He laid out the Earth for all beings. (55:10)
The Prophet Muhammad said: “A good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being” (Mishkat al-Masabih)
The Companions said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “There is a reward for serving any living being.” (Bukhari)
A group of Companions were once on a journey with the Prophet (peace be upon), and he left them for a while. During his absence, they saw a bird with its two young, and they took the young ones from the nest. The mother bird was circling above in the air, beating its wings in grief, when the Prophet came back. He said, “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its young? Return them to her.” (Muslim)
It is impossible to fully remove ourselves from the damage of our lifestyle unless we entirely forfeit it. However, this is beyond the capabilities of most of us, since we are unaccustomed to living as humans did in nature, so what we can do is to change our lifestyles as much as we are able to, keeping in mind the consequences.
Since meat has been made halal for us, Muslims are major consumers of animal products excluding pork. At the same time, keeping in mind the exhortations to a compassionate life, as well as keeping in mind the necessity of eating meat in the desert that was the context in which the Quran was revealed, we must reflect on whether we should do something simply because it is allowed. The meat industry is a major contributor to the environmental damage currently being inflicted, and even during the time of the Sahabah, meat was a luxury, not something to be indulged in weekly or daily. We must all be conscious of our choice to eat meat if we can afford not to, and whether our consumption justifies the inevitable suffering an animal goes through as it is bled to death.
Apart from dietary considerations, how can we live our lives with more compassion and responsibility? Islam teaches us to give in charity if we can, and certainly, donating to environmental charities as well as writing to our political representatives and using our voting power will go some away in making things right:
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity” (Tirmidhi)