Was the Prophet (ﷺ) a vegetarian or vegan?

 

There are some that have the inclination to try and depict the latest trend, fashion or fad as being something that was “originally Islamic” to begin with.  Some do so quite innocently, others sincerely looking to incorporate this into the arsenal of points to show that Islam is indeed the correct path for mankind to follow.  Yet there are some which have a very sinister agenda.  Last year we witnessed this after governments around the world began imposing the totalitarian twins of evil: muzzles and physical distancing.  Some tried to argue that Islam had already sanctioned the idea of ‘social distancing,’ drawing false analogies utilising weak adith.  Others, albeit a tiny minority, went even further – fabricating words which were then attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).  This is spite of the dire warning that has been issued about doing this – as recorded in the resolutely authentic tradition found in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

وحدثنا محمد بن عبيد الغبري حدثنا أبو عوانة عن أبي حصين عن أبي صالح عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار

And Muḥammad ibn ‘Ubaid al-Ghubary narrated to us Abu ‘Awānah narrated to us from Abi Haṣin from Abu Ṣāliḥ from Abu Hurayrah, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:

Whoever lies about me intentionally, then let him take his seat in the fire.

Another trend that has been gaining increasing momentum relates to that of vegetarianism and veganism.  The line often produced is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a vegetarian, a semi-vegetarian, a vegan; partly vegan, and the like.  Often this has been popularised by celebrity speakers who try to rely upon their own weight of words to advance the point, rather than actually providing cogent evidence to support their claim.  Elsewhere, the following statement attributed to Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb is quoted, as it is recorded in the Muwaṭṭā’ of Imām Mālik:

وحدثني عن مالك عن يحيى بن سعيد أن عمر بن الخطاب قال إياكم واللحم فإن له ضراوة كضراوة الخمر

And (Yaḥya) narrated to me from Mālik from Yaḥya ibn Sa’eed that Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb had said: ‘Beware of meat. It has addictiveness like the addictiveness of wine.’

Yet this statement is false because the line of reporting here is in fact broken.  Yaḥya ibn Sa’eed is ‘thiqa thabt’ – resolutely trustworthy, but he did not meet or hear from Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, in fact being born well after Umar had died.  Even if the statement were purportedly true, it carries no legally binding weight.  The other statement often used in this regard attributes the following words to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): ‘Meat is the food of kings,’ or ‘Meat is the aristocrat of food.’  Alarm bells should always sound where such a statement is attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) without an isnād, missing the name of the companion narrator who purportedly heard it, and where it is recorded in the corpus of adith.  Most likely it would appear to be an outright fabrication.

There are several aspects to deconstructing this promotion of vegetarianism or veganism.  One of which, is borne of a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal status of Prophetic acts arising from the Sunnah.  The other, is far more insidious.

Prophetic acts

It is natural for the believers, men and women, to express love for the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him).  Such love is a crucial component of al-‘Imān (faith, belief).  As we are reminded in the famous authentic tradition in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim:

حدثنا محمد بن المثنى وابن بشار قالا حدثنا محمد بن جعفر حدثنا شعبة قال سمعت قتادة يحدث عن أنس بن مالك قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يؤمن أحدكم حتى أكون أحب إليه من ولده ووالده والناس أجمعين

Muḥammad ibn al-Muthana and Ibn Bashār narrated to us, they said Muḥammad ibn Ja’far narrated to us Shu’ba narrated to us, he said I heard Qatādah narrate from Anas ibn Mālik, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:

None of you (truly) believes until I am considered dearer to him than his child, his father and the whole of mankind.

That love manifests in wanting to emulate the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as much as possible.  Indeed, as explicitly set out in the Qur’ānic text [33: 21], the Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is designated as the ‘uswatun ḥasana the best example or exemplar. Accompanying this though are several crucial legal points.  Firstly, that he (peace and blessings be upon him) will never perform a matter that is prohibited for his Ummah and neither will he leave that which has been made obligatory either.  Secondly, he (peace and blessings be upon him) doesn’t speak of his own desire, rather it is from a revelation that is sent-down to him [Qur’ān, 53: 4/11].  His authentically reported speech, actions and approvals (including acknowledgments) all constitute legal proof as the Prophetic Sunnah.  These fundamental principles and maxims are lucidly set out in several chapters of Kitāb al-Taweed.

Yet those promoting vegetarianism or veganism are not seeking to explicitly emulate what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ate, deciphering as such from the authentic corpus of Prophetic Sunnah, but rather to argue that his diet was that tending toward vegetarianism or veganism and there is a sinister political agenda that accompanies this.  However, we can find no authentic text to substantiate this posturing.  Neither can we discern that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advocated eating a particular diet devoid of meat or a diet to the exclusion of others.  Moreover, it is not established from the corpus of the authentic Prophetic aādith anywhere that he censured those around him for eating meat.  Delivering the message was incumbent upon the Messenger and if there was something in this regard specified in revelation, it should have been stated.  As the following adith from Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhāri clearly shows:

حدثنا إسماعيل حدثني مالك عن أبي الزناد عن الأعرج عن أبي هريرة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: دعوني ما تركتكم: إنما أهلك من كان قبلكم سؤالهم، واختلافهم على أنبيائهم، فإذا نهيتكم عن شيء فاجتنبوه وإذا أمرتكم بأمر فأتوا منه ما استطعتم

Ismā’il narrated to us Mālik narrated to me from Abi Zinād from al-‘Araj from Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said:

Leave me as I leave you for the people who were before you were ruined because of their questions and their differences over their Prophets. So, if I forbid you to do something, then keep away from it. And if I order you to do something, then do of it as much as you can.

