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Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:
Aisha Khaja: So, Dr. Shabir, the question that we have today is: what does Islam say about testing drugs on animals?
Dr. Shabir Ally: And it is a new question in that, you know, in ancient societies people would not have had any facilities for this testing. They may have done some rudimentary ways of testing.
An interesting book on the subject is this one. The title is Organ Transplantation, Euthanasia, Cloning, and Animal Experimentation.
Aisha Khaja: Wow, it’s got everything the full … everything.
Dr. Shabir Ally: That’s all right … and then the subtitle reads: An Islamic View by Abul Fadi Mohsin Ebrahim. It’s published by the Islamic Foundation in Markfield in Leicester[shire] it’s a short book and with very important points.
As for this topic on animal experimentation, he traces the history and shows that even Muslim scholars would have at one time, meaning scientists like Al Khwarizmi, may have done some animal experimentation at one time.
But obviously with most things there is a development, you know, our awareness of issues become more acute with the passing of history. And now we’re discussing animal rights as we never have before.
But as he points out here, already in the Quran and in the sayings attributed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) there is much emphasis on animal rights. And that’s interesting because, so you know, we might think we are human beings and animals are just there to serve us.
But from the Quranic perspective, animals have as much right to the earth as we have. God has created them, various creatures, and we do not dare harm the creatures. But God has given human beings the special permission to slaughter animals for food.
And not all animals, but certain ones which are suitable for human consumption.
Aisha Khaja: But the way we slaughter is also limited in terms of the amount of pain the animal feels, right?
Dr. Shabir Ally: True, true. So, with all of this background, now obviously, we cannot misuse animals. We cannot just wantonly just test drugs and animals to see if they’re safe for humans.
However, when it comes to the matter of weighing this harm over that harm. If we fear that prescribing a certain drug to be used by human beings would, you know, possibly result in great harm to human beings, now there is a possibility of testing on animals.
Because, though that’s harmful to the animals, that is a lesser harm at least from our perspective. But we must keep the two perspectives in mind. And, I mean, the broader perspective that animals do have rights too.
They’re not dead objects that we can just do, you know, it’s not like banging a hammer on a piece of wood to see whether that wood is strong or not or whether the hammer is good enough.
But this is a being, a sentient being, having some awareness and at least having sensitivity to pain. And so, we cannot misuse animals. We must proceed with due diligence and in proportion.
Aisha Khaja: Well, what about cosmetics? Because some cosmetics are experimented on animals. So, does that mean that we should only use cosmetics that aren’t tested on animals?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, obviously, cosmetics, the use of cosmetics do not fall, does not fall under any kind of dire necessity. We might think of extreme medical conditions where somebody might be dying if, you know, if they don’t use a certain drug. And we need to test the drug first … unless the drug itself will cause more deaths.
So that’s a dire necessity. And then we can understand testing on animals prior to the use. But when it comes to cosmetics, since this is like superficial and voluntary, then I would rather not use something to make myself look good … to save the animals from any harm from testing on the animals.
I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.
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