Pets are commonplace in homes of Muslims and non-Muslims.
What type of animals can we own?
There are many types of animals that we can own, for example, cats are considered to be preferred pets. The Prophet (sa) liked cats a lot, and sometimes made Wudu from the same bowl from which a cat drank. He said: “It is not unclean; it is one of those who go round among you.” (Muslim)
Owning a dog however is a different matter and there are many rules and restrictions to owning a dog. Angel Gabriel (as) does not enter the house where a dog is, and so in order for angels to enter our home we must keep them free of dogs. The Prophet (sa) said: “He who keeps a dog other than that meant for watching the herd or for hunting loses every day out of his deeds equal to two Qirat.”(Bukhari)
Lessons for kids
Owning a pet gives us a prime opportunity to teach our children not only about responsibility, but also how to care for something other than themselves.
We can also teach our children not to be cruel to animals. The Prophet (sa) said: “Allah, the Blessed and Exalted is kind and loves kindness…” (Bukhari)
Children who are taught nurturing and compassionate behaviour are more likely to become kind and just adults too.
To buy or not to buy pets?
The Prophet (sa) has prohibited us from buying and selling certain types of animals. Horses are permissible to buy and sell; however cats and dogs are forbidden. In addition, the Prophet (sa) forbade the breeding of dogs.
Don’t go to extremes or be neglectful
In some western countries people buy gifts for their pets and take them to salons.
We should not go to extremes while caring for the pets. Allah (swt) has forbidden us to waste our money.
Similarly, we are also instructed not to become miserly. Allah (swt) states: “And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor miserly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes).” (Al-Furqan 25:67)
We should also not neglect the pets we own. We should give them proper shelter and food and adequate area to roam about. Keeping any animal tied or chained for long periods is inhumane and unnatural.
With regard to animal health care, all cats and dogs must have rabies shots, etc. It is a step like any other preventive measure that should not be neglected. Choosing not to provide pets with the proper protection from a dangerous disease would be irresponsible behaviour towards the animal and the surrounding community.
How should we treat our pets?
In Islam, even before we sacrifice an animal, we are to provide it with a drink of water, and ensure that the knife we slaughter it with is as sharp as possible so not to cause the animal unnecessary pain.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Once while a Prophet among the Prophets was taking rest underneath a tree, an ant bit him. He therefore, ordered that his luggage be taken away from underneath that tree and then ordered that the dwelling place of the ants should be set on fire. Allah (swt) sent him a revelation: ‘Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to burn a single ant (that bit you)?’”(Bukhari)
The punishment for mistreatment of Allah’s (swt) living creatures could be the ultimate price as in the case of the old woman that was sent to the hellfire for neglecting to feed a cat or allowing it to acquire necessary sustenance for itself. (Muslim)
It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children by example, to treat animals with kindness and respect. Insha’Allah, we will raise Muslims whose deeds are rewarded for kind treatment, rather then those whose mistreatment will be punished.