Is it permissible to keep and feed a budgie, pigeon, etc. at home?

The Details of the Question

- I have a cute budgie at home; is it religiously objectionable to keep it at home?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The creature that has the vastest world and the widest area is the bird. All of the depths of the sky and the cool places of the earth belong to birds. The freedom of a bird and the area it can benefit from is endless. 

It is not logical to imprison a being that has such a deep and vast world in a very small cage by taking it from its vast world and to condemn it to a life of agony; and it is not reasonable in terms of human compassion. 

Besides, there is no certain benefit and legitimate outcome of putting a bird that has such a vast life in a narrow cage. The only benefit is the pleasure that its owner feels individually.

It is strange that this pleasure is taken from the cries and screams of the bird that was imprisoned by being taken from its vast world. It is a pleasure like the one taken from the agonies of some living beings. Therefore, Imam Birgiwi regards imprisoning a bird in a cage and having fun with it a sin and a disaster.

However, it is permissible to keep the birds that can live only in cages and that do not have the habit of living outside cages and to feed them.

It is also stated that it is permissible to keep birds that are used for some useful purposes like the birds kept for hunting. It is regarded makruh to keep pigeons, which some people do as an addictive hobby, because it is a useless activity. It is even written in some books that to keep pigeons just for fun and to play with them will cause poverty.

When Hz. Uthman was informed that the hobby of keeping pigeons became widespread in Madinah when he was the caliph, he searched it; when he found out that it was true, he forbade it and punished those who kept them because it was a waste of time and something useless to keep pigeons.

However, it is an exception for very young children to play with birds for a while. It is not regarded as a waste of time for a very young child that is learning to speak to play with a bird and to find out about the traits of a bird. It is regarded as an opportunity to learn about that creature.  

The condition for this permissibility is not to cause any pain to the animal and not to harm it.

It is also stated that it is permissible and appropriate to imprison a hen that has laid eggs for incubation in the same chapter where it is stated that it is makruh to keep a bird in a cage since it is of no use. However, it will be useful to imprison such a hen.

As a matter of fact, it is regarded permissible to keep a hound outside the house and to look after the dogs that guard the vineyards, orchards and gardens; however, it was rendered haram to be busy with toy dogs that are of no use and to keep them inside the house.

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