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Animal Welfare in Islam

Islam, often misunderstood in its teachings, holds a profound regard for the welfare of animals. The religion not only prohibits unnecessary harm to animals but also outlines specific guidelines ensuring their well-being. A religion where one isn’t even allowed to harm an ant without reason or overburden an animal. Let’s delve into some aspects of Islamic teachings on animal welfare, shedding light on the compassion embedded in its principles.

Animals in War: A Protected Entity

In the midst of conflict, where chaos often reigns, Islam takes a firm stance on the treatment of animals. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade the killing of animals except for food, emphasising the sanctity of their lives, even in the heat of battle. This reflects the compassionate nature of Islam, extending its ethical considerations to the animal kingdom.
Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do not kill the animals except for two reasons: (i) A useful animal (i.e., lawful to be eaten) and, (ii) An animal that causes harm (i.e., a dangerous animal).” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3131, Book 56, Hadith 40)

Horses: Not a Mere Tool of War 

Islam recognises the invaluable service of horses in wars but prohibits their constant use without rest. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advocated for kindness to animals, emphasising that they should not be overburdened or mistreated. This showcases Islam’s emphasis on the ethical treatment of animals, even in situations where they are utilised for human needs.
Narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him): Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “When you buy a camel, take hold of it’s hump and let it pass by you, for under the hump are the kidneys, and the kidneys are the seat of the soul of the animal.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 2165, Book 36, Hadith 5)

Forgiveness and Compassion: The Prostitute and the Thirsty Dog

 One poignant Hadith narrates the story of a prostitute forgiven for her sins due to an act of kindness towards a thirsty dog. By giving water to the dog, she displayed compassion, and Allah, in His infinite mercy, forgave her transgressions. This illustrates Islam’s emphasis on deeds of kindness, showcasing a faith that embraces repentance and forgiveness.

“The merciful are shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth, and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7376, Book 97, Hadith 41; Sahih Muslim 2319, Book 45, Hadith 144)

The Cat and the Path to Hell

 The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) highlighted the importance of compassion towards animals by narrating a Hadith about two women. One woman prayed regularly, while the other neglected her prayers but was kind to a cat. The latter found favor in Allah’s eyes, emphasising the significance of kindness to animals and others as an important virtue.

Islam, often portrayed in a narrow light, harbours a profound appreciation for the welfare of animals. The teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) showcase a religion that not only prohibits cruelty but also promotes kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. By understanding these principles, we gain a deeper appreciation for the beauty embedded in Islamic teachings, a beauty that extends beyond human relations to encompass all living beings.


  1. Sahih al-Bukhari 2466, Book 46, Hadith 24

  2. Sahih al-Bukhari 3140, Book 60, Hadith 27


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