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Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols$
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Robert Gleave and István Kristó-Nagy

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748694235

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694235.001.0001

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Animals Would Follow ShāfiʿIsm: Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence to Animals in Medieval Islamic Thought

Animals Would Follow ShāfiʿIsm: Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence to Animals in Medieval Islamic Thought

Chapter:
Chapter 14 Animals Would Follow ShāfiʿIsm: Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence to Animals in Medieval Islamic Thought
Source:
Violence in Islamic Thought from the Qur'an to the Mongols
Author(s):

Sarra Tlili

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748694235.003.0014

The fact that Islam allows humans to consume meat and obtain several services from nonhuman animals is prevalently interpreted as a sign of anthropocentrism. For example, G. H. Bousquet considers that God created other animals to serve humans, thus suggesting that nonhuman animals have little or no intrinsic value in Islam.1 Carol Bakhos, Mohammed Hocine Benkheira and many others subscribe to the same opinion.2 The aim of this chapter is not to contest this view altogether, but to argue that the supposed anthropocentric character of Islamic tradition has been overemphasised at the expense of the theocentric one. Anthropocentrism is, of course, a ‘sin’, of which all human societies seem to be guilty. Nevertheless, to the extent that one can discern from medieval Islamic texts, the anthropocentric tendencies of pre-modern Muslim societies were often held in check by the equally, if not more important, theocentric character of the tradition. This approach resulted in genuine respect and serious engagement with nonhuman animals’ interests. The question of legitimate and illegitimate violence is well situated to illustrate this point. Thus, as I investigate how some Muslim scholars justified and categorised acts of force against animals, I will also assess the extent to which anthropocentric presuppositions shaped Muslims’ attitudes toward other animals.

Keywords:   Animals, Islam, Violence, Legitimate, Illegitimate, Medieval

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