Q: Doctor T.’A.S. From Australia raised a question about moving animals from Australia to the Middle East and was concerned about the bad conditions surrounding the shipment of these animals. We request H.E. Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baz to answer his question. Following is the Shaykh’s answer to his question. This was published in the book entitled “Fatawa Islamiyyah”, compiled by Muhammad Al-Musnad, vol. 3, p. 425.
A: From ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baz to the honorable brother T.G.’A., may Allah grant us and him guidance and success.
As-salamu ‘alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!)
I have reviewed your letter regarding your request to write about the subject of moving animals from your country, Australia, to the Middle East and the bad conditions to which animals are exposed during the shipping process, the conditions of the ships which carry such animals and the resulting crowdedness and other bad consequences. As we pray to Allah to guide us, you and our Muslim brothers to His straight path, we thank you for being interested in this important subject. It also gives us much pleasure to answer your question in the light of the texts of the Noble Book and the pure Sunnah reported that emphasize the kindness that should be observed to both eatable and non-eatable animals, in addition to a number of sound Hadiths that threat those who torture animals, whether by starving or negligence, while moving them or at any other situation.
Allah (Exalted be He) tells us about kindness to animals in general when He says: …and do good. Truly, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good-doers). [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:195] Allah (Exalted be He) also says: Verily, Allâh enjoins Al-‘Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allâh Alone – Islâmic Monotheism) and Al-Ihsân [i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allâh, totally for Allâh’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in a perfect manner] [Surah Al-Nahl, 16:90] The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) also says in the Hadith related by Muslim and the compilers of Sunan (authors of Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) : Verily Allah has enjoined goodness upon everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way, and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. [Related by Muslim, no. 3615; Book of game and animal that are slaughtered and eaten, Chapter on good attitude even in slaughter and killing and sharpening of large knife] In another narration, he (peace be upon him) said: Slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal (in order to reduce its pain). [Related by Al-Tirmidhy, no. 1329, Book on Diyah, Chapter on mutilation]
With regard to relieving those in trouble, there is a sound and authentic Hadith stating the great reward for the one who relieves those in trouble; forgiveness of his sins and appreciation of his act. It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: While a man was walking, he felt very thirsty. He found a well, so he drank some water. Then, he saw a dog that was also very thirsty. The man thought, “This dog is as thirsty as me.” So, he went down the well, filled his shoe with water, and gave it to the dog to drink. Allah (Exalted be He) thanked him and forgave his sins. People asked the Prophet (peace be upon him), “Shall we be rewarded if we give water to animals?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “(Giving water to) every living soul deserves reward.” [Related by Al-Bukhari, no. 2190, Book on sharecropping, Chapter on the excellence of giving water; and Muslim, no. 4162, Book on salutations and greetings, chapter on the merit of supplying water and food to animals]
Abu Hurayrah also reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: While a dog was going around a well and about to die of thirst, a prostitute from the Children of Israel saw it. Then she took her shoe off, filled it with water and quenched the thirst of the dog, and because of that act Allah forgave her sins. [Related by Al-Bukhari, Book on prophets, Chapter on the story of the cave, no. 3208; and Muslim, Book on salutations and greetings, Chapter on the merit of supplying water and food to animals, no. 4164] Reported by Muslim in his Sahih. Islam also urges kindness and makes it the right of those who deserve it, and prohibits its opposite that includes injustice and transgression. Allah (Exalted be He) says: …and transgress not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors. [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:190] Allah (Exalted be He) also says: And whoever among you does wrong (i.e. sets up rivals to Allâh), We shall make him taste a great torment. [Surah Al-Furqan, 25:19] It is reported in the Sahih of Muslim that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) passed by a group of people who tied a chicken alive and made it a target for shooting their arrows. When they saw Ibn ‘Umar, they went away from it. Then Ibn ‘Umar said : Who did this? Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed those who have done this. [Related by Muslim, book on hunting and slaughtering and the animals that are to be eaten, Chapter on the prohibition of tying animals and taking them as target of arrows, no. 3618] It is also reported in the Sahih of Muslim on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) forbade that animals should be tied up and made a target of i.e. Confined till death. [Related by Muslim, book on hunting and slaughtering and the animals that are to be eaten, Chapter on the prohibition of tying animals and taking them as target of arrows, no. 3616]
In another narration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not make a living thing a target. On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited the killing of four beasts: the bee, the ant, the hoopoe and the shrike. [Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on manners, no. 5267; Ibn Majah, Sunah, Book on the game, no. 3224; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 347; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on sacrifices, no. 1999] Reported by Abu Dawud with a good chain of transmission. It is also reported in the Sahih of Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: A woman was destined to torture (in the hereafter) because of a cat which she confined until it died (of hunger); so she was sent to the fire because of it. She did not allow it to eat or drink, as it was confined, and she did not free it so that it might eat the insects of the earth. [Related by Al-Bukhari, Book on prophets, Chapter on the story of the cave, no. 3223; and Muslim, Book on salutations and greetings, Chapter on it is forbidden to kill the cat, no. 4160] It is also reported in the Sunan of Abu Dawud from Abu Waqid who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Whatever is cut off from an animal when it is alive is dead. [Related by Abu Dawud, no. 2475, Book on the game, Chapter on the game from which a part is cut] Al-Tirmidhy also reported [that the Prophet said] : Whatever is cut off from a living being when it is alive is dead. [Related by Al-Tirmidhy, Book on foods, Chapter on parts cut from a living animal are carrions, no. 1400]
