The ruling on animal vivisection fo...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

The ruling on animal vivisection for the purpose of study and experimentation


d request no. 250 for the year 2010 which includes the following:
Some universities and schools practice animal vivisection for the purpose of scientific research, leading to the suffering of the animals and, for some, their death. Please note that today other practical alternatives are available that are just as efficient and reliable such as computer simulation, advanced computer programs, educational films, animal cadavers, studies of patient populationsfrom among both humans and animals, and so forth.
What is the ruling of Islamic law on this issue in light of the above information?


Allah the Almighty says,
It is He who hath created for you all things that are on earth. [Al-Baqarah: 29]
This includes all kinds of benefits, some of which are connected to animals, plants, minerals and mountains, the various professions and others deduced by scholars. Allah the Almighty demonstrates that He has created all of this to benefit man in his religion and worldly life. In this life, these benefits serve to improve his bodily health and help him worship Allah. In the matter of religion, through these he can deduce the existence of Allah, His power, and knowledge. Allah the Almighty says,And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the Heavens and on earth. [Al-Jathiya: 13]

Animals are among the entirety of what Allah has created to benefit man as food, mounts, for work, etc … There is no doubt that using animals in scientific research, experimentation and academia is a kind of benefit though it is contingent on avoiding unwarranted torture of the animals involved. Islamic law exhorts mercy and forbids aggression in general. Allah the Almighty says,But do good; for Allah loveth those who do good. [Al-Baqarah: 195]

But do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. [Al-Baqarah: 190]
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "He who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy" [Bukhari and Muslim].

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "Mercy is not taken away from anyone except from an evildoer" [Recorded by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi who also declared it authentic].

Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah have mercy on them both) narrated that the Prophet said, "Allah, the Merciful shows mercy to those who are merciful. Have mercy on those on earth and you will be shown mercy by He Who is in the heavens" [reported by At-Tirmidhi who declared it fair and authentic].

Islamic law considers mercy towards animals as one of the means leading to Paradise while cruelty and torture one of the means leading to Hell-fire. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allahsaid, "Allah forgave a prostitute who happened to pass by a panting dog at the head of a well. Seeing that the dog was dying of thirst, she took off a shoe, tied it with her head scarf, and drew out some water for it. Allah forgave her on account of [her good deed]" [Bukhari and Muslim].

Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophet said, "Allah tortured a woman and condemned her to Hell-fire on account of a cat; she kept it locked up until it died. She neither fed it or gave it water to drink nor did she let it free to eat of the vermin of the earth."

Based on the above, it is imperative to be merciful towards animals used for experimentation or teaching. It is impermissible to use animals for such purposes if this involves injuring or killing them, either immediately or eventually, except in the absence of any other alternative such as those cited in the question or when it is difficult to resort to such alternatives. In such cases, using animals for such purposes is by way of qualified dispensation; if the need is fulfilled by using just one animal, then it is not permissible to use two and so forth. This is because when one uses more than the number of animals needed, this shifts the matter from the scope of necessity or need which makes permissible what is prohibited to the scope of taking delight in killing or torturing a sentient creature which is prohibited in Islamic law.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophet said, "Do not use any sentient creature as a target" [Reported by Muslim]. In explaining the prohibition mentioned in the hadith, Al-Manawi wrote in Fayd al-Qadeer (6/347), "This is because such an act includes impudence and disdaining Allah's creations as well as torturing them unnecessarily."

Al-Sharid ibn Sawid (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allahsaid, "Whoever kills a bird for fun, it will call out to Allah on the Day of Judgment and say, 'O Allah! So-and-so has killed me for fun and not for any benefit" [Reported by al-Nisa`i].

Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Messenger of Allahsaid, "No human being kills a bird or anything larger without right, except that Allah will hold him responsible on the Day of Judgment.' The Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah! What is its right?" He replied, "That you slaughter and eat it and not that you slaughter it without deriving any benefit."

Al-Bukhari reported through Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophetcursed anyone who mutilates an animal such as by cutting off one of its organs.

If it is necessary to use animals in scientific experiments or in teaching that involve injuring or killing them, they must first be sedated to avoid causing them any pain unless it is necessary to leave them unsedated such as for instance to study their nervous system. It is also necessary to hasten to kill them with mercy after the experiment is over if it is not possible to treat them. Shadad ibn Aws (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allahsaid, "Allah has prescribed kindness towards everything. Therefore, if you kill (an animal), kill it well (without causing it pain) and if you slaughter (an animal) slaughter it well (without causing it pain). You should sharpen your blades to relieve the animal you will slaughter" [Muslim].

When conducting experiments and the like on animals, one must choose the animals that Islamic law deems permissible to be killeddue to the harm they cause and in the absence of any other alternative.These animals are those of which the Prophet said, "[It is permissible to kill] five kinds of pests in the Sacred Precinct: scorpions, crows, kites, mice and rabid dogs" [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith narrated by the Mother of the Believers, 'A`isha (may Allah be pleased with her)]. Their pestilence is attributed to the inability to avoid their harm.

Ibn Qudama wrote in Al-Mughni (4/173), "It is permissible to kill anything that harms people's lives and property because they harm without having any benefit… it is not permissible to kill anything that does not harm."
Allah the Almighty knows best.


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