Saturday, July 01, 2006

Qur'an Surah 6:38 - Animal rights in the Qur'an

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

How does the Qur'an present the relation between animals and humans? Should animals have rights? Do animals have a soul? Do animals have eternal life? Surah 6:38 provides the answer.

This is a foundational verse in the Holy Qur’an. The verse, along with the one preceding it and the one following it, provides a key to understanding the ontological essence of animals and their relation to humans and God.

Let’s look at the first part of the revelation:

"There is not an animal that exists on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but that they form communities like you."

Here the Spirit clearly reveals the equality between humans and other creatures. The Quranic revelation completes the Abrahamic tradition by revealing that humans and animals are co-equals before God, thus setting a clear precedent for animal rights. Moreover, the revelation startlingly concludes:

"And they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end."

Not only are animals like humans (and thus deserving of rights), but they also have a soul, share in eternal life and will be gathered together in the Kingdom of Heaven. The revelation given to Muhammad (PBUH) includes animals as partners of humans, gathered eternally together before Allah.

Surah 6:38 answers the unbelievers of 6:37 who constantly complained that “Why is not a Sign sent down to him from his Lord?” In other words, why doesn’t the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) bring signs (miracles) as did Jesus (PBUH)? Why doesn't he raise people from the dead?

The answer that the Spirit gives is to direct us back towards the greatest of all miracles – the earth (life) in all its splendor and recognize the miracle of creation, of beauty. Our animal brethren are the miracle of Allah!

But most people, unfortunately, refuse to recognize the fact that humans and animals are equals. Few people are prepared to grant animals their rights or to recognize that every being has an eternal soul (be it mammal, bird, fish insect, etc.).

The Qur’an is clear that those who reject this sign (6:39) -

“Are deaf and dumb, in the midst of darkness profound.”

The Sufi is one who recognizes the eternal soul in every being and joins it in praising Allah; the Sufi aids, protects and cares for animals whenever possible.
And what, we ask, would happen if all Muslims and Sufis gave the necessary weight to Surah 6:38 that it rightfully deserves? Certainly Islam and Sufism would be transformed. No animal would ever be injured. All Muslims and Sufis would consider it their highest duty to protect all animals. (Joining Jains and Buddhists) Muslims and Sufis would help prepare the earth for the Kingdom, when animals and humans will join together in peace and co-existence. So mote it be!

To learn more about the recital, visit our site on the Qur'an


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