Cruelty to animals has no place in Islam

March 04, 2020
Cruelty to animals has no place in Islam

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

It is not easy for one living in Saudi Arabia not to be distracted by the regional affairs around them nor of the conflicts in several Arab nations that have erupted since the invasion of Iraq. Nor is it easy to ignore the continuing brutality of the current Israeli regime against the Palestinian people trapped in their own lands, or the growing violence against Muslims in India.

With headlines all garnered by such events, some residents still go about doing well in spite of being squeezed out of print space.

One such person has made it her mission to help the underprivileged, only this time they happen to be the four-legged ones, and cats in particular. She contends that not enough coverage has been given toward the protection of the rights of animals in the Kingdom. She has been helping, feeding and rescuing animals from the street, for 33 years now.

She manages her pet rescue center with the help of her working husband, and cannot stand the sight of cats of all sizes digging for food in garbage dumpsters, or kittens thrown in the garbage, or left to die a slow death under the scorching sun.

She would place a bowl of water and a plate of food to feed the hungry animals. One day an irate neighbor came to her door demanding that she ceased that practice and filed a complaint with the Municipality. The husband was summoned to the police station and had to sign an undertaking not to feed animals from the streets.

She asked me, “Can you please explain to me this ‘strange law’ of the land, the cradle of Islam that allows and gives the right to people to bully someone that is trying to do good in this harsh environment. We have no official animal rescue centers like in the West.

To my knowledge, there are only a few people who rescue distressed animals that other Saudi families no longer wanted after purchasing them expensively from pet shops.

“They buy them small and cute and then eventually abandon them to starve in the streets. My husband and I are catching such animals whenever we can to treat their wounds and nurse them to health. They are so badly abused by the environment, the outdoors and the lack of nourishment. Some are in such a bad shape that treating them to recovery is purely God's miracle.”

“Now we have a rude and intolerant person that is supposedly a good Muslim, praying religiously five times a day, coming to dictate to us with the blessings of city officials, how we have to ignore miseries and suffering of animals, which are God's creation too. Is it just and fair?

For 33 long years, we have helped many of these animals cope with rampant cruelty from some people of this Islamic land. We only ask them to leave us in peace to continue our merciful deeds. We only ask God Almighty to help us to help them. We do not need any rewards or recognition from society. Could you please pass our message to those people who only talk of compassion in public and yet become vicious and merciless when they encounter true humane behavior from their neighbor.”

Her distress led her to reach out to me with a plea that people in this religious society should be made aware that animals are also part of God’s creations and God's Kingdom. Respect and care for animals have to be taught in schools at an early age.

Her issues may come across as trivial in today’s world. Many would argue that there are far more pressing issues to be addressed than the plight of four-legged felines. In the process, they may forget that the mercy of Islam extends beyond human beings to all living creations of God.

It is prohibited in Islam to treat an animal cruelly or to kill it except as needed for food. The holy Qur’an tells us that “there is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you,’ and according to an established hadeeth when the Prophet (PBUH) was asked if Allah rewarded acts of charity to animals, he replied: “Yes, there is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive. Whoever is merciful even to a sparrow, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgment.”

As Muslims, it is our duty to be merciful with all living creatures. In the process, we should reward individuals such as the lady aforementioned and others who seek to find comfort for disposed animals with compassion and understanding and not subject them to distress and intolerance. Let us strive together to make 2016 a year of compassion toward all living creatures.

The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena

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