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Lecture for 4th year medical students on 10th February 2001 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.



Animals are an important component of human civilization and are discussed at length in various Qur'anic verses. Animals are communities like human communities, umam mithlakum (p. 383 6:38). They, like humans, were created from water. They have life but no soul. They worship Allah (24:41) but have no moral accountability. Animals are many phyla and species. Some have no legs while others have 2 or 4 legs (p. 383 24:45). They are different colors (p 383 35:28). Some can speak with humans (27:18, 27:22-28) whereas others cannot. Allah provides all of them with sustenance, rizq (p 383 29:60). Some animals were mentioned in a special way in the Qur’an. (a) Insects: mosquito, ba’udhat (p 383 2:26); fly, dhubaab (p 384 22:73); locust, jaraad (p 383 7:133, 54:7); spider, ‘ankabuut (p 385 29:41); bee, nahal (p 385 16:68); ant, namil (p 387 27:18); lice, qummal (p 385 7:133). (b) Birds, tayr (p 384 2:260, 3:49, 5:110, 6:38, 12:36, 12:41, 16:79, 21:79, 22:31, 24:41, 27:20, 34:10, 38:19, 56:21, 67:19, 105:3): raven, ghuraab (p 385 5:31), hoopie, hudhud (p 385 27:20); (c) Domestic mammals: dog, kalb (p 385 7:176, 18:18, 18:22); donkey, himaar (p 383 2:259, 16:8, 31:19), mule, bighal (p 383 16:8), horse, khayl (3:14, 8:60, 16:8, 17:64, 38:31, 59:6); (d) Live-stock, ni’am (p 385-6 3:14, 4:119, 5:1, 5:95, 6:136, 6:138-139, 6:142, 7:179, 16:5, 16:66, 16:80, 20:54, 22:28, 22:30, 22:34, 23:21, 25:44, 25:49, 26:133, 32:27, 35:28, 36:71, 39:6, 40:79, 42:11, 43:12, 47:12, 79:33, 80:32): cattle, baqar (p 386-7 2:67-71, 6:144, 6:146, 11:69, 12:43, 12:46, 51: 26); camel, ibil (p 386 6:144, 7:73, 7:77, 12:70, 12:82, 12:94, Hud: 64, 17:59, 26:155, 54:27, 88:17, 91:13); goats & sheep, ghanam (p 387 6:143, 6:41, 20:18, 21:78, 38:23-24); pig, khinziir (2:173, 5:3, 5:60, 6:145, 16:115);  (e) Wild mammals, wuhuush (p 387 71:5) or siba’u (p 384 5:3, 74:51); elephant, fiil (p 385 105:1);  monkey, qird (p 385 2:65, 5:60, 7:166); wolf, dhi ib (12:13-14, 12:17); (f) sea/water animals: fish, huut (p 384 7:163, 18:61, 18:63, 37:142, 68:48); frog, dhafda'u (p 384 7:133); (f) Reptiles: snake, hayyat (p 384 7:107, 20:20, 26:32).



The prophet talked about many animals in his hadith, an indication of their important role in society: Donkey, himaar, both domesticated and wild (KS 203), cat, hirrat (KS 555-556); dog, kalb (KS 461); horse, khayl/faras (KS 224); mule, bighal (KS 121); camel, ibil (KS 48); sheep/goat, ghanam (KS 417); bee, nahal (KS 533); fish, samak (KS 285); frog, dhafda’u (KS 337); dhaba’u (KS 346); ghuraab (KS 346); dhabbu (KS 346); waza’u (KS 346); rabbit, arnab (KS 347); locust, jaraad (KS 347); rat, farat (KS 347). Although both the cat and dog are household pets, the saliva of the dog is considered filth, najasat, unlike that of the cat. Vessels licked by dogs become filthy, talwiith al aaniyat (KS 460) and must be washed 7 times one of them with soil. Dogs were present in the mosque, wujuud al kalb fi al masjid (KS 460). The prophet ordered the killing of dogs, amr an naby qatl al kalb (KS 460) and forbade their sale, nahyu bay’e al kalb (KS 461). Dogs can be kept for farming, hunting, and guarding, iqtinau al kalb li al harathi wa al sayd wa al hirasat (KS 461: Bukhari K41 B3; Bukhari K59 B17; Bukhari K72 B6; Muslim K22 H46-61; Abudaud K16 B22; Nisai K42 B9, 10, 12-14; Ibn Majah K28 B1,2; Muwatta K54 B12, 13; Ahmad 2:4,8,27,37,47,55,60,79,113,147,156,267,345,473; Ahmad 4:85, 86; Ahmad 5:56, 57, 219, 220). Keeping a dog for any other purpose is offensive, makruuh (KS 460: Bukhari K41 B3; Bukhari K59 B7, 17; Bukhari K64 B21; Bukhari K72 B6; Bukhari K77 B88; Muslim K22 H50-61; Muslim K37 H81-84, 87, 102; Abudaud K16 B22; Abudaud K31 B45; Tirmidhi K21 B25; Tirmidhi K41 B44; Nisai K42 B9-14; Nisai K48 B130; Ibn Majah K28 B2; Ibn Majah K29 B44; Darimi K7 B2; Darimi K19 B37; Muwatta K54 H12,13; Ahmad 1: 80, 83, 85, 104, 105, 139, 148, 150; Ahmad 2: 4, 8, 27, 37, 47, 55, 60q, 71, 79, 113, 147, 156, 262, 267, 305, 311 q, 327, 343, 345, 390, 425, 444, 473, 478, 537; Ahmad  4: 28, 29, 30, 85; Ahmad 5: 56, 57, 203, 219, 220, 353; Ahmad 6: 142q, 280, 330; Tayalisi H627, 1228). Horses can be used for sports (KS 224) or military purposes (KS 225). The prophet loved horses, hubb al naby al khayl (KS 226). Owners are enjoined to touch the forelocks of horses, mash nawaasi al khayl, (KS 226). Good care for a horse brings rewards (KS 226). All fish are permissible as food, hill al samak (KS 285). 



