Vegetarianism in Islam

BY: Hare Krishna Turkey

Jul 18, TURKEY (SUN)

According to the Holy Qur’an, there are two ways of advancement - through increasing the propensity to enjoy and decreasing the propensity to enjoy. On the path of decreasing attachment, the killing of animals is not recommended.

In the Holy Qur’an we can find following ayats: “Beautified for mankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring, and stored-up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark), and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of the world. Allah! With Him is a more excellent abode.

Say: Shall I inform you of something better than that? For the righteous are Gardens in nearness to their Lord with rivers flowing beneath. Therein is their eternal home with pure companions and the good pleasure of Allah. Allah is Seer of His servants.” (3.14-15)

“Some of you desired the world, and some of you desired the Hereafter.” (3.152) Thus the Holy Qur’an described two class of people: 1. Those who are attached to sense gratification and desire of the heavenly enjoyment; and 2. Those who renounce everything and strive for the love of God.

For the general masses of people who are still unable to control their senses (tongue) provision for eating meat has been granted but it is not recommended so rules and regulations exist to slowly help one give up such bad habit (taste). But for those who desire the highest perfection of life, love of God, meat eating is forbidden.

For example, we can find the following ayats in the Holy Qur’an:

“Forbidden to you (for food) are meat of dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah; and the dead through beating; that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.” (5.3)

Thus we can understand from this verse of the Holy Qur’an that not every meat is permitted to eat. Only meat of an animal which is expressly killed for food with the Takbir, or the solemn mode of slaughter (zabh) in the name of Allah duly pronounced on it. This means that killing animals for food is a personal affair. It does not suggest opening slaughterhouses and killing hundreds of thousands of animals in an organized way, everyday. Those who want to eat meat, should do this the proper way individually, because everyone needs to take responsibility for his own actions. On the Day of Judgment, all dead creatures will come to life and will take vengeance on those who had either teased them or killed them. This concession is given by Allah to those who cannot restrain from meat eating. By eating halal, lawful meat they will gradually subdue their passion and give up meat eating. This will help to develop fine spiritual sentiments, namely love for Allah.

Besides this it is mentioned in sura “Al-Ma’ida” that within the limits of Mecca, most holy place, slaughtering of animals is prohibited:

“Animals of the chase are forbidden while you are in the Sacred Precincts or in the state of pilgrimage.” (5.1)

This means that hunting and the use of game are forbidden “while you are hurumun,” i.e., while you are

1. in the Sacred Precincts, Mecca or
2. in the special pilgrimage garb (ihram).

It is also explained in the sura “Al-Ma’ida” that:

“O you who believe! Kill not game while in the Sacred Precincts or in the state of pilgrimage. If any of you does so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka’ba, of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed. As adjudged by two just men among you; or by way of atonement, the feeding of the poor persons; or its equivalent in fasts: that he may taste of the penalty of his deed. Allah forgives what has past; but for repetition Allah will punish him for Allah is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution.” (5.95)

This means that if someone kills an animal inadvertently within the limits of Mecca, one should then leave one of his pet animals there. In case one has no pet animals, one should give in charity food equivalent in value to the price of the killed animal. Otherwise the offender must fast as many days as the number of the poor who would have been fed under the second alternative. Thus killing animals is a sin and therefore, it is prohibited in a holy place like Mecca.

In sura “As-Saffat” of the Holy Qur’an there are following narration:

“He (Ibrahim) said: ‘I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me! O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!’
So We gave him the good news of forbearing son.
Then, when (his son) was old enough to work with him, (Ibrahim) said: ‘O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. Now see what is your view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah so wills one of the steadfast.’ So when they both submitted (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),
We called out to him, ‘O Ibrahim!
You has already fulfilled the dream!’ Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.
For this was a clear test.
Then we ransomed him with a tremendous victim.
And We left for him among generations (to come) in later times:
‘Peace and salutation to Ibrahim!’” (37.99-109)

Thus Ibrahim (Abraham) was born in Ur of the Chaldees, a place on the lower reaches of the Euphrates, not a hundred miles from the Persian Gulf. Where the worship of the sun, moon and stars was the prevailing form of religion. Ibrahim revolted against this quite early in life. They also had deities in their temples, which probably represented heavenly bodies and celestial winged creatures. He was still a youth when he broke the false deities. After this he was marked down as a rebel and persecuted. He was thrown into the fire. But the fire became cool by the order of Allah and Ibrahim was saved. Then he left his ancestral lands, and avoiding the Syrian desert, came to the fertile lands of Aram or Syria. This was the Hijrat (Flight) of Ibrahim. He left his people and his land, because the Truth was dearer to him than the ancestral falsehoods of his people. He trusted himself to Allah, and under Allah’s guidance he laid the foundations for great people.

