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Animal Rights in Islam

Islam – a Mercy to all Creatures Big and Small

By Asiff Hussein

This article explores the concept of animal rights in Islam. Islam as we know is not just a religion but a way of life that governs all aspects of life based on rights and obligations. Rights in Islam not only covers the Rights of God over Man (Islamic Worship), but also the Rights of man over man (Human Rights), woman over man (Women’s Rights) and child over man (Children’s Rights). Little is it known that Islam also concedes Rights to Animals. Animals have certain rights over man and it is this aspect of animal rights in Islam that we hope to elaborate in this paper.
  
The Universal Mercy of Islam

Islam as we all know is a religion of Mercy. The Muslim Holy Book, the Qur’an consistently reminds us of the All Embracing Mercy of God. To believe in God is also to believe in his Mercy. It is the formula In the name of God, the All-Merciful, The Mercy-Giving that commences the Surahs or Chapters of the Holy Qur’an, occurring as many as one hundred and fourteen times in the Holy Book. Indeed the phrase is central to Islamic ritual and figures in many aspects of the believer’s religious life. Of all Allah’s names, they are most descriptive of his relation to His creation.

This Divine Mercy embraces not just Muslims, but all humans regardless of their religious persuasion. And not just humans, it also embraces the rest of His creation as well. Kind treatment to animals is part of Islam. Saving the life of an animal is a cause for entering heaven while cruelty to animals is reason for entering the hellfire. Such is the stress placed on the value of animal life in Islam. And all these duties were laid down by Islam many, many centuries ago at a time when animals were mercilessly abused and exploited and well before the West ever thought of embracing the idea that animals too had rights, an idea that gained currency from only about the middle part of the nineteenth century.

Let us first deal with the notion of animal rights in Islam and its theological underpinnings. This is necessarily so as God’s Mercy is not limited to humanity, but encompasses all of His Creation. Animals, like humans are a creation of the One True God – Allah, and as the Qur’an says of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him): We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures (Quran 21:107).

It is evident from this Divine verse that the Prophet (PBUH) was sent as a Mercy to all creatures, not just man.

Also very telling is the saying of the Prophet: All creatures are like a family of God: and He loves most those who are the most beneficent to His family (Mishkat al-Masabih).  Another has it: If you want to be loved by your Creator, love His creatures (Tirmidhi). Abu Hurairah tells us that when the Prophet’s companions queried: O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals? He said, “(Yes) There is a reward for serving any animate (living being) (Bukhari, Muslim).

Such sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) remind us that men, like animals, are creatures (created beings) of God and that man like the rest of nature has a similar origin from the Divine Will. Although man (in his primeval form Adam) has an independent origin as a being created from a quintessence of clay (Qur’an 23:12) as distinct from other forms of life that have been created from water (Qur’an 24:45), this material difference is only very slight for as the Qur’an also says: We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?  (Qur’an, 21:30) and: It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power (over all things) (Qur’an, 25:54). Besides having a similar origin from water (which is seen in the protoplasm, the basis of all living matter in the physical world) man and the rest of nature are bound by the fact that they are all creations of One God. In this sense, they are all the family of God.

Animals follow Divine Laws

Many Qur’anic passages also remind us that animals like man are in state of submission to God, in a sense also in a state of Islam or Surrender (which is the literal meaning of Islam):

Seest thou not that to God 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? (Quran 22:18)

Seest thou not that it is God 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. And God knows well all that they do.  (Quran 24:41)

These beautiful verses clearly imply that animals are in a constant state of submission to God, each even having its own mode of prayer which man with his limited intellect cannot even perceive. What is also interesting is that while we are told that all animals bow down to God, it is not all but ‘a great number’ among mankind who do so. This is because unlike animals that follow the natural laws ordained by God, man, in view of his honoured position as Vicegerent of God on earth (Qur’an 2:30) has been endowed with a certain amount of free will which he may use for better or worse. Thus a man or woman who beckons to the call of the evil one and disobeys his or her Creator is even lower than the most seemingly insignificant creature on earth. As the Qur’an says of these evil persons, they shall be reduced to the Lowest of the Low (Qur’an 95:5).

Animals are communities

We are further told that animals like men constitute communities, which adds another dimension to man’s relationship with them – their rights:

There is not an animal (That lives) on the earth, Nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms) communities like you.  Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.  (Qur’an, 6:38)

We also have Abu Huraira reporting the Prophet (PBHU) telling of an incident that happened to another prophet in the past. This prophet was stung by an ant and, in anger, he ordered the ants’ nest to 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 (Bukhari and Muslim).