The prophet on many occasions enjoined kindness to animals. Saving animals from danger is a noble act (KS 210: K22 B75). There is reward for kindness to animals, ajr al rifq bi al hayawaan (KS 211: Bukhari K42 B9; Bukhari K46 B23; Bukhari K60 B54; Bukhari K78 B27; Muslim K39 H153-155q; Abudaud K15 B44 q 112; Abudaud K59 B17; Muwatta K49 H23; Ahmad 2:375, 507, 510, 517, 521; Ahmad 3: 436). Kindness is required when milking the animals, rifq fi halb al hayawaan (KS 211: Darimi K6 B25; Ahmad 3:483; Ahmad 4:311, 322, 339). When traveling with camels, the driver should not hurry them when they come to a fertile land where they find more grass to eat, i’itaa al ibl haqqaha idha saafara fi al khasiib (KS 211: Muslim K23 H178; Tirmidhi K41 B85; Darimi K19 B42; Muwatta K54 H38; Ahmad 2:337, 378; Ahmad 3:439, 440, 441; Ahmad 4:234).



Cruelty and physical abuse of animals is prohibited, nahyu al muthlat wa al qaswat ala al hayawaan (KS 210-211: Bukhari K46 B30; Bukhari K72 B25; Muslim K34 H25-60; Muslim K45 H133-135; Abudaud K16 B12 and 17; Abudaud K40 B165; Tirmidhi K14 B13; Tirmidhi K16 B9; Nisai K42 B28 & 34 q; Nisai K43 B22, 26, 27, 41, 42; Ibn Majah K25 B11; Ibn Majah K27 B10; Ibn Majah K27 B11; Ibn Majah K37 B30; Darimi KK6 B16; Darimi K20 B931q; Muwatta K25 B3q; Ahmad 1: 204, 205, 273, 274, 280, 285, 297, 338, 340, 345; Ahmad 2: 13, 43, 60, 86, 91, 94, 103, 108, 115, 141, 159q, 166, 188q, 197, 210, 261, 286, 317, 402, 424, 449, 457, 467, 479, 501, 507, 519; Ahmad 3: 117, 171, 180, 191, 296, 317, 318, 321, 323, 335, 339, 374, 378; Ahmad 4: 86, 246, 389: Ahmad 5:46, 54, 55, 56, 57q, 190, 422; Ahmad 6:350, 351; Tayalisi H345, 595, 665, 1070q, 1400, 1754, 1872, 2070, 2279, 2616). A woman entered hell for locking up a cat and not feeding it or allowing it to look for its own food (KS 556: Bukhari K42 B9; Bukhari K59 B16; Bukhari K60 B54; Muslim K10 H9,10; Muslim K39 H151, 152; Ibn Majah K37 B30; Darimi K20 B93; Ahmad 2: 188, 261, 286, 317, 424, 457, 467, 479, 501, 507, 519; Ahmad 3: 317, 335, 374; Ahmad 6: 350, 351q; Tayalisi H1400, 1754). Nahy khisaai a hayawaan (KS 211: Ahmad 2:24). Karahiyyat al tahriish bayna al bahaim (KS 211 Abudaud K15 B51; Tirmidhi K21 B30). Branding animals in the face is prohibited, nahyu al wasm fi al wajih (KS 211: Bukhari K72 B35; Muslim K37 H106; Abudaud K15 B52; Tirmidhi K21 B31; Ahmad 4:131). Beating animals was also prohibited, nahyu dharb al hayawaan (KS 211: Bukhari K72 B35; Muslim K37 H106; Abudaud K15 B52; Tirmidhi K21 B31; Ahmad 4:131). Cursing animals is prohibited, nahyu la’an al hayawaan  (KS 211: Muslim K45 H80-83; Muslim K53 H74; Abudaud K15 B50; Darimi K19 B48). Sexual abuse of animals is prohibited and is considered a great sin (KS 212: Abudaud K37 B28, 29: Tirmidhi K15 B23, 24; Ibn Majah K20 B12, 13 q: Zayd H543; Ahmad 1:217, 269). Some animals should not be killed (Abudaud K40 B163, 164; Ibn Majah K25 B10; Darimi K6 B26; Muwatta K54 H31,32; Zayd 988; Ahmad 1:347, 404, 423; Ahmad 2:9, 93, 146; Ahmad 3:453; Tayalisi H1183). The killing of frogs was prohibited (KS 337: Nisai K42 B36; Ahmad 3:453, 499).



