Islamic Business Ethics: Kindness to Animals

Posted on February 8, 2007


Treatment of Animals in the Islamic Workplace

by Rafik Beekun, Islamic Business Ethics 

Muslim businessmen who make use of animals must be extremely careful in how they treat them. Professional butchers, for example, must show kindness in slaughtering animals: 

Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) having said, “Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to 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.”[1] 

While slaughtering an animal, Muslims are also discouraged from seizing an animal destined for slaughter by the feet, and dragging it to the place where it will be slaughtered.[2] Farmers, too, need to be careful. Even in our daily treatment of animals, the Prophet (saw) has encouraged Muslims to show consideration towards them: 

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.”[3] 

Certain types of behavior have been explicitly forbidden: 

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) forbade (the animals to be beaten) on the face or cauterization on the face.[4] 

Beyond animals in the workplace or for human consumption, Islam stresses the humane treatment of animals in general, Anayat Durrani–in her article on Animals in Islam–states that “[in] the Qur’an and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet), it is emphasized that animals be treated as humanely as any other of God’s vast creation. The Qur’an goes as far to say that cruelty to animals is equivalent to cruel treatment of a human being. Kind treatment of animals is considered a good deed in the same sense that good conduct and treatment between human beings is deemed a good deed. 

God created man to be the guardian of the Earth and gave him dominion over its inhabitants. Therefore, mankind is held responsible for an injustice he has done to any of God’s creatures. The Qur’an specifies that animals function as a community in the same way that human beings do, and all creatures have their place. The Qur’an also shows that it is not only human beings that give praise and worship to God through prayers but animals as well, as evident from this passage.”  

Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praises are celebrated by all beings in the heavens and on earth, and by the birds with extended wings? Each one knows its prayer and psalm, And Allah is aware of what they do.’ (Qur’an 22:18) 

Please compare Islam’s treatment of workplace animals specifically to what KFC has been doing. 

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) Treatment of Chickens 

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is a global fast food company that prides itself in offering halal chicken products in Muslim Countries. Before you run out to purchase KFC original or crispy chicken, please view this video:   

Unfortunately, KFC may not be the only culprit; there are probably many chicken farms globally and in Muslim countries which treat these animals in a similarly cruel manner.  Muslim entrepreneurs, employers and employees in these types of establishments should see to it that this type of treatment be halted and remedied as soon as possible, Insha Allah.  (For the record, I am neither a vegetarian nor a fan of Pamela Anderson.)

[1] Shaddad ibn ‘Aws, Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 4810.

[2] Al Hidaya (Hanafi manual), vol. 4, 5764.

[3] Abu Hurayrah, Sahih al Bukhari, hadith no. 4.538.

[4] Jabir ibn Abdullah, Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 5281.