3/04/2013

Animals & Islam

 I have always loved animals as far back as I can remember. It had a lot to do with the people who raised me, but also it was just a part of me from the very beginning. These values along with the values of Islam paired with my own compassion for animals of all kinds in a very symbiotic union.

I always knew that Islam was very environmentally oriented and held compassion for any living thing in a very high degree. It was not until a recent animal ethics class that I began to really delve into what exactly my religion says about animals, their rights, their place in our lives and how Allah views them. I am, as you might imagine, studying to be a veterinarian. This is truly my calling and it was not until I began this path that I truly understood when people say 'do what you love & you will never work a day in your life'; how very true that is!

 I hate that I have to say this before I speak on anything Islamic, but I do have to offer up a disclaimer.

Islam is not Muslims and Muslims are not Islam. Islam is the religion & Muslims are the followers. Islam is a perfect system for all aspects of human existence. Muslims are merely human followers who sometimes, more often than not, get it wrong, drastically wrong.

The vast majority of the Muslim world is totally and completely ignorant when it comes to religion. It is much like Europe during the dark ages. Most people have very little actual Islamic education and the little bit they do have is from sources that are lacking to say the least. This is the sad state of the Muslim world today. We, as a society, are lacking in true, reliable guidance and there is a void so we fill this void with absolutely anything that crosses our path. Sadly, that is the perfect breeding ground for wack jobs, fanatics, extremists and nutters with agendas to get a foot hold and gain control.

"If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything" ~ Martin Luther King JR.

"A house divided against itself can not stand" ~ Abraham Lincoln by way of Jesus Christ

So, like any other religious ruling, the ones dealing with animals are often ignored or simply unknown. I admit that I did not know many of them. Islam has a way of constantly renewing itself for me. I will get busy living my life and then out of no where, I will read a verse from the Quran or a Hadith and it just hits me like a brick wall.

This endeavor was one of those experiences. I found myself in tears at the balance, logic & reasoning, compassion and humbleness of this religion. I am not worthy of such a beautiful system, truly.

So I will relay to you my findings. Grab some tissues, you may need them.

Quran 6:38 (Y. Ali) 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. 


This verse has many implications. The verse comes as an answer to those asking why Allah has not sent forth some grand gesture to show himself. Allah responds by saying that the Earth and its inhabitants are that grand gesture. It also states that the animals all form communities and social units, just like human beings. This is something that science is just now starting to understand, and Islam revealed it over 1400 years ago!

Here is the kicker: at the end they will be gathered up to Allah! So, just like us humans the animals will be gathered up to Allah on the last day.

This reveals to us that animals have a soul, and that is huge!  They are not just mindless beings created for our use and abuse, they have souls, families, duties and functions. We know that if human beings were wiped from the earth that all the animals and plants would continue to exist and probably flourish on scales never known before. If all the animals, or even a few choice ones, disappeared, humans and plants would cease to exist entirely. So where do we get this egotistical idea that we are so grand?

Mind = Blown.

The Prophet said that anyone who harms/kills any creature even so small as a sparrow or smaller without just cause will be answerable to Allah for that action on the day of judgement. When asked what is just cause he replied: for food. (Ahmad & Al-Nasai) I think it is also important to note that the Prophet was not in the habit of eating a lot of meat. Meat was a luxury, not like now in the states where we have 17 portions of meat in one day. When he did have meat in his house he sent it to other people for various reasons. Meat is not a requirement in a meal, it is permissible but within moderation as was his example.

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet told a story about a different prophet. This previous prophet has been sitting near some ants and one stung him. He became angry and demanded the entire colony and structure be destroyed. Allah scolded him saying"Because one ant harmed you, you have destroyed an entire community that worshiped Me." (Bukhari and Muslim)

This is something we could learn many things from. On the surface there is the obvious, do not destroy the entirety of a group of animals because one of a few pose a threat. Also, maybe us humans should not destroy or discriminate against entire groups of people because one of a few offended us.

The Prophet was sitting and noticed a kitten asleep on his robes. He did not want to disturb the kitten so he cut his robe around the kitten so he could get up.

The prophet is said to have mourned when his beloved camel died.

A boy had a pet bird and the bird died. The Prophet went to visit the boy and asked about his beloved bird. When he heard the bird died, he said a prayer for the bird.

The Prophet spoke of a prostitute who was getting water from a well on a hot day and she saw a dog by the well panting in thirst. She put water in her shoe and gave it to the dog. For this reason alone all her sins were instantly forgiven. (Muslim)

The Prophet said he had a dream of a woman being tortured after her death (in the here after) because she had kept a kitten caged and did not give it any food or water, nor did she at least free it so it could go get food or water on its own.
My darling baby girl, Nephi.

This one in particular got me. I work in animal shelters and all day everyday I am confronted with this exact situation. It is heart breaking and it is very hard to not burst into tears and fall apart. The extent of human cruelty is ever baffling. It is a comfort to know that Allah sees their suffering and just like my own suffering, it will be accounted for on that day and justice will be had.

Do not burden an animal more than he can bare
Islam forbids the beating or branding of any animal, for any reason. The prophet once saw a donkey with a brand on his face and he said "May Allah condemn the one who did this" (Muslim)

The prophet once saw a camel that was so emaciated that its stomach was touching its back. He admonished us to fear Allah in our use of work animals and instructed us to only work them if in good health and to retire them while they still have health. (Abu Dawud)

The Prophet said many times that over burdening an animal is sinful and abusive.

The Prophet also told us that it is a great sin for anyone to imprison animals in his care. (Muslim)

The Prophet also forbade any fighting of animals for sport, (Abu Dawud) and  using them as target practice. (Muslim)

Motherhood is beautiful
We are told that if we are on a journey with animal and in a fertile area we should go slow to allow them to eat as they go, but if the land is dry and infertile we should speed up to avoid them becoming hungry and to not make camp for the night close to main pathways as nocturnal creatures will be enticed by our animals (Muslim)

The companions were on a journey and the Prophet had was away for a few moments. They saw a bird with her babies and they took the babies. The mother bird was flying around them crying out for her babies, in grief. The Prophet returned and asked who had hurt the feelings of the bird and ordered them to return her babies to her. (Muslim)

This was 1400 years ago. Even today, even among bird enthusiasts there is debate on whether birds feel emotions like fear, grief, stress, love, longing. 1400 years ago Islam gave us the knowledge that indeed, of course, birds, and all animals feel these things.

We are told that any bad deed done against an animal is the same as it being against a person, and any good deed/charity done to an animal is the same as doing it to a person. (Muslim, Boukhari)
Not just a nice thing to do, it's WORSHIP!

We are forbidden to store milk in the utters of animals (Muslim)

Aisha (the Prophets wife) was once riding a stubborn camel and she turned the camel roughly. The Prophet admonished her that it would be better for her if she were kind to the beast. (Muslim)

We are instructed not to clip the forelock of a horse as the horses decency is in it, and not to clip its mane as its beauty is in it and not to clip its tail as it uses it to flap flies. ( Abu Dawud)

And finally...



Abu Hurayrah was a close Companionof the Prophet and it is from Abu Hurayrah that we get a majority of our religious knowledge. He was known among the people as being a compassionate man who loved animals. His given name was Abdu Rahman but most of us do not recognize him by this name at all, because he was always called Abu Hurayrah. Abu Hurayrah means father of the kitten, he was called this because he had a cat that he took in and cared for and he used to carry it everywhere he went. 
This brought tears to my eyes! This strong man, battle worn man, rough neck Arab bedouin man was known for carrying around a kitten, so much so that they named him for it! 

Alhamdulillah!  (All thanks be to Allah(God))


Until one has loved an animal, apart of one's soul remains unawakened.






  

4 comments:

  1. This was absolutely lovely. :) I'd heard of most of these before, but never compiled together like this. The one about the mother bird who's feelings were hurt? Ahh! heart=broken! And I agree, the bit about Abu Hurayrah always gets me every time, subhanallah!

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    1. Yea I find myself having a serious sahaba crush on Abu Hurayrah because of that :)

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  2. Henry Beston was an American naturalist and philosopher. In his novel, "The Outermost
    House," he wrote:

    "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

    By the way, D.F., this is a nicely put-together weblog.
    Velloso-el-Famoso

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    1. thank you & that quote is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever read!

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