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Islam and animals

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This article is about ' in ic' thought.

The Qur'an assigns an inferior status to animals in comparison with humans and has a tendency towards . It nevertheless strongly enjoins Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. The animals, together with all the creation, are believed to praise God, even if this praise is not expressed in human language (e.g. see ).

The Qur'an explicitly allows the eating of the meat of the animals (see ). Prohibitions include , , and animals in the name of someone other than . The Arabic term for the "animal" (i.e. haywan) in its only one appearance in the Qur'an means "the true life" and refers to the life in the next world rather than to "animal".

Although the Qur'an considers humans to occupy the highest place, it nevertheless strongly enjoins Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. The Qur'an states that all creation praises God, even if this praise is not expressed in human language (e.g. see ).

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.


According to many verses of the Quran, (, ) the consumption of is forbidden, except in extreme circumstances,

A is reported from Muhammad that he issued advice to kill the sinful (') animal within the holy area (') of , such as the rat and the scorpion. Killing animals that are non-domesticated such as zebras and birds in this area is forbidden.

Conversation with animals Edit

In both and accounts, is said to have conversed nonchalantly with camels, birds and other species. Shi'a accounts also extend this to include the . In one account, a camel is said to have come to Muhammad and complained that despite service to his owner, the animal was about to be killed. Muhammad summoned the owner and ordered the man to spare the camel. There are also accounts in in the Qur'an of talking to ants and birds , and the and Shi'a Imams declared that they could communicate with anything that had a soul.

Hunting and slaughter Edit

Muslims are required to sharpen the blade when slaughtering animals. Muhammad is reported to have said:"For [charity shown to] each creature which has a wet heart (i.e. is alive), there is a reward."

  • Camels: Muhammad's own was very dear to him, so much that "he would do without his cloak rather than disturb one that was sleeping on it."
  • Dogs: see .
  • Geckos: In Muslim culture, they are considered to represent power.
  • Hyenas: In Muslim culture, they are considered ugly. Unusually, however, meat is considered Halal in the nations of , , , and , due to the fact that the animal is an omnivore, rather than a purely carnivorous animal.
  • Sheep: Muhammad prided himself in being part of a rich tradition of prophets who found their means of livelihood as being shepherds.
  • Snakes: Snakes are considered to represent viciousness.

Muslims generally cast dogs in a negative light because of their ritual impurity. The story of the of in the Qur'an (and also role of the dog in early Christianity) is one of the striking exceptions. Muhammad didn't like dogs according to tradition, and most practicing Muslims do not have dogs as pets.

Another Sunni tradition attributed to Muhammad commands Muslims not trade or deal in dogs. According to El Fadl, this shows the cultural biases against dogs as a source of moral danger.

In a tradition found in the Sunni hadith book, al-Muwatta, Muhammad states that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds.

Dogs, outside the ritual legal discourse, were often portrayed in the literature as a symbol of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty or on the other hand as an oppressive instrument in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers.

Muslim cultureEdit

Usually in Muslim culture animals have names (one animal may be given several names), which are often interchangeable with names of people. Muslim names like asad and ghadanfar ( for lion), shir and arslan ( and for lion, respectively) are common in the Muslim world. Prominents Muslims with animal names include: (called "Asad Allah", God's lion), (called "al-baz al-ashhab", the white falcon) and of (called "red falcon").

Islamic literature contains many stories of animals. Arabic and Persian literature boast a large number of animal fables. The most famous, kalilah was Dimnah, translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa in the 8th century, was also known in . In the 12th century Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawadi wrote many short stories of animals. At about the same time, in north-Eastern Iran, Farid al-Din Attar composed the epic poem Mantiq al-Tayr (meaning "The Discourses of the Birds") Cattle require up to two minutes to bleed to death when such means are employed, according to the Chairperson of the Judy MacArthur Clark. She adds, "This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous." Majid Katme of the disagrees, stating that "[i]t's a sudden and quick haemorrhage. A quick loss of blood pressure and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain." This study is cited by the in its permitting of dhabiha slaughtering. Muslims and Jews have also argued that the in the traditional British methods of slaughter, "animals are sometimes rendered physically immobile, although with full consciousness and sensation. The application of a sharp knife in shechita and dhabh, by contrast, ensures that no pain is felt: the wound inflicted is clean, and the loss of blood causes the animal to lose consciousness within seconds."

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