What we can discern is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ate from the ḥalāl what was available to him in Arabia at the time.  Naturally, he (peace and blessings be upon him) had preferences of taste, as do all human beings.  There is no harm if one out of genuine love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wants to emulate him in that regard too by eating the foods that he liked.  However, the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t eat certain foods isn’t necessarily indicative of that being discouraged.  For example, we have no evidence whatsoever to show that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ever ate venison, salmon, potatoes, avocado, asparagus, nor that he ever drank tea or coffee.  Does that imply that these items are discouraged or prohibited?  Of course not.  Certain foods may not have been available in Arabia at that time.   But the the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to all of mankind, not just to the Arabs or Arabia.  The revelation he brought, the final revelation sent to mankind – and it is complete.  There are no legal gaps or lacuna.

ونزلنا عليك الكتاب تبيانا لكل شيء وهدى ورحمة وبشرى للمسلمين

We have sent down to you the dhikr explaining clearly everything, as guidance, mercy and good news to those who devote themselves to Allah.

 [Qur’ān, 16: 89]

Delineating the lawful and unlawful

What constitutes the ‘lawful’ in Islam is what Allah the exalted has decreed as being lawful by His exclusive legislative command.  Matters that are ‘prohibited’ are to be judged in the same way.  Allah has synchronised the final Sharī’ah to make lawful (ḥalāl) everything that is deemed to be good (ṭayib) and prohibited everything that is impure or malignant (khabeeth) as well as that which is deemed obscene.  The legal point being, is that the final Sharī’ah has a synchronicity which wasn’t the case for earlier recipients of revelation, notably, the Children of Israel.

ولا يشرك في حكمه أحدا

And He doesn’t share His legislative command with anyone

[Qur’ān, 18: 26]

Nothing can dictate to Allah the exalted, as His sovereignty is absolute.  He has the exclusive right of legislative command, without any limit, except that which He places upon himself.  By His will, He can create something within the universe deemed to be good (ṭayib) in and of itself, yet deem that very same thing to be unlawful (ḥarām) as part of a given Sharī’ah – for whatever considerations that He may decide.  Similarly, He is fully able to keep the law (ḥukm Sharī’) silent in relation to matters which are from amongst the impure or malignant (khabā’ith), thereby not explicitly censuring them. He is fully conversant with what is good in and of itself and what is impure or malignant in and of itself.  One may peruse the relevant chapter from the book of Tawḥeed here, which covers these matters in exhaustive detail.

Several Qur’ānic verses provide the foundation to these points, some of which are following:

الذين يتبعون الرسول النبي الأمي الذي يجدونه مكتوبا عندهم في التوراة والإنجيل يأمرهم بالمعروف وينهاهم عن المنكر ويحل لهم الطيبات ويحرم عليهم الخبائث ويضع عنهم إصرهم والأغلال التي كانت عليهم فالذين آمنوا به وعزروه ونصروه واتبعوا النور الذي أنزل معه أولئك هم المفلحون

Those who follow the Messenger– the unlettered Prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel– who commands them to do right and forbids them to do wrong, who makes good things lawful to them and bad things unlawful, and relieves them of their burdens, and the iron collars that were on them. So, it is those who believe him, honour and help him, and who follow the light which has been sent down with him, who will succeed.

[Qur’ān, 7: 157]

يسألونك ماذا أحل لهم قل أحل لكم الطيبات وما علمتم من الجوارح مكلبين تعلمونهن مما علمكم الله فكلوا مما أمسكن عليكم واذكروا اسم الله عليه واتقوا الله إن الله سريع الحساب

They ask you, Prophet, what is lawful for them. Say: All good things are lawful for you[This includes] what you have taught your birds and beasts of prey to catch, teaching them as God has taught you, so eat what they catch for you, but first pronounce Allah’s name over it.  Be mindful of Allah: He is swift to take account

حرمت عليكم الميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير وما أهل لغير الله به والمنخنقة والموقوذة والمتردية والنطيحة وما أكل السبع إلا ما ذكيتم وما ذبح على النصب وأن تستقسموا بالأزلام ذلكم فسق اليوم يئس الذين كفروا من دينكم فلا تخشوهم واخشون اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا فمن اضطر في مخمصة غير متجانف لإثم فإن الله غفور رحيم

You are forbidden to eat carrion; blood; pig’s meat; any animal over which any name other than Allah’s has been invoked; any animal strangled, or victim of a violent blow or a fall, or gored or savaged by a beast of prey, unless you still slaughter it [in the correct manner]; or anything sacrificed on idolatrous altars. You are also forbidden to allot shares [of meat] by drawing marked arrows – a heinous practice– today the disbelievers have lost all hope that you will give up your Deen. Do not fear them: fear Me. Today I have perfected your Deen for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen as your Deen as Islam; but if any of you is forced by hunger to eat forbidden food, with no intention of doing wrong, then Allah is most forgiving and merciful

اليوم أحل لكم الطيبات وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them.

