November 19th marked the last day of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations. During this holiday, thousands of animals are slaughtered and their meat distributed to the needy. While the intention behind the slaughter is noble, many animal rights activists are concerned that animals are being mistreated. Interestingly, these activists use an Islamic framework to make their case. Activists like Amina Abaza, the founder of the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt (SPARE), argue that the questioned practices violate Islamic rules regarding animal rights.
Maybe many do not realize it but in Islam there are animal rights. There are many hadith from the Prophet Muhammad that speak to the kind treatment of animals. For example, Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet forbade beating animals on the face.” Another example also comes from Ibn ‘Umar who said, “The Prophet cursed the one who did muthla to an animal (i.e. cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive).” In Islam animals, like humans, are God’s creation and thus kindness must be displayed towards them as well.
This kindness extends to slaughtering practices, which is the crux of charges from Abaza and other activists. Oftentimes, the animals are mistreated as they are being transported to butchers and many times they see other animals being slaughtered. Both of these are violations of the Islamic rules. Also, when slaughtering the butcher is suppose to lie the animal on its side (away from live animals) and with a very sharp knife cut the throat quickly to minimize the pain. Activists have documented that many animals are just stabbed in the throat. All of these practices deviate from how Islam instructs followers to treat animals. Thus, the call is to maintain Islamic standards in dealing with animals and display the kindness the Prophet called for.
Do you think there are animal rights in Islam? Are their animal rights in other faiths? Do you think that an Islamic framework is useful to combat abuses against animals? Please share your thoughts.