Fundamental needs of animals in Islam includes their rights in Islam, and human beings have to fulfill them. The very first needs of animals which are vital to them include sufficient and proper food, water, a comfortable place to rest and live, and physical health. These and some other rights of the animals are discussed in this article.
Animals are unable to talk and express their needs. Captivating the animals and inhibiting them from the blessings that God has reserved for them are unfair . Every animal with either lawful (Halal) or unlawful (Haram) meat, with or without benefit to its owner, birds or cattle, should be provided with adequate food and water, otherwise should be released to seek for its requirements . The animals’ rights in food provision can be listed as:
Feeding the animal adequately, otherwise, it should be released in pastures or nature to find food ;
Paying special attention to the animal, with whether lawful [i] (Halal) or unlawful [ii] (Haram) meat, which gives milk to its baby because it requires double food supply . Imam Ali (AS) ordered the alms-tax collectors nor to separate the camel from its baby neither to milk the whole milk of the camel as it might be harmful to the baby camel ;
Not to feed the animal with unlawful food since it is detestable (Makruh) ;
Not to leave the animal hungry. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) blamed a man who had left his camel hungry: “you should fear God!” ;
Watering animal. Partial (Wudu) and full (Ghusl) ablution are some sorts of washing body which are obligatory for Muslims in certain conditions and are prerequisites for some religious duties. Regarding Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), if an animal is dying of thirst and there is not enough water to both water the animal and perform the ablution, at certain conditions, watering the animal is the priority . Imam Baqir (AS) said that whoever waters a thirsty animal, God will place him at the shelter of His Throne the day that there is no protection except Him .
Hygiene and health of the animal are emphasized in Islam. Providing animals with healthy food and water, a clean place to live and the required treatments and medications are of the duties over their owners. Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) obliges the owner of the animal to pay the expenses of the treatment of the animal .
It is over every Muslim to consider the rest and peace of the animal. Thereby, an appropriate place should be provided for the animal. Also, a suitable time should be considered for the exploitation of the animal, especially during the night that they need to rest. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) advised to let the animals rest whenever they are utilized and ordered not to oppress them.
These and other Islamic advises demonstrate how much care is given to the animals in Islam. This is contrary to the modern thinking ideas that consider animals as machines to serve humans without needing any rest.
Human beings are not allowed to deprive animals of reproduction . According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), sterilizing the animal is equal to dismembering it .
An animal raised by a human being has the right of affection over its owner. Hence, it is detestable that the owner of the animal slaughters the animal that he\she has raised . This shows that Islam considers the rights due to a harmonious cohabitation for humans over each other as well as for animals over humans. Imam Sajjad (AS) made a will to bury his camel after its death so that it might not be torn apart by the wild animals .
Animals trained for purposes such as companionship, detection, protection, farm work, etc. have received great care in Islamic teachings such that keeping a trained dog at home is permitted if the hygiene tips are considered . It is narrated that a man who had his horse with him, saluted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). Prophet (PBUH&HP) saluted both the man and his horse in return .
This demonstrates the importance of keeping respect for the animals, especially those that are trained. In this regard, branding iron animal on the face (which was common in the past among some ethnic groups) is forbidden in Islam and is considered unfair . Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) ordered not to rest while seated on the animals’ back .
Respecting the rights of the animals in Islam is so important that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever ignores the rights of the animals that he\she had owned, he\she should wait in the judgment day until those animals pass over while crushing or butting him\her .
[i]. e.g., cow or sheep.
[ii]. e.g., dog.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 675.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Al-Mabsoot”, vol. 6, p. 47.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 36.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 678.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, letter 25.
- Sheikh al-Tusi, “Tahdhib al-Ahkam”, vol. 9, p. 115.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 61, p. 111.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 681.
- “Makarim al-Akhlaq”, p. 135.
- M. H. Najafi, “Jawahir al-Kalam”, vol. 36, p. 436-437.
- J. Suyuti, “Jami al-Sagheer”, vol. 1, p. 102.
- A. Javadi Amoli, “Mafatih al-hayat”, p. 686.
- A. Al-Barqi, “Al-Mahasin”, p. 634.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Thawab al-A'mal wa 'Iqab al-A'mal”, p. 50.
- Animals in Islam
- F. Rawandi, “Al-Nawader”, p. 41-42.
- Shaykh Saduq, “Al-Amali”, p. 507.
- Q. Nu'man, “Da'a'im al-Islam”, vol 1, p. 347.
- Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, “Sahih Muslim”, vol. 3, p. 74.
Whatever we look at or even see, enters our mind and soul, and sticks to them. Imam Ali (AS) said: “The eye is the reporter of heart and the messenger of mind.” . It means that every act of looking profoundly affects our heart and soul. The prophet (PBUH&HP) said: “Avoid unnecessary excess looks as they grow lust in your hearts and make you heedless.” .