[Qur’ān, 5: 3/5]

Regarding the permitted livestock, the next set of verses provide explicit clarification that this has been provided to us as a food source.  It appears in a beautiful passage in the Qur’ān that is worth taking the time to seriously pondering over.

قد خسر الذين قتلوا أولادهم سفها بغير علم وحرموا ما رزقهم الله افتراء على الله قد ضلوا وما كانوا مهتدين

وهو الذي أنشأ جنات معروشات وغير معروشات والنخل والزرع مختلفا أكله والزيتون والرمان متشابها وغير متشابه كلوا من ثمره إذا أثمر وآتوا حقه يوم حصاده ولا تسرفوا إنه لا يحب المسرفين

ومن الأنعام حمولة وفرشا كلوا مما رزقكم الله ولا تتبعوا خطوات الشيطان إنه لكم عدو مبين

Lost indeed are those who kill their own children out of folly, with no basis in knowledge, forbidding what Allah has provided for them, fabricating lies against Him: they have gone far astray and have heeded no guidance

It is He who produces both trellised and untrellised gardens, date palms, crops of diverse flavours, the olive, the pomegranate, alike yet different. So, when they bear fruit, eat some of it, paying what is due on the day of harvest, but do not be wasteful: Allah does not like wasteful people

[He gave you] livestock, as beasts of burden and as food. So, eat what Allah has provided for you and do not follow in Satan’s footsteps: he is your sworn enemy.

[Qur’ān, 6: 140/142]

Allah, creator of all existence, exalted and majestic, has granted us all these immeasurable bounties. He has declared what is the lawful as well as the unlawful, and He, the exalted, categorically declares that livestock is provided for us as food.  Who do those from the creation think that they are, that their posturing somehow trumps what Allah has decreed?

Rise of the fascist biosecurity state 

A notable characterisation of the current anti-meat movement, be that vegetarian or vegan, has been the accompanying virtue signalling of its adherents.    That somehow through their lifestyle adoption they are ethically or even morally superior to others.  Those choosing to consume meat are not just adopting a bad lifestyle choice, but they are morally wicked.  Not surprisingly this is eerily reminiscent of the theories promoted by the fascists of the 1930s/40s.  Indeed, the sinister World Economic Forum (WEF) has adopted this position too, with the notion that eating meat should be ‘solved’ as being a form of disease that must be ‘cured.’  Now, that has been taken one step further, with the idea being pushed that consumption of meat / cattle farming is somehow causing ‘climate change.’

Servant of the Dajjāl, the megalomaniac Bill Gates has placed himself and his network of operatives to the task of pushing this agenda.  Not only is he seeking to create ‘synthetic’ meat, but together with others, to control food production and simultaneously seeking to lower world population levels.  They further seek to harness all manner of gene editing and geoengineering to achieve their aims, even if it results in starvation, displacement and war.  The insidious ‘white man’s burden’ of the 19th century has given way to the 21st century billionaire dictators; driven to engineer a totalitarian world in which most of humanity is reduced to no more than mere slaves, while they view themselves as the (false) messiah.

Yet the push against the consumption and farming of meat is not isolated to just this, but is another facet of a far greater reaching set of policies designed to entrench oppression the world over.  Under the guise of a mass deprivation of liberty (lockdown), the elites are driving through what they dub as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the ‘great’ digital reset.  With this recasting of the economy and society, they desire to impose a nightmare scenario upon humanity.  A digital surveillance tyranny, where even the very idea of bodily autonomy is rendered obsolete under the all-encompassing biosecurity state.  We have already witnessed these policies resulting in the greatest transfer of wealth in human history with millions being plunged into poverty, their assets lost, their ability to even work prevented.

Return to sanity

Without grounding in the final revelation sent to mankind, we would all be lost; adrift in sea of confusion, bombarded with all manner of false narratives.  It is only through clinging to that final revelation, the Qur’ān and the Prophetic Sunnah, will we be able to navigate these troubled oceans, which at any moment could consume each of us.  To some, the issue discussed here may seem trivial.  But when placed in the wider context of the policy machinations of megalomaniacs, it is truly sinister.  The role of the believers, men and women, is to call mankind to Islam; to enjoin the good, to forbid the evil, and stand firm as witnesses for justice.  Falling prey to policy agenda of psychopaths doesn’t lead to salvation, it is treading in the footsteps of Shayṭān, which will damn us in this life and the hereafter.

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