We are blessed with the knowledge that the Almighty have purposely committed in our service many animals, birds and livestock. Such intelligent creatures have already passed their test; they have already chosen the Most Gracious to be their only Lord and submitted to His will and divine plans (33:72).. They are here with us to serve a specific purpose and for a specific life span. Whether they are lovely companions, guards, hunters, livestock, birds, etc.. - they are the guardians of our environment by their active and crucial contribution to the perfect physical and biological balance and the precise measurements of everything on planet earth. They are among the many blessed provisions from God to implement His just plan for all the children of Adam; perfecting the balance of everything on earth and making it habitable so we retake our test and use our final chance.
It should not be surprising that the mistreatment of animals is addressed in Quran as an abominable act. The awareness of all the high standards and ethics of Quran, the gracious attributes of the Most Gracious and the overall spirit of Submission must lead to the conviction that animal cruelty or abuse is prohibited.
The following is only an analysis of one verse in Quran, 5:3, that speaks volumes about animal cruelty and sheds more light on our dietary prohibitions.
[٣:٥] حُرِّمَت عَلَيكُمُ المَيتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحمُ الخِنزيرِ وَما أُهِلَّ لِغَيرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالمُنخَنِقَةُ وَالمَوقوذَةُ وَالمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطيحَةُ وَما أَكَلَ السَّبُعُ إِلّا ما ذَكَّيتُم وَما ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ وَأَن تَستَقسِموا بِالأَزلٰمِ ذٰلِكُم فِسقٌ اليَومَ يَئِسَ الَّذينَ كَفَروا مِن دينِكُم فَلا تَخشَوهُم وَاخشَونِ اليَومَ أَكمَلتُ لَكُم دينَكُم وَأَتمَمتُ عَلَيكُم نِعمَتى وَرَضيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسلٰمَ دينًا فَمَنِ اضطُرَّ فى مَخمَصَةٍ غَيرَ مُتَجانِفٍ لِإِثمٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفورٌ رَحيمٌ
5:3 Prohibited for you are animals that are found dead, blood, the meat of pigs, animals dedicated to other than God, animals that are strangled, struck with an object, fallen from a height, gored, eaten by a wild animal – excluding what you might save - animals sacrificed on altars and dividing the meat through a game of chance; All of this is abominable. Today, the disbelievers have given up on your religion; do not fear them and fear Me instead. Today, I have completed your religion, perfected My blessing upon you, and I have decreed Submission as the religion for you. If one is forced by famine, without being deliberately sinful, then God is Forgiver, Merciful.
- The above is a translation of what the Arabic text is stating in a straightforward language. It appears that there are more dietary prohibitions than just the traditional, well-known four ones. 5:3 is the last in order when it comes to the issue of dietary prohibitions. Its order of revelation is 112th versus 55th for 6:145, 70th for 16:115, and 87th for 2:173. It does consummates all the other three and lists additional dietary prohibitions.
- All listed prohibitions in 5:3 are separated in the Arabic text by "and"/ "wa", by "and", one after the other.
- God has given us examples in 5:3 of animal CRUELTY. In addition to the prohibitions of animals dedicated to other than God, meat of the pigs, blood and animals that are found dead (cause of death is unidentified as exactly the word "maitah" means), God has listed 7 other dietary prohibitions. 6 of these 7 prohibitions represent nothing but animal CRUELTY and an identified style of killing. God could have just left it at "animals that are found dead", but He does not err and all His words are precisely chosen and contained in Quran for a specific purpose. He stated certain forms of physical abuse, pain induction and torture, and slow death that animals might get subject to and He clearly prohibited for us eating such killed animals. As the Arabic text is structured, and clearly worded, those animals are killed by the hands of others, NOT OF THEMSELVES. Their styles of death are identified and share the same: painful and slow death that increases the suffering time of the animal. The listed styles are: 1- strangled, 2- struck with an object, 3- fallen from a height, 4- gored, 5- was eaten by an animal UNLESS WE FIRST SAVE THE ANIMAL, 6- animals that are slowly killed on altars for idols which usually involves prolonged bleeding and is not any different from the traditional way of slaughtering in the entire so-called Islamic world.
- Furthermore, God made it clear that we should first save eaten up animals before we consider slaughtering them and enjoying them as food. It is only commonsense that this would be applicable to any dying animal and not limited to those which are partially eaten by wild animals ; we first save the animal from suffering before considering its slaughtering.
Is not the above a powerful reminder of God's infinite mercy and justice and a clear teaching that sacrificing an animal or bird for food must be done lawfully without inducing prolonged pain, bleeding or any form of physical trauma or abuse?
We must eliminate the abuse first and save the animals from suffering before considering their slaughtering for food.
Additionally, animals that die because of abuse are prohibited for us to eat.
- Last but not least, God prohibited for us to use the meat of animals as prizes for games or as raffles; the 7th prohibition listed in 5:3 in addition to the traditionally known four. Is not that a teaching that such blessed souls must be treated with the utmost respect all the way?
When we consider the meat of animals or birds for food, we enjoy that blessing in a lawful and sacred manner and we never dispose them as material gains,"bids, "prizes" or "raffles".
God states that eating such animals (died because of cruelty or divided as raffles or prizes) is abominable.
- If we truly understand the above clear concepts through the graphic illustration given by the Almighty in 5:3, what makes it lawful, then, to abuse the animals by any other forms such as force-feeding, chemical and hormone injections, prolonged bleeding and pain (as practiced in all the so-called Islamic world to be rid of blood), derivation of light, sun and movement, deprivation of physical space in nature to play, run and eat plants?
Animal cruelty is prohibited in Quran based on the context and spirit of 5:3. Animals or birds must be raised or farmed in healthy, natural and happy environments without any form of cruelty or physical abuse. When slaughtered for food, that must be done in a quick manner without any prolonged torture and that's again based on the context and spirit of 5:3. Eating any animals that die because of cruelty and abuse is abominable and prohibited. God makes it clear that in cases when the physical abuse does not cause death, we must save those animals first from any suffering and before we consider slaughtering them for food. Slaughtering abused animals without relieving their suffering first is abominable and prohibited. Hunting is lawful (5:1, 5:4), all seafood is lawful (5:96) and all animals and birds raised, happily, in natural environments and slaughtered without abuse or torture are lawful.
There is this big sense of relief for us, submitters, that we say " bism Allah" before we eat anything, including meat, and that we express our appreciation through that (6:119). Understanding that command has been a big transformation for all of us since it implies we no longer should care about the "Halal Meat" / " Killed in Accordance with the Islamic Law" labels in supermarkets, and enjoy eating freely at different restaurants. But it is time to ask ourselves: are we grasping the entire context of 5:3? Does uttering the Basmalah wipe off the sin of eating abused animals or birds without relieving their suffering first? Why can't we choose the meat of animals or birds that were not subject to abuse? Do we understand the limits set by God in 5:3 and do we have a choice?
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.