The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity
The audience will get a new perspective on Justice through our collective responsibility toward animals.
Never ever Ever EVER say the following:
- “My Dear Respected Brothers and Sisters,” – Are you writing a letter to the people of 1920?
- “The lesson of the story I am about to tell you is…” – Dude, just tell me the story, and if I’m too slow to make the connection, then you told the story wrong.
- “Honestly”, or “The truth is…”, or “Wallahi!” – Is everything else you say a complete lie except for this one statement? If you have an insider secret that you want to share or just need emphasis around a particular statement, then make it BOLD.
- “Verily,” “Indeed,” “the brimstone shall reign down upon thine head.” – Get a new translation.
- “I remind you and I remind myself.” – We are tired of this disclaimer.
- “If I said anything correct then it is from Allah. If I said anything wrong, then it is from Shaytaan.” – Bottom line: quit using fill-in-the-blank formulas for speeches.
Khutbah tul Haajah
Praise be to Allah. We seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One, having no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad (S) is His slave and Messenger.
Innaal-hamdu Lillaahi nahmaduhu wa nasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu
wa na’oodhu billaahi min shuroori anfusinaa wa min sayi’aati a’maalinaa
Man yahdih Illaahu falaa mudilla lahu wa man yudlil falaa haadiya lahu
Wa ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu
wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu
O, you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and always speak the truth. He shall rectify your conduct for you and He shall forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His Apostle has certainly achieved a great success. Surah al-Ahzaab [33:70-71]
Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo ittaqoo Allaha waqooloo qawlan sadeedan
Yuslih Lakum A’malukum wa yaghfir lakum dhunubakum wa mayin yuti illaha wa rasulahu faqad faza fauzan adheema.
Thereafter… Indeed the best speech is the speech of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (S). And the worst of matters are those innovated by the people, and every innovated matter is a bid’ah and every bid’ah is astray, and every going astray is in the fire.
Fainna khairal hadeethi kitabullah, wa khairal hadi, hadi Muhammad (saw), wa sharrul umur muhdathatuha, wa kullu bida’atin dalaala, wa kullu dalalatin finnar
The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity
There once was an island populated only by animals. But a ship wrecked there during a storm, and the people started building a city. Soon, humans started using the animals for food, riding, and plowing fields—but the animals didn’t mind. Then the humans mistreated the animals, forcing them to carry more than they could, neglecting to feed them, and cursed at them. The animals protested and some tried to run away, but the humans caught them and whipped them. The abuse continued until the animals complained to the ruler of the island, the King of Spirits. He demanded that the humans appear before him, saying, “No life should undergo such abuse. These humans have lost sight of the life within you…. Justice will be realized!”
The King ordered a trial and summoned every creature to his court. The people said that animals were naturally their slaves, so any animal would be punished for trying to run away. But the mule exclaimed, “Our lives have been stolen by the violence of these humans! We are victims of all their anger, ignorance, and laziness!”
One lady cried, “God raised us human beings over all other creatures and gave us the animals…to eat. [Animals] are our slaves and we are their masters.” When the animals asked for proof, the humans said it was obvious. People have the most beautiful form, humans walk upright, possess superior communication, and we are the masters of consciousness and understanding. The humans went so far as to make fun of the animals’ bodies: the lumpy body of a camel with thin legs, the long nose of the elephant and tiny eyes. The people made fun of dumb cows, goats, and sheep.
The animals became very agitated and defensive. “The gifts of the Creator are many and precious. One cannot find them all in any one creature!… Some may appear to have more advantages, some less, but none is perfect.” The King was impressed by that comment. He asked the humans if they had anything to respond.
The people became sad. They said, “We raise them, house them, and feed them. We protect them from strangers, bad weather, and predators.” The people said that the animals were in fact abusing the humans by being ungrateful!