In another saying from Imam Ali (AS), we read that: “The eyes are the snares of Satan” . That is why Islam has special guidelines and rules about at what or whom, one is allowed or not to look. And, this is more pressing in case of Muslims living in a non-Muslim society, where they are constantly exposed to both men and women freely and improperly dressed in the streets, TV, magazines, web pages, etc. Islam has regulated looking at the opposite gender according to the two categories: Mahrams and non-Mahrams .
A man is permitted to look at the body of a woman who is his Mahram, except her private parts (Awrah). And he must not look at her body from the navel down to the knee. This means that a woman should dress decently even in the presence of her Mahrams. One’s wife is an exception to this rule; married couples are allowed to look at the entire body of each other.
It is forbidden for a man to look at the body of any non-Mahram woman but he can look at her hands and face as long as they do not have any decoration. If the woman is Muslim, then he is not allowed to look at her hair. But if she is not Muslim, looking at her hair is not forbidden as long as it is not for pleasure.
Generally, there is no sin on a man for the first involuntary look at any non-Mahram woman, but the second look should be avoided . In any case, men should remember that: “Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them.” (24:30).
This rule also extends to adolescent boys and even younger ones, who understand women’s physical attributes and might be attracted to them. They should be taught to lower their gaze, too. Since children’s minds and souls are clear lands ready to be cultivated with several types of thoughts and ideas mostly captured by eyes, we need to teach them which seeds they should plant in their lands to attain Allah’s eternal satisfaction.
A man is not allowed to look at another man’s private parts, nor a woman at those of another woman; whether Muslim or not. Besides, looking at any parts of the body of another man, even the face and arms, will be forbidden for a man if done with the intention of having pleasure. The same ruling applies to a woman towards another woman. This also means that one should always cover his/her private parts in the presence of others, even of the same gender.
A woman is allowed to look at the body of a man who is her Mahram, except his private parts, if it is not for having pleasure. One’s husband is an exception to this rule as mentioned earlier.
A woman is not permitted to look at the body of a non-Mahram man, except for the face, hands, and that amount which men usually [i] do not cover and if it is not for pleasure.
One is permitted to look at the entire body of a child until he/she reaches the age when the child’s consciousness of sex has developed, or when evidence of sexual urge is noticed on him/her; even if it is before reaching puberty. However, it is better to accustom the child to always dress properly.
As a general rule, it is forbidden (Haram) to look at anyone (even at one’s own body) or anything (including people’s photos and films, statues, etc.) with the intention of having pleasure (with the exception of one’s spouse), even if one is looking at a Mahram.
In cases of “necessity” such as in administering first aid, medical treatment [ii] or during a trial testimony where the judge requests the witness to look at a non-Mahram to identify him/her , all the rules of the prohibition of looking become void. As an instance, if a doctor is compelled to look at a part of the body of a non-Mahram woman, he must only look at that part necessary for the treatment, but not more than that. Also, if possible, the examination or testing must be performed over the clothing. Other exceptions are looking at one’s spouse as explained above.
[i] This, although following a definite limit indicated in Islamic ruling that should be respected, is based on the normal condition of each society to some extent.
[ii] In the case that a doctor of the same skill and with the same gender is not available.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 104, p. 41, T. 52.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 72, p. 199.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 77, p. 294.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih”, vol.3, p.474, T. 4658.
- looking to others
Going through the history of the world, one can realize that women have always played significant roles in society. When men and women accompany each other, and each party plays its own role to the fullest, miracles start to appear. And as we are going to discuss the role of women, it is good to recollect that the patience of a woman in nurturing a child is no different from her patience and tolerance in nurturing and training her husband and her whole family. That is why when a mother is taken away from a family, putting it again together as a healthy family is a hard job.
When Allah wants to give examples of good and bad role models for non-believers and believers in the Quran, he mentions four women:
“Allah cites an example of the faithless: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of our righteous servants, yet they betrayed them. So they did not avail them in any way against Allah … Allah cites an example of the faithful: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, ‘My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot.’ And Mary, daughter of Imran, who guarded the chastity of her womb, so We breathed into it of Our spirit. She confirmed the words of her Lord and His Books, and she was one of the obedient.” (66: 10-12) [i]
Now that we have discussed the central role of women in many significant events, we would like to study the role of women in the important event of Karbala, in about 1400 years ago.
When we discuss the role of women as mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters, we never mean to neglect the vital status of women as individuals. Of course, a woman should have a strong, self-built character as an individual to be able to influence and train others and manage different situations.
The fact that faithful women's names who were present while, before and after the event of Karbala have remained in history is due to their characters. They were strong to some point before the day of Ashura and represented their strength and beauty within the hard situations of the day of Ashura and after that.
