Animal Welfare in Islam
(These topics about Animal Welfare are written by Dr. Asaad Busool, one of our Sharia Advisers.)
Many Muslim jurists have declared that the rights of animals must be enforced by the State.
A coalition of animal welfare experts from universities and industry trade groups throughout North America have formed the North American Well-being Commission for Beef (NAFAWC-Beef). The 21-member group plans to promote research efforts focused on animal being and regularly communicate update findings in a timely manner.
Among the organization’s goal is providing science-based recommendations for cattle-management practices and conducting public outreach efforts for the entire food chain.
Some extremist animal right groups such as PETA, however, go too far in their efforts to stop consuming meat altogether. Muslim consumers should be be aware of the real agenda of PETA.
For more information regarding humane treatment of animals, you can read the book "Caring for the Environment in the Islamic Shariah" by Dr. Yusuf AlQaradawi
Slaughter an Animal Gently:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed people to slaughter animals for food gently and humanely. He said:
“Allah ordained kindness in everything. When you slaughter an animal, do it in a kind manner, every one of you should sharpen his knife, so it will be easy for the animal.”
The prophet, PBUH, banned an old tradition of the idol worshipers called the “Satan’s scratch”, which is just slightly scratching the animal’s neck skin, without cutting thoroughly the skin and the jugular veins, then leaving the animal to slowly bleed to death.
Once the Prophet, PBUH, saw a man, who laid down a sheep to slaughter it, but he stood over its head, sharpening his knife. The Prophet rebuked him saying:
“How many times do you want to kill it? Why didn’t you sharpen your knife before you laid it down?”
In another tradition, a man said: “I mercy the sheep to slaughter it.”The Prophet, PBUH, said: “If you mercy it, Allah will mercy you.”
Do Not Maim Animals:
People in Pre Islamic era used to mistreat animals and acted inhumanely towards them, thus deforming their creation. Allah, The All Mighty, ordered them to stop these inhumane practices and considered them as Satan’s acts.The Prophet, PBUH, elaborated on Allah’s Revelation and banned people from cutting the hair on the forehead and neck and tail of a horse, because, the tail hair is a fly whisk and the neck hair keeps the horse warm.
The Prophet, PBUH, banned the branding of animals on their faces. Once he saw a donkey, which was branded on its face, he said:
“May Allah curse the person who branded it.”
In general, the Prophet, PBUH, condemned any one, who maims an animal. he said:“May Allah curse anyone who maim animals.”
Another inhumane practice which the Pre-Islamic people of Madinah practiced against animals was chopping off the hump of a living camel and the tail of a living sheep and eating it as delicacy. Seeing that, Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, said:
“Whatever is chopped off from the animal while it is still alive; is a dead corpse, and it is forbidden to be eaten.”
The Prophet, PBUH, ordered people to avoid hurting animals in any shape or form. Even when they slaughter them for consumption. And how to be gentle to these animals. He went as far as to ban people from cursing an animal.
Animal Rights Legislation:
Based on the guidance of The Qur’an and the Tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the conduct of the early generations of Muslims toward animals and nature in general, the thirteenth century Muslim scholar, ‘Izz ad-Din Ibn ‘Abd as-Salam formulated the following legal opinion on the rights of livestock and animals from human beings:
A person who owns livestock, must spend on them the provision that their kinds require, even if they have aged or sickened such that no benefit comes from them:
he should not burden them beyond what they can bear;
he should not put them together with anything by which they would be injured, whether of their own kind or other species, whether by breaking their bones or butting or wounding;
he should slaughter them gently and with kindness; when he slaughters them he must neither flay their skins or break their bones until their bodies have become cold and their lives have passed away;
he should not slaughter their young within their sight but he should separate them;
he should make comfortable their resting places and watering places;
he should put their males and females together during their mating seasons;
he should not discard those which he takes as game; and neither shoot them with anything that breaks their bones nor bring about their destruction by any means that renders their meat unlawful to eat.
Beware of PETA:
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is an activists organization which claims to work for animal rights. According to this organization, animal rights "means recognizing that animals are not ours to use—for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation". With support from high profile celebrities, PETA has forced many corporations and governments to meet their demands. Most recently, for example, after a long campaign they forced Burger King to introduce Veggie Burger (which contains an alcohol ingredient). Before their victory, PETA activists through the US held demonstrations calling for the humane treatment of animals outside Burger King outlets.
PETA's campaigns against the leather industry has caused loss of livelihood to many of the already poor Muslims in India. Its campaign against Indian meat has also affected thousands. To advance PETA's ideology among Muslims, they launched a front website called IslamVeg in 1998. Under the disguise of presenting the humane treatments of animals from an Islamic perspective, they also publish articles which are in direct contravention of the Islamic teachings. For example it carries articles claiming that Qurbani during Eid ul Adha, which is an Ibadah, is not necessary and unimportant.
Recently, they changed the name of the site from IslamVeg to IslamicConcern and are busy propagating the PETA agenda. It is important for Muslims to know about groups like PETA which have their own distinctive agenda which is not always in keeping with the Islamic teachings. If Muslims take support from such organizations like PETA now they will surely have to pay later. Nothing comes for free. PETA might even try to ban Halal slaughter and consumption of meat altogether because according to them Halal slaughter without stunning is not humane. Even worse they might even inculcate their un Islamic views among Muslims.
Muslims should be alert about the claims of PETA and animal rights groups such as ASPCA, Animal Liberation Front, Animal Defense League, Animal Rights Militia, Brigitte Bardot Foundation and various vegan groups and not be dragged into their agenda under the banner of saving animals. Islam teaches people to treat animals humanely, be kind to them and ease their suffering even during slaughter. At the same time, God has made certain meats and other animal by-products permissible to consume and animals to use in certain functions. God said in the Quran:"God is He Who made the cattle for you that you may use some for riding and some for food. And there are (other) beneficial uses for you in them, and that you may accomplish a desired need thereon, and upon them and upon the ships you travel" (40:79-80).