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Permissibility to Eat Meat – Part 2

Jul 07, 2022

So we have discussed that it is completely permissible to eat and consume meat.

Meat was eaten by the previous Prophets AS as well. Allah makes mention of the story of Ibraheem AS when the angels were passing by, and decided to stop over and visit him as they were carrying some good news for him.

هَلْ أَتَىٰكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ ٱلْمُكْرَمِينَ
Have you heard the story of Ibrahim’s (AS) honoured guests?

إِذْ دَخَلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا۟ سَلَـٰمًا ۖ قَالَ سَلَـٰمٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ
˹Remember˺ when they entered his presence and greeted ˹him with˺, “Peace!” He replied, “Peace ˹be upon you!” Then he said to himself, “These are an unfamiliar people.”

فَرَاغَ إِلَىٰٓ أَهْلِهِۦ فَجَآءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ
Then he turned quietly to his household, and brought forth a fat [roasted] calf, [Az Zariyat 57: 19 – 21]

However at the same time we must also understand that traditionally most Muslims were semi-vegetarians. Meat is not a necessity in Shari’ah.

Most meals of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ did not have meat in them. Meat was rarely eaten in the time of the Prophet ﷺ. In those days you had to personally sacrifice an animal before you had meat and so meat was usually only eaten when people were invited somewhere as guests.

The great Faqih and scholar of Madinah, Imam Malik R has a chapter called Bab Al-Lahm (The Chapter about Meat) in his collection of hadith entitled “The Muwatta”. There are two hadith in that chapter and they are both warnings about eating excessive meat.

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيدٍ، أَنَّ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، أَدْرَكَ جَابِرَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ وَمَعَهُ حِمَالُ لَحْمٍ فَقَالَ مَا هَذَا فَقَالَ يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَرِمْنَا إِلَى اللَّحْمِ فَاشْتَرَيْتُ بِدِرْهَمٍ لَحْمًا ‏.‏ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ أَمَا يُرِيدُ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَطْوِيَ بَطْنَهُ عَنْ جَارِهِ أَوِ ابْنِ عَمِّهِ أَيْنَ تَذْهَبُ عَنْكُمْ هَذِهِ الآيَةُ ‏{‏أَذْهَبْتُمْ طَيِّبَاتِكُمْ فِي حَيَاتِكُمُ الدُّنْيَا وَاسْتَمْتَعْتُمْ بِهَا ‏}‏
1. Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Umar ibn al-Khattab RA saw Jabir ibn Abdullah RA carrying some meat. He said, “What is this?” He said, “Amir al- muminin. We desired meat and I bought some meat for a dirham.” Umar RA said, “Does one of you want to fill his belly apart from his neighbour or nephew? How can you overlook this ayat? ‘You squandered your good things in the life of this world and sought comfort in them.’ (Sura 46 ayat 20).

2. Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “Beware of meat. It has addictiveness like the addictiveness of wine.”

One of the conditions which Imam Sahl Al-Tustari R stipulated, when he took students was that they eat meat only once a week. In fact in the Maliki Fiqh it is mentioned that if a man marry`s a rich woman, than she should be entitled to eat meat twice a week.

We now have Muslims who are eating meat three times a day and then we wonder why we have so many diseases. In most cases, it is our own appetite (nafs) that leads to heart conditions and we should really only blame ourselves.

Food is the foundation of our material existence. If we eat food in its right proportions, and if we eat good food, then it is going to be beneficial to the body. The opposite is also true. The worst thing you can do is to completely fill the body with food. The Sunnah is to consume enough morsels to keep our backs straight, while filling one third of the stomach with food, one third air and one third with water, is the dispensation (rukhsa) given to us by the Prophet ﷺ.

Our Beloved Prophet ﷺ was not a frequent meat-eater. Most of his meals did not have meat in them. This is a muttafaq alaih (agreed upon) hadith from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim which is a proof of this:

Hazrat ‘Urwa RA relates that Hazrat ‘A’isha RA said to ‘Urwa, “Son of my sister, we used to see three crescent moons in two months without there being a fire lit in the houses of the Messenger of Allah.” He says, “I said, ‘What did you survive on?’ She said, ‘The two black ones – dates and water. However, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had some neighbours of the Ansar who had sheep which were lent to them for milking and they used to give the Messenger of Allah ﷺ some of their drink and he would let us drink.’”

So, while it is permissible to eat meat and was done by the Ambiya AS, it by no way means that we have to have meat for every meal!

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