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What a free-thinking medieval Muslim can teach us about animal welfare

Exactly 1,000 years after the appearance of al-Maʿarri’s “The Epistle of the Horse and the Mule,” the work of the vegan poet still resonates

By Kevin Blankinship  
Arab warriors fighting on horseback in a 12th-century manuscript. Credit: Alamy

Arab warriors fighting on horseback in a 12th-century manuscript. Credit: Alamy

Two things happened in March that revealed the challenge of squaring rival views on how we treat animals. On Friday 12th March, the Animal Welfare Bill, under which animal abusers could face up to five years in prison, was passed by the House of Commons. A week later in India, despite Covid-19 restrictions, Hindu Shakti worshippers entered the holy Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple and slaughtered roosters in defiance of a 1968 ban on religious animal sacrifice. One law protecting animals was put forward out of compassion; another such law was broken for the sake of religious freedom. Between the two,…

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