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International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

The Muslim View on Animal Testing

3: THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAM ON ANIMAL WELFARE

Thus far we have discussed the relative status and importance of animals in nature, their psychic faculties, and their communicative capacities. We have also elucidated some of the causes of man's malevolence toward animals and his indifference to their welfare.

The teachings of Islam offer a good deal of guidance for animal welfare. All the sources of Islamic instruction, especially the Quran, place great emphasis on nature study as a prelude to a better understanding of life as one homogeneous organism. The Quran is full of verses exhorting humans to study nature - the planetary systems, the terrestrial elements, the fauna and flora on our earth. The real purport of this repeated appeal in the Quran is to give credence to the existence of the Godhead as the primal originator of the universe. But the point that concerns us here is that the animal kingdom has a very prominent place in these citations. There are so many verses in the Quran on this theme that it is not feasible to quote them in this paper. The overall approach is to accentuate the importance and utility of all life on earth.5

MUSLIM VIEWS ON ANIMAL TESTING RESEARCH IN THE KORAN

PRESERVATION OF SPECIES KORAN

Wherever the Quran speaks of creation, it speaks of creation in pairs. According to the Quran, not only the hu¬mans and the fauna but also every kind of flora has been created in male and female sexes. Today we know, on scientific grounds, that all plants, like animals, possess generative or¬gans. The Quran could not have been more pellucid in expression on this subject more than 14 centuries ago. The following verses emphasize the salient point that each species has been conditioned biologically to procreate in order to perpetuate its kind and, thus, to go on playing its role in the created order:

[God is] the Originator of the heavens and the earth;
He has created mates for you from among yourselves,
And mates of the cattle too,
Multiplying you thereby.
(ch. 42 v. 11.)

Glory be to Him Who created all the pairs,
Of that which the earth grows,
And of themselves [human beings],
And of that which they do not know.
(ch. 36 v. 36.)

[My Lord is He] Who spread out for you
The earth like a carpet;
And made for you therein paths;
And sent down water from the cloud.
Then thereby We have produced
Diverse pairs of plants-
Each distinct from the other.
(ch. 20 v. 53.)

And We cause florae of every kind
To grow as spouses.
(ch. 31 v. 10.)

And it is He who spread out the earth …
And of all fruit He produced therein,
As spouses of two and two.
(ch. 13 v. 3.)

The story of Noah's ark is well known. The Quran tells it in chapter 11, verses 36 to 48:

When the deluge came and the flooding of the whole area was imminent, there was the danger that some of the species of animals or birds might be exterminated. At such a time God's main concern was to save at least one pair of each species, along with the faithful followers of Noah; and He gave Noah the following instructions:

"Load in the Ark two of all species-
One male and one female of each pair."
(ch. 11 v. 40.)

These observations of the Quran lay down two basic principles: first, that the preservation of species is of paramount importance; second, that the divine scheme of regeneration works through the opposite but complementary forces of Nature not only in animals and plants but also in the inorganic matter. Modern science has discovered that the whole order of nature is functioning according to the law of parity. The Quran refers to this law in the preceding verses.

ANIMALS' FAIR SHARE IN FOOD ISLAMIC VIEWS KORAN

In the Islamic view, animals are tenants in common with humans. Let us see now why some humans do not act ac¬cording to the terms of this partnership.

Man has always been in competition with animals for food, and the problem has been aggravated in the modern world, especially because of human overpopulation.

The Quran tried to allay this fear of man by reassuring him that God is not only the creator but also the nourisher of all that he creates. For human beings, however, the Quran lays down the condition that they will have to work for their suste¬nance and that their emolument will be proportionate to their labor. The following verse serves as the maxim for this principle:

And that man shall have nothing
But what he strives for.
(ch. 53 v. 39.)

In the next verse, this stipulation is repeated in the words "those who seek," with the additional proviso that God pro¬vides according to the needs of the people:

And [God] bestowed blessings on the earth,
And measured therein sustenance in due proportion …,
In accordance [with the needs of those who seek
(ch. 41 v. 10.)

The conditions laid down in these two verses for human beings to work for the necessities of life seem to be conveniently ignored by some people. Some of us tend to rely on God's beneficence and to just lie down on our backs with our mouths open and wait for the manna from heaven to fall. Others have invented dubious ways and means to get more than their share by as little work as possible. Some of those who do work muscle in and poach on others' preserves:

As for animals, the Quran repeatedly emphasizes the fact that food and other resources of nature are there to be shared equitably with other creatures. Below are just a few of many such verses:

Then let man look at his food:
How we pour water in showers,
Then turn up the earth into furrow-slices,
And cause cereals to grow therein-
And grapes and green fodder,
And olive-trees and palm-trees,
And luxuriant orchards,
And fruits and grasses.

Let us stop at this point of the quotation and ask ourselves the question: For what and for whom has this sumptuous meal been laid out? The last line of the verse tells us that all these bounties of nature are as "provision for you as well as for your cattle." (ch. 80 vv. 24-32.)

Again, in the following verse, the bounties of nature are enumerated, with the accent on animals' share in all of them:

And He [God] it is Who sends the winds
As glad tidings heralding His mercy;
And We send down pure water from the clouds:
That We may give life thereby,
By watering the parched earth,
And slake the thirst of those We have created-
Both the animals and the human beings
In multitude.
(ch. 25 vv. 48, 49.)

And what is the reason for creating everything, viz., the cosmos as an ordered whole, the dark nights and the bright days, the earth with its immense expanse, shooting forth its moisture and its pastures, and the stable mountains - all this has been created for whom and why? The Quranic answer,again, is "as a provision for you and your cattle." (ch. 28 v. 33.)

And do they not see?
That We meander water to a barren land,
And sprout forth from its crops-
Whereof their cattle as well as they themselves eat;
Will they take no notice of it?
(ch. 32 v. 27.)

One could obtain the impression from these verses that refer only to livestock in whose welfare we have a vested .But the message of the Quran, in this context, comprehends the entire animal kingdom, as is made clear in the following verses:

There is no moving creature on earth,
But Allah provides for its sustenance.
(ch. 11 v. 6.)

In the words of Moses, as recorded in the Quran:

Surely the earth belongs to Allah;
He bequeaths it to whosoever He pleases
Of His servants.
(ch. 7 v. 128.)

And the earth!
He has assigned to (all) living creatures.
(ch. 55 v. 10.)

The Quran has recounted the history of some past nations to show how they fell into error and perished. We come across a pertinent incident that is relevant to our discussion here. The tribe of Samood were the descendants of Noah. Their name is also mentioned in the Ptolemaic records of Alexander's astronomer of the second century. The people of Samood de¬manded that the Prophet Saleh show them some sign to prove that he was a prophet of God. At that time the tribe was expe¬riencing a dearth of food and water and was, therefore, ne¬glecting its livestock. It was revealed to the Prophet Saleh to single out a she-camel as a symbol and ask his people to give her her fair share of water and fodder. The people of Samood promised to do that, but later killed the camel. As a retribu¬tion, the tribe was annihilated (ch. 11 v. 64; ch. 26 vv. 155, 156; ch. 54 vv. 27-31).

This historic incident sets forth the essence of the Quran's teaching on "animal rights." Cruelty to animals is so offensive to God that it is declared as a serious sin, as quoted in two Ahadith in the conclusion of this paper. Cruelty to animals does not end there. It generates sadistic characteristics lead¬ing to acts of cruelty against fellow human beings. The last Hadith quoted in this paper elucidates this psychological weakness of human nature.

References

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