In recent years, the trend towards vegetarianism has begun to spread. It has not spared the Muslims. So what is behind these mysterious words – “vegetarianism” and “veganism” – and how do they relate to Islam?
What is Vegetarianism and Veganism?
Vegetarianism is the refusal to eat animal products (full or partial). Most often it is practiced for the sake of health (sometimes-for religious reasons). Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes the use of products associated with the exploitation and killing of animals. People most often use it for ethical reasons.
Here are some of the reasons why people become vegans:
- Ethical reasons-vegans believe that they reduce the suffering of animals from modern industrial animal husbandry;
- Maintaining and/or improving health;
- Allergy to or rejection of animal products by the body;
- Vegans refuse milk and dairy products due to the fact that in modern industrial animal husbandry, owners keep their cows in captivity for life. In addition, constant milking, according to vegans, is not a normal mode for a cow;
- Vegans do not use fur and natural leather products. They are against hunting for fur – bearing animals and even less humane, in their opinion, option-breeding animals in poor conditions on animal farms and subsequent killing.
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
The superiority of Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. meat and bread dish) to other meals.
(Sahih al-Bukhari) Book 60, Hadith 104
At first glance, it seems that this hadith speaks only of the high status of the Mother of the faithful. However, it also follows that it turns out that the Prophet highly valued meat in comparison with other foods. On the other hand, vegetarians will like the hadith narrated by Yahya, in which the Prophet (PBUH) says:
Beware of meat. You get used to it the same way you get used to wine.
This hadith says that excessive consumption of meat can harm the organism and even cause addiction.
Can Muslims Be Vegetarian?
It is also no secret that vegetarian Muslims often try to hide from others the fact that they eat only vegetable food. Naturally, the question arises: is Islam compatible with vegetarianism or veganism?
Meat of permitted types of animals slaughtered properly (Halal) is allowed to be eaten. Therefore, many conservative-minded Muslims believe that denying what is permitted by Allah distorts the divine precepts, is Haram.
Biographers of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) say that he ate meat in minimal quantities, preferred mostly vegetable food, liked fresh and sour milk with the addition of butter and nuts, dates and cucumbers. He willingly ate his favorite fruits – figs, pomegranates, grapes. One of the favorite dishes of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) is khis, which consists of a mixture of butter or olive oil, dates, sour milk, adding cheese, barley flour, seasonings and black pepper.
Choosing to be a vegetarian, or even a vegan, does not compromise the Islamic faith.
What Do Theologians Say?
According to most theologians, a Muslim can adhere to the principles of vegetarianism for health reasons or because of their own reluctance to eat certain foods. However, he should not set vegetarianism as an end in itself, and even more so – to encourage other people to do it.
Although there are examples of some Sufi vegetarian Muslims: Sheikh Ismail, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizammuddin Auliya. But they not only refused to eat meat, but also generally led a modest lifestyle, ate simple food in minimal quantities, and did not preach the rejection of meat food mandatory for all Muslims.
Thus, Muslims, without refusing to eat food of animal origin, still adhere to the traditions of humanism and caring attitude to animals, following the will of Allah and accepting His Mercy.