Remona Aly
Wednesday 30 March 2016 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Pigs find refuge with Muslims

Runaway pigs & animal welfare in Islam, Pause for Thought, Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show


My mum woke me up abrupt like one morning, and said, “There are two black pigs in the garden!” With one eye half open, I squinted through the window, and running riot were two fugitive pigs whose owner had tooled off while they made their prison break. The pigs headed straight for us – the only Muslims in the village.

“They’re quite cute aren’t they?” said my mum who’d grown rather fond of our boarish guests. This coming from a woman so put off pigs that she wouldn’t let me eat bacon crisps as a kid, even though they were suitable for vegetarians. Anyway, by now, half the village were in our garden to see the piggy spectacle. Children giggled with excitement, while some of the villagers tried to lure the pigs into an unmarked van with rashers of bacon. I got the sense this was definitely not kosher.

But you know what, our garden was the perfect sanctuary for these runaway pigs, who were having the time of their lives in their own little garden of Eden. In fact, historians said that animals enjoyed a ‘paradise’ in the Muslim world, where trusts were set up especially for sick and vulnerable creatures. Like in Cairo, a few centuries ago, where bread and water foundations were sorted out for stray dogs. And in Damascus, there was an area for disabled animals to live out the rest of their lives in peace and dignity.

This was all inspired by Prophet Muhammad, who was really big on treating animals well. He said that “A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being.” Once, when the call to prayer went off and his favourite cat was napping peacefully on his cloak, he cut off a portion of cloth from around the sleeping cat rather than disturb her. Sweet. So, seeing how important animal welfare is for me as a Muslim and as a Brit, my garden was the safest bet for those two black pigs to find refuge in. It’s like they knew they’d save their bacon with the Muslims.