It is also reported that Abu Mas’ud said: We were on a journey with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and then he (peace be upon him) went to answer the call of nature. At that time we saw a Humrah (i.e. a type of sparrow) with her two chicks and we took the two chicks. Afterwards, the bird came and started spreading her wings over those beneath her. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came, he said: Who has grieved this bird and took its chicks? [Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on Jihad, no. 2675; and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 1, p. 404] Return her chicks to it. On another occasion, he (peace be upon him) saw a valley of ants which we had burnt and he said: “Who has burnt this? We replied: We did. He said: It is not proper for anyone to punish with fire except the Lord of fire”. [Related by Abu Dawud, Book on Jihad, Chapter on reprehensibility of setting fire to the enemy, no. 2300]
On the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Whoever kills a sparrow or anything larger than that without just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment. He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, what is a just cause? He replied: “That he killed it to eat, not simply to chop its head off and then throw it away.” [Narrated by Al-Nasa’y, Book on hunting and slaughtering animals, Chapter on permissibility of eating sparrows, no. 4272] Reported by Al-Nasa’y and Al-Hakim who classed it as authentic. This Hadith means that it is necessary to stop doing such acts. This is the sheer mercy equally given to these animals and other creatures.
On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by a donkey whose face had been branded, and then he said: “May Allah curse the one who branded it.” [Related by Muslim, Book on dress and adornment, Chapter on it is forbidden to beat the animal on the face or cauterize it at the face, no. 3953] Reported by Muslim. According to another narration by Muslim: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited striking on the face and branding it. [Related by Muslim, Book on dress and adornment, Chapter on it is forbidden to beat the animal on the face or cauterize it at the face, no. 3952] This includes mankind and animals.
All these texts and others contain concepts that indicate the prohibition of all types of torture of animals even of animals which the Shari`ah allows to kill such as the five evil animals and birds (the raven, the scorpion, the rat, the glede and the wild dog). It is noted that Al-Bukhari added: the serpent to the above-mentioned five animals and birds. This indicates Islam’s concern about animals whether by considering what will benefit them or what will save them from harm. It is thus obligatory to put the narrations reported with regard to taking care of the animals and those reported in regard to threatening against torturing them by any means before one’s eyes and pay full attention to them, particularly the type of animals mentioned in the question. This is because animals are used for food and are also property. There are also certain Islamic rulings related to them with regard to some forms of obedience and devotional acts. They are also exposed to many types of hardships while shipping them and moving them in large quantities for long distances. This might result in crowdedness that destroys the weak among them, leads to their starvation, thirst and the spread of diseases among them and many other harmful things that require quick consideration and serious study from those in charge in order to make comfortable arrangements for the means of transportation, for moving them from one place to another, providing them with food and drink, in addition to other means of ease such as ventilation, medical treatment, separating the weak from the dangerous strong ones, and the sick from the healthy in all phases until they are sold as good as possible. The arrangements that have been mentioned can be made by the investing organizations, individuals and importing and exporting companies. All these things require costs which the owners of these companies and those in charge of these animals should spend with good conduct.
The modern methods of slaughtering eatable animals in most foreign countries and the way the animals are prepared for slaughter cause grief and should be denied. Many animals are tortured by the use of electric shocks in the head to make it lose consciousness and then it is passed onto hooks which hold it upside down while it is still alive. Other forms of torture are where the animal is put onto an electric belt till it reaches the place of slaughtering in slaughterhouse or canning factory. Other forms of abuse include plucking out the feathers of chickens and birds while they are still alive or dipping them in very hot water when they are alive or exposing them to very hot steam in order to remove the feathers claiming that this method is cost effective as known about other well-known methods of slaughtering. It is noted that such methods are considered torture which clearly contradicts the command to be kind to animals and the emphasis that the tolerant Islamic Shari`ah imposes. Every act that opposes the rulings of the Shari’ah is considered transgression and injustice for which the perpetrator will be held accountable, because of what has been stated and due to the sound and authentic Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah will retaliate for a hornless sheep by punishing the horned sheep which broke its horns. [Related by Muslim, no. 4679, Book on righteousness, upholding ties of kinship, and good manners, Chapter on the prohibition of injustice. It reads: “Most definitely you will give back people their rights on the day of Judgment (to such an extent) that a sheep which had no horns (and was beaten in this world by a sheep which had horns) will take revenge from the sheep which had horns.”] If this is the punishment of an animal, which does not understand and harms another animal, what about the humans who know about injustice and its evil results?
