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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Restricting an Animal’s Movement

Question

Is it permissible to keep a bird in a cage at home? Is it right to deny freedom to such a creature of God?


Answer

What is not permissible in Islam is to be cruel to any animal, unless it represents danger to human life, health, etc. Thus, it is perfectly permissible to kill a scorpion or a snake, or a poisonous insect, etc. When an animal is kept as pet, such as a cat or a bird, it is very important to provide for it sufficient movement and exercise in addition to its natural food and drink. If an animal is used to move over a spacious area, as in the case of birds, it is unacceptable from the Islamic point of view to restrict it to narrow confinements. Thus, when we put a bird in a small cage, restricting its flying movement to the small confines of the cage, we are placing it under a severe handicap. We do the same when we place fish in a small aquarium. It is not enough that we provide it with food and drink. On the other hand, it is a grave sin to restrict an animal’s movement without providing it with sufficient food and drink.

While certain animals are created to help man in his life, as in the case of camels, horses, donkeys, etc. some are not made in that way. Therefore, treating animals should take their nature into account, and not subject the animal to too much duress.

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