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.
Backbiting is highly forbidden in Islam and is considered as a major sin. By speaking behind the back of others, people might deliberately spoil the dignity of each other, and in Islam, nothing is far more valuable than the honour of a human being. It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) that during the miraculous night journey (Mi’raj) [i] that he (PBUH & HP) had, he (PBUH & HP) passed a group of people in hell who were scratching their own faces with nail. He (PBUH & HP) asked who they were. It was said that, those were the ones who used to backbite and dishonour others . This punishment, besides others, was due to the fact that backbiting destroys the face of others and misrepresents them, hence, the backbiters scratched their faces which caused them to look more monstrous and nasty. Let’s see what Islam’s definition of backbiting, its conditions, types, consequences, etc is.
According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), backbiting is to mention and scold someone behind his back which is unpleasant and unkind to him/her . It can be about his/her physical appearance, body, origin, character, deeds, or possessions like clothes, home, children or spouse.
Notice that there is a delicate difference between backbiting and slander. According to Imam Sadiq (AS), backbiting is to reveal something about your Muslim brother which Allah Almighty has concealed. But, revealing which is apparent such as being irascible or hasty is not considered as backbiting. But, slander is to attribute something to someone which is basically wrong .
Not every act or saying about another person is backbiting. Backbiting is:
• If someone talks about the apparent and obvious characteristics of another person, it won’t be backbiting anymore, unless he\she intends to mock and deride that person. Hence, revealing the hidden defects of someone else is considered as backbiting whatever the intention is, but, talking about the obvious defects is considered as backbiting if one aims to reproach;
• When someone reveals the “defects” of someone else, but revealing the “strong points” of another person won’t be backbiting anymore;
• If the deficiency attributed to another person is unpleasant and blamed by everyone else;
• If one aims to dishonour another person by revealing his\her defects;
• And, if there is someone else who listens to or hears what is said about another person. It means that if one reviews someone’s defects by him\herself alone, it is not backbiting.
Backbiting is so denounced in Islam that it is said: “Whoever dies while he had repented from backbiting, he\she will be the last who enters Heaven. And, whoever dies while have kept on backbiting, he\she will be the first who enters the Hell !
In another narration, backbiting is compared to leprosy disease. It is said that backbiting ruins one’s faith much faster than leprosy disease ruins his\her body . In surat Hujurat it is said: “O you who have faith! ... do not spy on or backbite one another. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And be wary of Allah ...” (49:12).
Backbiting is “mentioning” someone’s deficiency behind his\her back. Accordingly, the types of backbiting are:
• By words: it is the most common type of backbiting. It means one “speaks” about another person’s defect;
• By writing: if someone writes down the imperfection of someone else such that others can read it, too, the cartoons drawn to mock a personality or using someone’ pet phrase in order to make fun of him\her ;
• By act: if one reveals other person’s defect to someone else by showing or imitating it;
• By indirect words: like saying that “how lucky we are that we don’t have such a stingy partner!”;
• By gesture: like revealing one’s defect by a special movement of hand, head, eyes, etc.
Now that we found out how much backbiting is disapproved in Islam and what it is consists of, we need to find out its consequences, the way to prevent ourselves or others from backbiting, etc. Follow us on the second part of this topic to find the answers.
[i] The Mi’raj refers to the materialistic journey of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from there, to the skies and back home again. That was during this journey that he (PBUH & HP) saw heaven and hell. For more details see: https://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/fa6152
- Mirza Hussain Nouri, “Mustadrak al-Wasa’il”, vol. 9, p. 119.
- M. Naraqi, “Mi’raj al-Sa’sah”, p. 447.
- Shaykh al-Kolayni, “al-Kafi”, vol. 2, No. 7.
- Mulla M. Faydh Kashani, “Al-Mahajjat al-Baydha' ”, vol. 5, p.252.
- Shaykh al-Kolayni, “al-Kafi”, vol. 2, No. 1.
Perhaps one of the most important questions for each of us about life is what a good and flourishing life is and most generally if it is worth living.
Many people, including great philosophers and scholars of ethics and mysticism throughout history, have tried to find an answer to this question regarding life worth. Albert Camus, one of the famous authors and philosophers of the 20th century, tried hard to fulfill his lifelong quest to shed light on the meaning of our lives, such that he believed: “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest […] comes afterward. Those are games; one must first answer this” .
Now let’s see how different people have answered this important question about life worth. We can divide these viewpoints into three categories:
1. They believe life costs a lot and has very few benefits for us. As Woody Allan, the pessimist American director, puts: “Most of life is tragic. You're born, you don't know why. You're here, you don't know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. The net result, the final count is, you lose - you don't beat the house” . Or as Samuel Butler says: “life is one long process of getting tired” . So some of these people think why not we commit suicide to get rid of this miserable life?!
2. These people believe life is so valuable no matter how it seems and we have to live it at any price. Lots of people choose to think this way. Henry James has said: “Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact” . Or there is another quote from Ellen DeGeneres that says: “My life is perfect even when it's not” . Also, one of the most popular contemporary writers, Paulo Coelho seems to have a kind of optimistic view about life when he says: “Never give up. When your heart becomes tired, just walk with your legs – but move on” 
Some other people seem to have found the golden mean between the two previous extremes:
3. So, sometimes it is worth living and sometimes not. This is what Islam and Islamic leaders teach their followers about life worth. There are examples in the lives of the infallible Imams in which they indicate that we are not created only to live this worldly life and that this life is merely a path for us to reach a higher status. As the Holy Quran says: “while the Hereafter is better and more lasting” (87:17). So, we should always think if this earthly life will be to our benefit in the hereafter or not. If yes, then it is worth living; if not fight for those benefits even if you die.
One of the most significant role models for us in this regard is Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam, whose act of sacrifice has left a profound impact on humankind throughout history. Imam Hussain (AS) believed accepting humiliation and obedience to mean people is like living in hell. So, when all he did to guide his enemies to the right path failed, he said: “To me, death is nothing but happiness, and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
At this state, death to him is more desirable than living under the oppression of the tyrants and surrendering to their wishes. Therefore, when he was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to the tyrant of the time, Yazid, or to fight and probably die, he decided to fight even if he died. He sacrificed all he had in this way and departed this earthly life with glory.
Now, after about 1400 years, every year in Muharram, lots of ceremonies are held around the world to commemorate the anniversary of his martyrdom. Lots of people from different religions get influenced by him and his ideology and sometimes it makes them embrace Islam.
Which point of view do you agree about life worth? Will you ever give up your benefits for the good of others to make them have a flourishing and more valuable life?