Question # 471: I have an old cat. I feel she is gone blind as well. She does not eat properly and I cannot see her in pain; is it permissible to put her to sleep (euthanasia) to end its suffering and agony?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Islamically, if there is no useful purpose in killing an animal, such as eating the meat of a halal animal or benefiting from the use of skin, hair, bones, and other body parts of a haraam one, it remains impermissible and sinful. However, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) allowed the killing of certain dangerous animals that are harmful to either one’s body or possessions.
As for putting the animal to sleep to end its agony, there is a difference of opinion among scholars, some do not allow its killing, for it is a living soul and thus should be allowed to die its natural death, while others believe that if the animal is in extreme pain and close to death or severely sick that there is no hope of its recovery, then there is no sin in having it killed. However, care must be taken to not make the animal suffer and minimize its pain as much as possible during the euthanasia process.
Long Answer: Islamically, killing animals without the need or intending to gain benefit from them is impermissible and sinful, such as killing or hunting merely for the sake of entertainment and enjoyment. [The following ahadith in this respect are worth pondering:]
- It was narrated that ‘Amr bin Sharid said: “I heard Sharid say: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: Whoever kills a small bird for no reason, it will beseech Allah on the Day of Resurrection saying: O Lord, so and so killed me for no reason. And he did not kill me for any beneficial purpose.”‘ (Sunan al-Nasa’i; graded hasan)
- It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There is no person who kills a small bird or anything larger for no just reason, but Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, will ask him about it.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, what does just reason;’ mean?” He said: “That you slaughter it and eat it, and do not cut off its head and throw it aside.” (Sunan al-Nasa’i; graded hasan)
- It was narrated that Sa’eed bin Jubair (رضي الله عنه) said: “Ibn ‘Umar passed by a group of people who had taken a hen as a target and were shooting at her. When they saw Ibn ‘Umar, they scattered, and Ibn ‘Umar said: ‘Who did this? The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) cursed the one who does this.” (Sahih Muslim)
[Therefore,] …if there is no useful purpose in killing the animal, such as eating the meat of a Halal animal or benefiting from the [use of skin, hair, bones and other] body parts of a Haraam one, it will remain unlawful to kill it. The classical Hanafi Jurist, Imam al-Kasani (Allah have mercy on him), states: “It is permitted to hunt land and sea animals; both whose meat is Halal and whose meat is not Halal to eat. Hunting Halal animals would be to benefit from eating their meat, whilst hunting Haraam animals would be to benefit from their skin, hair, and bones; or to protect one’s self from their harm.” (Bada’i al-Sana’i)
[Furthermore,] if there is a “genuine need” to kill animals and insects which cause harm to one’s self or belongings, then it becomes permissible. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) allowed, and in some narrations ordered, the killing of snakes, scorpions, geckos, mice, and the like, which are harmful to either one’s body or possessions. However, care must be taken to not make the animal suffer and minimize its pain as much as possible.
Nevertheless, if no benefit is intended other than putting the animal to sleep to end its agony, then there is a difference of opinion between classical jurists (fuqaha) on whether it can be killed. Some [scholars] do not allow its killing, for it is a living soul and thus should be allowed to die its natural death. However, according to the Hanafi and Maliki schools of Islamic law, if the animal is in extreme pain and close to death or [severely sick] that there is no hope of its recovery, then there is no sin in having it killed.
- Imam Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) from the Hanafi School states: “It is permitted to slaughter a cat or dog for a benefit. And it is better to slaughter a dog if it is close to death.” Imam Ibn Abidin comments, “… for in slaughtering the dog, one is relieving it from pain. Tahtawi said that this ruling is not restricted to a dog.” (Radd al-Muhtar ala ’l-Durr al-Mukhtar, Kitab al-Sayd)
- It is stated in Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya: “If a donkey becomes ill such that one is unable to benefit from it, then there is nothing wrong with slaughtering it to end its suffering.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya)
- In the Maliki School, Imam al-Dardir (Allah have mercy on him) states in his commentary of Mukhtasar al-Khalil: “It is permitted to slaughter a donkey or mule if one loses hope in its recovery [due to its illness], rather it is recommended to end its suffering.” (Sharh Mukhtasar al-Khalil with Hashiyat Dasuqi)
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked [similar] question and he said: “If an animal gets sick, if it is an animal whose meat it is not permissible to eat, and there is no hope that it will recover, then there is no sin on you if you kill it, because if it is kept alive it will become a burden on you which may be a waste of your money, as you will have to spend on it and this spending will be a waste of your money. Keeping it alive until it dies without giving it food and drink is haraam because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “A woman went to Hell because of a cat which she detained. She did not feed it when she detained it, and she did not let it free to eat of the vermin of the earth.” [(Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)] But if it is an animal whose meat may be eaten, and it reaches a state where you cannot benefit from it or give it to someone else who can benefit from it, then the ruling is the same as that concerning an animal whose meat is haraam, i.e., it is permissible to kill it, whether you slaughter it or kill it with bullets. Do whatever is easiest on the animal, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “If you kill, kill well, and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters. [(Sahih Muslim)]”
(The above reply is based on the following resources:
- Answer provided by Islamqa.info on a similar topic
- daruliftaa.com, headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.