Experimentation on Animals
Scientific and pharmaceutical experiments on animals are being done to find cures for diseases, most of which are self-induced by our own disorderly lifestyle. All human problems - physical, mental or spiritual - are of our own creation and our wounds self-inflicted. By no stretch of imagination can we blame animals for any of our troubles and make them suffer for it. All this (experiments), and much more, is being done to satisfy human needs, most of which are non-essential, fanciful, wasteful and for which alternative, humane products are easily available. To kill animals to satisfy the human thirst for inessentials is a contradiction in terms within the Islamic tradition. Let us hope a day will dawn when the great religious teachings may at last begin to bear fruit; when we shall see the start of a new era, when man accords to animals the respect and status they have long deserved and for so long have been denied.
Vivisection did not exist at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(s) and therefore, was not specifically cited in the law (Shari'ah). Guidance on such issues comes from analogy and inference (Ijtihad). One of the main excuses for all kinds of cruelties to animals is selfish interest or human needs. Let us see how the juristic Rules define 'needs' and 'interests' and judge these cases according to those definitions. The basic Juristic Rule (qaidatul-fiqhiyah) that would apply to pecuniary experiments is: "One's interest or need does not annul other's right" (al-idtiraru la yabtil haqqal-ghair).
Needs are classified in three categories: necessities (al-Masalih ad-darurfyah) without which life could not be sustained; needs required for comfort and easement from pain or any kind of distress, or for improving the quality of life (al-Masalih-al-haiya); and luxuries (al-Masalih at tahsiniyah) desirable for enjoyment or self-indulgence.
Some rules that can be applied to these needs to determine whether experiments on animals would be allowed: What allures to the forbidden, is itself forbidden. (Ma'ad'a ela al-harame, fahuwaharamun"). This rule implies that material gains, including food, obtained by wrongful acts, such as unnecessary experiments on animals, become unlawful (haram). No damage can be put right by a similar or a greater damage." (Ad-dararu la yuzalu be mislehi au be dararin akbaro minho). When we damage our health and other interests by our own follies, we have no right to make the animals pay for it by inflicting similar or greater damage on them, such as by doing unnecessary experiments to find remedies for our self-induced ailments.
Resort to alternatives, when the original becomes undesirable. (Iza ta'zuro al-aslu, yusaru ila-l-badle). This rule places a great moral responsibility on experimenters and medical students to find alternatives. The basic point to understand about using animals in science is that the same moral, ethical and legal codes should apply to the treatment of animals as are being applied to humans. According to Islam, all life is sacrosanct and has a right of protection and preservation.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad(s) laid so much emphasis on this point that he declared: "There is no man who kills...