How will the accounting of animals take place in the Hereafter?

The Details of the Question

How will the accounting of animals take place in the Hereafter?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

If we divide living beings into three as beings which have got life, beings which have got soul and beings with consciousness, plants are categorized under beings with life only. Animals, on the other hand, have got both life and soul. Human beings, Jinn and angels have got life, souls and consciousness at the same time.

Amongst them, human beings and the jinn are responsible for obeying Allah’s commands and prohibitions and they are to be tested throughout their whole lives. And they will either enter Heaven or Hell after they die. 

Notions such as good – evil, sin – good deeds and Heaven – Hell do not exist for animals since they are deprived of feelings such as intellect and consciousness which would make them responsible. 

All animals from the amoeba, which is a protistan, to the whale have got souls. Essentially, the soul itself is immortal. It does not die, perish or decay. The body in which the soul resides temporarily dies, decays and disappears. 

As it is clearly stated in the Quran, souls are under the command, power and control of Allah, the Glorious. No other being but Allah can have souls under their command. Both creating the souls and preserving them are in Allah’s power. 

As for the situation on the Day of Judgment, two kinds of creatures will be resurrected that day and their eternal residence will be determined after they are accounted. They are human beings and the Jinn. 

And the situation of animals is totally different. They will also be resurrected and gathered in the Gathering Place (Mahshar). The translation of two Quranic verses on the issue is as follows: 

“When the wild beasts are herded together (in the human habitations)…” (al-Takwir, 5).

Verily, We have warned you of a Penalty near, the Day when man will see (the deeds) which his hands have sent forth, and the Unbeliever will say, "Woe unto me! Would that I were (mere) dust!” (an-Naba, 40). 

According to Abdullah bin Umar, Abu Hurayra and Imam Mujahid’s interpretations of that verse, Almighty Allah will gather animals in the resurrection day and have them settle accounts with one another, and then He will order them, “Become dust”; and all of their bodies will be transformed into dust in the end, but their spirits will remain. Envying the animals survive from the tortures of Hell, unbelievers, will desire to become dust, too. However, as humans will be punished according to the final judgment of Allah, they will not be treated like animals. 

Even though animals are creatures that have no responsibilities, they will settle their accounts with one another. As a matter of fact, in a hadith, the Prophet states that no injustice will remain unrequited in the hereafter by saying:

“Every right holder will be given his right. Even hornless sheep’s right will be taken from the horned sheep through retaliation.” (Muslim, Birr 15, 60; Tirmidhi, Qiyama 2; R.Salihin, 204.) 

According to the statement of hadith scholars, an ant will obtain its right from other ants. Our Prophet (pbuh) said,

“On the Day of Judgment, the justice of Allah will be applied so comprehensively that retaliation will be applied between the hornless sheep and the horned sheep, and between an ant and other ants.” (See Majmau’z-zawaid, 10/352; Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır. Hak Dini Kur'an Dili, 8:5599) 

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, explains the issue as follows:

Although their bodies perish, among animals whose spirits are immortal there is reward and punishment in a manner appropriate for them in an eternal realm.” (Lem’alar:The Flashes) 

Yes, the spirit of animals will remain eternally; the Almighty Allah will protect their spirits. However, as the spirit is under His will and command, only Allah knows how they will be protected. 

There may be a question that can come to our mind: "Since animals will be dust after they are called to account, what is the profit or harm for them about being accounted?"

It is possible to evaluate the accounting of animals on the Day of Judgment in two ways. 

a. The accounting of animals among themselves.

This kind of accounting is the reflection of His Justice that covers everything. All creatures will be witnesses of how His Justice will cover a wide range. Guilty ones, who see this, will definitely feel that they deserve the punishment in their conscience. Oppressed animals, whose rights will be taken from the cruel ones, will realize their debt of gratitude. As the spirits of animals are eternal, maybe, even if after their bodies decayed, these spirits will have prosperity among themselves according to their share. 

b. The accounting of animals with Humans.

This type of accounting is important in terms of humans because, people who are nice to animals will be rewarded just like the ones who mistreat them will be punished. As a matter of fact, the following are stated in hadith books:

“A woman was punished (tortured) because she locked up a cat till it died." (Bukhari, Anbiya, 50; Muslim, Birr, 151);

“A man was forgiven and sent to Paradise because he gave water to a thirsty dog”. (Bukhari, Shirb, 9, Wudu, 33; Muslim, selam,153; Abu Dawud, Jihad,47)

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