In the world of Green Muslims, the debate on vegetarianism can get quite heated. Some Green Muslims says that it’s just plain wrong, others say moderation is the way, some argue that it’s a personal decision whilst others say its part of getting closer to god and his creations.
The debate was recently ignited by Joseph Mayton of Bikya Masr who published an article boldly claiming that ‘Eating Less Meat is More Islamic’. Well is it?
Mayton argues that historically Muslims would have consumed meat very rarely and also that the Prophet Muhammed warned against excessive consumption stating that it was as addictive as alcohol. Mayton also cites the importance of animal rights in Islam as well as the opinion of Gamal al-Banna, a prominent Islamic scholar who states that being a vegetarian and Muslim does not break any tradition and is in no way un-Islamic.
All very valid points, but in an piece on Green Prophet Zaufishan argues that “For Muslims eating meat in small proportions is “halal” (lawful) and a blessing from God. “ She states that it’s more important to eat “halal” and eat balanced, which includes meat . However, moderation is key and she notes that “as an eco Muslim and semi-vegetarian (I only eat meat on weekdays) stand in the middle ground that if you are able to eat to your social status do so, but do not order an extra double cheese burger as dessert when there’s a hungry population in your country.”
So moderation is what Zaufishan promotes and also the importance of personal and social choice.
Well, Rianne ten Veen of ’99 ways to please god‘ wrote to me asking why vegetarianism is seen as a personal choice but not a religious one- especially when we know that much of halal meat is factory-farmed.
“In the Quran halal is ALWAYS followed by ‘tayyeb’ (wholesome) and we know the religious guidance on animal care/ rights… Eating factory farmed meat with animals not allowed to behave in their ‘fitra’ natural way (move, eat their natural food etc), fill us with hormones indirectly, for me brings it most close to ‘haram’! And then we have the guidance on not wasting (eating too much), the principle of ‘la darar’ (do no harm) and with what we know on logging for plantations, waste of intensive farms.”
I think Rianne makes some really important points about the importance of making sure our meat is halal, the problematic nature of factory-farming and why going vegetarian is not such a bad idea. Even so, I see the problems of stating that Islam promotes vegetarianism as it simply does not. But what it does promote is moderation and I think that is a message that we can all agree on.
What do you think? Are Islam and Vegetarianism compatible?