The Mule said, “These humans fool even themselves!” The Sheep said, “In their markets, there are merchants selling meat cooked in pots…. Why, that’s us! It’s our bodies they’re cooking and selling!” The animals cried and said that the treatment was only so that the humans could ride their backs, or use them to carry heavy loads. So that the humans could take their milk, their wool, their skins, and their children. Then Camel stood up and pointed to the iron ring in his nostrils and asked, “Is this the sign of a compassionate human?” Each animal in turn showed the King their signs of abuse.
The King realized that the issue was significant and a just outcome would be difficult. The trial continued and each side makes an eloquent appeal, then the other counters with beautiful logic.
This is from the beginning of The Animals’ Lawsuit against Humanity. It was written 1,000 years ago, but you wouldn’t know that from the story. It is short, simple in prose, appealing at every age level, and rich in lessons. I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story; read it yourself.
There are various versions of that authentic hadith. Here is another similar story: Abu Huraira said that Allah’s apostle said, “While a man was walking, he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man thought, This dog is suffering from the same problem as me. So he went down the well, filled his shoe with water, held it with his teeth, climbed back up, and gave that water to the dog. Allah rewarded him for his noble deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving animals?” He (S) replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate.” (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 40, #551)
We, the human species, were given the awesome responsibility as the Khalifat Allah fi’l-ard , the vicegerent of the Creator on Earth. It was an opportunity to overcome our hubris and thirst for power, a chance for us to establish our rights and the rights of other living creatures. In doing so, we would be given nothing less than Jannah… Haven’t you heard the hadith about a prostitute who gave a thirsty dog some water and, because of that action, her sins were forgiven? 
Today’s message is a question: Have we been just leaders as the Khalifat Allah fi’l-ard? The issue is Justice. Have we been the stewards of Justice on this planet. Have we given animals their due rights?
Well, why should we even bother to give animals any rights at all? They can’t even communicate as eloquently as we can.
…Or can they?
- Cuttlefish communicate with their skin. They have more than 200 different colored pigment cells per square millimeter on top of their mirror-like reflective tissue. (Vastly superior to the iPhone 4′s 326 pixels per inch.) This king of camouflage can produce mesmerizing patterns and pulsating metallic colors on its body, and even change the texture of its skin. As kids, we dreamed of invisibility cloaks; the cuttlefish have it. You can see some amazing clips of them on YouTube.
There is enormous variability in every single call – each animal has its own unique whistle.
Scientists produced a low frequency sound originating just south of the Indian Ocean. It was heard on the West Coast of the United States as well as on several Caribbean islands. The acoustic transit time was about 3.5 hours.
- The communication of whales is a complex mystery to us. We have learned a few of their words, but researchers off the coast of Australia recorded 660 unique sounds from one group of humpbacks . Since water is highly conductive to sound , they hear hundreds of miles in every direction. They can talk to whales in different oceans or seas. With no roaming charges or hidden fees.
- The most advanced sonar systems we have are like a child’s toy compared to the built-in sonar of dolphins. They can see your blood moving through your liver. They know if you’re pregnant. They see through you.
- Some fish communicate with electricity: for navigation, communication, as well as stunning their prey.
- Some frog species are master ventriloquists. You may stand within a few feet of one, but its call will seem as if it’s coming from far away in another direction. The Prophet (S) forbade us from killing them because their croaking is a form of tasbeeh.
- Ants have a sophisticated scent communication. The Story of Suleiman is a witness to the higher intelligence of this miniscule creation. Suleiman was a model of Justice.
See the movie Caddyshack starring Chevy Chase. In it, Bill Murrey plans diabolical schemes to kill a gopher living at a golf course.
- Prairie dogs share information constantly through noises and body language. Scientists have discovered that prairie dogs’ responses to human predators include different calls for “man with yellow shirt!”, “man with tools!”, and “man with gun!” Why would an animal need to be so accurate about human predators? Perhaps because some hunters shoot them for sport with hollow-point bullets, causing them to literally explode in a mist of blood (this chilling “game” has a name: misting). 
