Clerics and animal lovers speak out after a number of recent random attacks on animals across the UAE.

DUBAI // Muslim clerics have agreed that it is forbidden in Islam to harm animals, after a spate of random attacks on dogs, cats and other animals recently.

God assigned the Earth to all living creatures, said Sheikh Ahmed Al Kobeisi, a cleric who recalled a hadith, a direct quote from the Prophet Mohammed, that a woman entered hell for starving a cat to death.

“This was a devout and good woman, who prayed and fasted, but trapped a cat without feeding her and without allowing her to feed off the insects of the Earth,” he said.

“On the other hand, a prostitute who saw in the desert a dog near a well on a hot day hanging his tongue from thirst, she sympathised with the animal and quenched his thirst, and God forgave her.”

In Islam it is believed that whoever tortures an animal, they themselves will be tortured on the Day of Judgement, he said.

Sheikh Ali Meshaal said that dogs can be kept for the purposes of hunting for food or guarding cattle and harvest.

He reiterated that in Islam it is forbidden to harm or kill any creature, including dogs, for no reason.

Unless a creature poses a threat or viciously attacks a human being, it is forbidden to harm it, said Sheikh Ali.

In March, 10 donkeys and a dog who had been saved from starvation by two animal lovers were slaughtered by unknown gunmen in Umm Al Quwain. It was suspected that the carcasses of the donkeys were taken away to be used as meat for an illegal tiger farm, while the dog lay dead on the ground.

In an incident this month, a kitten that was being taken care of by residents and a security guard was found dead in the Remraam community in Dubai with its back legs tied together and dislocated from its body.

“We know it was done with malicious intent by a person, not by another animal, because the cat’s legs were tied with a long string,” said Anja Dalby, a resident. “It is a very savage act, most likely committed by an either mentally sick or deliberately evil person who lives in our community and who is currently walking around free among our children and pets, which is very disturbing.”

Meanwhile, Debbie Lawson, of the Middle East Animal Foundation, said that a centralised unit to coordinate issues relating to offences against animals, at both federal and local level, was needed.

“The municipalities do a good job within their remit but that is limited,” she said. “The hardest part is actually bringing the offenders to justice – so far that seems to be almost impossible.”

Ms Lawson said that it was important for parents to set a good example to their children and also for children to bring home what they learn at school to teach the whole family about the rights of animals and why people should respect and care for them.

Hamad Al Ghanem, the founder and owner of Saluki of Arabia Club-UAE, also said that a devout Muslim should never harm an animal and that special dispensation was given to the saluki breed to allow them to live in the home of a true believer.

“Because of the oppressive smell of the dog in a confined space and with the scarce availability of water in the hot climate of the desert, it was considered unclean to keep a dog as a pet, but a devout Muslim could keep a dog as long as it was used for hunting and guarding,” he said.

Mr Al Ghanem agreed that it was permissible to use either a hound or other animals of prey, such as falcons, for hunting.

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae

Published: July 10, 2015 04:00 AM

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