FATWA: I am going vegan but people are criticizing me. Please help.



May Allah give you the reward for trying to wipe out hatred from the hearts of people. Recently, I've been facing some issues. I'm 15 years old and I always try to be a good muslim...I care for animals, try to donate to poor, speak against islamophobia. After seeing the suffering and pain of animals, I've decided to go vegan. Animals are conscious and worship Allah. According to my thinking (please correct me if i'm wrong), we do not have right to take the life of a creature made by Allah. On eid ul adha, many animals are slaughtered. Our religion taught us to slaughter animals in a humane way. Prophet (SAW) and muslims of early times used to eat meat occasionally. Can't eid ul adha be celebrated by helping the poor or distributing money or vegan food among poor? Our religion teaches us compassion to animals and every living being. I need a fatwa regarding this topic. Please help. I've been facing a lot of issue. I need a fatwa on veganism. I am going vegan but people are criticizing me. I request you to provide me fatwa regarding this topic. I've been suffering from a lot of stress due to criticism by society. Please help and send me a fatwa. I would be highly obliged. 



Name Withheld for Anonymity



Al-salamu 'alaykum:


Being vegan is halal. There are several things to keep in mind here:


Nothing is haram unless it is expressly forbidden. Allah made the consumption of the meat of animals permissible, not obligatory. This is like someone deciding they will not consume fish or sugarcane. Although Allah made the consumption of fish or sugarcane permissible, there is no obligation to do so. You or anyone else can simply decide that they will no longer consume fish or sugar, and nothing in Shari'ah would obligate them to do so. Similarly, a Muslim can decide, for whatever reason, that he or she will no longer consume meat. This is their right, and nothing in Shari'ah would obligate them to consume meat.


Whoever claims something is haram bears the burden of proof. This means that if someone wishes to claim that being vegan is haram, they must produce evidence to that effect. There is nothing in the Qur'an or Sunna says that you, as an individual Muslim, must consume meat. This is entirely your personal choice. You could choose to consume meat or not to do so.


I should note that many scholars and prominent figures in Islamic history were vegan. Most of them did not consume meat because they believed that consuming meat was a luxury that they did not wish to indulge. Some believed that consuming meat is unhealthy or that it leads to laziness. These people became known as the nabatiyya. No one has ever accused the nabatiyya of being heretical or sinful.


There is an added problem, however, in this context. As you mentioned, Islam demands the merciful and kind treatment of the animals being slaughtered for meat. The problem is that the consumption of meat in the modern world has risen to unprecedented levels in human history. The meat industry has become very abusive towards animals, and often the meat industry uses methods that maximize profits but in doing so, they render this meat toxic and unhealthy.  In order to maximize profits, this industry uses very cruel methods that make the animals needlessly suffer. Often we are not sure about the origins of the meat we consume, and we are also not sure what processes were exploited in producing this meat. This has led many Muslims to invoke the principle of ihtiyat (precaution) in abstaining from consuming meat. This means that since one cannot be sure whether cruelty was employed in producing the meat or whether the meat is unhealthy, for instance because of hormonal additives, it is better to be cautious and refrain from eating meat. Relying on the principle of precaution as a reason for abstaining from the consumption of meat is perfectly valid.


One final point: please differentiate between your right to abstain from eating meat and trying to convince other Muslims that they should not consume meat. These are two very different things. You have an absolute personal right whether to consume or not consume meat. When it comes to convincing other people, it is a different matter because this would require research and the production of evidence that would bring people to your point of view. 


I hope this response is helpful to you and your community, and only Allah knows best. 


Al-salamu 'alaykum

Shaykh Abou El Fadl