ABU DHABI // Muslims have a duty to care for their animals, according to a new study by an Islamic research organisation.
The study by the Tabah Foundation, a non-profit foundation, was based on texts in the Quran, Sunnah and Islamic history that relate to pets and domesticated animals.
Its author, Musa Furber, said he conducted the study after hearing about the large number of animals being abandoned on the streets of the UAE.
“As soon as summer break comes around there are high numbers of pets that suddenly become strays,” he said. “This is not right, so I wanted to write something on what Islamic law and ethics says about such actions.”
He believed pets were abandoned by expatriates leaving the country and Emiratis who were on long summer holidays.
In his study, Mr Furber found that proper treatment of animals was not a concern only for their owners but for everyone.
He cites examples from the Hadith that prohibits inciting animals to fight each other, using them as a target for sport, branding or striking their faces or depriving them of food.
“It is important to reiterate that these rulings are not something optional that Muslims are just free to take or leave as they see fit,” he said.
The Federal National Council is discussing amendments to the UAE’s 2007 animal welfare law.
According to Mr Furber “there seems to be Government support on animal welfare”.
He said there were programmes “where they help stray animals and then sterilise them so they don’t reproduce. This is one way to reduce the stray animals population. It is a nice programme and more humane than killing the animal”.
The study also touches on contemporary issues that are not mentioned in historical Islamic text, such as factory farming and animal experiments.
“I started reading about how animals are treated in factory farms, where most of our milk, meat and poultry comes from, and they live in appalling conditions,” he said.
He said while these practices originated in the West “many of them have come here and this is something a Muslim society should think about”.
The study has been published online and will also be distributed to related organisations and research centres.
Fawaz Mohammed, 36, an event organiser living in Dubai, said he had been rescuing at least one or two stray cats a day for the past seven years and hoped the Government would build more shelters.
“I rescue wounded cats, some have broken bones, injuries to their eyes and legs,” he said.
He said he was not sure how much influence the Tabah’s study would have “because it is very difficult to change the mentality of a person”.