Using Animals in Experiments: Allowed?
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Using Animals in Experiments: Allowed?



Reply Date

Jan 02, 2019


As-salamu `alaykum. Dear scholars, what is the ruling of using animals in biological experiments? What about the euthanasia of mice? Which is more permissible, cervical dislocation or CO2 saturation? They are both used in different circumstances. Are they both permissible? Thanks. Was-salaam.



Using Animals in Experiments

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- Islam enjoins mercy to animals as well as humans. So, every Muslim is ordained not to cause any harm to animals unreasonably. There are many texts of the Shari`ah declaring that Allah Almighty will reward those are kind to animals and punish others who cause harm to them.

2- As for using animals in experiments, it is, as seen by many jurists, a reasonable excuse.

Responding to your question and shedding more light on this issues, Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of Shari`ah Academy of America, states:

Kind treatment of animals is an Islamic injunction. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A woman will be tormented in Hell because of a cat which she detained until it died. She neither fed it when she detained it nor she let it free to eat of the vermin of the earth.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

He also said: “Do not use anything in which there is a soul as a target.” (Muslim )

Having made that clear, it is also important to realize that humans have been given a permission to use animals for food and as beasts of burden.

Allah said:

{Do you not see that Allah has made what is in the heavens and what is in the earth subservient to you, and made complete to you His favors outwardly and inwardly? And among men is he who disputes in respect of Allah though having no knowledge nor guidance, nor a book giving light.} (Luqman 31: 20)

The fact that human beings have a central place in this universe (Anthropic Principle) doesn’t mean that man may abuse the universe or the creatures therein.

Allah said:

{O children of Adam! Attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.} (Al-A`raf 7: 31)

Man may also protect himself against vermin by killing them. There is no sane culture that would hesitate to do that, particularly when such animals are harmful or may spread disease.

In fact, mice have been mentioned by the Prophet to be of those animals that should be killed to limit their harm. However, the ecological balance may not be disturbed at any time by any form of excess.

In fact, Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “An ant bit one of the prophets, so he ordered that the ant complex to be burnt. Allah then revealed to him, “Is it because an ant bit you that you destroyed a nation of creatures that exalts me.

Euthanasia is forbidden for humans, but not animals that are needed for food or other justifiable causes. Since mice are of the animals that cause harm, using them in laboratory experiments is reasonable.

Finally, whenever an animal is to be euthanized, the killing must be swift and as merciful as possible. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If you kill, kill well, and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” (Muslim)

The choice between the two methods of euthanasia mentioned will depend on which of them is less painful. That is a matter to be decided by the experts.

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

About Dr. Hatem Al-Haj

Dean of the Shari`ah Academy of America

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