The Prophet of God and His Sensitivity in Treating Animals( Mercy for Animal)

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What Does the Hadith Say about Mercy for Animal?

For the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him), treating all beings with compassion is both a natural consequence of his high moral character and an obligation, as he was sent as a mercy to the worlds. In this context, he (peace and blessings be upon him) treated animals with justice, compassion, and kindness, and instructed others to do the same. He said, “God shows mercy to those who are merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, and the ones in heaven will be merciful to you.”1 Undoubtedly, animals are among the most numerous inhabitants of the earth and are included in this directive.

On one occasion, our mother the respected Aisha mounted a restless camel. To calm the animal, she began to pull it back and forth harshly. Witnessing this scene, the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) called out to her and said, “Be gentle with the animal! For gentleness beautifies whatever it is found in, and any behavior devoid of gentleness is ugly.”2

The Prophet of God’s (peace and blessings be upon him) ethics in treating animals deeply influenced the generation he nurtured. Once, the respected Abu Qatada filled a container with water for ablution. At that moment, a cat approached and wanted to drink from the container. He tilted the container towards the cat to help it drink. Then, turning to his daughter-in-law, who was watching the scene in surprise, he said: “Are you surprised? The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Surely, the cat is not impure, for it is one of those creatures that frequently roam around you.’”3

Feeding and Resting of Animals

The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) did not consider it just or compassionate to leave owned animals hungry and thirsty, to load them beyond their capacity, or to make them work without rest. He taught that every act of kindness or cruelty towards living beings would have its consequences and urged believers towards compassion and kindness. One day, he told his companions about a thirsty man who, after quenching his own thirst, empathized with a thirsty dog and helped it drink. He said, “God was pleased with this act and forgave the man.” Upon hearing this, the companions asked, “O Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him), is there a reward for us in helping animals?” He replied, “There is a reward for every living being.”4

He lifted the siege of Taif and moved towards Ji’rana. On the way, Suraqa ibn Ju’shum, who had pursued him during his migration, came and embraced Islam. Then he asked, “O Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him)! If wild camels come and drink from the pool I have prepared for my own animals, will I also be rewarded for their benefit?” The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Yes!” and added, “There is a reward for giving water to any living creature with a thirsty throat!”5 He also said, “If a Muslim plants a tree and a person, animal, or bird eats from it, whatever is eaten from it will be considered charity for the Muslim until the Day of Resurrection,”6 thereby encouraging tree planting and highlighting the eternal reward for benefiting animals from it.

He instructed that water sources where animals drink should not be depleted. During a journey, he came across a river and filled his waterskin to perform ablution. After performing ablution, he poured the remaining water back into the river. He then said, “God may now bring this water to a person or an animal to benefit from it.”7 When he went out to pray for rain during a drought, he did not forget the animals affected by the drought. He included them in his prayers, saying, “O God! Give water to Your servants and animals. Spread Your mercy and revive the dead land.”8

The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) would sometimes admonish and advise his companions regarding the feeding of animals.

For example, on one occasion he said, “When you travel through areas with plenty of vegetation, allow the camels to graze so they can benefit from the grass. If you travel through barren and grassless areas, hasten the camels onward so they can reach their destination without becoming fatigued. When you stop to rest at night, move off the road and camp to the side, as the road is meant for the passage of animals and the resting place for insects.”9 On another occasion, he saw a camel with a shrunken stomach and sunken sides. He said, “Fear God regarding these animals who cannot speak! Ride them while they are in good condition, and slaughter and eat them when they are in good condition.”10

Entertainment Involving Animals

The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) did not approve of animals being fought against each other, incited to fight for entertainment purposes, watched by people in such contests, or used in shows.11 He prohibited making any living creature a target for shooting, and he forbade any form of entertainment with animals that would involve cruelty and savagery.12 Once, he witnessed some individuals attempting to target and shoot an arrow at a goat, which greatly disturbed him. He approached them and said, “Do not inflict harm on animals.”13

One day, the respected Abdullah ibn Umar encountered some young men from the Quraysh who had set up a bird as a target and were shooting arrows at it. Each arrow that missed the target resulted in a payment to the owner of the bird. Upon seeing him approach, the young men dispersed. The respected Abdullah ibn Umar then said, “Who did this? May God curse him. Indeed, the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) cursed anyone who makes a living creature a target for shooting.”14 He highlighted how sensitive the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) was on this matter.

A similar incident occurred with the respected Enes ibn Malik, who witnessed some people throwing stones at a chicken they had designated as a target. Upon seeing this scene, the respected Enes remarked, “The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited targeting and killing animals in this manner.”15 He intervened to stop this cruelty.