Some animals are bad and evil, khamsu min al dawaab fasiq (KS 210: Bukhari 28 B7, Bukhari K59 B15 and 16; Muslim K36 H96; Abudaud K11 B39; Tirmidhi K7 B21; Tirmidhi K41 B74; Ibn Majah K28 B19q; Ahmad 1:176, 257, 332; Ahmad 3: 3, 79). The Law explains what animals should be killed and those that can be killed, ma yajibu wa ma yajuuzu qatluhu (KS 211: Bukhari K59 B15, 17; Muslim K22 H43-49; Abudaud K16 B22; Tirmidhi K16 B17; Nisai K42 B9; Ibn Majah K28 B1,2; Darimi K7 B2,3; Muwatta K54 H32; Zayd H988; Ahmad 1: 176, 257, 348, 378, 385, 394, 420, 421; Ahmad 2: 9, 22, 37, 48, 50, 52, 54, 65, 77, 82, 121, 138, 355; Ahmad 3: 79; Ahmad 6: 33, 83, 87, 109, 200, 217, 336, 380, 421, 462). Snakes in general must be killed, wujuub qatl an hayyaat (KS 206). Some animals must be killed even when in prayer for example the scorpion (KS 387: Tirmidhi K2 B170; Ibn Majah K5 B143; Darimi K2 B178; Ahmad 2:233, 248, 255, 473, 475, 490) or the snake (KS 206-207: Tirmidhi K2 B170; Ibn Majah K5 B143; Darimi K2 B178; Ahmad 2:233, 248, 255, 284, 473, 475, 490; Tayalisi H2537, 2539). Household snakes are spared from the general order to kill, ‘adam qatl al hayyaat al manziliyyat (KS 207). Care should be taken in killing snakes, al hiitat fi qatl al hayyat (KS 207)



The concept of taskhiir can be employed as a general legal basis for animal experimentation because the creator allowed humans to use and exploit all creation in the universe (45:13). Taskhiir is the basis for human civilizational growth because it allows domestication of plants and animals to enable humans live in a stable community. As part of the mission of khilafat, Allah allowed the human to use the earth and its contents, living and non-living, in fulfilling the mission of building a human civilization. Thus animals serve humans in direct and indirect ways. Directly they provide food and their muscle power is used in transportation, agriculture, transport, hunting, and guarding. Indirectly they serve humans as part of the human food web of food chain. The Qur’an has given several instances of animals serving as a source of food for humans, being a source of aesthetic enjoyment and being beasts of burden. Bees provide food and medicine (16:69). Birds provide delicious meat (56:21). Four-legged livestock like cattle are a bounty from Allah to humans, mannu min al llaah (26:133) and are under human dominion (36:71). They provide food (16:5-7, 5:1, 6:142, 22:28, 22:30, 22:34, 40:79), milk (16:66, 23:21), transportation (6:142, 16:5-7, 23:22, 40:79, 43:21), material for tents and clothing (16:80), are a source of aesthetic pleasure (3:14, 16:5-7) and other benefits (23:21). The horse, donkey, and mule are beasts of burden and also are a source of aesthetic pleasure (16:8, ?16:80, 3:14). The horse is very useful in warfare (8:60). Taskhiir has its limitations, mahduudiyat al taskhiir, based on the need to establish balance and equilibrium in the eco-system and protect humans from harm. Some animals are prohibited as food for example the pig, khinziir (p 384 2:173, 5;3, 6:145, 16:115). Taskhiir may be limited by prioritising of competing needs, for example the meat of the domestic donkey is prohibited as food, tahriim lahm al himaar al ahliyyat (KS 203) because it is more useful as a beast of burden. The meat of the wild donkey is, on the other hand, allowed (KS 203). Also prohibited is the meat of mules, tahriim lahm al bighaal (KS 346) and the meat of horses, tahriim lahm al khayl (KS 346). The meat of carnivorous animals is also prohibited (KS 347) presumably because of inefficiency in the food chain if humans ate carnivores while both eat the meat of herbivores.




