[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
We are so careful in maintaining our cars and laptops which are inanimate things but when it comes to animals, many of us do not have the same attitude towards them. Unfortunately, this is the same for our workers and labour force.
A beautiful hadith preserved in Abu Dawud, Musnad e Ahmed etc. elaborates more about animal rights. The narrator is Saleh ibn Hanzaliya (May Allah be pleased with him):
Once the Prophet ﷺ ) passed by a camel and saw that his neck was shrunk thin and its stomach was stuck to its back. The Prophet ﷺ could not tolerate the plight of the camel. He stopped and inquired about the owner, who was presented shortly.
He reminded him: “Fear Allah with regards to the rights of this mute animal. It is not able to express its pain but you overburden it with the load. Mount upon them to travel when they are healthy enough to carry you. Give them enough rest.”
The Arabic term is ‘Mojama’ for the voiceless, whose plight is not understood or spoken about. Today we see many animals like bullocks, cows and camels being overloaded, yet no one raises any objections against it.
A young horse or a baby bull may not be strong enough to carry our load, hence we should not ride them according to the above mentioned hadith. This is the rule of Islam.
This is one of the characteristics of the scholars (Ahlul Ilm, who explain Deen), which they have learned from the life of our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Cruelty towards animals is major sin
Once our Prophet ﷺ said:
“Allah is so Merciful, that He only holds you (accountable) for some of your sins, but He overlooks the majority of your sins.”
In another hadith, he said:
“Allah overlooks all of your sins but decides to punish you with the sin of cruelty towards animals, the punishment would be so severe that even I cannot escape nor my brother Isa ibn Maryam (Peace be upon both ).”
Today we see many children hitting animals on streets, which is a major sin but society does not consider it to be a sin nor does anything to stop them, even though the Prophet ﷺ and his followers have been sent to spread Mercy and kindness, according to a popular Hadith.
The above mentioned hadith imparts great lessons. The Prophet ﷺ noticed the plight of a helpless camel in spite his busyness and took care to resolve the issue before attending to his own matters.