Fatwas on Vegetarianism

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Fatwas on Vegetarianism

Many Muslim jurists have issued legal rulings that show vegetarianism is certainly permitted in Islam. Please see those below for a small sample of rulings from across the spectrum of Muslim jurists.

Some fatwas on vegetarianism:

Hamza Yusuf

Hamza Yusuf on eating meat (from the audio tape “The Science of Shari’ah” – click here to buy):

“Meat is not a necessity in Shari’ah, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat, if they were wealthy, like middle class—once a week on Friday. If they were poor—on the Eids.”

“So traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians. The Prophet was, I mean, technically, the Prophet (SAWS) was in that category. He was not a meat-eater. Most of his meals did not have meat in them. And the proof of that is clearly in the Muwatta—when Sayyidina Umar says, ‘Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.’ And the other hadith in the Muwatta—there is a chapter called ‘Bab al-Laham,’ the chapter of laham, the chapter of meat. Both are from Sayyidina Umar. And Umar, during his khilafa, prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row. He only allowed them to eat [it] every other day. And the khalifa has that right to do that. He did not let people eat meat every day � he saw one man eating meat every day, and he said to him, ‘Every time you get hungry you go out and buy meat? Right? In other words, every time your nafs wants meat, you go out and buy it?’ He said, ‘Yeah, Amir al-Mumineen, ana qaram,’ which in Arabic, ‘qaram’ means ‘I love meat’—he’s a carnivore, he loves meat. And Sayyidina Umar said, ‘It would be better for you to roll up your tummy a little bit so that other people can eat.'”

“Now Umar, if there was a prophet after the Prophet, it would have been Umar. And that is really verging on prophecy, that statement. Because if you study the modern meat industry, you will find out that a lot of the famine in the world is a direct result of the overconsumption of meat in countries like the United States and Canada and Europe, because the amount of grain needed to produce 1 pound of meat, right, is much greater than the amount you need to produce grain itself. And beef in particular—I really recommend Rifkin’s book Beyond Beef. It’s an extraordinary book. And it’s interesting ‘Baqara’ is also a chapter of the Qur’an (‘kill the cow’), because beef-eating societies just have massive impact on the environment, on natural resources, on all these things. And traditionally the Muslims were not cow-eaters, they were sheep and lamb [-eaters] when they did eat meat.”

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

A Muslim may be a vegetarian. However, he should not regard eating meat as prohibited.
And Allah Taãla knows best.
Was salaam.

Sayyid Fadhlullah

Vegetarianism is halal.
Meat is not compulsory.
Any food is permissible provided it is not harmful.
Muslims are free to eat whatever they want provided it is halal.

It is like wanting to eat a certain fruit and not the other.

—Summation of answer given by the Honorable Sayyid Fadhlullah during an online Q&A session, December 1, 2001

Muzammil Siddiqi

You are right that the matter of halal and haram is only the authority of Allah (SWT) as we are not allowed to make any halal haram, we are also not allowed to make any haram halal. Allah has created some animals for our food as Allah says in the Qur’an in surat an-Nahl, “And cattle He has created for you. From them you drive wont and numerous benefits and of their meat, you eat.” (16:5-8)

Muslims do recognize animal rights, and animal rights means that we should not abuse them, torture them, and when we have to use them for meat, we should slaughter them with a sharp knife, mentioning the name of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAAWS) said, “Allah has prescribed goodness (ihsan) in everything. When you sacrifice, sacrifice well. Let you sharpen your knife and make it easy for the animal to be slaughtered.”

So, Muslims are not vegetarianists. However, if someone prefers to eat vegetables, then they are allowed to do so. Allah has given us permission to eat meat of slaughtered animals, but He has not made it obligatory upon us.

Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid

Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh.
(In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.)

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Welcome to the fold of Islam! We pray to Allah to make you a good Muslim. As for your question, there is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian or not eating animal products, but you need to be aware of the following:

You should not think that these things are Haraam (forbidden), because Almighty Allah says:

“O ye who believe! Make not unlawful the good things, which Allah hath made lawful for you, but commit no excess: for Allah loveth not those given to excess.” (Al-Maa’idah: 87)

“Say: who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for his servants, and the things, clean and pure (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say they are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment thus do we explain the Signs in detail for those who understand.” (Al-`Araaf: 32)

“Say: see ye what things Allah hath sent down to you for sustenance? Yet ye hold forbidden some things thereof and (some things) lawful. Say: hath Allah indeed permitted you, or do ye invent (things) to attribute to Allah?” (Yoonus: 59)

One should not think that it is better to abstain from eating these foods, that doing so will be rewarded, or that being a vegetarian is closer to Allah than not, and so on. It is not permitted to draw closer to Allah in this way. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who is the best of mankind and the closest to Allah, used to eat meat and honey and drink milk. When one of his Companions wanted to give up meat, he told him that this was wrong. Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that there was a group of the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, one of whom said, “I will never marry women”; another said, “I will not eat meat”; a third said, “I will not sleep on a bed”; and a fourth said, “I will fast and never break my fast.” When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was informed about this, he praised and thanked Allah, then said:

“What is wrong with the people who say such and such? I pray and I sleep; I fast and I break my fast; and I marry women. Whoever deviates from my Sunnah (way) does not belong to me.” (Reported by An-Nasaa’i).

There is a great difference between not eating a certain kind of food because of not liking it, or one has been put off it—for example by seeing an animal slaughtered when one was a child, which may leave the person with a distaste for meat—and other similar reasons, and thinking that meat is Haraam by abstaining from it is an act of worship, as the Brahmins, monks and others do.

Once this matter is clear in your mind, there is nothing wrong with not eating food that you do not like. We ask Allah to give you the strength to do good deeds and to protect you from every evil. It is only Allah Who guides to the Straight Path.

(Based on a Fatwa given by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, www. Islam-qa.com)
—Islam Online Fatwa Committee


A member of Islamic Concern for Animals asked the following question of several leading ulema via their online question-and-answer sections:

I am a convert to Islam, mash’a allah. I grew up as a vegetarian, I am an athlete, and [I] feel very healthy and strong. Is it halal to be vegetarian?

Ayatullah Sayyid Khamanei

“Bismihi Ta`ala

According to Islamic law (shar`) there is no objection to it. However, eating meat is permissible in Islamic law although eating too much is reprehensible (makruh). Wallahul`Alim.”

Sayyid Nasrallah

“In the Name of Allah

There is no problem in that.”

Ayatullah Shirazi

“Being vegetarian is OK and halal, and in fact we have hadith in Islam that encourages us to eat less meat.”


Why are you singling out ‘Eid sacrifice? What about Christmas and Thanksgiving?

We fully agree that Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other non-Muslim holidays entail a sacrifice of animals even exceeding that of any ‘Eid. The article on our Web site was written by a Muslim to other members of the Ummah to explore animal sacrifice within Islam. We are equally concerned with the cruelty inflicted upon animals during the non-Muslim holidays.

"There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end" - Al-Qur'an, 6:38
"Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself." - The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), narrated by Abdallah bin Amru in Bukhari and Muslim collections