Islam and Vegetarianism
Those familiar with Islam may balk at the thought of an animal-friendly or vegetarian Islam. A deeper look at the tradition however will reveal teachings of kindness and concern for animals. ‘Their flesh will never reach Allah, nor yet their blood – but your devotion and piety will reach Him.’ (Koran, 22.37) This lends itself to a very humane interpretation: namely, we should concentrate on our prayers and personal devotion rather than relying blindly on animal sacrifice.
Kindness to animals has been promised by reward in the life hereafter. (Mishkat-al-Masabih 6.7.8) Consider this line from Abu Umama, Al Tabarani: “He who takes pity even on a sparrow and spares its life, Allah will be merciful to him on the Day of Judgement.” A natural question that arises then is why does Islam allow meat eating and slaughter? We have to remember that several customs and conventions prevalent in Arab lands may be pre-Islamic and thus without specific Islamic sanction. Furthermore, nearly 1500 years ago, what was Arabia? Mostly desert land, and war-torn at that. There were few peaceful and settled agricultural communities as we had in India, for instance. The nomadic tribes found food when they could – by hunting animals and eating them. That is no longer true, and Arab countries today are modern in many ways. They have plenty of vegetarian food available and there is absolutely no need to eat meat.
Islam teaches that in Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, no creature can be slaughtered and that perfect harmony should exist between all living beings. Muslim pilgrims approach Mecca wearing a shroud (“ihram”). From the moment they wear this religious cloth, absolutely no killing is allowed. “There is not an animal on the earth, nor a flying creature on two wings, but they are all peoples like unto you.”(Koran, 6.38). According to Hadiths (Mishkat 3:1392), Mohammed taught that “all creatures are like a family of God; and He loves the most those who are the most beneficent to His family.” The food prescribed for Muslims is “Therewith He causes crops to grow for you, and the olive and the date-palm and grapes and all kinds of fruit. Lo! Herein is indeed a portent for people who reflect.” (Koran, 16.11)
Mohammed preferred vegetarian foods. The Prophet enjoyed milk diluted with water, yogurt with butter or nuts, and cucumbers with dates. He was especially fond of honey. “Where there is an abundance of vegetables,” said the Prophet, “hosts of angels will descend on that place.” Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111), one of Islam’s most distinguished philosophers, wrote in his book Ihya Ulum ul-Din: “Eating the meat of a cow causes disease (‘marz’), its milk is health (‘safa’) and its clarified butter (‘ghee’) is medicine (‘dava’).”
The death of the Prophet Mohammed put flesh-eating in its proper perspective. It is said a non-Muslim woman invited Mohammed and his companions to a meal and served them poisoned meat. By the gift of prophecy, Mohammed knew the flesh was poisoned. He alone ate it, and ordered his companions not to do so. Struck down by the poisoned meat, he was ill for nearly two years before dying in 632 AD. Some scholars believe Mohammed deliberately ate the poisoned meat to teach his followers the moral wrong of flesh-eating.
Islam and Christianity are religions given by prophets according to particular time, place and circumstances. At one point in time, Vedic culture was prevalent all over the world but as time passed there was a a gradual degradation in values as predicted in Srimad Bhagavatam. Hence, in order to regulate the people, the Lord ordained Judeo-Christian religions through some of his representatives so that people who had given up their Vedic culture can at least be humans. So these religions evolved in Western Asia and their literature are no more than a set of rules that helps bring some sanity and purpose to their lives. But these scriptures do not explain in detail with about the qualities of Supreme God and the ways to approach Him. That is the subject matter of the Vedic Scriptures.
Source : Absolute Truth Network
Reference : http://www.absolute-truth.net
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