- Mother bats give birth to a single pup each summer. Mother and baby hang upside-down inside dark caves with millions of other pups. The mother bats must leave to hunt and bring back food—the equivalent of finding your child at the Haram during Hajj while blindfolded, and everyone else is also blindfolded and looking for their children. The bats leave and return several times a night, returning each time to their own pups. Bats communicate via ultrasound; a flying bat can spot— and classify—a flying beetle from 30 feet away.
- Elephants communicate using infrasound: they create and listen to seismic signals in the ground. An elephant family could be split up for weeks then meet up at the same place and time. They know exactly which elephants are within a 20-mile radius. In fact, before the tsunami of 2004 even hit the Asian coastline, the elephants in Africa had already moved to higher ground.
Elephants are eloquent in so many ways. When adult elephants play with infants, the larger elephants get on their knees or lie down completely to gently touch the child. In fact, when baboons and other animals move among elephants, the elephants move very cautiously, so as to not hurt the smaller being.
- There is an award-winning PBS documentary called the Urban Elephant. It tells the story about an elephant named Shirley who spent 30 years in the circus then 22 years at a zoo. Finally she was sent to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where she was able to be with other elephants. The elephants all came to greet Shirley, and then trumpeted all through the night. In the morning, they found that Shirley and another elephant named Jenny had broken through their iron barriers and were bathing together. They were totally inseparable. After a little research, it was discovered that the two elephants had worked together at the circus as infants. I won’t tell you what happened after that, but the ending is so happy and so sad you will be forced to cry.
- Elephants can live up to 70 years. That is a long time, but scientists calculated the ages of a few bowhead whales killed in Alaska to be from 135 to 211 years old. Theoretically, Black Rhinos can live to 40, but with such a beautiful horn few will ever reach that age.
Are we just rulers of this earth – Khalifat-ullah fi’l-ardh?
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) calculates that about 40 percent of all the living creatures on earth have become extinct or are critically endangered . That was in 2006; since then, the human population has swelled by 200 million people.
Qur’an [13:15], [17:44], [22:18]
Foltz, Richard C. Animals in the Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2006. 96-103. Print.
- How can we reconcile the verses which states that all of creation praises Allah , when we are destroying whole species almost every year? Syed Hossein Nasr says that in reality “we are silencing a whole class of Allah’s worshippers.” Said Nursi says that destroying species is like burning the pages of the Qur’an because that is one way that Allah makes it possible to know Him. It’s hard to find more compelling arguments for conservation. 
- We all know the story of Noah. He filled the Ark with a male and female of each species. He was commanded to preserve the animal species first and then the believers.  He gave animals their rights. He practiced Justice. What about us?
It’s obvious that the animal world communicates in sophisticated ways. However, are they cognitive? Can animals think?
- Zebras work together to assist the old and young in their packs. The pace is set by the slowest zebra, and the pack is never antagonistic toward it.
- You may think that a two-ton walrus is a lumbering hulk with tusks…but in fact, walruses are the most cognitive and socially sophisticated of all pinnipeds. Their whiskers that can do more than our fingers. Each whisker can detect size, shape, texture, and taste. Walruses do fight (the only sort of interaction shown on TV), but they are highly civil. They share food, come to each other’s aid, and raise each other’s young.
- Researchers found that rats stop pressing a bar to obtain food if it meant an electric shock would be given to the rat next to them. They refuse the food as long as the rat next to them suffers.
- Some animals change their behavior depending on who is watching them. Fish do this very well. Depending on who is watching, a squirrel will dig a hole and pretend to put a nut in it.
- When chimps start arguing, other chimps get involved. They split up and groom the chimps that are mad at each other to reduce tension. Chimpanzees are active peacemakers. When a fight does break out, the aggressor inspects and tends the wounds of the victim. Apes hug and kiss the victim.
