The Creation of an Environmental Conscience (part 3 of 4): Animal Rights and Wrongs

God has created every moving (living) creature from water.  Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs, and some that walk on four.  God creates what He wills.  Verily!  God is Able to do all things.” (Quran 24:45)
Throughout the revealed texts of Islam, we find that God has animals playing not insignificant roles in the fate of nations.  After all, in the above verse we are informed of our common origin: water.
In the story of the People of Thamud, for example, we are given an indication of Islam’s enforcing of ethical treatment of animals, or more precisely, the severe consequences of mistreating them.  For it was only after Thamud slaughtered the she-camel miraculously sent to them by God as a Sign, after they had already oppressed the beast by denying her water to drink, that God destroyed the nation in one single mighty blast.[1]
animal rights in islam

The rights of animals were told by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 1400 years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!

“(The People of) Thamud denied (their Prophet, Salih) through their transgression, when the most wicked man among them went forth (to kill the she-camel).  But the Messenger of God (Prophet Salih) (had) said to them: Be cautious!  That is the she-camel of God!  (So do not harm it) and bar it not from having its drink (of water)!  Then they denied him and they killed it.  So their Lord destroyed them because of their sin, and made them equal in destruction!” (Quran 91:11-4)
In order to best appreciate just how seriously Islam champions what in modern times are popularly referred to as “animal rights”, and how seriously Islam criminalizes any wrong done to animals, one need venture no further than the authentic narrations (ar. ahadith) of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh).  No detailed commentary will be necessary as the words of the Prophet(pbuh), often highly charged with emotion and empathy for the suffering of birds and beasts alike, speak loudly for themselves as they vividly illustrate Islam’s unprecedented “humanistic” regard for man’s fellow creatures.  From among the many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) are:
“Whilst a man was walking on a road, he was overcome with severe thirst.  So he found a well, descended into it, drank (his fill), and then came out.  Then he saw a dog panting hard and eating the moist earth.  So he said: ‘Verily, this dog is overcome with thirst like I had been.’  So he (again) descended into the well and filled his leather socks with water.  Grasping his socks in his mouth, he came out of the well and then quenched the dog’s thirst.  Therefore, God thanked the man and forgave him his sins.” The Companions asked: ‘O Messenger of God!  Do we really get reward for (being kind even to) animals?’  The Prophet replied: ‘There is reward for (showing kindness to) every living thing.’” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Abu Dawood)
kindness to animals

The Prophet replied: ‘There is reward for (showing kindness to) every living thing.’

“A woman was punished on account of a cat.  She imprisoned it until it died, so was entered into Hellfire.  She neither fed it nor quenched its thirst whilst she held it captive, nor did she leave it be to eat from the insects of the earth.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, Ibn Majah)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said,“Whoever kills [even] a sparrow without good reason, God will question him about it on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmed)
save sparrow

“Whoever kills [even] a sparrow without good reason, God will question him about it on the Day of Resurrection.”

“Do not use living creatures for target practice.” (Saheeh Muslim)
“An earlier Prophet(pbuh) of God was stung by an ant and so, in anger, ordered the entire ants nest be burned.  At this, God reprimanded this Prophet with the words: ‘Because one ant stung you, you have burned a whole community which glorified Me.’” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
“The one to whom his horse is a source of reward is the one who keeps it in the path of God, and ties it by a long rope in a pasture or a garden.  Such a person will get a reward equal to what the horse’s long rope allows it to eat in the pasture or the garden.  And if the horse breaks its rope and crosses one or two hills, then all marks of its hoofs and its dung will be counted as good deeds for its owner.  And if it passes by a river and drinks from it, then that will also be regarded as a good deed on the part of its owner.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
“Do not clip the forelock of a horse, for decency is attached to its forelock; nor its mane, for it protects it; nor its tail, for it is its fly-swatter.” (Abu Dawud)
“While a man was riding a cow, it turned toward him and said: ‘I have not been created for this purpose; I have been created for plowing.’” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
“God’s Messenger (pbuh) forbade inciting animals to fight each other.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim, at-Tirmidhi)
Abdur-Rahman bin Abdullah bin Mas‘ud narrated:
“We were on a journey with the Messenger (pbuh)of God, and he left us for a while.  During his absence, we saw a bird called Hummara with its two young and so we took the young ones.  The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief, when the Prophet(pbuh) came back and said: ‘Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its young?  Return them to her!’” (Saheeh Muslim)
Jabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (pbuh), upon seeing an ass which had been branded in its face pass him by, became so upset that he exclaimed:
“May God curse the one who branded it.” (Saheeh Muslim)
The Prophet(pbuh)’s wife, A’isha, narrated: “I was riding a restive camel and turned it rather roughly.  The Prophet(pbuh) said to me:
‘It behooves you to treat animals gently.’” (Saheeh Muslim)
Yahya bin Said narrated:
“The Prophet(pbuh) was seen wiping the face of his horse with his gown.  When asked why he was doing that, he replied: ‘Last night I was reprimanded by God for having neglected my horse.’” (Muwatta)
Abdullah bin Ja’far mentioned that when the Prophet(pbuh) passed by some children who were shooting arrows at a ram, he rebuked them, saying:
“Do not maim the poor beast.” (an-Nasai)
Even a cursory reading of the Prophet(pbuh)’s words above will have revealed how harming, abusing or disfiguring animals carries stern censure in this world and severe penalty in the Hereafter; while protecting animals and showing mercy and kindness to them is rewarded by God, a path to forgiveness, and expiation of one’s sins.  It is clear also that Islam acknowledges the pain and suffering felt and experienced by animals – both physical and psychological – and how they instinctively recognize when injustice is done to them.  Quite remarkably, Islam also recognizes animals as possessing a conscience, natural dignity, and even unique individual identities (a bird named “Hummara”, a donkey named “Uqayr”, and so on).
“And the earth He has put for the living creatures.  Therein are fruits and palms producing sheathed fruit-stalks; and also corn, with (its) leaves and stalks for fodder, and sweet-scented plants.  Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you deny?” (Quran 10:10-13)
[1] The destruction of the She-Camel in itself is not the reason God destroyed the nation.  Rather, it is the destruction of His Special Sign which had been sent to them, such destruction symbolizing their utter denial of God as the One to whom they will return, and Tawheed as the religion that he ordained.  Similarly, when a man hurts any animal without just cause, he is denying one of the aspects God has ordained mankind should act on, which is mercy.  When a man denies an animal (or vegetation) its right to mercy, then the right to mercy the man has from God is similarly withdrawn, and he will be punished.  Furthermore, if a man intentionally performs a mercy to an animal, vegetation (or person), then God will reward him out of His mercy.

