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Is a Muslim Allowed to be a Vegetarian

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org

Answered by Shaykh Omar Subedar


Are Muslims allowed to be vegetarians?


A vegetarian is defined as a person who;

  1. does not eat or
  2. does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc. [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vegetarian]

If a person simply refrains from eating meat, fish and fowl products etc. based on his or her personal choice then there is really nothing wrong with this, as consuming these products is not mandatory in Islam.

On the other hand if a person makes this restriction a belief of his by prohibiting these products upon himself, then this is an unacceptable and reprehensible act in Islamic law (shari’ah). No one has the authority to forbid what Allāh has permitted. Allāh has declared,

Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allāh which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know.” [7:32]

In another verse He instructs,

 “And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” to invent falsehood about Allāh. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about Allāh will not succeed.” [16:116]

Even the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not have the authority to introduce religious prohibitions on his own behalf, rather in one incident he was admonished by Allāh for simply restricting honey upon himself.

`Ä’isha رضى الله عنها reported, “The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would remain by Zainab bint Jaĥsh [a bit longer than in other homes] and would drink some honey she had. Consequently Hafsa and I advised one another, “Which ever one of us the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم comes to she should say, “I smell the odour of coccids coming from you. Did you consume some coccids?”

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم later came by one of them and they expressed these words to him. He responded, “There’s nothing to be worried about. I drank some honey by Zainab bint Jaĥsh and from now on I shall never drink it again.”

Upon this Allāh revealed,

O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allāh has made lawful for you…” [66:1]

And Allāh Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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