Prohibition to overburden animals

The earth has been made for all the creatures that inhabit it and thus they are given their due rights by Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him). Almighty Allah says in the glorious Qur’an :

He is the One Who has spread out the earth for the creatures.

(Surah Ar-Rahman Chapter 55,Verse10)

In another verse its said: And, (O mankind!) there is no moving (animal) on the earth nor a bird that flies on its two wings but (such) that they are species like you [umamun amthalu-kum — in several traits]. We have not omitted anything (which is not given symbolic or elaborate details) in the Book. Then all (the people) shall be gathered before their Lord. (Surah Al-Anam Chapter 6,Verse 38)

These verses remind us that animals are living creatures with feelings and connections to the larger spiritual and physical world. We must consider their lives as worthwhile and cherished.

Islam takes great care when laying down its rules and regulation and has made sure that men do not behave with cruelty towards them. Even in a state of war, the Muslims are prohibited from killing the animals in the lands of the enemies and are also prohibited to burning or cutting down trees for no reason. Indeed Islam is a mercy for everyone. It is not only a religion but a complete way of life which even secures the rights of animals.

Overburdening Animals is forbidden

Animals have many purposes and are used for such by humans. This does not mean that men have the right to treat animals the way that they want to. It is forbidden in Islam to treat an animal cruelly. Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) also instructed men not to overburden their domestic animals. Burdening a donkey with more load than that which he can easily carry is again a wrongful practice which was forbidden by Almighty Allah.

If Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) saw any animal over-loaded or ill-fed he would pull up the owner and say, “Fear Allah in your treatment of animals.” 

{Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab Al-Jihad}

It is related from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah, once saw a donkey which had been branded on its face and he said, “May Allah curse the one who branded it.” 

{Reported by Imam Muslim}

Unlawfulness of hitting on the face

While people would hit their animals on the face, Islam forbade such an act. Every creation is very sensitive as far as the face is concerned. If we were to lightly tap a person on the shoulder or on the back, they would not feel offended but if I were to do the same on the face then everyone would find that offensive.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade such an act was forbidden as seen by the hadith below: It is related from Salim that Ibn ‘Umar disliked marking the face. Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Prophet , may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade striking [the face.]

{Sahih Bukhari,Chapter Branding and marking the face,Slaughtering and Hunting,Hadith #5221}

As we have seen, all animals are to be treated with respect and kindness. Unfortunately,  these guidelines are not followed by many Muslims. There is a dire need to educate Muslims about the true teachings of Islam.