International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

The Muslim View on Animal Testing


After all is said and done, one wonders why, in our so-called civilized society today, man's cruelty to animals is on the increase. Why is it that human attitudes toward animals are hard to change? The organized religious institutions could have played an important role in educating the people. Almost 90 percent of the world s population owes allegiance to one of the major religions. Each of these religions has the benefit of platforms whereupon captive audiences could be influenced and educated. But one never hears from their pulpits any sermons preaching the word of God about animals. The dictum "Love thy neighbor" embraces all neighbors, including animals. Perhaps the clerics of our religions are too busy prepar¬ing their respective laities for the life hereafter to spare any thought for the "poor dumb beasts."

Most of the sermons from our religious pulpits are admonitions against sin. If someone were inclined to choose a sub¬ject pertaining to animal welfare, there is enough material in every scripture to choose from. For example, there are two sayings of Prophet Muhammad that would make very appro¬priate themes for such sermons. In the following Hadith, the Prophet placed the unauthorized killing of animals as second on the list of the seven deadly sins: "Avoid ye the seven deadly things; Polytheism; the killing of breathing beings which God has forbidden except by right."21

In the following Hadith it has been placed as third in the list of four sins: "The grievous things are: Polytheism; disobedience to parents; the killing of breathing beings; …,"22

One of the reasons why most of our religious, social, and cultural education in this respect is wasted when the effort to educate is made is that it is aimed at adults, whose character has already become unyielding and unresponsive to new attitudes and values. If only we could start education on animal welfare at a tender and more responsive age, perhaps the results could be better. An international movement of children such as "Friends of Animals," more or less along the lines of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, deserves serious consideration.

To end this paper, there could not be a better conclusion than the following aphoristic Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad:

"Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself.”23



(i) A.C. = Anno Christum, i.e., the Christian era or year. Muslims prefer not to use A.D., which means Anno Do¬mini, or "the year of our Lord." Muslims believe in Jesus Christ as a messenger of God and not as the son of God or as the Lord.

(ii) A.H. = Anno Hijrae, i.e., the year of migration (622 A.C.), when the Holy Prophet Muhammad'8' had to flee from Mecca to Medina. This date has been established as the first year of the Islamic era.

(iii) (S) = It is considered highly meritorious and obligatory for a Muslim to pronounce a reverential Salam whenever the name of the Messenger of God is uttered or written. S stands for "peace be upon him."

(iv) Muslim means one who submits to God. Believers in Islam prefer to be called Muslims and not Muhammadans or by any other name or spellings.

(v) Many of the quotations cited within this chapter are incom¬plete, since the originals are too long to fully reproduce.

(vi) In the Quranic references, the first number stands for chapter and the second for verse. In some English translations the verse numbers may be different. In this article the numbers quoted are from the translation by A. Yusuf Ali, (Lahore, Pakistan, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1938). In case the reader's edition gives a different number, please look for the verse one or two verses above or below.

(vii) In the Hadith references, the name of the book is given.

(viii) The Quranic references are given in the text following the quotations. All other references and notes are in the following list.


1. Bukhari and Muslim.

2. Maxims of Ali, translated by A. Halal from the famous book Nahj-ul-Balagha, Elmi (Lahore, Pakistan, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf 1963), p. 436. Hereafter referred to as Maxims. The Imam, Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib, was the son-in-law of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(S)) and the fourth successor (caliph) (644-656 A.C.-22-34 A.H.).

3. Maxims, p. 203.

4. Maxims, p. 381.

5. For further study of this theme, the following verses of the Quran are recommended: 7:73; 16:5-8 and 66; 25:48-50; 26:155, 156; 31:10; 32:27; 35:28; 40:79, 80; 42:29; 45:3, 4; 55:10: 79: 27-33; 81:1-18; and 88:17.
6. Muslim. Alfred Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam (Beirut Lebanon, Khayats Oriental Reprinters, 1966), p. 106. Hereafter re¬ferred to as Guillaume, Traditions.

7. Narrated by Shaddad bin Aus. Muslim, vol. 2, ch. 11, section on "Slaying," 10:739, verse 151. Also "Mishkat al-Masabih," p. 872. English translation by James Robson, in four volumes (Lahore-Pakistan, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1963). Hereafter referred to as Robson.

8. I have been informed that the Government of Saudi Arabia has recently made some arrangements to freeze the meat of the sacrificed animals during the festival of Hajj in order to distribute it among the poor. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get detailed and authentic information of this development.

9. Maxims, p. 436.

10. Sayyid Abu a'la Maududi, Towards Understanding Islam. English translation by Dr. Khurshid Ahmad (a Muslim of renown in Western literary and religious circles), (Lahore, Pakistan, Islamic Publications Ltd., 1967), pp. 174-176.

11. Narrated by Abu Huraira. Guillaume, Traditions, pp. 106, 107.

12. Guillaume, Traditions, pp. 106, 107.

13. Guillaume, Traditions, pp. 106, 107.

14. Narrated by Abu Waqid al-Laithi. Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud. Robson, p. 874.

15. Muslim, vol. 1, ch. 3, section 9:265 on "Duty Towards Animals." Also Yusuf al Kardawi, The Lawful and Unlawful in Islam (in Arabic), (Cairo, Mektebe Vahba, 1977), p. 293 and Robson, p. 872.

16. Narrated by Ibn Abbas. Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud. Also Robson, p. 876.

17. Bukhari and Muslim. Also Muhammad Manzur Ilahi, Holy Traditions, vol. 1 (Lahore, Pakistan, Ripon Printing Press, 1932), p.149.

18. Narrated by Abu Abbas. Muslim. Also Robson, p. 872.

19. Narrated by Ibni 'Umar. Musnad of Ahmad. Also narrated by 'Abdallah bin 'Amar bin al-'As, Robson, p. 874.

20. The Arabic version: "Al-'Amālo bil-niyyah."

21. Narrated by Abu Huraira. Bukhari and Muslim.

22. Narrated by Abdallah bin 'Amru. Bukhari and Muslim.

23. Muhammad Amin, Wisdom of Prophet Muhammad (Lahore, Pakistan, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1965), p. 200.

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