Every community under God has certain rights, and animals being communities in their own right, also have rights. Animals are in a sense also ‘persons’ and God is concerned about their welfare, which is why though he has conceded man a certain authority over animals, he has also laid down the rules governing them.

The Qur’anic statement: “He (God) it is Who made you vicegerents on earth” (Qur’an 35:39) has sometimes been misrepresented as implying that man has been given unconditional domination over all other beings on the planet. Such a view is far, far away from the truth and appears to have been inspired not by Islamic teachings, but rather by the Judeo-Christian tradition as enunciated in Genesis: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Rather, the Islamic view of the relationship between man and nature is one of custodianship, not dominance as envisaged in Judeo-Christian teachings. In the Qur’an itself we are reminded: And the earth hath He (God) appointed for (His) creatures [Quran 55:10]. And as a saying of the Prophet puts it: The world is green and beautiful, and God has appointed you His guardian over it (Sahih Muslim).

Animals have Rights

That the notion of vicegerency is not an unconditional one bestowing man arbitrary power over the rest of nature will also be seen in the rights Islam gives our fellow creatures. To abuse the power man holds by virtue of his physical and intellectual superiority over the rest of the animal world is to go against the very teachings of Islam. Killing for pleasure or sport, in other words for any other purpose than food or self-defence, is strictly prohibited in Islam. Such transgressors face Divine retribution and here we don’t have far to look.

Abdullah bin ‘Umar has narrated that Allah’s Apostle said: A woman was punished because of a cat which she had imprisoned till it died. She entered the (Hell) Fire because of it, for she neither gave it food nor water as she had imprisoned it, nor set it free to eat from the vermin of the earth (Sahih Bukhari).

The Prophet also said in no uncertain terms: There is no man who kills [even] a sparrow or anything smaller, without its deserving it, but Allah (God) will question him about it (on the Day of Judgment). (An-Nasai).  He also said: “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment“.  The listeners asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is a just cause?” He replied, “That he will kill it to eat, not simply to chop off its head and then throw it away“. (Nisai, Hakim).

On the other hand, we are told that an act of kindness to an animal earns one the pleasure of the Almighty for Allah’s Apostle said: A prostitute was forgiven by God because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, God forgave her because of that (Bukhari).

Here we would find that even dogs, which are considered unclean on account of their saliva which is considered ritually polluting and who are not to be reared except as guard dogs or hunting dogs, are entitled to humane treatment, so much so that it is a cause for God to forgive a serious sin such as prostitution whose ill effects on family and society cannot be underestimated.  So concerned was the Prophet (PBUH) about the welfare of animals that when his 10,000-strong army was marching to Mecca, spotting a bitch lying with her pups on the road to the city, he gave specific instructions that these poor creatures were not to be molested. And he did n’t stop at that. He even had a sentry, Ju’ayl Ad Damari, posted to ensure that his orders were carried out.

Basic Rights

Besides the right to life except for purposes of food and self-defence, Islam also recognizes a number of other basic rights of animals. This includes the right to be free of bodily harm or mutilation and the right to be treated decently without being treated as targets for testing one’s marksmanship or for blood sport.

In the olden days as in some parts of the world today one could come across instances where the part of an animal was cut off for meat before it was slaughtered for the purpose. During the days of Pre-Islamic ignorance (Jahiliyyah) there were people who used to cut off the limbs of animals for their meat while they were still alive. For instance when the Prophet (PBUH) migrated to Madinah he found the people there cutting off camels’ humps and the fat tails of sheep, the idea here was that the juicy humps and fatty tails of the animals could be eaten while they remained alive for future use. The Prophet (PBUH) upon learning of this ordered the practice to be stopped. This barbaric practice even survived until recently in Sri Lanka, among some fisherwomen of Jaffna who used to cut off parts off living turtles while they underwent tremendous suffering.