In the light of the Islamic texts and their implications and concepts, Muslim jurists dedicated certain chapters discussing the obligatory and recommended acts that should be observed and the prohibited and reprehensible acts that should be avoided when treating with animals in general and what is related to the slaughtering of eatable animals in particular. The following are some aspects related to kindness to animals while slaughtering them. It is recommended to do the following:
1 – Offering water to animals which will be slaughtered in accordance with the previously-mentioned Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Verily, Allah has enjoined goodness to everything. [Muslim, Sahih, Book on the game, slaughtered animals, and animals that may be eaten, no. 1955; Al-Tirmidhy, Sunan, Book on blood money, no. 1409; Al-Nasa’y Sunan, Book on sacrifices, no. 4413; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Book on sacrifices, no. 2815; Ibn Majah, Sunan, Book on slaughtering animals, no. 3170; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, vol. 4, p. 125; and Al-Darimy, Sunan, Book on sacrifices, no. 1970]
2 – The tool used for slaughtering should be sharpened and in a good condition and the person doing this task should put it on the place of slaughtering, the upper part of the chest of the camel and on the throat of other animals which makes it easier and quicker to slaughter.
3 – If possible, camels should be slaughtered while standing up, tying the left leg while facing the Qiblah.
4 – Any animal other than the camel should be slaughtered lying down on its left side, if this is easy for the person who should place his leg on the right side of its neck without tying the front or back legs and without bending anything from it or breaking any part of its body before it dies and stops moving. It is also reprehensible to cut off its neck or slaughter it while other animals are watching.
These recommendations should be observed while slaughtering the animal out of mercy and kindness. Opposite and unkind behavior that opposes these instructions, such as dragging the animal from its legs to be slaughtered, is reprehensible. It is reported from Abdur-Razzaq in a Mawquf Hadith that Ibn ‘Umar saw a man dragging a goat from its legs to slaughter it. Ibn ‘Umar said to him: Woe to you, lead it to death in a nice way.
It is also reprehensible to sharpen the knife in front of the animal at the time of slaughtering, because it is authentically reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and with his father) that The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered that the blade should be sharpened and be hidden from the animal. It is also authentically reported in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir and Al-Mu’jam Al-Awsat of At-Tabaraniy through a good chain of transmitters from `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) passed by a man who was putting his leg on the face of a goat while he was sharpening his blade and the goat was looking at him while he was doing that. Then he (peace be upon him) said: You should have done this before. Do you want to slaughter it two times?
As for animals which are difficult to slaughter such as those that are hunted, wild animals or stray camels which are difficult to catch, it is sufficient to shoot an arrow or something similar, not a bone or nail, at the animal that makes it bleed, after mentioning the Name of Allah on it. If that animal is killed by the arrow or whatever is used, then it is allowed to eat it, because killing it in this way is similar to killing a slaughtered animal, unless it dies due to other causes that are different from the arrow or due to the arrow and another thing.
We mentioned this to benefit you, keeping in mind that these are not all the sound and authentic reports narrated on the treatment of different kinds of animals. It is noteworthy that Islam is the religion of mercy, the legislation of kindness, the perfect code of life and the path leading to Allah (Exalted be He) and to the Abode of His Honor. Therefore, it is an obligation to invite people to it, to judge in accordance with its teachings and regulations, to endeavor to spread it among those who do not know it and to remind Muslims in general of any rulings or objectives they might be ignoring and this should be done to seek the Pleasure of Allah. The objectives of the Islamic legislation are very fair and wise, and thus there is no prohibition to make use of all useful animals, which is opposite to the Buddhists, and there is no absolute permissibility of all harmful animals, which is opposite to those who devour pigs, beasts of prey, and the like. There is no injustice or violation of the sanctity of every being; soul, property, or honor.
Thus, we thank Allah (Exalted be He) for His blessings, the greatest of which is the blessing of Islam. We supplicate earnestly Allah to make His religion victorious, to raise His Word high, and not to make us, because of our shortcomings, a trial for the disbelievers. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, the conveyer of the clear message, upon his family, his companions and those who follow his guidance until the Day of Judgment. As-salamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah’s Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!)