O you who believe! Fulfill the obligations. The cattle quadrupeds are allowed to you except that which is recited to you, not violating the prohibition against game when you are entering upon the performance of the pilgrimage; surely Allah orders what He desires. [Surah al-Maidah 5:1 M Shakir’s Quran Translation]
Non-Vegetarian food permitted to Muslims
When a vegetarian read this verse then he might get furious on the commandment of Allah that He is allowing the sacrifice and eating of cattle, hence it becomes important to clarify whether there is any harm in being a non-vegetarian or not. There are many books written on the topic and many debates have taken place on the topic hence it is difficult to abridge all the arguments in a couple of paragraphs. Allah says in the Quran, “The good things are allowed to you” (Surah al-Maidah 5:4), indicating that whatever is permitted for us is beneficial for us in normal circumstances. Many vegetarians claim that ‘Non vegetarian should be prohibited for human beings’. By the grace of Allah Almighty I’ll try to answer their arguments in a nutshell here.
Allah says in another verse, “And He created the cattle for you; you have in them warm clothing and (many) advantages, and of them do you eat” [Surah Nahl 16:5]
You are what you eat
Allah says, “The cattle quadrupeds are allowed to you except that which is recited to you”, meaning that all cattle (four footed animals) are allowed to you except whose prohibition is told to you. Allah mentions the prohibited animals in the third verse of this Surah in detail. Islamic diet is the perfect diet for a human being, and the prohibition told to us is purely for our benefit [See Surah Baqarah 2:173].
Sayyidina Jabir (Radhiyallahu Anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger forbade on the day of Khaybar domestic asses, flesh of mules, every carnivorous beast with a fang and every bird with a talon (that hunt with their claws).
[Bukhari: Hadith 4219, Muslim: Hadith 1941, Tirmidhi: Hadith 1483]
This clarification has been mentioned for those who think that “you are what you eat”. As the French writer said
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755 – 1826)
We Muslims eat animals that are peace-loving and docile and those which are flesh eating animals are prohibited for us and hence we Muslims are peace loving and docile. Islam comes from the root word سلم meaning peace.
Who is a non-Vegetarian??
Vegetarians have written many books telling us the importance of plants for the development of a human body. Non-Vegetarian, by definition means -’A person who has food of animal origin’. It does not mean ‘A person who does not have Vegetarian food. A more technical and a scientific word is, ‘an Omnivorous diet’. Hence a non-vegetarian benefits from food both of animal and plant origin.
Killing a Living Creature
The main argument of vegetarians is that by eating animals we are killing innocent living creatures. This argument might have been suitable in the past but now it carries no weight because modern science has told us that plants also have life. They also feel pain and hence killing a plant as much ‘brutal’ as killing any other living creature.
Set of teeth in a human body: We are Omnivorous by Nature
Herbivorous animals, those who only have plants, have a flat set of teeth. Carnivorous animals, who only have animal flesh, have pointed teeth. Human beings, have got flat teeth, as well as pointed teeth. Hence by our structure, we are omnivorous; we are designed in such a way that we can have both plants and animals as food. Also we humans possess a digestive system which can digest both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.
Ayaats having the similar message
Surah Nahl 16:5, Surah Nahl 16:66, Surah Taha 20:54, Surah Hajj 22:28, Surah Hajj 22:30, Surah Hajj 22:34, Surah Mominun 23:21, Surah Shua’ra 26:133, Surah Yaaseen 36:71, Surah Zumar 39:6, Surah Ghafir 40:79, Surah Shura 42:11, Surah Zukhruf 43:12.