Even today we find that the shark fin trade (for the soup for which Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong are famous) involves cutting off the fins of sharks caught in the high seas and throwing them back so that they die a slow and lingering death at the bottom of the sea. This practice was put an end to by Islam more than fourteen centuries ago when it prescribed a merciful method for slaughtering animals for their meat. Any meat slaughtered or obtained otherwise was simply declared to be unlawful for consumption. The Prophet (PBUH) cursed those who cut the limbs or other parts of an animal while it was still alive. The relevant hadith narrated by Ibn Umar has it : 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) [Bukhari]. Another saying has it that Any part cut off a living animal is dead flesh (In other words, unlawful to eat, implying that it is unlawful to cut parts off a living animal) (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

Another form of abuse to which animals have been subjected to is being used for target practice, a practice that still exists in certain parts of the west such as the US where shooting birds or squirrels for sport is a popular pastime among trigger-happy Americans who for want of human targets to satisfy their bloodlust have to content themselves with killing these harmless creatures. One such shooter Tom Holze writes in his book The Air Rifle Hunter’s Guide (2002). Five close-range (20 yards) body shots with a high-powered 5mm air rifle did not suffice to kill one gray squirrel. After searching for 15 minutes I found this wounded animal lying on its back, mewing in death throes. I gave it a coup-de-grace and vowed never again to shoot squirrels unless I could manage a clear head shot, or an unobstructed shot to the heart. (this problem is greatly alleviated by using the larger calibers and true hollowpoint pellets.).

Islam prohibited this practice very early in its history. When Ibn Umar saw some people practicing archery using a hen as a target, he is reported to have said: The Prophet (PBUH) cursed anyone who made a living thing into a target. Hisham bin Zaid has narrated that when Anas saw some boys shooting at a tied hen, he said: The Prophet has forbidden the shooting of tied or confined animals (Bukhari).

Another barbarity to which animals have been subjected to over the ages is bloodsport, that is training animals to fight one another until one is killed or fatally wounded. This is especially so of cocks who are by nature rather pugnacious. Metal spurs attached to their feet mean that they often do greater injury to their opponent than in their natural state. In fact, an entire betting industry has grown around this fighting cock business. Needless to say, the industry is based on immense suffering to the birds concerned since the cocks, once let loose, are prone to fight to the end, fighting on even when totally blinded or completely beakless. Even in Sri Lanka which prides itself in its animal loving tradition, we find that there are still those who own and wager on fighting cocks, the owner of the cock that loses putting an end to its life at the end of the fight if its not already dead.

This practice too was forbidden by Islam. Ibn Abbas has narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) forbade that animals be made to fight each other, as people would goad animals into fighting each other until one of them was pecked or gored to death, or close to it.

Yet another barbarity which man has subjected his fellow creatures to is castration, ostensibly to fatten them for the table. Pigs and fowl are to this day subjected to this barbaric and painful mutilation at a very tender age. Islam however put a stop to such barbarism long ago for the Prophet (PBUH) is known to have strongly condemned the castration of animals (Al-Bazzar). But this is not all. Islam also prohibited that animals be mutilated in any other way. God had in His wisdom created animals the way they are and it is folly for man to attempt to change it according to his whims and fancies. This could be gathered from the statement of the Prophet (PBUH) who said: “Do not clip the forelock of a horse, for a decency is attached to its forelock; nor its mane, for it protects it; nor its tail, for it is, its fly-flap.” (Abu Dawud).

Disfiguring animals is also prohibited, for Jabir has reported that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) forbade striking the face or branding the face of animals. The same companion reported the Prophet (PBUH) as saying, when an ass which had been branded in its face passed him by: “God curse the one who branded it.” (Muslim).

Over-burdening or under-feeding animals is also strongly condemned. It is said that whenever the Prophet (PBUH) saw an over-burdened or ill-fed animal he would pull up alongside the owner and say, “Fear God in your treatment of animals.” (Abu Dawud).

But this is not all. Islam recognizes many more rights of animals that even the West has not even thought of addressing as yet. One such is the right of animals to natural resources. In the Qur’an we are told that the products of the earth is not meant only for man:

We (God) brought forth from it (the earth) its waters and its pastures, and established the mountains firm – as a source of provision for you and for your cattle (Qur’an 79:31-33).

The Prophet also said, “If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity.” – [Bukhari]

Here we are told that even if an animal eats from a plant which has been planted by a man, such a person will receive his due reward for it. Such is the stress Islam places on animal welfare.