To be able to represent such an astonishing character, a woman needs to have developed her character in the following dimensions: individual, spiritual, social, political and cultural, while having a high status of knowledge and wisdom at the same time. This type of woman is of the kind who can observe the event of Karbala and see it a blessing from Allah. The famous few words of Lady Zainab (AS) after witnessing all the cruelty and brutality of the enemies of her brother shows it very well: “I did not see anything but beauty.” 
When women read about the character of those women who were present in the day Ashura with Imam Hussein (AS) and his companions or women whose names have remained in history for their well-being, they may think that those women were extraordinary and not every woman can be like them. But reading the history and commemorating the events of Karbala is to show us that we can all become astonishing characters, only if we follow the orders of Allah, the Prophet (PBUH & HP) and his household.
An example of those ordinary women whose name has remained in history is Habib Ib Mazahir’s wife. What made her special was the right choice she made based on the teachings of her religion and obeying the commands of her Imam; Imam Hussein (AS). Thus, when her husband tested her by saying that he was not going to join the army of Imam Hussein (AS) as he was an old man, she blamed him and reminded him of the status of the Imam based on what she had learned from the Quran and narrations. 
Therefore, all women who read and obey the rulings and advice of the Quran can reach the highest levels of faith and spirituality.
The vital role of mothers in the event of Karbala is to be studied many years before the incident occurred. That is when the soldiers of Imam Hussein (AS) were just born and were being nurtured and trained by their mothers to become great servants of Allah and to recognize the truth from the wrong in a critical situation.
The first one of them was Lady Fatimah (AS), Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) daughter, who brought up her children in a way to be the greatest leaders of all times.
The second Fatimah that should be mentioned here is Fatimah bint Hizam. She was a knowledgeable and pious woman and a few years after the martyrdom of Lady Fatimah (AS) Imam Ali (AS) married her. She gave birth to four sons, and therefore she was called Ummul-Banin (Mother of Sons). His eldest son was Abbas ibn Ali (AS); the commander of Imam Hussein (AS) forces. All her four sons were martyred while defending Imam Hussein (AS); the Imam of their time. 
The role of those mothers who were present in Karbala and encouraged their sons to fight and defend their Imam should not be neglected. Lady Zainab and Umm-e Wahab are among the most significant ones.
Also, the behavior of Lady Robab, who lost her six months old baby and never mentioned it before her Imam and husband can be an excellent lesson for all the women in the world.
One of the most significant moments when women nag their men is when they feel insecure for any worldly reasons. It is less probable for women to complain to their men when they find them spiritually at risk. In such situations, the faithful woman would find ways of preparing her husband for growth and spiritual improvement where nagging won’t work. But if men put the worldly belongings of a woman at risk, the woman would usually fight against him.
However, in Karbala, Imam Hussein (AS) and his followers gave everything in the way of Allah, including their life. But those specific women who were with them, not only encouraged them to do so, but also supported them and promised to follow their true path after them.
One of these outstanding women was Wahab’s mother; Umm Wahab. Wahab was a Christian and was traveling with his mother and his newlywed. They met Imam Hussein (AS) on the way and were informed of what was going on to the household of the Prophet (PBUH&HP). So Umm Wahab tells him that she will not be satisfied with him until he joins and defends Imam Hussein (AS). Wahab joined Imam’s army and fought until he was martyred. When he was laid in the middle of the battlefield, his mother sat at his body, cleaning blood and dust off his face, where the enemy attacked her, and she was also martyred in the way of Allah. 
Such women can be great role models for all women in the world to support their husbands if they find them on the right path or even to guide them to the right path.
In the event of Karbala Lady Zainab (AS) was present as a sister and a mother, while for some specific reasons, she was not accompanied by her husband [ii]. Imam Hussein’s (AS) daughters were also present in Karbala.
The leading roles that they played in the event of Karbala were to encourage and support men to defend their leader, to take care of the sick and the wounded ones, to stay together and take care of women and children.
When they were captured and were being taken from city to city, the women were careful not to let children take any charity from people, as charity is forbidden for the household of the Prophet (PBUH&HP). They also kept reporting the true events that went on in Karbala, and before and after that, to increase the awareness of people about the truth. 
When they returned home, they narrated the event of Karbala to the next generations, by giving speeches, saying poems, and mentioning the events wherever they could.
Commemorating the aims of Imam Hussein (AS) in confronting the corrupt rulers of his time was a tradition that started by faithful women of his time, and should be continued to help us realize the true path from the wrong path.
[i]The above verses show that in the same way that women can help developing the spirituality of the individuals, the family, and society they can also lead them towards decadence and corruption
[ii] Search history for “Why lady Zainab’s husband was not present in Karbala?”