Rafed English

Protecting The Animal Environment

"Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the Night and the Day; in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;--(here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise." Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2:164)

"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." Holy Qur'an (An`am 6:38) "There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance dependes on Allah: He knowes the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit: All is in a clear Record." Holy Qur'an (Hud 11:6)

"See you not that to Allah bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on earth,--the sun, the moon, the stars; the hills, the trees, the animals; and a great number among mankind?" Holy Qur'an (Hajj 22:18)

"See you not that it is Allah Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise." Holy Qur'an (Nur 24:41)

"...There is not a thing but celebrates His praise; and yet you understand not how they declare His glory!" Holy Qur'an (Isra` 17:44)

Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:5-6)

"And (He has created) horses, mules, and donkeys, for you to ride and use for show; and He has created (other) things of which ye have no knowledge." Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:8)

"It is He Who sends down rain from the sky: From it you drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which you feed your cattle. With it He produces for you corn, olives, date palms, grapes, and every kind of fruit: Verily in this is a sign for those who give thought." Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:10-11)

"And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that you may guide yourselves;" Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:15)

"And the things on this earth which He has multiplied in varying colours (and qualities): Verily in this is a Sign for men who celebrate the praises of Allah (in gratitude)." Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:13)

"It is He Who has made the sea subject, that you may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that you may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and you see the ships therein that plough the waves, that you may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that you may be grateful." Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:14)

"If you would count up the favours of Allah, never would you be able to number them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." Holy Qur'an (Nahl 16:18)

In this collection of verses, the Holy Qur'an describes the environment in a marvellous way, and joins its different components; viz., man, earth, air, atmosphere, rivers, seas, rain, clouds, plants, animals, birds, fishes, etc., in one circumstance and a perfect, as well as, complex formation serving a particular and interrelated purpose. Hence, all this is meant for the interest and welfare of man, and for this reason he is the center and responsible for the protection of the environment.

In this connection, the Holy Qur'an warns and cautions those who destroy and pollute the environment, thus: " "And do no mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order,..." Holy Qur'an (A`raf 7:56)

In another instance, the holy Qur'an describes those who spread corruption on the earth and play with the life system on land, as well as, in the sea, as wicked and evil people; the Holy Qur'an states:

"Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought,." Holy Qur'an (Rum 30:41)

"When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle." Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2:205)

Indeed, from these above verses, we will be able to understand Islam's concern towards the animal's world, as well as, for all the living environment. It addresses man and presents him with a major formula on how to live with the other creatures who live in the same environment as himself, in order to be able to put them at his service and disposal, however, by Allah's permission. The Holy Qur'an describes this issue by saying:

"In order that you may sit firm and square on their backs, and when so seated, you may celebrate the (kind) favour of your Lord, and say, "Glory to Him Who has subjected these to our (use), for we could never have accomplished this (by ourselves)" Holy Qur'an (Zukhruf 43:13)

In the same light, though, the Holy Qur'an describes the animal's world as an independent world, which has its own system, laws, social formations and relationship between its subjects, as well as, its Lord, as it also has its system of relation with man, plants and the material world. The Holy Qur'an describes this by saying: "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." Holy Qur'an (An`am 6:38)

Therefore, animals are also creatures like us, which have their own special animalistic systems and of which, until now, man has been unable to discover from them but only a little knowledge.

The Holy Qur'an portrays animals as creatures who know their Lord, go toward Him and have their own prayers, "rosary", and prostration that correspond with their existence, although man has been unable, for the most part, to decect this. And like man, animals have their own wealth in the natural world, which is only meant for them by the Almighty Allah.

In addition, Allah, through His grace and blessings, has created animals for the service of man, where he gets food from their meats and by-products, uses their hair and waste products (for clothing and agricultural purposes) and uses them for riding, transportation and cultivation of land, as well as, keeps them as a source of beauty, decoration and wealth for himself.

Thus, the Holy Qur'an places the animal's world side by side with the human's world, so as to live with this creature as a part of his environment, but he is responsible for its protection and care. This is why Islam prohibits aggression and wickedness toward the animals and also, prohibits hunting, i.e., the killing of animals uselessly, except at the time of need. This is because the right and superiority given to man over animals is so that he should use them with kindness and leniency.

Hence, the Islamic laws warn against harming and hurting animals or their environment, such as, destroying their grazing land or killing them; with the exception of those that are harmful to man, where, when necessary, killing them will serve as a saving of one's health and self, for instance, snakes, scorpions, etc.

Indeed, when we analyze the Islamic laws, we can understand and detect the marvelous and wonderful reasons for protecting the animals.

It is narrated that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) warns against the killing of bees and the eating of wild donkeys. It was said that the prohibition of eating wild donkeys was to prevent their cessation and annilation from exixtence. In another tradition, it prohibits the taking of birds in their nests at night or taking them before they are fully grown and have not power enough to fly.

This is because the Islamic principles repect the law of environmental balance between man and animals, thus, the animals have the right to depend on and protect themsleves from any intruder by running or flying away, but in the above mentioned condition they cannot depend on themselves as expected.

Consequently, the law which we have mentioned earlier, i.e., the law of "la dharara wa la dhirara" has an overwhelming effect in the field of protecting and preserving the animal's environment. Like the prohibitiion of hunting birds, animals and fishes in their reproductive season, or the prohibition of throwing poisonous substances into the rivers so as to kill aquatic animals, or the prohibition of destroying trees and crops, as well as, the prohibition of causing or spreading corruption in the earth.

From this Qur'anic description, we can detect Islamic views and opinions towards animals and our responsibility toward this universe, as well as, how we should live with it. We have already seen this Prophetic Tradition which states that: "No Muslim will grow a plant or sow a crop, that birds, animals, or man eat from it, unless he has a reward (sadaqa) for it."

So, this means that whatever good deed a man performs, like protecting another man, or any other animal, has a reward in doing this act.

This shows the Islamic concern and encouragement toward the protection and preservation of animals, in that the animals, also, have their own rights and wealth, as these verses clearly state: "Eat (for yourselves) and pasture your cattle: Verily, in this are signs for men endued with understanding." Holy Qur'an (Taha 20:54)

"And Fruits and Fodder, for use and convenience to you and your cattle." Holy Qur'an (Abasa 80:31-32)

"There is no moving creature on earth but its sustenance depends on Allah." Holy Qur'an (Hud 11:6) Thus, in the Islamic point of view (shari`a) of protecting animals and feeding them, it is a charity (sadaqa) and killing animals cruely and hurting them is a prohibited action (which has its own severe punishment).

On the other hand, the Islamic laws have prohibited the mutilation of animal's bodies and changing their shape, like cutting off their ears, castrating them, etc., whether done by hand or by the use of modern equipment and instruments.

Allah has cursed the devil who deceives man, prompting him to carry out this aggressive act, and Almighty Allah, while narrating satan's wiles against man, says:

"I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah. Whoever, forsaking Allah, takes satan for a friend, hath of a surety suffered a loss that is manifest." Holy Qur'an (Nisa` 4:119) Indeed, through these texts, laws and concepts we are able to understand the Islamic principles which call for the protection of animals and their environment.

Adapted from: "Environmental Protection in Islamic Shari`a" by: "Al-Balagh Foundation"

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