By: Umm Affan
I read that according to Richard D. Ryder (a British Animal Rights Advocate), the first known animal protection legislation was issued in Europe during 1635.
Objectively, I disagree with that. Animal Rights or Animal Liberation has been long known in Islam. There are excellent instructions by our beloved Prophet (SallaLlahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) regarding the genteel treatment of animals, like; do not set animals to fight each other, do not hit an animal on the face, do not brand an animal on the face, show kindness to animal in suffering, do not curse animals, do not separate the mother-bird from her young ones, do not steal birds’ eggs, do not hound and kill animal for entertainment, do not coop up animals, do not cut off the forelock of a horse, gently treat animals in journey, avoid terrifying an animal to be slaughtered, knife should be sharpened when slaughtering animals for consumption, do not sharpen the knife in the presence of the animal to be slaughtered, animal should not be slaughtered where it can be seen by other animals waiting to be slaughtered, the slaughtering should be made quick and deep for the blood to quickly flow out from the jugular vein, et cetera.
By Allah! Islam is the religion of civility. And indeed, our beloved Prophet (SallaLlahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) is a Messenger of mercy (even to the animals). Allah says:
“And we have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the _‘Aalamin_ (mankind, Jinns and all that exist).” [Surah Al-Anbiyaa (21): 107] The debate today is on the notion that some animals are free to the ownership of their own lives and that they should be offered the same consideration as humans with respect to avoidance of suffering. I’m always in awe when I see non-Muslims promoting the ethical messages of Islam. Not that they understand Islam though, it’s just the natural disposition towards good created with man. I beseech Allah to grant us gentility with animals. (Aameen)