Islam also recognized the fact that animals like humans form attachments and that the maternal instinct of creatures are to be respected just as much as they are in humans. And just as a child is not be separated from its mother, so is the young of an animal not to be separated from its mother if such separation causes it distress. This is seen in the hadith: We were on a journey with the Prophet (PBUH) and he left us for a while. During his absence, we saw a bird called hummara with its two young and 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 (Muslim). On another occasion a companion of the Prophet (PBUH) came to him carrying baby chicks in his clothing and mentioned that the mother bird had hovered over them all along. He was directed to return the chicks (Mishkat, Abu Dawud). Once during a journey, someone travelling with the Prophet (PBUH) gathered some birds’ eggs from a nest. The mother bird’s painful cries and commotion attracted the attention of the Prophet (PBUH) who asked the man to return the eggs to the nest (Bukhari)

Indeed if we are to take the Islamic injunctions on animals to its logical conclusion, we would find that even locking up animals and birds in little cages and confining fish to little fish tanks is unislamic. How we may ask can we imprison members of a community that in its own way worships God just for our entertainment. Not only are such creatures confined to a very small area in cramped up conditions to waste away their life, but they are also often deprived of mates to procreate their species, their sad existence ending only with their death. Indeed, one wonders how people could commit such a crime against their fellow creatures when they themselves would not want such a fate to befall them or their children. Such is the folly of arrogance man falls victim to in his desire to live his way without a consideration for his dumb co-creatures.

Another area which Islam has addressed well ahead of its times is the danger of exploitation of animals by altering their natural state. This is done by manipulating their genetic structure, a process known as biotechnology or more specifically gene splicing where the genes of one species of animal are transferred to another or deliberately manipulated to serve a specific purpose such as for research. In fact we find a situation in the US today where animals are also being patented as inventions. Private biotechnology companies, universities, and individual bioentrepreneurs have to date been granted over 600 patents on animals such as chimpanzees, rabbits, dogs and cats who have been genetically altered in some way or other. A patent was recently granted for rabbits whose eyes were intentionally damaged to serve as a model for “dry eye” conditions in humans.  All this shows how respect for animal life has not improved but actually declined in the West with the profit motive taking precedence over concern for animal welfare.

Interestingly, Muslims are warned against these developments in the Qur’an revealed more than 1400 years ago. Here we are told that Iblis the arch foe of mankind has vowed to tempt man to change the nature created by Allah. The relevant passage from (4:119) has Satan telling the Almighty in all his arrogance: I will take of your servants a portion marked off. I will mislead them and I will create in them false desires. I will order them to slit the ears of cattle and to change the (fair) nature created by God.

It is apparent in view of the latest developments in the area of biotechnology that Iblis’ vow that he would tempt man into altering God’s fair creation is fast being realized in the West. It is still mainly in the U.S with its emphasis on technology and a misplaced Judeo-Christian notion of subjugating nature to serve man’s ends that Genetically Modified Organisms are being turned out though it is not unlikely that other aspiring superpowers keen on displaying their technological arrogance such as India and China would follow suit. Thus it is only proper that Muslims keep away from these developments and in fact fight against them. Perhaps there will come a day when it will be left to the lot of the world’s Muslims to fight for and protect the natural order in all its beauty and variety at a time when the rest of the world is being led astray by evil men whom the devil has driven mad by his touch.

Animals as food

In killing animals for food, man follows the rest of the animal world for survival and nourishment. Animals hunt for food and men kill for food and this follows the natural order of things. It is killing for anything other than food that goes against the natural order just as homosexuality goes against the natural order that helps perpetuate the species. Man’s very dentition, his canine teeth bear witness to his intrinsically carnivorous nature though his molars suggest that he is also herbivorous.

Much has been said of the ethics of ritual animal slaughter for meat by Muslim communities. Other communities also slaughter for meat but it never seems to be such an issue. And what is surprising however is that much of this talk of ethics should emanate from the West which has a track record of cruelty to animals. Among these is the culling or wholesale destruction of livestock to control market prices, a practice which is still very much in practice in western economies such as the US.

In contrast is the attitude of Islam, which rightly recognizes that man has a right to survival and nourishment through animal flesh but also lays down strict guidelines to be followed in procuring such meat for his consumption. For one thing, all animals have to be ritually slaughtered in a prescribed manner by pronouncing the name of God over it. The name of God is apparently pronounced to emphasize the sanctity of life and to stress the fact the animal is being killed for food with God’s approval. Thus even at the very commencement of the slaughter the Muslim is made to feel that he is taking life only with Divine approval and that too for a purpose – his survival and nourishment.

