All animals are a part of God’s creation, so Muslims have a duty of care to animals, and animals have been given rights. If a Muslim treats animals with love and tenderness, he will be blessed by God.
Many animals have a special significance in Islam. The Qur’an repeatedly mentions the blessings in the honey produced by bees. Even in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa), he was saved by the web of a spider when he was sheltering in the cave Thaur, just outside Makkah, from his adversaries.
The Qur’an acknowledges that many animals are of benefit to mankind for transport and other requirements (Ch.16: V.9) And He has created horses and mules and asses that you may ride them. Man also needs meat as a part of his diet. But even here, we are taught how to slaughter animals in a humane way such that they are killed instantly through a single cut. In circumstances where multiple animals are to be slaughtered, mankind is taught by Islam to do this in a way that the other animals do not witness the slaughter. This is the extent to which man has to consider the feelings of animals.
Prophet Muhammad(saw) is recorded as saying:
“Never does a Muslim plant trees or cultivate land, and birds or men or beasts eat out of them, but that is a charity on his behalf.” (Muslim)
On another occasion, he is recorded by Abu Hurairah as saying:
“A man travelling along a road felt extremely thirsty and went down a well and drank. When he came up he saw a dog panting with thirst and licking the moist earth. ‘This animal’, the man said, ‘is suffering from thirst just as much as I was.’ So he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, and taking it in his teeth, climbed out of the well and gave the water to the dog. God was pleased with his act and granted him pardon for his sins.” (Bukhari)
Animals were created by the same God that created mankind, and in order to be the recipients of compassion and kindness from God, Muslims must also show kindness for all other creatures that inhabit the planet with them.
The Holy Prophet(sa) has also said that,
All the creatures are the children of God and the best among you is he who treats His creatures well. (Mishkat)
Animals are also included as creatures of God.