Clothing

Mannequins in Female Muslim Robes©iStock.com/vermontalm

It is hard to understand why some Muslims feel that wearing fur for the sake of fashion is acceptable. Although fur is legally permitted in Islam when it is required for warmth – as used by those in war-ravaged Afghanistan -or when it is used as a byproduct of certain cultures’ indigenous lifestyles, the practice of wearing fur as a luxury item is against Islamic teachings.

Animals raised on fur farms are abused and killed in gruesome ways that conflict with Islamic teachings. They are confined to small, filthy cages, and the unnatural confinement causes many of them to go insane. As a result, many exhibit stereotypic behaviors such as pacing in endless circles, self-mutilating, or cannibalizing one another. When they are finally removed from their cages to be killed, their deaths are painful and inhumane. Typical methods of killing animals on fur farms include anal or vaginal electrocution, injection with weedkiller and other poisons, suffocation, and neck-breaking. Others are simply stunned and skinned alive. All these practices are against Islamic teachings.

The brutal methods used by trappers to catch animals from the wild also violate the Islamic teachings of kindness to animals. Most trappers use steel-jaw leghold traps, which cause excruciating pain when they slam shut on the legs and bodies of animals. These traps cause a variety of injuries and leave their victims unable to defend themselves from predators. Many animals, especially mothers who are desperate to reach their young, chew off their own paws or limbs in order to escape. Others suffer in the traps for days without food or water – until a trapper arrives and kills them by stomping on their chests or snapping their necks. Animals who are caught in underwater traps suffer slow, agonizing deaths by drowning. There is no way for trappers to know who will get caught in the traps – thousands of dogs, cats, birds, and endangered animals die in traps every year.

Most conscientious Muslims and Muslim scholars agree that fur is un-Islamic. However, many are still unaware of the cruelty that is inherent in fur production and believe that fur is a permissible “fabric” for clothing. It is the duty of Muslims who know the truth about fur to inform the Muslim Ummah about the issue.

The following is one Muslim scholar’s view of fur:

“[There is] no excuse for the Muslims to remain complaisant about the current killings of animals [by the] millions for their furs, tusks, oils, and various other commodities. The excuse that such things are essential for human needs is no longer valid. Modern technology has produced all these things in synthetic materials and they are easily available all over the world, in some cases at a cheaper price. In olden days, for example, furs and skins were a necessity. Even the Qur’ân Majeed mentions the animals as a source of warm clothing (Qur’ân 16:5). However, this refers only to the skins and furs of the domesticated cattle, [who] either die their natural death or are slaughtered for food. There are millions of wild animals � being killed these days commercially just for their furs and skins, while their carcasses are left to rot. Fourteen centuries ago Islam realized the absurdity of this wasteful and cruel practice and passed laws to stop it in the following Ahadith:

The Holy Prophet Muhammad prohibited the use of skins of wild animals. (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

The Holy Prophet forbade the skins of wild animals being used as floor-coverings. (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

The Holy Prophet said: ‘Do not ride on saddles made of silk or leopard skins.’ (Abu Dawud)

It is important to note that the first Hadith covers all wild animals. The reason why leopard skins have been mentioned specifically could, perhaps, be that the Holy Prophet might have seen someone using a saddle of leopard skin. Similarly, the specific mention of floor-coverings and saddles does not mean that they could be used for other purposes.”

– Imam Al-Hafiz B.A. Masri, Animals in Islam

To learn more about the un-Islamic process of fur production, visit the following Web sites*:

*Please be warned that some of the Web pages connected to these sites may contain pictures that are inappropriate by Islamic standards, but these sites are a source of important information about fur production.

Leather

As mentioned in the Qur’anic Sura above, leather products are permissible in Islam. However, today, nearly all leather comes from animals who are raised and killed in the modern factory-farming system, a system that runs contrary to Islamic teachings.

Animals suffer in the production of leather – even if the leather comes from so-called “halal” slaughter. An extensive undercover investigation found that Indian leather was obtained from cattle who were abused and mistreated, in conflict with every Islamic standard on the matter, even though the leather was reportedly derived from cattle who had been slaughtered using proper dhabiha methods. Click here to learn more.

Leather alternatives are readily available and are just as stylish and functional as leather – but without the cruelty. It’s easy to find synthetic athletic equipment, briefcases, purses, shoes, jackets, and belts that look and act just like leather. In fact, many of these synthetic materials provide better features than leather and are preferred by many manufacturers and designers.

You can learn more about alternatives to leather by clicking here.

Wool

Many people believe that shearing sheep helps animals who might otherwise be burdened with too much wool, but without human interference, sheep grow just enough wool to protect themselves from extremes of cold and heat.

Wool was once obtained from sheep by plucking it from them during molting season, but today, sheep are sheared and bred for continuous fleece growth. Far from being an innocent method of gathering fleece, mass-scale production methods mean that flocks usually consist of thousands of sheep, making individual attention to their needs impossible.

