As humans, the Creator of the universe has made us superior to all other things he created. And has made Muslims the best of His creations and has also made the prophet, S.A.W. with the best conduct.
Prophet Muhammad was the embodiment of mercy, he showed compassion to all those around him, family, orphans, friends, strangers and even enemies. He also treated the environment and animals with respect and mercy. He taught his followers that because animals were part of God’s creation they should be treated with dignity and due care.
The traditions of Prophet Muhammad remind us that humankind was put on this earth to be the custodian of God’s creation. Treating animals with kindness and mercy is just one of the responsibilities embedded in that custodianship. Prophet Muhammad’s words and behaviour make it clear that causing defenceless creatures pain and suffering is not only completely unacceptable, but we will also be answerable to God for such actions.
“If someone kills a sparrow for sport, the sparrow will cry out on the Day of Judgment, “O Lord! That person killed me in vain! He did not kill me for any useful purpose.”
In Islam, the rules pertaining to slaughtering animals are very strict and fixed. Protecting animals from pain and undue suffering is paramount. In the seventeenth Hadith of An-Nawawi collection, The prophet S.A.W said “Verily, Allah has prescribed Ihsaan (Perfection, Proficiency) in all things, so if you kill, then kill well and if you slaughter then slaughter well, Let each of you sharpen his knife and spare suffering to the animal he slaughters”. Muslim.
Abstaining from physical cruelty is however not enough, as the prophet, S.A.W also warned us against emotional cruelty. It is humankind’s responsibility to see that they have food, water, and shelter from the elements. Living creatures must not be overburdened, abused, or tortured and doing so will surely result in Allah’s just punishment.
A true believer demonstrates his or her belief by respecting the entire creation. As one of the companions of the prophet narrated. “We were on a journey and during the Prophet’s absence, we saw a bird with its two chicks; we took them. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When Prophet Muhammad returned he said, “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its chicks? Return them to her.”
There are however some animals that are permissible for us to kill at anytime even in the state of Ihram as evident in the following narrations.
“There are five animals for which there is no blame on the one who kills them: crows, kites (hawk-like birds), mice/rats, scorpions and mad dogs.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, (Translators’ note: the Arabic word fa’rah may refer to rats or mice, so both are mentioned in the translation).
Al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad said: I heard ‘Aa’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), say: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say:
“There are four things which are faasiq (corrupt) and may be killed at all times, whether one is in a state of ihraam [for Hajj and ‘Umrah] or not: kites, crows, mice/rats and mad dogs.” Narrated by Muslim.
Mice and rats are harmful creatures, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) explained:
Ibn ‘Abbaas said: a mouse (or rat) came and started dragging the wick (of the lamp). It threw it in front of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), onto the mat on which he was sitting, and it burnt a hole the size of a dirham. He said, “When you go to sleep, extinguish your lamps, for the Shaytaan will tell creatures like this to do something like this so that you will be burned.” Narrated by Abu Dawood.
Finally, Lets recall the popular story of the prostitute and the old woman where the prostitute saved a thirsty dog by giving it water with her shoes and Allah S.W.T granted her Jannah from that little act. And the old woman who maltreated her cat until it was starved to death and Allah condemned her to Hell fire. Therefore we have to be extremely careful in the way we treat animals. May Allah S.W.T reward every of our little acts and forgive us of all our short comings. Aamin