Rights in Islam

Islam has prescribed that its followers give people their due rights. Parents, spouses, children, neighbors; all are given specific rights according to their specific roles in this world. Accordingly, mutual bonds and solidity can be established and strengthened between the individuals of a Muslim society. This spreads love and unity and prevents the society from fragmenting.

Allah says: “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster.” (4:36)

The Prophet said: “Each of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them. A husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them. A woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.” (Bukhari)

Also, the paths which people traverse have their rights that must be fulfilled. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad said: “Be careful and stay away from sitting on the walking paths.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, we have no other place to gather and talk.” So he replied, “If you must do so, then give the paths their rights.” They said, “And what are the rights of the paths?” He replied, “Lowering one’s gaze (not looking at members of the opposite gender), not bringing harm to others, replying to salutations, and enjoining good and forbidding evil.” (Bukhari)

Even animals have rights. Showing them compassion and treating them well is a means to attain forgiveness of one’s sins. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad said:
“Once a man was tending to some business, and became very thirsty. He came across a well, so he descended into it and drank from it. [When he came out], he saw a dog panting and licking the dirt (in search of water) due to thirst. The man said, ‘This dog is as thirsty as I was.’ So he descended [once again] into the well, filled his boot with water and gave a drink to the dog. [Due to that] Allah rewarded him by forgiving his sins.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, will we be rewarded even for our kindness to animals?” He replied, “Yes indeed. Every kindness to a living being will be rewarded.” (Bukhari)

Islam has made mistreating animals, such as confining them without food or drink, or torturing them, reasons for entering the Hellfire. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad said:
“A woman entered Hell because of a cat which she tied up and did not feed, nor did she let it loose to feed upon the vermin of the earth.” (Bukhari)

If this is the mercy Islam shows to animals, how much more mercy would it show to humans, whom Allah has preferred and honored over all other creatures?