The most commonly raised sheep are Merinos, who are specifically bred to have wrinkly skin so that they will yield more wool. This unnatural amount of wool overloads animals and causes them to die of heat exhaustion during hot months. The wrinkles also collect urine and moisture. Flies who are attracted to the moisture lay eggs in the folds of the sheep’s skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. To prevent this “flystrike,” Australian ranchers perform a barbaric operation called “mulesing,” which involves carving huge strips of flesh off the backs of lambs’ legs and around their tails without the use of painkillers. This is done to cause smooth, scarred skin that won’t harbor fly eggs, yet the bloody wounds often get flystrike before they heal.

Within weeks of birth, lambs’ ears are hole-punched, their tails are chopped off, and males are castrated, all without anesthetics. Male lambs between 1 and 6 weeks of age are castrated using one of the most painful methods of castration available, a rubber ring that cuts off the blood supply. Every year, hundreds of lambs die before the age of 8 weeks from exposure or starvation. Faced with so much death and disease, the rational solution would be to reduce the number of sheep until it was possible to adequately provide for their care, but this is not the case. Instead, sheep are bred to produce more lambs in order to offset the deaths.

Sheep are sheared each spring, after lambing, just before they would naturally shed their winter coats. Timing is considered critical because shearing too late results in a loss of wool. In the rush, many sheep die from exposure caused by premature shearing.

Shearers are usually paid by volume, which encourages fast work without regard for the welfare of the sheep. Says one eyewitness, “[T]he shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals … I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off, no stitches ever being applied, not even as much as an antiseptic.”

When sheep age and their wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter. Approximately 6.5 million live sheep are exported every year from Australia to the Middle East, North Africa, and other destinations, and an additional 750,000 are exported from the U.K. In Europe, the animals are tightly packed onto trucks and subjected to trips that last for up to 50 hours without food or water.

Animals who survive the trip to the dock are packed tightly onto ships for export. Their trips can last up to 11 weeks. Younger animals or babies born during transit are often trampled to death. Shipboard mortality is in the hundreds of thousands, and for every sheep who dies, many others become ill or injured. In September, 2002, more than 14,500 sheep died from heat stress while being transported on four ships going from Australia to the Middle East. Their carcasses were thrown overboard.

Cashmere is made from cashmere goats. Those with “defects” in their coats may be killed before their second birthday. Industry experts say that farmers should expect to kill 50 to 80 percent of young goats because their coats do not meet standards. Contrary to what many consumers think, the term “shearling” does not refer to sheared wool but to the sheep themselves. A shearling is a yearling sheep who has been shorn only once, and a shearling garment is made from a sheep or lamb who was shorn shortly before slaughter; the skin is tanned with the wool still on it.

Shearers strap Angora rabbits, who kick powerfully in protest, to boards for shearing. The clippers inevitably bite into their flesh with bloody results. Angoras have very delicate foot pads, and a lifetime of living in wire-floored cages forces them to endure excruciating pain and ulcerated feet. Many farms kill male Angoras at birth because they have only 75 to 80 percent of the wool yield that females have.

The wool industry also inflicts damage on wildlife. For example, the Australian government permits the slaughter of more than 6.5 million kangaroos a year because it views them as “pests” who eat grass that ranchers want for their sheep and cows. While there are laws governing the killing of kangaroos, there are still serious problems with “weekend hunters,” unlicensed shooters who often have no regard for the kangaroos’ suffering. The preferred method of killing joeys whose mothers have been slaughtered is, according to government code, decapitation or a “heavy blow to destroy the brain.”

In the U.S., coyotes are vilified for eating sheep and other livestock, and as a result, millions are slaughtered every year by ranchers and the federal government.

It is clear that cruel treatment of animals – the killing of wildlife associated with wool production or cruelty that occurs during the rearing of fleece-providing animals or their transport for slaughter – violates Islamic teachings.

Many people who are allergic to wool already use alternatives such as cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, synthetic shearling, and other cruelty-free fibers. Tencel – a breathable, durable, biodegradable fabric – is one of the newest cruelty-free wool substitutes on the market. Polartec Wind Pro, which is made primarily from recycled plastic soda bottles, is a high-density fleece with four times the wind resistance of wool that also wicks away moisture. Even men’s suits can be made to look like wool without the cruelty of the wool industry.

Silk

Silk is the fiber that silkworms weave to make cocoons. To obtain silk, the worms are boiled alive in their cocoons. Worms are sensate – they produce endorphins, a physical response to pain – and anyone who has seen worms scramble when their dark homes are uncovered recognizes this.

To produce just 1,000 grams of silk, approximately 1,500 worms are killed. Only a few chrysalises are kept aside to allow the moths to emerge and mate. After mating, male moths are dumped into baskets and thrown out. Because of generations of inbreeding, they no longer have the ability to fly, and birds commonly pick at them from bins outside silk-manufacturing centers. Once female moths lay eggs, they are crushed to check for diseases. If they appear to be diseased, their eggs are destroyed.

Humane alternatives to silk include nylon, milkweed seed pod fibers, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments, and rayon. Of these, rayon is of vegetable origin and nylon and polyester are petroleum products. Artificial or art silk and China (not “Chinese”) silk are soft, shimmering synthetic materials that are can be used as humane alternatives to silk.

"There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end" - Al-Qur'an, 6:38
"Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself." - The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), narrated by Abdallah bin Amru in Bukhari and Muslim collections