Will you explain the mercy of the Prophet toward animals?

Details of the Question

Will you explain the mercy of the Prophet toward animals?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our exalted religion, Islam, states that everything in the universe was created based on a balance. The balance seen in all beings in the universe is a sign and proof of the existence of Allah. One of the most important elements ensuring the ecological balance in the universe is animals. The Quran calls animals, which are important members of the ecological system, an “ummah (community)”. The following is stated in verse 38 of the chapter of al-An’am:

“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.”

In the verse above, it is stated that all of the living beings are species like human beings and that all living beings from unicellular ones to vertebrate, from reptiles to those walking on their feet and flying with their wings are independent beings.

Everything that Allah has created is good and has been created with His vast love. This fact is stated as follows in the Quran:

“He Who has made everything which He has created most good.”(1)

“And cattle He has created.”(2)

All of the beings, whether living or non-living, glorify Allah with their tongue of disposition. The following is stated in the first verse of the chapter of al-Jumua:

“Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the Praises and Glory of Allah- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”

What is expected from man, who is the most honorable and superior being, is to treat every being that glorifies Allah with compassion and mercy. 

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asks us to show mercy on not only humans but also all living beings. The following is stated in a hadith:

“The merciful are shown mercy by Ar-Rahman. Be merciful to the ones on the earth, and you will be shown mercy by the ones above the heavens. The womb is named after Ar-Rahman, so whoever connects it, Allah connects him; and whoever severs it, Allah severs him.”(3)

The phrase “the ones on the earth” mentioned in the hadith includes all kinds of living beings.

It is seen that this advice of the Prophet (pbuh) has influenced Muslims throughout history. Acting upon this advice by Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), Muslims treated all living beings with mercy and tolerance. The animals also received their share from this civilization of love and tolerance.

The verse “Love the one that has been created due to the One that has created” by the great Turkish folk poet Yunus Emre expresses concisely the attitude of our ancestors to their environment and all living beings in their environment.

Our ancestors showed their love and mercy toward animals by setting up hospitals for animals, bird houses, hospitals for birds and various foundations to protect animals. 

The Prophet (pbuh) stated that treating animals well would cause a person to enter Paradise and narrated the following incident to his Companions:

“A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way; he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah praised this slave and forgave him.”

Thereupon, the Companions asked,  

"Is there a reward for us for giving water to animals?" The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Yes, there is a reward for giving water to any living being.” (4)

The Prophet (pbuh) stated that treating animals badly would cause a person to enter Hell and said,

“A woman entered Hell because she tied a cat, did not give it any food and did not release it, preventing it from finding food.” (5)

The religion of Islam prohibits torturing man as well as torturing and harming animals. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah Almighty will question a person for killing a sparrow unjustly.”(6) He ordered people “not to spoil the nests of birds and not to pick their eggs and fledglings.”(7)

When Umar b. Abdulaziz was the caliph, he wrote a letter to his governors and told them not to allow people to wrong their horses by making them run in vain, to prevent such practices, not to allow heavy bridles to be attached to horses and not to afflict them by putting a halter containing an iron around their heads. This instruction by Umar b. Abdulaziz is a very important historical example in terms of protecting animal rights.

We have information showing that the rights of animals were protected and those who violated them were punished in the Ottoman legal system.

In conclusion, Islam orders us to love animals, to use them in tasks that are in compliance with their nature, to load them with burdens that they can carry, to give their food on time, not to beat them and to have them treated when they are ill. 

Footnotes:

1. as-Sajda, 32/7
2. An-Nahl, 16/5
3. Muslim, Birr wa Sila, 23; Tirmidhi, Birr, 16.
4. Bukhari, Anbiya, 54.
5. Bukhari, Badul-Khalq, 17.
6. Nasai, Dahaya, 43.
7. Bukhari. Adabul-Mufrad, 139.

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