As-salamu ‘alaykum. Dear scholars, what is the rule of using mice in biological experiments? What about the euthanasia of mice? Which is more permissible, cervical dislocation or CO2 saturation? They are both used in different circumstances. Are they both permissible? Thanks. Wassalaam.
Alhamdu-li-llahwa as-Salatuwa as-Salamu ‘ala Rasool-il-llah,
All praise be to Allah and may His blessings and peace be on His Messenger,
Kind treatment of animals is an Islamic injunction.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“عُذِّبَتْامْرَأَةٌفِيهِرَّةٍسَجَنَتْهَاحَتَّىمَاتَتْفَدَخَلَتْفِيهَاالنَّارَلاهِيَأَطْعَمَتْهَاوَسَقَتْهَاإِذْحَبَسَتْهَاوَلاهِيَتَرَكَتْهَاتَأْكُلُمِنْخَشَاشِالأَرْضِ”رواهالشيخان عن أبي هريرة.
“A woman will be tormented in Hell because of a cat which she detained until she died. She did not feed it when she detained it, and she did not let it free to eat of the vermin of the earth.”
He also said:
“لاتَتَّخِذُواشَيْئًافِيهِالرُّوحُغَرَضًا”رواهمسلم عن ابن عباس.
“Do not use anything in which there is a soul as a target.” (Muslim).
Having made that clear, it is also important to realize that humans have been given a permission to use animals for food and as beasts of burden. Allah said,
“Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, [both] apparent and unapparent?”[Sahih International: Luqman - 31:20]
The fact that human beings have a central place in this universe (Anthropic Principle) doesn’t mean that man may abuse the universe or the creatures therein. Allah said,
O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. [Sahih International: Al-A’raf 7:31]
Man may also protect himself against vermin by killing them. There is no sane culture that would hesitate to do that, particularly when such animals are harmful or may spread disease. In fact, mice have been mentioned by the Prophet to be of those animals that should be killed to limit their harm. However, the ecological balance may not be disturbed at any time by any form of excess. In fact al-Bukhari and Muslim reported from Abi Hurairah that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said,
“An aunt bit one of the prophets, so he ordered that the aunt complex be burnt. Allah then revealed to him, “Is it because an aunt bit you that you destroyed a nation of creatures that exalts me.”
Euthanasia is forbidden for humans, but not animals that are needed for food or other justifiable causes. Since mice are of the animals that cause harm, using them in laboratory experiments is reasonable.Finally, whenever an animal is to be euthanized, the killing must be swift and as merciful as possible. The Prophet r said:
“إِنَّاللَّهَكَتَبَالْإِحْسَانَعلىكلشَيْءٍفإذاقَتَلْتُمْفَأَحْسِنُواالْقِتْلَةَوإذاذَبَحْتُمْفَأَحْسِنُواالذَّبْحَوَلْيُحِدَّأحدكمشَفْرَتَهُفَلْيُرِحْذَبِيحَتَهُ.” رواه مسلم عن شداد بن أوس.
“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.”
The choice between the two methods of euthanasia mentioned will depend on which of them is less painful. That is a matter to be decided by the experts.
Allah knows best.