In the age when men were often cruel to each other, let alone to animals, Prophet Muhammed’s (saw) taught his companions (Sahabah), that one should be kind to all living things, animal or plant, since they are all part of Allah’s creation. Prophet Muhammed’s (saw) mercy and compassion was so deep that animals, even plants would benefit from His existence as their guardian.
“Fear Allah (SWT) with regard to animals”, said Prophet Muhammed (saw), “ride them when they are fit to be ridden, and get off their backs when they are tired; surely, there are rewards for being kind and gentle to animals, and for giving them water to drink.”
Islam has taught that in the eyes of Almighty Allah (SWT), animals also have rights in the same way as man has. They should not be treated badly, tortured or left to starve without food or water.
One day, Prophet Muhammed (saw) told his companions (Sahabah) the story of two women: “A prostitute was guided by Allah’s truth and ultimately went to paradise because she gave water to a dog dying of thirst in the desert.” While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and watered it. So Allah (SWT) forgave her because of that good deed.” And for the other women, Prophet Muhammed (saw) said, “A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.” Prophet Muhammed (saw) further said, “You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.”
Prophet Muhammed (saw) said: A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well, he descended into it, drank his fill, and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its excessive thirst.
The man said, “This dog is feeling the same thirst that I felt.” So he went down into the well again, filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink.
So, Almighty Allah (SWT) forgave his sins.
Prophet Muhammed (saw) was asked, “O Messenger of Allah (SWT), are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?” Prophet Muhammed (saw) replied: There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.
Prophet Muhammed (saw) was once performing ablution (Wudhu) for prayers from a pot of water. A Cat passed there and turned its eyes at the pot of water with a thirsty look. Prophet Muhammed (saw) realized at once that the Cat was very thirsty, so he stopped the ablution (Wudhu) and placed the pot before the Cat.
Only after the Cat had fully quenched its thirst, did Prophet Muhammed (saw) resume the ablution (Wudhu). By this action, Prophet Muhammed (saw) has shown that quenching the thirst of even a small dumb animal is a noble act full of virtue and should be given first attention before one prepares for offering prayers to Almighty Allah (SWT).
A man brought the chick of a bird to the gathering of Prophet Muhammed (saw) and his companions (Sahabah), and they noticed that the parent of the chick was following it, flapping around it. When the man sat down its parent threw itself upon its chick, and did not concern itself with the danger, out of care towards its chick. This astonished the companions.
Prophet Muhammed (saw) then turned to his companions said: ‘Are you amazed at this bird? You have taken its chick and it threw itself into danger out of mercy for the chick! I swear by Allah (SWT), your Lord is more merciful to you than this bird is to its chick. Then he turned to the man and asked him to let the chick go.
Even the means of slaughtering animals in Islam is done in a way which will bring minimal pain to the animal. Is not it amazing that these laws came about 1400 years ago. Yet, we are still struggling to keep animals from being abused and mistreated.