- Monkeys are very tolerant toward physically or mentally handicapped monkeys. Many monkeys live long lives in the wild without hands, or limbs, or with characteristics resembling Down’s Syndrome. They do so with assistance from other monkeys and tolerance in their community.
- Chimpanzees are superb with practical jokes. They put water in their mouths and squirt it at unsuspecting victims. They are so good at this that even around caretakers who know about their cunning skills, the chimps walk around as if they are actively engaged in other tasks then spray the caretakers. The better the ruse, then the greater the enjoyment for the chimps: they shriek, jump, and even fall over laughing. One researcher said that the only way to get a naughty chimp to stop misbehaving was when the researcher pretended to cry. That would immediately bring the chimp to the researcher’s shoulder.
- In 1996, a three-year-old boy climbed the wall of the Brookfield Zoo enclosure holding two very large gorillas. The boy fell 18 feet inside the cage onto concrete, rendering him unconscious. Binti Jua, one of the gorillas, rushed to the child. The spectators were screaming in horror, expecting certain death for the small child at the large hands of a 400-pound gorilla. Instead, Binti Jua gently lifted the child, cradled him, then rushed across the compound to the cage’s entrance and waited for the keepers to take him to the ER. The boy recovered fully .
So it’s obvious that animals can think in higher cortical domains. They are compassionate, playful, empathetic, and selfless. Actually, we could take a few lessons from them. Perhaps the question should be whether they have the capacity to feel deeper emotions, such as gratitude, virtue, or depression.
- Fruit bats flap their wings to fan a neighboring mother immediately after a birth. Dolphins have “auntie” dolphins which help the infants while the mother recovers. The Seychelle warbler even helps raise the offspring of its offspring – in other words, they help raise their grandchicks.
- A lady described how she brought home a beautiful pair of lovebirds, one yellow and the other green. They had a beautiful orange baby and it would perch between them while they all sang. One evening the lady came home and heard one bird screaming: the baby had died and was on the floor of the cage. The mother was crying and wouldn’t even let the lady try to remove the dead baby. However, over the next few days, the father took one or two pieces of straw and put it over the baby, until it was finally covered; only then was the lady able to remove it.
- Animals that witness other animals being mistreated become stressed. When they are placed in the euthanasia room, many animals begin to vomit or soil themselves. They will shake, twitch, or alternately raise & lower their hind legs. Our Prophet (S) warned us about this.
What do we make of all this? Animals communicate in amazing ways. They are intelligent, and they experience complex emotions. They are sentient.
Shouldn’t that make us as appreciative, loving, and merciful toward animals as we aspire to be toward our fellow humans? Allah didn’t put us in charge of the barren-lifeless moon. We are the ministers of earth, a place filled with such diverse and intriguing creations.
Leather? Yes-ish. Fur? You decide. To make a 40-inch fur coat, it takes 30-200 chinchilla, 60 mink, 50 sables, 50 muskrats, 45 opossums, 40 raccoons, 35 rabbits, 20 foxes, 20 otters, 18 lynx, 16 coyotes, 15 beavers, or 8 seals.
If we as a species can rise above classism, sexism, and racism, surely we can become a species that appreciates the animal world.
Animals testing is a cornerstone of research today. It was personally painful to research this section.
We deny animals natural rights when we go beyond our need for food and clothing. I am not saying that we should stop eating mutton-biryani.  In Islam, hunting is allowed, riding horses is fine, and using leather is OK, too . The rights of animals are mostly obvious – that’s not the purpose of this khutbah. The objective of this message is to help us open our eyes to the magnificence of this responsibility. If we are appreciative, then we must treat animals with respect and dignity.  If we are appreciative, then we can practice Justice.
But we don’t. 
- A New York Times article described a medic training for deployment in the Iraq war. He had to learn how to keep living tissue alive. So he was assigned a pig. That pig was shot in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, so the medic had to keep the pig alive. While the pig recovered, it was shot 6 times with an AK47. The medic dressed and treated those wounds. Then it was shot twice with a 12 gauge shotgun. Then it was set on fire. The medic had to keep it alive for 15 hours after that.
