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Good Treatment of Animals – A Forgotten Part of Ihsan

When we hear the words Iman, Ihsan, Islam or Ikhlas, we think of a man with a long beard praying Qiyam-ul Layl. But in fact our deen is not just about prayers and fasting, it encompasses every imaginable aspect of life on this Earth.

This is clear from the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad:

Allah has prescribed Al-Ihsan in all things. So if you kill, then kill well, and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let one of you sharpen his blade and spare suffering to the animal he slaughters. (Muslim)

If that is the case for an animal we’re about to slaughter, how about the animals which are living around us, sharing the same earth?

I heard a heartrending story from a sister some time ago. A few people, just for fun, were torturing a mother cat by killing her kittens one by one which keeping her trapped. Then they let her go, and she went to them and was licking their dead bodies. It is an extreme example, but it shows what beasts we have become who don’t have mercy for Allah’s beautiful creations.

Here are a few examples from the life of the Prophet about the importance of treating animals kindly.

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1- Reward for Kind Treatment to Animals

A man was walking on a road when he became very thirsty. He found a well and went into it and drank and came out. There was a dog panting and eating earth out of thirst. The man said, ‘This dog has become as thirsty as I was.’ He went down into the well and filled his shoe and then held it in his mouth until he climbed out and gave the dog water to drink. Allah thanked him for it and forgave him.

After hearing this story, the companions asked the Prophet:

“Messenger of Allah, do we have a reward for taking care of beasts?”

He said:

There is a reward for every one with a moist liver [i.e. every living creature]. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In another hadith he said:

While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, an Israeli prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and watered it. So Allah forgave her because of that good deed. (Al-Bukhari)

2- Punishment for Ill Treatment Towards Animals

The Prophet Muhammad said:

A woman entered the (Hell) Fire because of a cat which she had tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth. (Al-Bukhari)

Ibn Uthaymeen feared that this meant that if one allowed a mouse trapped in a mousetrap to starve to death, they would end up in Hell.

One day Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar was passing by some young men of the Quraish who had tied a bird at which they had been shooting arrows. Every arrow that they missed came into the possession of the owner of the bird. So no sooner did they see Ibn ‘Umar they went away. Thereupon Ibn ‘Umar said:

Who has done this? Allah has cursed him who does this. Allah’s Messenger invoked curse upon one who made a live thing the target (of one’s marksmanship). (Muslim)

3- A Camel Complains to the Prophet

The Prophet once entered the garden of a man from the Ansar (Helpers). All of a sudden when a Camel saw the Prophet it wept tenderly producing yearning sound and it eyes flowed. The Prophet came to it and wiped the temple of its head. So it kept silence. He then said:

Who is the master of this Camel? Whose Camel is this?

A young man from the Ansar came and said:

‘This is mine, Messenger of Allah.’

He said:

Don’t you fear Allah about this beast which Allah has given in your possession. It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily which fatigues it’. (Abu Dawud)

4- The Prophet Forbade Sitting on Animals for Longer Than Necessary

He said:

Do not treat the backs of your animals as pulpits. Surely, Allah has made them subject to you to carry you to a town that you would not have been able to reach except with difficulty and hardship. (Abu Dawud)

5- Who Has Grieved This [Bird]?

One day, a few companions saw a mother bird and her two young ones, and they took the young birds. The mother bird started flapping its wings. When the Prophet saw her, he said:

Who has grieved this one due to her offspring? Return its offspring to her. (Abu Dawud)

Source: Understand Quran

(From Discovering Islam archive)