Furthermore Islam lays down strict rules to be followed in slaughtering such animals. For one thing, the knife has to be exceedingly sharp so that the slaughter would be quick and as painless as possible for the animal. Further, one animal should not be slaughtered in front of another, so as to cause any animals witnessing the spectacle unnecessary distress.  As the Prophet (PBUH) instructed his followers: God has ordained kindness (and excellence) in everything. If the killing (of animals) is to be done, do it in the best manner, and when you slaughter, do it in the best manner by first sharpening the knife, and putting the animal at ease (Muslim). Another saying of the Prophet (PBUH) has it: When you set your dog (for the chase), mention the name of Allah, if he catches the game, and you reach it while it is still alive, cut, its throat quickly (so it won’t suffer) (Bukhari, Muslim). The prescribed method of slaughter by severing the carotid and jugular veins hardly causes the animal concerned suffering as the cut prevents any blood reaching the brain, sending it into a state of natural anesthesia.

The fact is that never, prior to Islam, had the world witnessed such a concern for the feelings of animals.

Killing animals in self defence

Besides food, the life of harmful animals could be taken in defence of oneself or one’s family or community. For instance one simply cannot let a rabid dog roam about and infect people and animals with its virulently fatal bite. Common sense dictates that the only option is to shoot it at sight. The same holds true of harmful animals such as the scorpion whose poisonous sting can cause people much suffering and even death. The same may well be applied to other noxious creatures such as venomous snakes and mosquitoes that cause disease. But even then the killing has to be done as swiftly and mercifully as possible, without causing the animal concerned any pain.

Taking animal life to prevent a greater harm befalling the community is based on a saying of the Prophet (PBUH) narrated by Ayisha which has it: Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the Sanctuary: They are the rat, the scorpion, the kite, the crow and the rabid dog. (Bukhari).

Western track record of animal abuse

Despite all the assumed moral superiority the West has arrogated to itself over the past few centuries, we would find that when it comes to animal rights, it is still far behind Islamic teachings taught over 1400 years ago. Take for instance the following gross animal rights violations it still persists with:

Bull fighting

Bull fighting is a relict of the dark ages of Western Europe which still survives in some so-called civilized parts of the West, especially Spain.  Animal rights activists have rightly condemned it as a cruel blood sport, in which the bull suffers a slow, torturous death.

For all its macho association, the fight is not even a fair one. It is not the man versus ferocious bull fight one is often told about. In order to weaken the bull before the final killing thrust at the hands of the Matador, the bull, once let loose into the arena, is stabbed by a person known as the Picador just behind the morillo, a mound of muscle on the fighting bull’s neck, weakening the neck muscles and leading to the animal’s first loss of blood. In the next stage, three more persons known as the banderilleros charge the bull with each one of them attempting to plant two banderillas, sharp barbed sticks into the bull’s shoulders which further weaken it while at the same time provoking it further. The matador using his cape to attract the bull maneuvers it into a position to administer it the final thrust with his sword, stabbing it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart.

The bullfighting guide The Bulletpoint Bullfight warns prospective spectators that bullfighting is “not for the squeamish”. It also advises them to “be prepared for blood.” The guide details prolonged and profuse bleeding caused by horse-mounted lancers, the placing of barbed darts by banderilleros, followed by the matador’s fatal sword thrust. The guide stresses that these procedures are a normal part of bullfighting and that death is rarely instantaneous. The guide further warns those attending bullfights to “Be prepared to witness various failed attempts at killing the animal before it lies down”.

Despite various attempts to ban it, bull fighting still continues unabated, one reason being its tourist appeal, particularly on the part of tourists from the UK who throng to Spain for the barbaric spectacle. Surprisingly the early attempts to ban it were not concerned with the sufferings of the animal, but rather the harm that could befall its torturers. Thus Pope Pius V issued a papal bull titled De Salute Gregis in 1567 which forbade fighting of bulls and any other beasts as the voluntary risk to life endangered the soul of the combatants. This was however abolished eight years later by his successor, Pope Gregory XIII, at the request of King Philip II.

Culling

Another well established western practice that disregards animal life is the culling or wholesale destruction of livestock to control market prices, which is known to take place particularly in the US. For instance, if there is a glut in the production of poultry, the poultry producers would agree among themselves to destroy their excess livestock rather than putting it to the market which would mean bringing the price down. Thus rather than going along with a situation created by supply and demand they seek to control market prices by artificial means, reducing animals to the status of a commodity or even less so since the animals concerned here are not even allowed to benefit humanity but treated as mere production material, their carcasses being buried or burned in mass graves.