This was in the fertile land of Syria and Palestine when a boy was born, the first-born son of Ibrahim, namely Ismail. The name itself is from the root Sami’a, to hear, because Allah had heard Ibrahim’s prayer (The Qur’an. 37.100). Ibrahim’s age when Ismail was born from his maidservant Hajar was 86 (Gen. 16.16). The boy’s character was to be Halim, “forbearing”. This title is also applied to Ibrahim (The Qur’an. 9.114; 11.75). It refers to the patient way in which both father and son cheerfully offered to suffer any self-sacrifice in order to obey the command of Allah.

Once, after Ismail had grown up to the age of discretion, Ibrahim had a dream that he now had to offer his only son in sacrifice. The command was conveyed to him via a dream. It was a test of the devotion for both father and son. Ibrahim consulted his son. The son readily consented, and offered to stand true to his promis if his self-sacrifice was really required. Actually, the trial and sacrifice was demanded of both Ibrahim and Ismail. Ibrahim had to sacrifice his only dearmost son and Ismail had to sacrifice his dear life. Finally this sacrifice was about to take place in the valley of Mina, six miles north of Mecca. Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his son but his hand did not act. Then he covered his eyes with cloth took a knife in his hand, and tried to kill Ismail. But at that moment Allah replaced Ismail with a fine sheep or ram. So there was a ram instead of his son. Thus the son was saved and the ram was sacrificed (some scholars say that the ram was also saved).

Since that day, the ‘Id Day or Day of Sacrifice came into practice. On this day in the valley of Mina, six miles north of Mecca, a commemoration sacrifice is annually celebrated as a rite of the Hajj on the tenth of Zul-Hijjah in Memory of this Sacrifice of Ibrahim and Ismail. This festival is also celebrated by all Muslims around the world. Hundreds of thousands of animals are annually slaughtered on this day. But let us carefully consider what was the main object of Allah’s teaching on that occasion. Did Allah ask for Ibrahim’s dearmost thing or did He ask for a ram. If Allah-Taala had liked a ram, He would have asked the ram itself. But merely to examine the devotion of Ibrahim and Ismail, He had ordered this sacrifice to test them both, and to save the son of Ibrahim, He had replaced a ram for Ismail. Now, just think carefully, to try to please Allah-Taala, instead of dedicating one’s dearmost object, to kill a ram is how justifiable?

This whole event is symbolical. As it is proclaimed in the Holy Qur’an:

“It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (22.37) Thus Allah does not require the flesh and blood of animals, much less of human beings. No one should suppose that meat or blood is acceptable to God. It was a Pagan fancy that Allah could be pleased by blood sacrifice. But Allah does accept the offering of our hearts. Allah does not delight in flesh and blood. But He does desire the giving of our whole being to Allah, the practical symbol of which is that we should give up something which is very dear to us, if duty requires that sacrifice. It was indeed a great occasion, when two men, the father and the son, showed the example of self-sacrifice in the service of Allah which is needed to qualify one for the supreme goal of life. This example made it clear that the only sacrifice which God requires from man is the Surrender of his will and purpose - i.e. Al-Islam.

Actually qurban, the animal slaughtering process ordained for Muslims, have an esoteric and exoteric meaning. While qurban externally refers only to Muslim dietary laws, inwardly qurban requires that we sacrifice our life to the devotion and service of God, and that we sacrifice our beastly qualities instead of the life of an animal. “Qurban is not slaughtering chickens and cows and goats,” explains Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. “There are four hundred trillion, ten thousand beasts here in the heart which must be slaughtered. They must be slaughtered in the qalb [the inner heart]. After these things have been slaughtered, what is eaten can then be distinguished as either halal [permissible] or haram [forbidden].” Ultimately, the great ustad [preceptor] concludes, “everything that is seen in the world is haram. What is seen in Allah [God] alone is halal. Please eat that.” (M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Asma’ ul-Husna: The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah, 1979, p. 181)

In the traditional qurban, the prayer known as the Kalimah is recited to remove the baser qualities of the animal. The recitation of the powerful Third Kalimah will not only purify the animal slaughtered for consumption, but also all those involved with the sacrifice, so that they will no longer want to slaughter animals. This will only work, however, if the prayer is said with pure devotion.

For the remainder of this lengthy article, please visit the 'Comparison of Major Religions' section of


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