Can a Person Prohibit Himself From Eating Meat?
Many vegetarians believe that it is prohibited to eat meat. This belief originates from Hinduism. Imam Ibn ul-Jawzi rahimahullah said:
As for them not eating meat, then this is from the mathhab of the Brahmans who do not believe in slaughtering animals. Allah, the Exalted knows best the benefits of the body, so He made permissible meat to strengthen the body. So eating meat gives strength and leaving it off weakens the body and spoils the character. The Messenger sallahu alayhi wa salam used to eat meat and he loved the forearm of the sheep. He entered one day and some food was presented from the food of the house. So he said:
أَلَمْ أَرَ الْبُرْمَةَ فِيهَا لَحْمٌ
Don’t I see the pot containing meat?
[Bukhari no. 5279]
Hasan al-Basri used to buy meat everyday. So like this were the Salaf except there was among them poor people. So they would stay away from meat due to poverty. As for one who prevents desires from himself, then this in general is not correct”.
[Talbees Iblis (1/260)]
No one is allowed to make impermissible the good things Allah made permissible for us. Allah says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تحرموا طيبات ما أحل الله لكم
O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful to you.
This is because Allah created some animals to be eaten. He said, the Exalted:
اللَّهُ الَّذِى جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الاٌّنْعَـمَ لِتَرْكَـبُواْ مِنْهَا وَمِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ
Allah, it is He Who has made cattle for you, that you may ride on some of them and of some you eat
The Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam did not allow people to leave off meat as a means to draw near to Allah:
عَنْ أَنَسٍ، أَنَّ نَفَرًا، مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم سَأَلُوا أَزْوَاجَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ عَمَلِهِ فِي السِّرِّ فَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ لاَ أَتَزَوَّجُ النِّسَاءَ . وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ لاَ آكُلُ اللَّحْمَ . وَقَالَ بَعْضُهُمْ لاَ أَنَامُ عَلَى فِرَاشٍ . فَحَمِدَ اللَّهَ وَأَثْنَى عَلَيْهِ . فَقَالَ “ مَا بَالُ أَقْوَامٍ قَالُوا كَذَا وَكَذَا لَكِنِّي أُصَلِّي وَأَنَامُ وَأَصُومُ وَأُفْطِرُ وَأَتَزَوَّجُ النِّسَاءَ فَمَنْ رَغِبَ عَنْ سُنَّتِي فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي
Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reported that some of the Companions of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) asked his (the Prophet’s) wives about the acts that he performed in private. Someone among them (among his Companions) said:
I will not marry women; someone among them said: I will not eat meat; and someone among them said: I will not lie down in bed. He (the Holy Prophet) praised Allah and glorified Him, and said: What has happened to these people that they say so and so, whereas I observe prayer and sleep too; I observe fast and suspend observing them; I marry women also? And he who turns away from my Sunnah, he has no relation with Me.
[Saheeh Muslim no. 1401]
And there was a Companion (may Allah be pleased with him) named Abu Lahm who did not use to eat meat.
قال أبو داود : وقال أبو عبيد : كان حرم اللحم على نفسه فسمي: آبي اللحم
Abu Dawood said: Abu Ubaid said: He made meat unlawful for himself so he as named: Abu Lahm
Shaikh Abdul-Muhsin al-‘Abbad hafidhuhallah said:
يعني: لقب آبي اللحم ؛ لأنه امتنع من أكل اللحم، أو ترك أكل اللحم، فقيل له: آبي اللحم، وهو من الإباء، ويأباه أي: لا يريده. وآبي اللحم أي: غير مريده، من أبى الشيء إذا لم يرده وتركه
He was nicknamed Abu Laham because he prevented eating meat or left off eating meat. It was said to mean he did not want it. So it is Abi Laham: meaning he does not want it [meat]. One who refuses something if he does not want it”
[Sharh Sunan Abi Dawood no. 322]
The Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam did not allow another Companion to prohibit meat upon himself:
ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي إِذَا أَصَبْتُ اللَّحْمَ انْتَشَرْتُ لِلنِّسَاءِ وَأَخَذَتْنِي شَهْوَتِي فَحَرَّمْتُ عَلَىَّ اللَّحْمَ . فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ : ( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لاَ تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلاَ تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ وَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلاَلاً طَيِّبًا
Ibn ‘Abbas: “A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! When I consume meat and I get around women, my desires get the best of me. So I made meat unlawful for myself.’ So Allah revealed:
O you who believe! Make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily Allah does not like the transgressors. And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good
[Saheeh Tirmidhi no. 3054]
Is Slaughtering Animals Cruel
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi rahimahullah said:
“Very the lowly animal was created for [the benefit] of the honorable animal. If the lowly animals were not slaughtered due to their large numbers, the pasture would become crowded and they would die and harm the honorable animals with their carcasses. There would not be in their existence any benefit. As for the pain of the of slaughtering, then it is concealed. It was said: it does not exist at all because the sense of pain overcomes the mind. In the limbs there are sensors [for pain]. So like that, if a person is afflicted with epilepsy or stroke, a person doesn’t feel the pain. If the jugular veins are cut quickly, the pain does not reach the pain sensors. So like this he said sallahu alayhi wa salam:
إذا ذبح أحدكم فليحد شفرته وليرح ذبيحته
Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.
[Talbees Iblis (1/85)]
And Allah Knows Best
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan