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

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)

Rulings on Slaughtering Animals (Udhiyyah) on Eid Al-Adha

A great short video piece on rulings related to slaughtering an animal on Eid Al-Adha by Sh. Safi Khan.

Imam Safi Khan is the founder and director of the Dar-us-Salaam Community in College Park, MD. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Maryland, and is well-versed in Islamic law, tafsir, and sirah. He has been a prominent Imam, lecturer, and family and youth counselor in the Washington DC metropolitan area for over twenty-five years.

Since the Shaykh did not go over the conditions for an animal to be a valid sacrifice, I have listed them below.

Conditions for an animal to be a valid sacrifice for Eid A-Adha

For a more detailed summary of the conditions below, please click here.

Condition 1

It should be from the an’aam class which includes animals such as camels, cattle, sheep, and goats.

Condition 2

The animal should have reached the age stipulated in Islamic law because there is a minimum age requirement for an animal to be considered valid for sacrifice. Generally, this means that the animal should be an adult. Age requirements are as follows:

  • Sheep – 6 months old
  • Camel – 5 years old
  • Cattle – 2 years old
  • Goat – 1 year old

Condition 3

It should be free of any deficiencies which will make it unsuitable for sacrifice. There are four such deficiencies to watch out for:

  1. An obvious defect in one eye, such as when the eye is sunken in its socket, or when it sticks out like a button, or is white and obviously defective.
  2. Obvious sickness, whose symptoms are clearly apparent in the animal, such as fever that prevents it from grazing and causes loss of appetite; mange that obviously affects its flesh or its health; deep wounds that affect its health, and so on.
  3. Obvious lameness, which prevents the animal from walking normally.
  4. Emaciation that leaves no marrow in the bones.

The above faults will make an animal unsuitable for sacrifice. More severe faults than the above or others similar to them will also make the animal unsuitable.

Condition 4

The animal should belong to the person who is offering the sacrifice, or he should have permission for that either on the grounds of Islamic law or from the owner. The sacrifice is not valid if the animal slaughtered does not belong to the person who is sacrificing it, such as one that has been taken by force, stolen, or taken on the basis of a false claim, etc, because it is not permissible to draw closer to Allah by means of sin. A sacrifice offered by a guardian from the property of the person under his care is valid, if done with permission.

Condition 5

No one else should have any rights to the sacrificial animal; the sacrifice of an animal that is held in pledge is not valid.

Condition 6

It should be slaughtered at the time specified in Islamic law, which is from after the Eid prayer on the Day of Sacrifice (10th of Dhul-Hijjah) until sunset on the last of the days of al-Tashreeq, which is the 13th of Dhul-Hijjah. So the days when the sacrificed may be offered are four:

  • Day of Eid after the prayer (10th of Dhul-Hijjah)
  • 11th of Dhul-Hijjah
  • 12th of Dhul-Hijjah
  • 13th of Dhul-Hijjah

Whoever slaughters it before the Eid prayer is over, or after sun sets on the 13th of Dhu’l-Hijjah, his sacrifice is not valid. But if he has an excuse for delaying it beyond the days of Tashreeq, such as if the animal ran away, without there being any negligence on his part, and he could not find it until after the time was over, or he appointed someone else to slaughter it and that person forgot until the time was over, then there is nothing wrong with slaughtering it after the appointed time.

It is permissible to slaughter the udhiyah at any time, night or day, but it is better to slaughter it during the day, and it is better to slaughter on the day of Eid after the two khutbahs. Each day is better than the day that follows it, because that means that one is hastening to do good.