"There is not an animal on earth, nor a two-winged flying creature, but they are communities like you"
Islam's holy books contain a wealth of teaching on kindness towards animals. Sadly, the scenes from the pig cull in Egypt appear to show scant regard for the teachings in the Islamic holy books, the Qur'an and Hadith. But it may be that the Egyptian authorities who authorised the cull and are responsible for the manner in which it has been carried out, have failed to heed the opinions of learned Islamic leaders both in Egypt and worldwide. Many Muslim leaders have condemned the way the cull has been carried out.
Professor Dr. Abdullah Al Nagar, Professor of Shari'a and Law at Al Azhar University (Egypt's most prestigious centre of Islamic teaching), member of the Islamic Research League and member of International Fiqh Academy in Jeddah, told Compassion:
"Islam forbids the pigs' meat to Muslims, but this does not mean that it's permissible to slaughter or to kill them in a cruel way. Islam states that all animals should be slaughtered by humane methods. Prophet Mohamed (Peace Be Upon Him) stated: 'When you kill, you must kill with a mercy, and when you slaughter you should also slaughter in a merciful and humane way.' Therefore the recent killing of pigs in Egypt was not in accordance with the Islamic doctrines."
The BBC website quotes another leader from al-Azhar University:
"Islam has directives in such matters," says Sheikh Abd al-Moatti Bayoumi, former head of Islamic law at al-Azhar University. "The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said if you slaughter, slaughter in a decent way, meaning that you have to be compassionate to animals even if you are killing them. Using chemicals to kill them is not permitted by Islam even if you treat the pig as an unclean animal," he said.
The Honourable Sheik Fawzy El Zefzaf, former Deputy to the Al Azhar Institution, told Compassion:
"Definitely, I don't agree with the barbaric and horrific way the poor pigs were killed. Although Islam forbids us to eat their meat, using these methods to kill them is totally against the Islamic religion."
Al Arabiya online quotes Sheikh Salim Mohammed Salim, head of the fatwas committee at the University of Al-Azhar, as saying that killing an animal in that way (by chemicals and lime) is "strictly forbidden by Islam... whatever it is, including a pig."
Dr Abdul Rahman, Secretary of the Commonwealth Veterinary Association, who is a member of Compassion in World Farming's International Advisory Council and a devout Muslim, says, "Being a Muslim myself, I was horrified to see media reports of the cruel methods of killing of these innocent animals, which is against Islamic principles of treating all Allah's creations with kindness. This is also against the Hadiths of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)."
If you want to know more about Islamic teaching on animal welfare, you could read Animal Welfare in Islam, a ground-breaking work by an Islamic scholar, the late B A Masri. Published by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester and available from Compassion in World Farming - just phone our Supporter Services on +44 (0)1483 521 953 or email us.
You may find this article on Islamic teaching on animals and the environment useful: religioustolerance.org
Compassion in World Farming hopes that the teachings of the holy books of Islam and the words of living Islamic scholars will inspire the Egyptian government and Parliament to halt the cull. We hope they will also take urgent steps to ensure humane transport and slaughter for all farm animals in Egypt by enacting a robust animal welfare law and implementing the OIE Animal Welfare Guidelines on transport, slaughter and killing for disease control.
"As we all know Islam gives special protection and dignity to all the creations of the world, including animals."
Dr Manazir Ahsan, Director of the Islamic Foundation