The Story of a Mujahid who fought for the sake of Allah

Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations. Is there any ilah (god) with Allah? Little is that you remember!
-Surah An-Naml (27:62)

Allah says here:

(Is not He Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls on Him,) meaning, Who is the only One to Whom the person in desperate need turns, and the only One Who can relieve those who are stricken by harm Imam Ahmad reported that a man of Balhajim said: “O Messenger of Allah, what are you calling for” He said: (I am calling people to Allah Alone, the One Who, if you call on Him when harm befalls you, will relieve you; and when you are lost in the wilderness, you call on Him and He brings you back: and when drought (famine) strikes, you call on Him and He makes your crops grow.) He said: “Advise me.” He said: (Do not slander anyone and do not think of any good deed as insignificant, even if it is only meeting your brother with a cheerful face or emptying your vessel into the vessel of one who is asking for water. Wear your lower garment at mid-calf length, or — if you insist — let it reach your ankles, and beware of lowering the garment below the ankles along the ground, for it is a form of showing-off, and Allah does not like showing-off.)

In his biography of Fatimah bint Al-Hasan Umm Ahmad Al-`Ajaliyyah, Al-Hafiz bin `Asakir reported that she said:

“One day the disbelievers defeated the Muslims in a battle. There was a good horse which belonged to a rich man who was also righteous. The horse just stood there, so its owner said, `What is the matter with you Woe to you! I was only preparing you for a day such as this.’ The horse said to him: `How can you expect me not to perform badly, when you delegated my feeding to the grooms, and they mistreated me and only fed me a little’ The man said, `I make you a promise before Allah that from this day on, only I will feed you from my own lap.’

So the horse began to run, and his owner was saved, and after that he only ever fed the horse from his own lap. This story became well known among the people, and they started to come to him to hear the story from his own lips. News of this reached the king of Byzantium, and he said: `A city where this man is, will be kept safe from harm.’

He wanted to bring the man to his own city, so he sent an apostate (a man who had left Islam) who was living in his city to go to him, and when he reached him, he pretended that his intentions towards Islam and its followers were good, so the Mujahid trusted him.

One day they went out walking along the shore, but the apostate made a pact with another person, a follower of the Byzantine king, to come and help him take the Mujahid prisoner. When they made their move, he lifted his gaze to the sky and said, `O Allah! He has deceived me by swearing in Your Name, so protect me in whatever way You will.’

Then two wild animals came out and seized them, and the Mujahid came back safe and sound. ” The Inheritance of the Earth

(and makes you inheritors of the earth,) means, each generation inherits from the generation that came before them, one after the other, as Allah says:

(if He wills, He can destroy you, and in your place make whom He wills as your successors, as He raised you from the seed of other people) (6:133),

(And it is He Who has made you generations coming after generations, replacing each other on the earth. And He has raised you in ranks, some above others) (6:165),

(And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily, I am going to place generations after generations on earth.”) (2:30) meaning, people who will come after one another, as we have already stated. Allah’s saying:
(and makes you inheritors of the earth,) means, nation after nation, generation after generation, people after people.

If He had willed, He could have created them all at one time, and not made some of them the offspring of others. If He had willed, He could have created them all together, as He created Adam from dust. If He had willed, He could have made some of them the offspring of others, but not caused any of them to die until they all died at one time; in this case the earth would have become constricted for them and it would be too difficult for them to live and earn a living, and they would have caused inconvenience and harm to one another.

But His wisdom and decree ruled that they should be created from one soul, then their numbers should be greatly increased, so He created them on the earth and made them generation after generation, nation after nation, until their time will come to an end and there will be no one left on earth, as Allah has decreed and as He has completely counted out their numbers. Then the Resurrection will come to pass, and each person will be rewarded or punished according to his deeds. Allah says: 

(Is not He Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls on Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations Is there any god with Allah) meaning, is there anyone else able to do that, or a god with Allah worth worshipping — while you know that He is the only one who can do that, having no partners
(Little is that you remember!) meaning, how little they think about that which would guide them to the truth and show them the straight path.
[Tafsir ibn katheer]