Islam is famous in the world today for all the wrong reasons like animal sacrifices, terrorism and cruelty. But did you know?: Islam actually means ‘submission to God’ & preaches love and peace for all. There is a huge contrast between the actual Islamic beliefs & the ongoing violent reality against animals. This online discussion sheds light on it.
No religion orders wanton death, especially not the Islamic one. Islam lays great emphasis on animal rights and man’s responsibility for their welfare. Infact, Islam is one of the most humble and religions. Lets take a look at these instances in Islam that support animal welfare.
Islam teaches Peace & welfare : Various instances
Quran favors Cows
Quran disapproves cow slaughter
Muzaffer Hussain, a Padmashri, an eminent Muslim lawyer, and a writer has a chapter entitled ‘the cow & the Koran’ in his latest book ‘Islam and Shakahar’ (vegetarianism). According to Hussain, there is not a single sura (chapter) in the holy Koran that allows any killing of cows or bulls.
Cow Milk : A blessing for humanity in Islam
The famous Iranian Islamic philosopher and scholar Alghazali ( 1058-1111 A.D) who established the Islamic Academy of Baghdad says in his book ‘Ahya ul Deen’( Revival of Religious Science) : “The meat from cows is an illness (marz), its milk is pure (safa) which means good for health and its ghee is a medicine.
Everything it gives us is like a blessing to all human beings. Just as a mother’s breast feeds her baby, the cow gives her milk to the entire humanity. It has been scientifically proven that cow milk is good for the brain and increases memory power. A person who is strong in mind will always remember Allah. Therefore, cow milk is a basic need for the development of mankind. It is not only the moral duty of mankind to protect the cow, but it is the religion of humanity itself to do so”.
Quran seeks to protect animals
The holy Koran says, “You are answerable for the smallest harm you cause to a tiny bird. One who is kind to the smallest living being, Allah shall ultimately return him the benefit in equal measure in this world and even beyond it.”
Muslims in favour of cows
Islamic ‘Fatwas’ ban cow slaughter on Bakr- Id-
In India, there have been many ‘fatwas’ against cow slaughter which came up in the Daar-ul-fatwa of Deoband, Barelvi, Phuleri Shareef, Lucknow and Hyderabad. Islamic scholars of different school of thought have until now issued 117 ‘fatwas’ appealing to Muslims not to slaughter cows on Bakr-Id. Jamiat-ul-ulema president late Asad Madani had issued a statement requesting the Muslims not to kill cows on Bakr-Id.
Goshalas (cow shelters)-
Muslims have set up Goshalas (cow shelters) in many places. Sufi saints have always nurtured cows. In Nagpur one such Muslim saint and his wife used to run a goshala to protect cows.
Urdu poetry praises the cow-
Tajjuddin Baba, an Urdu poet, was famous for his devotion to cows. Urdu poets have written poems and hymns in the praise of cows like the infamous late poet Mohammad Ismail of Meerut.
Indian Pre-Independence Instances : Islam was against cow slaughter
Cow slaughter : Downfall of Mughals in India-
Those Muslim invaders, who came to India and stayed on to rule over it, understood that the people of India had a special veneration for the cow. Hence, as a mark of respect towards their feelings, the rulers prohibited the slaughter of cows.
Babar in ‘ Tuzuk-e- Babari’ (his autobiography) says that ‘the day any Mughal emperor ignores this will, the common people or the citizenry shall reject him’. The last strong Mughal emperor Aurangzeb refuted the will and it did not take long for his downfall.
Mughal royal decree banned cow slaughter on Bakr Id-
In the revolt of 1857 Bahadur Shah Zafar’s royal decree of 28 July banning cow slaughter reads as follows :
“Creation of the Lord ( Khalk Khuda Ka ), in the empire of the emperor, by the order of the supreme commander of the armed forces, whosoever slaughters or sacrifices a cow, a bull or a calf openly or surreptitiously in his house in this festive season of Bakra Id, shall be considered an enemy of the emperor himself and will be punished by death.”
All these instances preach the lesson of peace. But, reality is far away from this.
Religious beliefs vs. reality
In-spite of all these teachings on welfare in Islam, the violence continues unchecked. The truth doesn't match with the reality. Let us take a reality check at the animal killing scenario in India.
It’s a Butcher’s world out there!
Bakr-Id : Animals’ biggest nightmare
The religious festival that frightens me the most is Bakhr Id. Two days before there are hundreds of exhausted goats and lambs standing in the hot sun without water. All over the city, we see old sick bullocks and a couple of thin injured camels being kept for the great day.
Thousands of innocent animals are killed.The Koran, and the later commentaries, say nothing about authorising such massive killing. This is not religion - since the Muslim religion is not a violent one. It is a social custom that has evolved over the years - a social custom that says you have to celebrate life by causing death.
Illegal butcher shops
Delhi has over 5,000 illegal slaughter houses, all of which have been banned by the High Court but against whom the city authorities will not proceed. Apparently, they don't want to hurt the Muslim ‘sentiments’.
Animals slaughtered openly
All through my constituency in Uttar Pardesh (India) cows and bullocks are being killed with a frenzy. They are taken openly in trucks or walked to slaughterhouses in Bareilly and one in Sahaswan, Badaun. Thousands of animals are killed every day in the most brutal conditions. I have caught many trucks during my election and everyone in my constituency has been told that this will no longer be tolerated. But still, the menace continues.
Idgah abattoir - License to kill ?
For years we, in Delhi, have campaigned against the Idgah abattoir—a place where you can pay 1 Rupee (1 Indian rupee = 0.022179 U.S. dollars) and slaughter as many animals as you like; a place where a portion of the killing is done by little children who are being ‘trained’ to be ‘brave’.
This place has a licence for killing 800 animals a day and kills 15,000, each animal being brought in the same senselessly cruel way- stuffed into trucks, sick, hungry, with broken limbs. But the question is, why this menace is carrying on unchecked?
Why no action is taken?
Money & fear keeps the Police away
The police of Faridpur, Aonla & Aliganj gets a weekly bribe from the butchers. The centre of the killing is a village called Bhagvantapur in Faridpur but no policeman dares enter it because the last one who did so was beaten and hospitalized.
Muslims : Second largest vote-bank in India
Every time we have given photographic evidence to our municipal commissioners we have received the same reply: most of the animal killing and meat supply trade is in the hands of the Muslims and we cannot do anything because it will hurt Muslim sentiments. This is due to Muslim population being second largest, their votes are essential for the government. This kind of scenario raises many questions in the mind.
Questions that remain unanswered
- What sentiments are involved in maltreatment and torture?
- What religion would condone cruelty on such a massive scale?
- Are most Muslims aware of what animal truckers and butchers do daily in the name of their religion? Supplying meat is surely not a religious practice
- Why does the current religious practices among Muslim community violate the tenets of its own faith and the teachings of its founder?
- Why such a contrast between the reality & the actual beliefs in Islam?
I hereby invite members from all communities, to discuss and answer the questions raised above via comments below. I believe healthy discussion & public opinion brings out the truth & creates harmony in the society. So, let us all whole-heartedly participate with our subjective views. Waiting for your comments...
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About the author
Maneka Gandhi is an environmentalist & animal rights leader in India and belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi political clan.She was a magazine editor & columnist before authoring several books on law, etymology & animal welfare like Sanjay Gandhi, Brahma’s Hair and Heads & Tails.Her articles regularly feature in newspapers and magazines.
She started PFA (People for Animals) which is now the largest animal rights organization in India.It’s shelters are known world wide for the immense work in animal welfare.For more information please visit PFA’s website http://www.peopleforanimalsindia.org