Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 5, No 2 (2009)

Jewish, Christian, and Muslim attitudes toward Animals

Carol Bakhos
Issued Date: 25 Oct 2011


This article surveys Jewish, Christian and Muslim attitudes toward animals in ancient and medieval sources, and demonstrates how the scriptural heritage and its multi-faceted exegetical traditions are shot through with the notion of the superiority of humans to nonhuman animals. Yet at the same time they are suffused with teachings that chasten human arrogance and exhort humans to show compassion toward all species. The article attempts to provide a corrective to both the contestation that these traditions foster the exploitation of animals and the counterargument that ignores an inherent hierarchy in their textual sources. To support the contention that these religious traditions at once uphold a hierarchy and display concern for other animals, the article examines the fate of the fauna in the Noah flood narrative and the Islamic fable, “The Case of the Animals Versus Man.”

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DOI: 10.1558/cis.v5i2.177

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