Lives of Animals

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. Sura 6:38
The Qur’an tells us that animals are communities and nations unto their own and that they are more than mere resources. However, animals are treated as nothing but machines on today’s “factory farms.” Not only are these factory farms found in the West, they are also becoming the dominant means of meat, egg, and milk production throughout the world. More than 20 billion animals are slaughtered for food each year worldwide. These billions of animals are confined to extremely small spaces so that producers can raise as many animals as possible. Ninety percent of U.S. eggs come from chickens who are crammed together up to five to a cage the size of a record album cover, and this method of egg production is spreading throughout the globe.

Chickens have their beaks cuts off with hot irons; cattle are dehorned, castrated, and branded, and their tails are cut off without anesthetics. Dairy cows are also confined to tiny stalls and kept constantly pregnant through artificial insemination. All animals on factory farms suffer.

The overcrowding of the factory farm causes many animals to become psychotic and to mutilate themselves because of boredom or stress. To combat the diseases rampant in such overcrowded conditions, factory farmers routinely spray animals with pesticides and inject them with antibiotics. To fatten them quickly and inexpensively, animals are injected with growth hormones. Residues from these drugs and chemicals are passed on to those who consume the flesh.

These practices violate the Prophet’s (SAWS) teachings to cause no pain to an animal before she or he is slaughtered. In addition, Muhammad (SAWS) forbade the cutting off of tails and other mutilations, as well as branding animals on the face (which is still practiced by some ranchers).

During transport, animals raised for food are typically denied food and water, are overcrowded, are given no protection from the elements, and can often languish for days while waiting to be slaughtered. Many chickens have their wings broken during transport, and many animals suffocate in the transport trucks. The Prophet (SAWS) said that one should not keep an animal waiting to be slaughtered, and Hazrat Umar (RA) once flogged a man who refused to give a sheep water before she was slaughtered.

Very often there are further atrocities at the time of slaughter. One investigative story, regarding non-dhabiha slaughter found that cattle were being dismembered while still very much alive . But even Muslims who try to keep halal by purchasing halal meats may be supporting similar abuses. An undercover investigation into halal meat exported from India found that animals were being skinned and butchered while they frantically tried to escape or while they exhibited other clear signs of life. This despite the clear Islamic ruling that animals must clearly be dead before any skinning or butchering begins.

Factory-farmed meat also may not be halal (permissible). Cattle, sheep, chickens, and other animals are routinely fed the ground-up bodies of pigs, chickens, and cattle, along with chicken excrement and other unsavory waste products as a supplement in their food. Some Muslims believe that this is most probably haram (forbidden) for two reasons:
The animals have eaten pork.
These animals could be considered carnivorous, and carnivorous animals are generally forbidden for use as food in Islam.

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