Halal and Tayyib in the Here and NowBismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim
The Prophets Ate Meat
Nomadic peoples of the deserts usually eat meat—there is very little else to eat there. In historical and geographic situations where eating meat is essential for survival, revelations have been given to regulate and mitigate that behavior. But for most of the world’s people, in very different environmental circumstances than the Prophets of the ancient desert religions found themselves, meat production means industrial meat production. And these industrial practices are haram (Islamically unlawful) not only because they are so barbaric and cruel, but also because they lead directly to environmental degradation and destruction on a massive scale (including the mass cutting of trees—specifically forbidden in the Qur’an—and the near-total disappearance of entire forests on practically every continent).
“There is a reward (ajr) for helping any living creature.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
“It is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power.” (Muslim)
“The worst of shepherds is the ungentle, who causes the beasts to crush or bruise one another.” (Muslim)
“You will not have secure faith until you love one another and have mercy on those who live upon the earth.” (Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud)
“Fear God in these mute animals, and ride them when they are fit to be ridden, and let them go free when … they [need to] rest.” (Abu Dawud)
“There is no man who kills a sparrow or anything beyond that, without its deserving it, but God will ask him about it.” (Ahmad and al-Nasai)
“The grievous things are: shirk (polytheism); disobedience to parents; the killing of breathing beings …” (Bukhari and Muslim)
“May god curse anyone who maims animals.” (ibn al-Athir)
“Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself.” vi
It could not be clearer that the current system of industrial agriculture, particularly animal agriculture, is totally un-Islamic and deeply contrary to the letter and the spirit of Islam.
What Can I Do?
We must also be willing to try to look with our “deep intelligence” at the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah (example) of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We do ourselves a disservice if we do not strive to avail ourselves of the vast range of meanings housed within the outside forms. What was Rasulullah’s (the Prophet of God’s) deep Sunnah, his heart practice? What was the example he offered through and beyond the outward practices dictated by the time and place that he lived? What was appropriate there and then, and what is appropriate here and now?
Many Muslims who believe that, practically speaking, there is no meat available that is both halal and tayyib choose to eliminate it from their diets entirely. Some choose to simply cut down on their meat consumption. Some who can afford the cost choose to eat only certified organic halal meat. Others continue to eat meat occasionally, but no longer use it as a staple food. Some, of course, choose to make no changes. Others find other solutions. We must necessarily each arrive at our own answer to the problem. The point is not for us to determine what is eternally “right” or “wrong” and to subjugate others to our way of thinking. The point is to live consciously and intentionally—to walk on the path of continual, voluntary self-surrender, for this is what it means to be in Islam. First for the Creator, then for our own spiritual development, for the good of the beings we share this world with, and for the continued health of this delicate world itself.
I ask Allah and my gentle readers to pardon me for any errors. Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or for details on any of my sources or citations.
Love, Peace, Mercy, Justice, and Freedom
“The real criterion of man’s superiority in Islamic thought lies in his spiritual volition, called taqwa, in the Qur`an. This spiritual power bestows on humans a greater measure of balance between their conscious and unconscious minds, thus enabling them to make the best use of their freedom. They are considered the best of God’s creation only because of this difference. Without the proper exercise of this power, our (claim to) superiority would be groundless.”
Further Reading and Other Resources
www.islamicconcerns.com—Qur’an, hadith, and many links to other sites and articles including helpful tips on meat alternatives
iDena Jones, Crimes Unseen, Orion, July/August 2004.
Halal Living l
Islamic Concerns l
News and Resources l
Sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.