Will you give information about animals’ obtaining their sustenance and the wisdom behind the violence among animals? Will the oppression and cruelty among animals be left unpunished? Why do our Lord show consent to it?

Details of the Question

When we watch documentaries about animals, we see that animals are given their sustenance through violence among them. Violence always dominates them; the one who is stronger becomes dominant. The main duty of animals in seeking sustenance is oppression. Allah states that He will not oppress any being. On the other hand, there are images of violence that disturb our minds. Is this not oppression/cruelty? Why does our Lord show consent to it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"You will give the rights of every being to them on the Day of Judgment. Even the right of the hornless sheep will be taken from the horned sheep through retaliation." [see Muslim, Birr 6, (2582); Tirmidhi, Qiyamah 2, (2422)]

Imam Nawawi states the following while explaining the hadith:

"This hadith explains that animals will also be resurrected on the Day of Judgment like people who are held responsible, children, insane people and people who were not informed about a heavenly religion. There are evidences about it in the Quran and the Sunnah. The following is stated in a verse:

"When the wild beasts are herded together,.." (at-Takwir, 81/5)

If there is no rational or religious obstacle to understanding a word mentioned in a verse and hadith in its apparent/literal sense, it is necessary to accept the apparent meaning." (see Sharhu Muslim, the explanation of the relevant hadith)

Allah has two kinds of laws, systems and shari’ahs:

The first one is the famous shari’ah that we call religion and the Quran, that comes from His attribute of speech and that arranges people’s beliefs, creeds, ethics and deeds. We call a person who believes in, obeys and surrenders to it a believer or a Muslim. A person who denies it or disobeys it is called an unbeliever or a non-Muslim. A person who obeys or disobeys this shari’ah is usually rewarded and punished in the hereafter. For, it is something related to testing; it has conditions and reasons for application.

For instance, to be sane, to have reached the age of puberty, to be healthy, to be a human being or a jinni, to have the ability to take the test, to expect the outcome in the hereafter, not in the world are the main conditions and rules of this shari’ah. Those who are not suitable for these conditions and rules, and who do not have the ability are not included within the boundaries of this shari’ah. They are not held responsible. Those who are not held responsible for this shari’ah are not punished in accordance with this shari’ah; punishment and reward are not justice for them but oppression.     

Allah is absolutely just and He is away from oppression; therefore, He does not include those who do not have the ability in the framework of this shari’ah. Applying the famous shari’ah to them will not be in compliance with wisdom and divine justice; therefore, they are exempted from the rules of the religion and the Quran; and they are not held responsible.

The second one is the laws, system and shari’ah of God Almighty called sunnatullah, adatullah; they come from His attribute of will; they impose rules on creation, arrange the order and system of the universe and encompass the realm in terms of control and management.  That is, they are the laws of adatullah and sunnatullah, which the worldly name as laws of nature, whose reality they discover but whose name they give wrong.

This is also a kind of shari’ah, religion or the laws and issues of the great book of the universe that need to be obeyed. The differences between this second chain of laws and the laws of Islam and the Quran, which come from Allah’s attribute of speech, are as follows:

1. These second laws encompass the whole universe, include every being, whether they are believers or unbelievers, sane or insane, animals or humans; nothing is exempted from them; they are in equal terms with everything; they are the laws of  adatullah and sunnatullah, which are not applied separately and differently. That is, these laws include everything, without discriminating between people and things.

2. These second laws can be obeyed or disobeyed. Those who obey and disobey can be evaluated as spiritually Muslim or non-Muslim. The reward and punishment of this obedience and disobedience is given in this world, unlike the first shari’ah, which is given in the hereafter. For instance, he who shows patience reaches victory. He who uses medication is cured. He who falls from a high place dies. He who enters fire is burnt. Creatures are ephemeral; they die. He who contacts water gets wet…

Performing prayers is a law of the Quran and it involves the conditions of being a believer, being sane and having reached the age of puberty. Those who do not have these conditions are not held responsible for the decrees of the religion and prayers. However, conditions are not in question in the application of the laws of the great book of the universe, that is, the law of creation of Allah called adatullah and sunnatullah. Everybody, whether he is sane or insane, he has reached the age of puberty or not, he believes or not, he is a human being or animal, has to be careful about these laws and act in accordance with them; the weak also need to be protected from them.  

