Article

They are Communities like You The Rationale for Animal Rights and Welfare in Islamic Civilization

Abstract

Animal treatment has a comprehensive connotation and far-reaching implications in Islamic civilization. The rationes leges for this broader meaning in human-animal relations are the principles laid out in the two foundational sources of Islam, i.e., the Qurʾān and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muḥammad. While dealing with the subject of animals, different disciplines carried the framework drawn in these two sources to a more abstract level,thereby becoming the very basis for practices in societies’ daily life. One of these disciplines, Islamic jurisprudence deals with how people are to preserve the God-given rights of animals while extracting benefit from in different chapters. In this article, I will first provide a brief introduction to animal welfare and protection in Islamic civilization. I will then focus on how scholars have interpreted the Qurʾānic concept of community (ummah, plural:umam) in exegetical literature. After that, I will show how the Prophet Muḥammad’s approach of gentleness (rifq) and excellence (iḥsān) manifested in his treatment of animals through several examples from the ḥadīth literature.Finally, I will attempt to demonstrate how Islamic jurisprudence embodies this theoretical framework through the concept of harm. In conclusion, I will show that there are important concepts and examples in Islamic thought that shed light on scholarship in the field of animal studies.

Keywords

Animal welfare animal care animal protection Islamic law excellence gentleness harm