site dedicated to improving Islam's understanding of animals.
- Muslim group supports student's right to service dog
- The great Arab-Muslim-American dog story
- Video regarding compassion for animals by the late Imam B. A. Hafiz al-Masri, Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking, United Kingdom.
- Housni al-Khateeb Shehada (translated Dan Schlossberg), Islamic rulings prove: Allah loves animals
- Animals and Islam by A.R. Spiritual Vegan, Vegan Views 91 (Winter 2001/02)
- Animals in Islam by Al Hafiz B.A. Masri
- Dogs in Islam