Al-Hafiz B. A. Masri was the first Sunni Imam of the Shah Jehan Mosque in Woking when it was the Islamic center of Europe.
The question of the use of animals in science cannot be studied in isolation. To appreciate its full implications, it must be addressed against the backdrop of the similarities and differences that exist between humans and the rest of the ani¬¨mated world. How we understand these similarities and differences indeed, how we answer the question at hand is greatly influenced by our response to two more fundamental questions:
(i) Can man's claim to being the apex of value in the world be justified?
(ii) If a distinctively religious justification of this claim is offered, what are its moral implications for how humans may treat other forms of life, animals in particular?
For the Islamic approach to these questions, we have three sources of guidance. The original source is the Quran, the holy book revealed to the prophet Muhammad during a period of 22 years, from 610 to 632 C.E. The second source is Hadith or "tradition" in English, an instructional corollary to the Quran based on the sayings and deeds of the Prophet. Hadith is considered in Islamic jurisprudence as an explanatory appendix to the Quranic law. In case these two sources do not lay down a clear-cut statute in a particular case, the Muslim jurists (muftis) refer to the legal assertions based on precedent, precedents set mainly during the period of the first four caliphs (from 632 to 656 C.E.). Only in that comparatively rare case when there is no precedent does the mufti issue a new judicial decree, and even here it must be consonant with the time-honored customary law that is based on general Muslim practices. To approach the distinctively Islamic answer to the questions before us thus requires that we refer to each of the authoritative sources mentioned to the Quran, to Hadith, and to customary law. The main tenets of this last source will be summarized further on. To begin with, we will confine our attention to the teachings of the Quran and Hadith.