Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
It’s been over four weeks since I had a proper meal with some succulent tender piece of meat on the side. Oh what I would do right now to have another taste of my mothers cooking, especially the lamb she makes every Friday for lunch we enjoy after congregational prayer. During my three years in studying in Muslim friendly Birmingham I’ve had the luxury of buying halal meat from the local butcher to the 24-hour Tesco nearby, and what a selection they had at Tesco’s! Now that I’m studying in Falmouth, which is roughly five hours away from London I find myself with limited meat sources. To be honest this could be a pleasant blessing since my family consumes way too much meat and looking at the Muslim population in general, I found out that meat is deep in our DNA. Like a meal isn’t complete without some chicken, lamb or beef.
So this made me think. I know eating too much meat isn’t healthy for you, its expensive, it has a heavy strain on global food production, meat production requires too much water, you can get the same nutrition from non meat sources, it’s heavily linked with famine oversees and most of the times I fail to trust that it’s actual meat. But of course don’t take this from me, do your own research!
For me Islam means many things. Alongside spirituality and faith it also means leading an ethical lifestyle. However this doesn’t mean that I’ll give up eating meat, just aiming to eat less but of higher quality. Also as much as I love a fat and delicious burger I don’t really trust the meat sources. Yes it has the halal label on it but really how halal is it? Are the animals treated well? Are the butchers Muslim? What are the animals being fed? Unless its from a trusted butcher you won’t find me going to fast food halal chicken chains like Sam’s. That stuff is way too unhealthy, greasy and arguably not even Halal. (Same counts for non-halal meat too)
There are numerous hadiths that mention the preservation of water, being kind to animals and taking care of the environment so it only makes sense that we Muslims should make a better effort in becoming more ethical and environmentally friendly. However if this tree hugging talk doesn’t appeal to you then perhaps some historical context would help. Did you know that our prophet (pbuh) was a part time vegetarian? Meat was only consumed by the wealthy on Fridays and everyone else ate meat on Eid days, hence the sacrifice. Meat was a sign of wealth and as the centuries went by more and more people could afford it and especially now that its mass produced reducing its qualities and increasing cancer obesity and mass consumption with everything.
Did you also know that Umar ibn Al-Khattab prevented people from eating meat two days in a row as he mentioned in Muwatta ‘Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.’? Smart man he was! He also said that you should know where your food comes from. You wouldn’t buy from a thief, sweatshops, slave farmers or products from Israel? So why not make a more conscious decision when you make your purchasing decisions. If you want to make the world a better place, and you should since it’s the basics of humanity yet alone Islamic, you have to realise that you hold a lot of power as a consumer. You may not change the world but change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s slow and it happens within.
start video at 30-35 minutes in
So go educate yourself and next time you eat out don’t feel restricted that you cannot buy any meat. Feel liberated that you can buy vegetarian food.
P.s. I’ll still eat fish.
Guardian Article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/aug/26/meat-islam-vegetarianism-ramadan
TED Playlist whats wrong with what we eat: http://www.ted.com/playlists/75/what_s_wrong_with_what_we_eat?utm_medium=on.ted.com-facebook-share&utm_content=awesm-publisher&awesm=on.ted.com_s0BJy&utm_campaign=&utm_source=facebook.com# http://www.islamicconcern.com/fatwas.asp