The Principles of Animal Advocacy in Islam: Four Integrated Ecognitions

by Nadeem Haque, Al-Hafiz Basheer Ahmad Masri Published on: 4th June 2020

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The Qurān—the scripture of the Muslims, which purports to be from the Creator of the Universe—presents a rational, holistic, and integrated view of life, where the human being is considered an integral, coexistential part of nature who has responsibilities as representative of the Creator on earth. This responsibility is both based on, and directed by, four principles/realizations called “ecognitions,” from which all animal rights can be formulated and through which a case for proactive animal advocacy can be advanced. It is argued that the Qurānic view, from which the four ecognitions are drawn, has the potential to enable the coexistence of human and nonhuman animals, in an optimally harmonious way, for the 21st century and beyond.

A Sanctuary for Birds: Muslim Civilisation

A page from the Arabic version of Kalila wa dimna, dated 1210, illustrating the King of the Crows conferring with his political advisors.”


Note of the Editor: This article was originally published as: “The Principles of Animal Advocacy in Islam: Four Integrated Ecognitions”, Society and Animals, volume 19, issue 3, 279-290 pp., 2011.


The paper Principles of Animal Advocacy in Islam: Four Integrated Ecognitions published by Society and Animals (Brill), authored  by Nadeem Haque and the late Al-Hafiz B.A. Masri, explores the sensitive relationship between humans and animals and the much needed advocacy that could lead the world to optimal human and animal relationships in a fast deteriorating Planet Earth. Indeed, animals are suffering in factory farms and cages, through animal experimentation and poaching, and through a myriad other adverse conditions and atrocities. In addition, the destruction of the ecosystem/animal species and the balance, that, in effect, impoverishes the land, seas and biosphere, including the spill-over effect of pathogens entering into the human domain, poses a great global threat. Haque and Masri engage in a deep discussion on foundational principles of human recognition and behaviour – using complementary evidence from science and the Quran – where they discuss the  ‘four ecognitions’, whose realization and implementation they passionately, but logically, argue is vital.  A short talk on this paper was presented at Harvard University in 2013 by Nadeem Haque (available online on Vimeo), which was based on Masri’s unpublished papers and Haque’s further research over the years. 

“Society & Animals – Journal of Human-Animal Studies” Cover (Source)

Haque and Masri discuss, in depth what these these ecognitions are, how they are inter-related, and also how they are derived from nature and the Quran itself. The ecognitions concern the awareness of a Creator, the balance of nature, animals living in communities and personhood of animals. They show that each ecognition is not only interrelated but there is an hierarchy among them, one encapsulating the other, as for example animals living in communities brings about the dynamic balance of nature itself. In discussing these topics, pertaining to the human beings’awareness of the trust bestowed to them from God, the authors also discuss the connection between sentient beings and God, in terms of consciousness and how that brings about ‘affinity’, in a discussion of ‘animal souls’ and the Islamic concept of ruh. It is this affinity, they argue that brings about justice and compassion.

In addition, Haque and Masri expostulate on the concept of taqwa or God consciousness, which is the integrator of all these ecognitions. In discussing personhood, they describe fascinating animal communication mentioned in the Quran, 1,400 years ago, which latest research in the area of ethology is currently fast confirming. They also briefly but concisely discuss ‘animal intelligence’ with respect to how it has been perceived by humans in history, both in the East and the West, and what the Quranic view is, on this topic, from a linguistic perspective.

Haque and Masri  approach the Quran from a rational perspective, which they argue is the very Quranic method itself, where it is argued that rationality, evidence in nature and the Quran all conform to each other in perfect harmony, bringing about respect, dignity, concern, advocacy and justice for all the creatures of God. In conclusion, by discussing all these concepts, they formulate the principles of animal advocacy in Islam, which can be urgently applied to developing sound policies for both ecology and nature, as we wade through the precarious, yet hope filled, waters of this pivotal 21st century.

Link for the Brill article:
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Link for the Video Presentation:

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