Animal research is undertaken for a variety of reasons. The most important is to spare humans from danger. This is done by carrying out the research in animals to establish preliminary findings which if promising will be the motivation for carrying out definitive research in humans. In this way humans are spared the risk of research that may have no useful follow-up in the future. Animal research plays another role in that it indicates the possible risk and side effects from the research as a prelude to human research.



He first conceptual issue that has to be resolved with regard to animal experimentation is whether results from animal research are relevant to humans and if relevant to what extent. Relevance establishes benefit; benefit to human life establishes a situation of necessity, dharuurat that legalizes subjecting animals to experiments that could involve permanent impairment or even death. There are two main arguments for the relevance of animal experiments to humans: (a) similarity of human and animal physiology and (b) biochemical unity of all life. The counter arguments could also be equally strong. Although human and animal physiology and biochemistry share many commonalities, findings from animal research cannot be directly transferred to humans; research on humans is still necessary for a definitive conclusion. Thus animal research is exploratory and not definitive; this is not a strong enough reason to subject the animals to pain, suffering and even death when the research has no direct or indirect benefit for the animals.  The issue of relevance cannot be considered in generalities. Each case has to be considered on its merits. There are some physiological systems for which given animal species are good models for human. Relevance could also depend on the nature of the agent tested and the expected findings.




The position of the Law is that animal experiments are allowed if a prima facie case can be established that the result of the research is a necessity, dharuurat. Dharuurat under the Law is what is necessary for human life. The regulations of necessity must be observed. No more than the absolute minimum necessary should be done, al dharurat tuqaddar bi qadiriha. Animal research has definite risks for the animals that are not balanced by any benefits. Thus use of animals in justifiable on the basis of taskhiir and not any benefits that accrue to the animals. The risks to humans from animal research are minimal in the short term; long-term effects are difficult to fathom.


PROTECTION OF LIFE, hifdh al nafs

Animal experimentation is allowed on the basis of searching for modalities of health promotion, disease prevention, or disease treatment that will maintain the body in the best health status thus fulfilling the legal purpose of protecting human life. Any animal experimentation whose purpose is to produce products for use in industry or some other purpose not directly related to human health would therefore be offensive, makruuh, especially if it causes pain and suffering to the animal.



Animal experimentation is allowed if it is searching for better ways of treating infertility or better ways of maintaining the viability of he fetus both in utero and after birth because this would be fulfillment of the purpose of protecting human progeny. Animal experiments that aim at protecting animal progeny would also be allowed because animals provide food for humans, a necessity for continued human existence. Research aimed at animal reproduction for other purposes like breeding horses for racing would not be allowed if it causes pain and suffering to the animals.



Pharmacological research for cures of mental illnesses is allowed because it contributes to the protection of the human mind. Also allowed are experiments that investigate effects of psychoactive substances on human intellect. It is however prohibited to conduct animal experiments on effects of alcohol and drugs with view to their commercialization or encouraging people to take what can be established experimentally as safe levels. The position of the Law is that whatever affects the mind in large concentrations is prohibited even in minute doses.



Animal experimentation will be allowed if the purpose is to look for treatment modalities that are cheaper than available and equally effective cures. This will result in net saving of community or family resources; this is a purpose of the Law.



The basic principle is that each action is judged by the intention behind it, al umuur bi maqasidiha. Those undertaking animal experimentation have a moral responsibility to ensure that their work is done for a purpose valid under the Law. Intentions are what matter and not literal interpretations of research objectives. It is possible to state good and acceptable objectives when the underlying intentions are different. Means are judged with the same criteria as the intentions, al wasail laha hukm al maqasid. If the intention, qasd, is wrong the means, wasiilah, is wrong. Thus un-ethical animal research cannot be justified on the basis of some benefits at the end.