For instance, fire burns. This law is valid for everybody. The heart, mind and feelings in people become active in order to benefit from these laws and to be protected from them. Along with feelings, instincts become active in animals. Abilities become active in plants.  

The decrees of the Quran have degrees like halal, haram and others; similarly, the laws of creation have halal, haram and other degrees.

For instance, it is haram to touch fire; it burns. It is halal and fard to drink water for life. Otherwise, a person dies. Jumping from high places has degrees. A person dies if he jumps from a minaret but there are degrees of jumping for pleasure. More examples can be given. That is, it is essential to take measures against laws of nature. The outcomes of acting in accordance with or against these laws are seen in this world.

Animals do not have intellect but they have

1. feelings,

2. instincts,

3. and a tiny free fill; therefore, they are exempt from the deeds related to the mind and they are not held responsible. However, they are held responsible for the laws of creation.

For instance, an animal does not approach fire with its feelings and instincts though it is not intelligent. It protects itself from its enemies, calculates the heights, acquires necessary supplies to its life, brings up its cubs, makes its dwelling; it is sensitive in terms of compassion and protection; it acts very carefully. These laws of compassion, protection, life and education are equal for all. They are necessary for every creature. They all have rights about them. An animal that falls into fire is burnt; similarly, an animal that harms laws of compassion, protection, life, etc. and violates common rights is punished even if it is an animal. Its acts are recorded.  

Today, science has determined that even plants have some feelings. Since animals have spirits, their lives are difficult because they have tiny free wills along with their instincts and pleasures. Their deeds are not for Allah’s sake only. That is, they are not like plants.

Non-living things and plants have no responsibility; animals, especially wild animals, are responsible to a certain extent; humans and jinn are fully responsible.

The following is stated in a hadith:

“The right of the hornless sheep will be taken from the horned sheep through retaliation in the hereafter.”

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi says,

“The halal food of beasts and wild animals are dead animals.”

It is haram for them to catch living animals, to kill them and to eat them in terms of the shari’ah of creation. If they do so, they are punished. When a lion abandons eating carrion, which is halal for it, without thinking of its compassion and protection toward its own cubs, and grabs and eats a young gazelle and feeds its cubs with it, he will have harmed the law of compassion and protection of creation; finally, he will be hunted by a hunter and killed as a necessity of divine wisdom. If it is not punished in this world, it will be punished in the hereafter. Their bodies will decay but their spirits are permanent; therefore, a mechanism of reckoning and justice will take place among animals too.

"Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it."(az-Zilzal, 99/7 and 8)

The verse above is also evidence for the issue and it encompasses everything. The following are in question regarding the issue:

1. Absolute justice will be applied since deeds will not be ignored in the tiniest amount.

2. It is necessary for the oppression among animals to be called to account in terms of wisdom; people should not look only at the appearance and they should not be mistaken; they should not fall into weakness in terms of compassion and mercy. Animals have no mind but the laws of creation are applied to them because the laws of creation are not subject to the principles of the mind. God Almighty did not create the realm based on our mentality; therefore, they are applied to those who have no mind too. 

Therefore, just as a mother protects her son from fire and danger so too must the same parent protect the children who are not of age yet from harming the law of compassion and protection. That is, if a child kills a bird or a fly that he catches, he is not held responsible because he has not reached the age of puberty yet according to the law of the Quran. Since he has harmed compassion, which is one of the laws of creation that is universal, he will deserve it if he falls and breaks his head. There are so many public interests behind the misfortunes and things that happen to children and creatures and that we cannot understand.

This system is also valid among animals. Animals and especially beasts who avoid fire, fear heights, know to hunt very well need to obey the law of life, compassion, protection and bringing up in the realm and should not exceed their limits. Everybody, no matter who, will be reward or punished in this world first, and if not, it the hereafter.

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It is said that the hornless sheep will get his rights from the horned sheep in the hereafter. Will you explain this hadith?

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