- Fur often comes from fur farms where animals are kept in tiny cages until they are anally electrocuted—fried from the inside out. You can see it for yourself at FurIsDead.com.
- Animals are used in the development of cosmetics. The Draize Eye Irritancy Test is used primarily on rabbits because they don’t have tear ducts. To perform the test, they are locked in stocks so that just their heads stick out. Then their eyelids are clipped open and chemicals are poured into their eyes. They are left there for two weeks to experience ulceration, bleeding, and massive iris deterioration. Are they in pain? The rabbits break their own necks trying to escape. If you think that is brutal, look up “LD50 tests.”
Once the Prophet (S) was walking and he saw a camel gnashing its teeth and being unruly. So he went to see what was going on. When he got there, the camel placed its head on the shoulder of the Prophet (S). The Prophet stroked its face and while he did so, the camel told the Prophet that its master beat it furiously. The Prophet (S) was visibly upset and scolded the man severely.
This is what I have say. I ask for forgiveness. I ask forgiveness from the Coverer of Sins, the Most Merciful
A cool ou koule hadha, astaghfirullahe wallkum, astaghfiruhu innahu wal-Ghafur rur-Raheem.
Alhamdolillah, summa alhamdolillah. Amma baadh.
[35:39], the same verse is in Surah al-Anaam, verse 165. The best translation is at Quran.com.
Also see [2:30]: “And [remember] when your Lord said to the angels: ‘Verily, I am going to place (mankind) generations after generations on earth.’ They said: ‘Will You place therein those who will make mischief therein and shed blood, – while we glorify You with praises and thanks (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners) and sanctify You.’ He (Allāh) said: ‘I know that which you do not know.’”
Allah says in Surah An’aam:  
Huwa al-Ladhi ja`alakum Khalaa’ifa fil-‘Ardh…
“And He has made you vicegerents on Earth, successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in rank, so that He may try you through what He has given you. Remember that your Lord is swift in penalty, but He is also the Most Forgiving and Merciful.”
“And behold, We said to the angels, ‘Bow down to Adam’ and they bowed down. Not so Iblis; he refused and was haughty. He was of those who reject Faith.” [2:34]
“Certainly, We created man in the best make.” [95:4]
A vicegerent is an officer appointed by a supreme authority. Allah gave us this trust. When He did so, the angles asked if that was really a good idea, because humans shed blood. Iblis, the most devout worshipper of the Jinn, took offense and wanted to prove that this decision was a divine mistake.  Allah responded with, “I know what you don’t know.”  He gave us the ability to choose.  With that choice comes responsibility and accountability. Those who fail as vicegerents, He says, “We will reduce him to the lowest of the low.” 
So far, we have been an endangering species. We endanger the lives of other creations. It is not just a Muslim problem. The Animal’s Lawsuit against Humanity, the beautiful story of animals complaining about what humans have done, was written more than 1,000 years ago. In fact, it was written by Muslims in Iraq, translated into Hebrew by the Jews, then taught in Latin to a Christian kingdom. The basic truth is for all faiths, for all humans.
I Challenge You…
Put on the glasses of the Khalifat-ullah fi’l-ardh. We need to look at the world differently. You may not be able to stop the barbaric bull fighting or researchers at the University of Oregon from experimenting with rams to make them gay. But there are things that you can do:
- Have you ever been to a rodeo? Calf roping is one of the events where a terrified baby animal is kicked out of a cage, while running at full speed; it is yanked off its feet by a rope around its neck and then flipped in the air onto its back where its feet are tied. If you saw someone do this to a puppy you would call the police; however, at a rodeo, the strong, brave cowboy who does this the fastest gets a prize.
