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According to the spirit and teachings of Islam, causing unavoidable pain and suffering to the defenceless and innocent creatures of God is not justifiable under any circumstances. Islam wants us to think and act in the positive terms of accepting all species as communities like us in their own right and not to sit in judgement on them according to our human norms and values. Islam puts great emphasis on animal welfare and the responsibility human beings have to look after other creatures. God says in the Qur?an:


?And kill not a living creature, which Allah has made sacrosanct, except for a justifiable reason.? (Surah Al Anam, Chapter 6 Verse 152)


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ?One who kills even a sparrow or anything smaller with out a justifiable reason will be answerable to Allah.? He was asked what would be a justifiable reason. ?To slaughter it for food ? not to kill it and discard it.?


The Prophet (pbuh) also told of a prostitute who gave water to a thirsty dog by soaking up water from the well in her sock. He said ?Allah forgave all her sins for this one act of kindness.?


Conversely, the Prophet told of a vision in which a woman was being punished for cruelty to a cat. She had it kept confined without food or water, and did not let it free to find its own nourishment.


He also said, ?It is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power.?


He encouraged kindness to beasts of burden, condemned mutilating live animals and forbade setting up animal fights.


The Planet


The Qur'an says that Allah is the Creator of the universe. Human beings are in the world as trustees. We are told to look after the world for Allah and for the future: Prophet Muhammad said: ?The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and humans and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is counted as charity on his part.? (Hadith)


In the Assisi Declarations, issued by a gathering of world religions in 1986, the Muslim statement was:


?The central concept of Islam is the Oneness of God. Allah is Oneness; and His Oneness is also reflected in the oneness of mankind, and the oneness of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the oneness of His creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment. Oneness cannot be had by discord, by setting one need against another or letting one end predominate over another; it is maintained by balance and harmony. Muslims say that Islam is the middle path and we will be answerable for how we have walked this path, how we have maintained balance and harmony in the whole of creation around us. So oneness, trusteeship and accountability, that is tawhid, khalifa and akhirah, the three central concepts of Islam, are also the pillars of the environmental ethics of Islam. They constitute the basic values taught by the Qur'an. It is these values which led Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, to say: 'Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded'.


Unlike many other religions, Muslims do not have any specific festivals in which they give thanks for the harvest or the world. Instead they give thanks to Allah regularly for his bounty.


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