AH
logo header

Cruelty to Animals – The Method of Slaughter Approved by Islam

By: admin

Question

What are Islam’s/modern Islamic society’s views if any on cruel experiments conducted on animals for medical and cosmetic research?

In Islamic slaughter the animal is subjected to a slow and cruel death; cannot the cruelty be reduced by a quick slaughter? Why don’t the modern Islamic society prescribe certain guidelines to make the last days or hours of these animals little less painful? For example slaughtering of animals in the presence of those waiting for slaughter can be avoided;

You say that Islam does not allow cruelty to animals; Can you give an example of a prescription of Islam on this subject of not allowing cruelty to animals?

Regards

Answer

Cruelty upon the weak is one of the gravest of crimes in the eyes of Islam. This, obviously, includes cruelty to animals and would apply to any ‘cruel’ experiments conducted upon animals.

However, the important thing in the concept of ‘cruelty’ upon animals is to decide about what exactly constitutes ‘cruelty’. One may consider experiments conducted upon animals, with the objective of deriving benefits for the human race, to fall within the folds of ‘cruelty’, while another person may consider it otherwise. Nevertheless, there would hardly be any difference of opinion in the ‘cruelty’ involved in deriving pleasure from killing another creature. As far as experiments on animals involving medical and cosmetic research are concerned, I am of the opinion that due to the basic spirit of deriving benefits for mankind, involved in such experiments, they should not be placed within the framework of ‘cruelty’. Just as we kill innumerable living bacteria, every time we wash our hands and clean our bodies; just as we use animals for food, and even as we subdue and train a horse to make use of its natural abilities we can also use them, in any other manner, for the general benefit of mankind. Such usage of animals is not prohibited by the Islamic Shari`ah.

You write:

In Islamic slaughter the animal is subjected to a slow and cruel death; cannot the cruelty be reduced by a quick slaughter?

The method, which is generally adopted by Muslims for slaughtering an animal involves making an incision across its neck, which severs its main arteries. In your cited statement, you have termed it as resulting in ‘slow and cruel death’. This basic premise of your question that follows is quite questionable. In fact, there are acclaimed sources, which considered this method of slaughtering an animal to be less painful than any other method. For instance, the Encyclopedia Britannica writes:

Objections have sometimes been raised to this method of slaughter on the grounds of cruelty. The sight of the struggling animal aroused the concern of humane societies, and in some European countries this resulted in legislation forbidding shehitah1. Scientific opinion indicates, however, that severance of the carotid arteries and the jugular vein by one swift movement results in almost immediate loss of consciousness, and the after-struggle is reflex muscular action. (See Note on ‘Kosher’)

You write:

Why don’t the modern Islamic society prescribe certain guidelines to make the last days or hours of these animals little less painful? For example slaughtering of animals in the presence of those waiting for slaughter can be avoided.

If one is of the opinion that the animals can perceive the danger that is coming their way by watching the animal that is being slaughtered, then there is no harm in avoiding to slaughter animals in front of others, which await their turn. The Muslims generally do not ascribe to this point of view.

You write:

You say that Islam does not allow cruelty to animals; Can you give an example of a prescription of Islam on this subject of not allowing cruelty to animals?

There are innumerable narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) reporting his teachings regarding good treatment of animals. For instance, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have:

  • stopped people from hitting or branding animals on their faces2;
  • condemned people whose pets die due to lack of care on the part of their owners3;
  • said: “The worst among herdsmen are those who are cruel toward their animals and who do not show mercy upon them’”4
  • condemned people who tear animals to pieces5;
  • stopped people from killing tied or confined animals and birds6;
  • stopped people from killing for sport7;
  • directed people to keep their animals clean8;
  • prompted people to provide drink for thirsty animals9;
  • prompted people to let animals and birds satisfy their hunger from their plantations10;

I hope this helps.

November 8, 2000

  1. The method of slaughter prescribed by the Judaic law, which is quite similar to the one adopted by the Muslims. []
  2. Abu Dawood, Kitaab al-Jihaad. []
  3. Bukhari, Kitaab al-Aazaan []
  4. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 19719 []
  5. Al-Daarmiy, Kitaab al-Adhaahiy []
  6. Bukhari, Kitaab al-Dhabaaih wa al-Sayd []
  7. Muslim, Kitaab al-Sayd wa al-Dhabaaih []
  8. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, No. 9252 []
  9. Bukhari, Kitaab al-Wudhu []
  10. Bukhari, Kitaab al-Muzaari`ah []
You may share this article on your social media timeline:

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz
Understanding Islam UK (UIUK) is a registered charity with the UK Charity Commission. Registration Number: 1107962. Postal Address: 45 Church Lane, Halifax HX2 0JG, United Kingdom. Email: info@uiuk.org
Please contact us for more information, Join us and become a member, it’s completely free. © Copyright 2017 UIUK