The Prophet’s (pbuh) Love of Animals
Our Prophet (pbuh) Did Away with the Cruel Customs that Mistreated Animals
The ignorance in society when our Prophet (pbuh) began preaching was also reflected in people’s treatment of animals; they would use live animals as targets for archery practice, and cut off ears and tails and even branded them to distinguish their animals from those of other people. When they were hungry out in the desert, they would slice open a camel’s hump, extract a piece of fat from it and then stitch it up again.
Our Prophet (pbuh) completely did away with these unpleasant customs of the society of ignorance. He taught that animals also deserved compassion. All practices that mistreated animals were put to an end to by our Prophet (pbuh).
Our Prophet (pbuh) Forbade Animals from Being Overworked
Our Prophet (pbuh) forbade the overworking of animals. Addresses and poetic ceremonies performed with people facing one another sitting on the backs of animals for several hours, which had been going on for hundreds of years, were forbidden. Owners were only allowed to ride animals for so long as they truly needed. Our Prophet (pbuh) issued a warning, saying; "Don't make the backs of animals your chairs. God gave these to your command only on the condition that you go with them easily to places you would not been able to go by yourselves without extreme trouble. He also created the ground. Meet your other needs on the ground." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Jihad 61, (2667))
Another hadith reads; “Ride your animals gently and only when they are fit to be ridden, and let them go free when it is meet that they should rest. Do not use them as chairs for talking to one another on the roads and streets (do not spend hours talking to one another while seated on them).” (Ahmad, III, 439)
Working Animals’ Right to Rest
Our Prophet (pbuh) gave working animals the right to rest in the same way as human beings, and stressed the need for animals to rest and meet their needs when rest stops were called along the road.
Our Prophet (pbuh) Prohibited the Abuse and Mistreatment of Animals
Our Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, God will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, 2/11) and commanded that “birds’ nests should not be damaged and their eggs and chicks should not be taken.” (Sahih Bukhari, 139).
Our Prophet (pbuh) stopped someone who was beating the animal he was riding on and stated that this was a violation of the law of God. “God did not create animals for you to do that to them,” he said. (Musnad Ahmad, 4/131)
Our Prophet’s (pbuh) Affection toward a Mother Dog and Her Puppies
As our Prophet (pbuh) was marching with his 10,000-man army, he saw on their way a dog that had just given birth with her puppies. He summoned Djuail, son of Suraka, and commanded; “You will wait in front of the mother dog and her puppies and by keeping their sentry till all the army has passed, you will protect them from being ran over.” (ash-Shami, Subul al-Huda Wa-al-Rashad, VII, 51) Thanks to the Prophet’s (pbuh) affection the 10,000-man army changed its course in order not to disturb the dog and her puppies.
A Saying of the Prophet (pbuh) Reflecting His Love of Animals: “The life of all dogs are respected”
“Not only the beneficial dogs, the life of all dogs are respected and immune as long as they do not cause harm and do not turn violent and aggressive.” (Hashyatu'l-Bayjarmi Ala'l-Manhaj-al-Maktabatu'sh-Shamila, I/474)
Our Prophet’s (pbuh) Cat, “Muezza”
Our Prophet (pbuh) had a cat called “Muezza.” He loved Muezza so much that one day, when Muezza was dozing on the sleeve of the Prophet’s (pbuh) robe, the Prophet (pbuh) chose to cut that part of his robe off rather than wake her up.
In addition, the name Abu Hurayrah, who narrated many hadiths from the Prophet (pbuh), means “father of the kitten.”
Our Prophet’s (pbuh) Affection toward a Mother Bird and Her Young
“We were on a journey and during the Prophet’s absence, we saw a bird with its two chicks; we took them. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When Prophet Muhammad returned he said, ‘Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its chicks? Return them to her.’” (Sahih Muslim)
The Baby Goat
Our Prophet (pbuh) said this to a man who was milking a goat. "Leave some milk for the kid of the goat when you milk." (Majmua'z-Zawaid, 8:196)
A Starving Camel and Its Owner
Our Prophet (pbuh) entered an orchard belonging to one of the Muslims of Medina and saw there a camel groaning in hunger, and was deeply troubled by this. He approached the camel and stroked it and then asked who its owner was. He then warned the owner by saying, “Do you not fear God in respect of this beast which God has placed in your possession?” (Sunan Abu Dawud, "Jihad", 44)
In another hadith our Prophet (pbuh) says; “Fear God in respect of these dumb (animals).” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Jihad, 44/2548)
A Sleeping Antelope
During a campaign, our Prophet (pbuh) saw an antelope sleeping in the warm shade. He commanded one of his companions to wait there and ensure that the animal was not disturbed until everyone had passed. (Malik’s Muwatta, Hajj, 79; Sunan an-Nasai, Hajj, 78)
A Donkey Branded on the Face
One day on the road our Prophet (pbuh) saw a donkey that had been branded on the face and said, “God curse the one who branded it." (Sahih Muslim) and he recommended that branding should be done without hurting the animals.
Treating Animals Well
A man on a journey was thirsty and descended into a well and drank from it. When he came out of the well he saw a dog who was also very thirsty and was licking the ground with his tongue. Thinking that the dog was thirsty just like him, he went down into the well again and brought water up in his leather socks for the dog to drink from. At that, Almighty God forgave him his sins. The Prophet (pbuh) was asked if acts of charity even to the animals were rewarded by the Almighty. He replied: "Yes, there is a reward for acts of charity to every beast alive." (Sahih Bukhari)
When his companions asked, “Will we earn merit if we give animals water to drink?” the Messenger of God answered, “There is merit to be earned from giving water to all living things.” (Tajrit, Vol. VII, p. 223)
The reason why we are citing the hadiths in question as valid evidence is that they are compatible with the Qur’an. The reason why our Prophet (pbuh) was so affectionate toward animals is the education he received from the Qur’an. Our Prophet (pbuh) was surely the person best able to appreciate that God created numerous life forms, each one lovelier and more skillful than the next, as proof, beauty and a blessing. He clearly saw how God manifested His names of the Compassionate and Merciful and His glorious artistry in living things. Our Prophet (pbuh) showed through his own actions how the compassion and affection recommended in the Qur’an, which praises love, should be seen in a Muslim. One can also see this in the advice that our Prophet (pbuh) gave concerning compassion:
“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, 1924)
“Someone who is devoid of gentleness and kindliness is devoid of all goodness …” (Sahih Muslim, Birr, 76)
Therefore, the peddlers of superstition look in vain for cruelty toward animals in Islam or in the actions of our Prophet (pbuh), and instead engage in fraud on the subject in order to persuade others of their nonsensical views. The Qur’an is the Book in which a perfect love for human beings, animals and plants is described, and our Prophet (pbuh) lived by the Qur’an throughout his life.