Not Torturing Animals

The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited the torture of animals just as he forbade it for humans.16 He said, “May God curse anyone who tortures animals.”17 When he arrived in Medina, he witnessed people cutting off the humps of camels and the tails of sheep while they were still alive, and he declared, “Whatever is cut from an animal while it is still alive is considered carrion and is not permissible to eat.”18 He put an end to this cruelty of the pre-Islamic era. He also saw a donkey that had been branded on its face, and he said, “May God curse those who brand animals like this!”19 He condemned such practices and forbade the branding of animals on their faces. 20 He further stated, “Do not make anything that has a soul a target.” 21 By cursing those who did so, 22 he prohibited using animals as targets and declared that the meat of animals killed in this manner through torture is not lawful to consume.23

He also prohibited striking animals on their faces24 and engaging them in fights.25 Once, he saw

someone pulling an animal by its ear, and he advised, “Leave the ear and hold onto the base of its neck!” 26 He cautioned against causing unnecessary pain while handling animals. 27 The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) taught, “God has enjoined excellence in every action.” When milking animals, he insisted on trimming their nails to avoid causing them harm,28 and he emphasized sharpening the knife before slaughtering to ensure a swift and humane process.29 On another occasion, he observed someone sharpening a knife in front of a sheep that was tied up for slaughter and remarked, “Are you intending to slaughter it multiple times?”30 He cautioned against such actions and said, “Even when slaughtering an animal, show mercy, for on the Day of Judgment, God will show mercy to those who are merciful.”31

He also prohibited torturing animals by depriving them of food and water. He illustrated the consequences of such behavior with an example: “A woman was condemned to Hell because she had confined a cat, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth, until it died.”32 He warned against the cruelty of such actions. Once, a woman reported that her children

had been hitting a cat she had confined in her home. Upon hearing this, the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded the woman to free the cat and instructed her to free a slave for each child who had struck the cat. 33 He did not tolerate even disrespect towards animals.

During a journey, he heard that a camel had been cursed by its owner. Immediately, he ordered the load to be removed from the camel and as a punishment, prohibited the owner from riding it. 34

He regarded conducting experiments on live animals without necessity and causing them pain as a violation of their rights. Once, a physician asked him if it was permissible to use frogs in medicine. The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited killing frogs for such purposes.35

Conclusion

In the pre-Islamic society of ignorance (Jahiliya), there were issues concerning animal rights that were incompatible with justice, ethics, and conscience, much like those concerning human rights. As evident from the narrations, the Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) implemented reforms concerning animals; he brought about transformations in perspectives, rights, and treatment. He established legal regulations and provided ethical guidance. He did not leave the matter to human discretion alone, emphasizing that animals are not without guardianship and reminding people that their actions towards animals, whether good or bad, have both worldly and spiritual consequences.

The Prophet of God (peace and blessings be upon him) sets a universal example in adhering to animal rights, their care and observance, and how they should be treated correctly. He personally and closely follows the respect for animal rights as a prophet and leader, issuing warnings and admonitions when necessary. He intervenes promptly in developments and shows extreme sensitivity to ensure that no injustice occurs towards animals, emphasizing their rights and proper treatment.

The believers should act with the consciousness of the respected Adiy ibn Hatim, who would throw bread crumbs to ants saying, “Indeed, they are our neighbors and have rights over us.”36

They should view the universe as a cradle of brotherhood, establishing their relationship with all living and non-living beings on the basis of respect for the rights and principles emphasized in the Quran and Sunnah. They should strive to build a balanced and righteous foundation, treating the earth as their home in the spirit of neighborliness towards all creatures.

Autor: Yücel Men

Footnotes:

1.Abu Dawud, Etiquette 58; Tirmidhi, Birr 16

2.Muslim, Birr 23 (78, 79)

3.Ibn Majah, Taharah 32

4.Bukhari, Drinks, 9; Mazalim 23; Muslim, Peace 41 (153)

5.Ibn Majah, Etiquette 8; Waqidi, Megazi 2/342

6.Muslim, Muqabat 2 (8-12); Bukhari, Harvest 1; Etiquette 27

7.Tabarani, Musnadu’s-Sham 2/346

8.Abu Dawood, Istisqa 2; Malik, Muwatta, Istisqa 2

9.Muslim, Imarat 54 (178); Abu Dawud, Jihad 57; Tirmidhi, Etiquette 75

10.Abu Dawood, Jihad 44

11.See. Abu Dawood, Jihad, 51; Tirmidhi, Jihad, 30

12.Muslim, Plowing and Slaughtering 58

13.Nasa’i, Dahaya 42

14.Bukhari, Zebah, 25; Muslim, Slaughter, 59; Nasa’i, Dahaya 41

15.Muslim, Plowing and Slaughtering 58; Nasa’i, Dahaya 41

16.Bukhari, Injustices 30; Ibn Majah, Slaughter 10

17.Bukhari, Zebah 25; Muslim, Slaughter 59; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad 7/235 (3133)

18.Tirmidhi, Plowing 12

19.Muslim, Clothes and Ornament 107

20.Abu Dawood, Jihad 52

21.Ibn Majah, Slaughter 10

22.See. Bukhari, Slaughter 25

23.See. Tirmidhi, At’ima 24

24.See. Bukhari, Plowing 35

25.See. Tirmidhi, Jihad 30

26.Ibn Majah, Slaughter 3

27.Muslim, Plowing 57; Ibn Majah, Slaughter 3

28.See. Haythami, Majma’ 8/196; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat 7/48

29.See. Muslim, Plowing 57; Ibn Majah, Slaughter 3

30.Abdurrazzak, Musannaf 4/493; Hakim, Mustadrak 4/257, 260; Bayhaqi, Kübra 9/280

31.Bukhari, Ethics of Al-Mufrad 381. Hadith

32.Bukhari, Prophets 54; Muslim, Plowing 11; Birr and Sila 135

33.See. Abdurrazzak, Musannaf 4/409 (8242)

34.See. Abu Dawud, Jihad 50

35.Abu Dawud, Etiquette 177; Tib 11; Darimi, Adahi 26

36.Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah 837.

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