- Take dog-racing or horseracing as examples. Thousands of horses are bred each year just to get a few dozen top-notch racing foals. The balance is discarded. In fact, even the winners are discarded by the age of five or six. Their bodies are used to make pet food. If a horse is injured during a race, it is often shot and killed the very same day.
This is a mighty challenge. I’m not asking you to passively abstain. Instead let’s stand up against brutality towards animals. If you do nothing else, then at least watch The Cove, a documentary about Flipper…remember the dolphin from the 50s TV show?
The smaller challenge is to raise your children on the real nature channel:
- Take them to national parks, natural places, and support wildlife sanctuaries.
- If you saw a snake during a hike, you would tell that story for the rest of your life. Yet you won’t be able to remember a single snake that you’ve seen at the best zoo.
- There is a bridge in Austin where you can see hundreds of thousands of bats flying out of the caves at Magrib time. They start circling near the mouth of the cave till their numbers swell, then all of a sudden the entire cycle erupts out of the cave and they just gush out. It looks like a tornado and lasts for two hours.
- Go to a farm. Get close to animals. Get closer to animals that you eat.
We started with an imaginary story of a lawsuit. It’s not far from reality at all. One day, we will stand in trial. Each of us will be asked about this earth. Were we just to the great creatures and the tiny creatures? Have we stood up for their rights too? This khutbah is not even about animals – it’s about Justice. Why did the Creator even put these magnificent creatures on this planet? One reason is so that we could practice Justice. So that we could model it for our children. Fudail ibn Iyad said, “By Allah, it is not allowed for you to harm a dog or a pig without just cause, how then can you harm a Muslim?”
“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” [Quran 33:56] May Allah send peace upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, just as he sent peace upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim.
Innal-lahu wa Malaaikatuhu yassaloona aln-Nabi
Yaa aiyuhal latheena aamanoo, salloo alaihy, wa sallimou tasleema
Allahumma Salli ‘Ala Muhammad, wa ‘Ala alee Muhammad,
Kama sallaita ‘Ala Ibrahima wa ‘ala alee Ibrahim
Fil ‘alameena innaka hamidun Majeed.
Oh Allah, help us to give animals their rights and don’t let us be among the lowest of the low.
Ya Rub bil-Alimeen, purify our hearts and our souls.
Ya Ar-Hammar raa Himeen, forgive us for our shortcomings.
Ya Rahmaanu Ya Raheem, from now on let us do deeds of the people of Paradise.
Ya Hayy Ya Qayuum, protect our familes.
Ya Ghafoor Ya Shakoor, help us to be grateful to you and to our parents.
Ya Razzak Ya Wadud, give us the means to make our parents happy.
Ya Malik Ya Salaam, make the trials of our parents easier in their old age.
Ya Dhul-Jalal wal-Ikraam, give us Jannah through our parents.
Ya Aqeemas salati yarhumukumullah.
Post Khutba Announcement: Animal Rights in Islam
Allah says in Surah al-An’aam: “There is no animal walking on the earth nor a bird flying on its two wings, except that they are (part of) communities like you” [6:38]. Allah has endowed all of His creation with birth-rights and made them tenants-in-common with us on this planet. Islam preceded all of the animal care societies by 1300 years by making kindness to animals a part of our faith. Not only that, but cruelty to animals is cause for a person to be tossed into Hell. Within the shari’a, animals have legal rights which are enforced by the state.
- We are allowed to slaughter animals for food, yet forbidden to kill merely for sport.
- When slaughtering, we should minimze their physical pain and emotional suffering. An animal should not witnessing another slaughter.
- Although Islam allows the killing of dangerous and venomous animals.
- Regarding the beasts of burden and animals used for riding and transport, Islam forbids man to keep them hungry, to take hard work from them, or beat them cruelly.
- Catching birds and/or imprisoning them in cages without any special purpose is not acceptable. [Abu A’la Mawdudi]
- Factory farming and large-scale husbandry is incompatible with Islamic ethics to animals. [Basheer Ahmad Masri]