The main principle is that certainty cannot be removed by doubt, al yaqeen la yazuulu bi al shakk. Certainty, yaqeen, is a situation when there is no doubt or hesitation, taraddud. Doubt, shakk, is a situation in which there are two or more competing options with no sufficient evidence to prove one of them as the most valid. Shakk is the opposite of yaqeen. Animal experimentation is allowed on the basis that there is a need or necessity, dharuurat. It is often difficult in practice to establish necessity. In cases of doubt about usefulness of the research to human health, it is better to desist from any further animal experimentation. Existing assertions should continue in force until there is compelling evidence to change them, al asl baqau ma kaana ala ma kaana.


THE PRINCIPLE OF INJURY, qaidat al dharar

The basic principle is that injury, if it occurs, should be relieved, al dharar yuzaal. Animal experimentation to solve health problems is considered an effort to remove injury. Prevention of harm has priority over pursuit of benefit of equal worth, dariu an mafasid awla min jalbi al masaalih. If the benefit from animal experimentation has far more importance and worth than the harm, then the pursuit of the benefit has priority. In this case we are talking about benefit and harm to human health and are not comparing human benefit to the harm cause to the animal because of the experimentation.


PRINCIPLE OF HARDSHIP, qaidat al mashaqqat

Some of the hardships that were considered valid by classical scholars were: travel, illness, and general disasters. Adding anything that threatens any of the 5 purposes of the law, diin, life, progeny, intellect, and wealth can extend this list. Hardship mitigates easing of the sharia rules and obligations, al mashaqqa tajlibu al tayseer. Pain and suffering can be inflicted on the animal if there is a necessity that relates to human life and one of the 5 purposes of the Law. Necessity legalizes the prohibited, al  dharuraat tubiihu al mahdhuuraat. If any of the 5 necessities, al dharuraat al khamsat, is at risk permission is given to commit an otherwise legally prohibited action. Committing the otherwise prohibited action should not extend beyond the limits needed to preserve the Purpose of the Law that is the basis for the legalization, al dharuraat tuqaddar bi qadriha. Necessity however does not permanently abrogate others’ rights that must be restored or recompensed in due course; necessity only legalizes temporary violation of rights, al idhtiraar la yubtilu haqq al ghair. The temporary legalization  of the prohibited action ends with the end of the necessity that justified it in the first place, ma jaaza bi ‘udhri batala bi zawaalihi. As soon as alternative means of getting the research results are available, it becomes illegal to violate the right of the animal to enjoyment of a full and healthy life.



The basic principle is that custom or precedent is a legal ruling or precedent, al aadat muhakamat. What is considered customary is what is uniform, widespread, and predominant, innama tutabaru al aaadat idha atradat aw ghalabat. No animal experimentation should go beyond the limits of what is normally recognized as appropriate by consensus of leading researchers in the field.




There are ethical issues that need discussion. We have established that under taskhiir humans are given the right to exploit animals and other things in the universe for their benefit. This exploitation has generally been considered to refer to using animals for food, transportation, and other work that requires animal muscle power. The question that can be paused is whether taskhiir can validly be extended beyond eating and transportation to animal experimentation?. As explained above if the results of animal experimentation will lead to protection of human life, then it is no different from food and can be allowed. If it is for general scientific curiosity unrelated to any tangible human benefit, then it is beyond the authorization of taskhiir. As explained above there are limits to taskhiir. Humans were not given a carte blanche to exploit the universe in any way they liked. They have to conform to the Law and moral guidelines.



We have seen above that some animals are considered dangerous and must be killed. Use of such animals for research should therefore raise fewer ethical objections than others since they were due to die anyway. They however cannot be subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering. Use of animals that are haram like the pig should be avoided as much as possible.



Animals, like humans, have rights to enjoyment of life and good health. The prophet emphasized good and kind treatment of animals. The researcher must therefore follow Islamic etiquette to minimize animal suffering such as pain, psychological anguish, and long-term effects of experimentation on health. Like the slaughter of animals or start of a meal, the basmalah must be said in recognition of the fact that the experiment is carried out with the permission of the creator under the requirements of taskhiir. The animals must be shown kindness and respect. They should not subjected to the psychological pain of seeing other animals in pain or being sacrificed. Pain must be minimized both during the experiment and when the animal is being terminally sacrificed. This is based on the legal requirement of slaughtering animals using a sharp knife and as quickly as possible to prevent pain and suffering. The long-term effects of the experiment on the animal must be considered and efforts made to decrease suffering and pain. The nutritional and medical needs of the animal must be taken care of before, during, and after the research.

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule February 2001