Mass cullings are also resorted to restore confidence in the meat industry such as when the UK needlessly slaughtered thousands of its cattle when hoof and mouth disease was detected among some of them, despite the fact that such animals could be treated medically and cured completely with absolutely no impact on consumer health. Australia is also known to undertake regular cullings of its kangaroo and rabbit populations whenever it is perceived that these animal populations are increasing. This has however been exposed as a lie perpetuated by those who have a vested interest in their extermination such as clearing land for ‘development’. In fact, it is said that many Australians living in rural Australia have not even seen a kangaroo in the wild.  Another excuse for culling is probable starvation due to loss of habitat as a result of increasing urbanization. The animals destroyed in their hundreds or thousands are buried, burned or simply left to rot without being harvested for their meat as the killing methods used render such meat unfit for human consumption or it is economically not viable. Rabbits are killed by introducing the lethal Myxoma virus while dromedary camels, feral coats and brumby horses are killed by helicopter culling.

Euthanasia

Another western innovation that disregards animal life is what is known as euthanasia or mercy-killing. the act of putting an animal to death painlessly. This procedure commonly referred to by euphemisms such as put down or put to sleep involves domestic animals being killed by intravenous injection. Horses are disposed of with a free bullet shot in the forehead and cattle and other livestock by the captive bolt fired through the forehead.

Euthanasia is often resorted to not only to put an end to the lives of injured, disabled or sick animals, but also unwanted animals such as when a cat litters kittens the family do not wish to keep. Owners also euthanize pets when they feel that they cannot maintain them or when they relocate elsewhere. Horses that injure a leg and are no longer able to participate in races are often put down as maintaining such a horse does not make economic sense. Animals are also often euthanised at breeding establishments when such animals are no longer capable of being used for breeding purposes or at laboratories at the termination of studies on experimental animals. The Laboratory Animal Euthanasia guidelines of the Australian National University goes to the extent of laying down that dependent neonates (newborns) of animals being killed must also be killed.  This writer recalls reading in his young days, a children’s book on pets by a renowned English Publisher which advices its young readers not to attempt to destroy their unwanted kittens or puppies themselves, but to take it to a vet who would destroy them humanely. Such is the esteem for animal life even little children imbibe from their young days in these so-called advanced countries.

Dissection and Vivisection

Dissection refers to the cutting up of dead animals in order to study their anatomy, such animals being specifically killed for the purpose. Vivisection refers to the dissection of living animals, typically animals with a central nervous system, to view living internal structure or bodily functions. Such animals are often subjected to painful dissecting procedures while still alive. This often happens at educational institutions such as schools and universities where millions of animals are dissected or vivisected yearly in biology classes. It is estimated that 170 animal species or more are being used for dissection and vivisection, among these being cats, frogs, fetal pigs, dogs, pigeons, and turtles. It is estimated that in as many as six million vertebrate animals are dissected yearly in U.S. high schools alone, with an additional, unknown number used in colleges and middle and elementary schools.

This is actually a needless exercise in animal suffering since no new knowledge comes from it. It is done to show students how the biological systems of lower animals function despite the fact that such knowledge is widely available in textbooks and other media.

Animal experimentation

Another area in which animals are severely abused is in animal experimentation. Every year millions of animals are infected, injected, gassed, burned and blinded in laboratories on college campuses and research facilities throughout the U.S. and other so called advanced countries in the name of science. Although animal experimentation is widely promoted as scientific progress, we often find that this is not the case at all. For instance animals are often used to test the safety of cosmetics and other vain consumer products. Another area in which animals are used is in horrific military experiments where they are subjected to great suffering such as being administered with biological germ agents or contaminated with nuclear radiation. The US military is a major perpetrator of this crime against animals.

Another such perpetrator is NASA which is spending $1.75 million to expose male squirrel monkeys to high doses of gamma-ray radiation in what they claim is an attempt to learn how humans in space might react to long-term exposure to low levels of radiation, a claim that has of late been debunked by specialists in the area. The experiment is expected to cause severe suffering to the animals since the physical and psychological damage high doses of harmful radiation could cause to monkeys is well known. Reactions include hair and tooth loss with the animals often becoming so distressed that they self-mutilate. Of late, the Weizmann Institute in Israel was implicated of some very serious animal abuses in its laboratories, which is not surprising for a country founded on tribal Judaic values that places no value on animal life.

Published in Sailanmuslim.com