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Articles Section > Questions and Answers (3) by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib [Question by some Hindus: Why has Islam allowed the eating of animal flesh?]


Questions and Answers (3) by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib:
[Question by some Hindus: Why has Islam allowed the eating of animal flesh?]:
by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui
The Light, September 24, 1980 (Question and Answer)


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Some Hindu gentlemen from South India have asked a question which is answered below:

Question:

Why has Islam allowed the eating of animal flesh?

Answer:

Islam is not the only religion to have allowed the eating of animal flesh. Most religions allow it. Even the others allowed it originally but their followers don’t eat it now for sentimental reasons which will be discussed later in this article. For instance, the ancient Hindu sacred literature mentions approvingly of the sacrifice of animals whose flesh was eaten presumably by those incharge of the temples where the sacrifice was given. Even now animals are slaughtered before certain idols of goddesses who are supposed to drink the blood of the slaughtered animals. What happens to the flesh of those animals left behind in the temples is anybody’s guess. The sacrifice is supposed to be an offering to the gods and goddesses to please them. If gods and goddesses are pleased at the slaughter of animals whose blood, if also not their flesh, is acceptable to them as food, why should human beings hesitate to eat animal flesh? The Hindu gentlemen from Southern India (Madras) who have asked this question may not be aware but most of the Hindus in Central, Western and Northern India now eat animal flesh. Except for Jains and Buddhists, almost all other nations and religions approve of the eating of animal flesh.


Human Nature:

The reason for the overwhelming practice of eating flesh is that it is in the human nature to eat it. Proof of it is to be found in the canine teeth to be found in the human mouth, which teeth are only to be found in the carnivorous animals, and in the juices which flow in the human stomach [i.e., pepsin], the intestines and other organs of the digestive system. It is true that there are also in the human mouth the teeth to be found among the vegetarian animals. But that goes to show the fact God, the Great and Wise Creator, intended man to eat both the animal flesh and the vegetables.


Medical Reasons:

Proteins are the most important need of the human body. And animal proteins are the best and most easily assimilable proteins. The system within the human body for the assimilation of the proteins is very complicated and elaborate. Ask any impartial doctor and he will tell you that proteins from animal flesh are the most easily digested and assimilated proteins of all. Besides, there are important vitamins, minerals and enzymes to be found in animal flesh, which in fact help in the assimilation of proteins drawn from the same flesh.


Effect on Character:

That food affects human character is now beginning to be realised by those doing medical research in the West -- particularly in America. Meat gives courage and stamina to human beings, as shown by history also that meat eating nations are the bravest. Even in this sub-continent the Rajputs, Gurkhas, and Marathas, who have been the best soldiers among the Hindus, are meat-eaters.


Economic Reasons:

Animals out-number human beings. And if they are not eaten at the proper time they become, when old and unfit for active work, a drag and a drain on human economy. Apart from the high cost of maintaining them when they give neither milk nor service, they require for grazing areas badly needed by human beings to grow their own food. I was once in charge of a district in the Bombay Presidency, which was overwhelmingly Hindu. It was stricken with famine, after the failure of the monsoon, and human beings and animals both suffered quite unnecessarily. There was no grass for the animals and no food for the human beings. Both suffered the agonies of starvation. Government rushed some food for the human beings, but they could not at the same time find transport or fodder for the animals which suffered agonies of thirst (for there was insufficient water, too, because of the drought) and hunger before dying a slow and cruel death. The human beings also suffered more or less permanent damage to their health. Now had they eaten the animals they could not maintain, they would have saved the latter months of suffering and agony before they died in any case, and also saved themselves permanent damage to health and efficiency, unnecessary suffering and even death.

Even in normal times if the animals were not eaten they would soon outnumber human beings, and be a nuisance, if not a menace, to them. In any case, there are certain areas of the world where there are no vegetables, in fact no vegetation, such as the vast deserts in all continents, and the icebound north and south poles. If no meat were allowed to be eaten there, nearly one-third of the human race would become extinct.


Objections Answered:

The main objection to meat eating is that it means cruelty to animals when they are slaughtered. That objection may have looked worth considering before the scientific discoveries of the 20th century. It was no less a person than an outstanding Hindu scientist and a Nobel Prize winner, Sir J. C. Bose, who discovered that vegetables have, not only life, but sensibility particularly of pain. That finishes for all time the objection of cruelty to animals. If we slaughter a sheep or a bigger animal, it may suffer momentary pain when its throat is cut for it becomes insensitive to pain the moment its jugular vein is cut, and is unconscious of pain for the rest of its dying process. Such momentary pain is, in any case, better than months or years of slow dying through old age, debility and disease. But one such animal feeds several human beings for several meals, depending on its size. On the other hand, if one is a vegetarian, one slaughters, causing acute pain, to a large number of live vegetables to feed even one person at a time. Should we also ban the grazing of cattle because every blade of grass plucked by their teeth is a life eaten with acute pain to the poor grass.

Talking about cruelty--is it cruelty to kill an animal instantaneously, but no cruelty to tie up a cow for life with a rope, deny its calf the milk the cow produces for it, and cause acute mental torture to the mother-cow and the hungry calf, while a so-called humanitarian being steals the milk before their eyes? Or is it humanitarian to enslave the bullocks in the plough or the bullock carts and work them day in and day out?

No, sir, to put the animal kingdom to the uses for which it was created is no cruelty. On this point may I quote the Holy Quran to end this discussion?

"See they not that We have created cattle for them, out of what Our hands have wrought, so they are their masters?

And We have subjected the cattle to them, so some of them they ride, and some they eat.

And therein they have advantages and drinks. Will they not then give thanks?" (36:71-73).

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Articles Section > Questions and Answers (3) by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib [Question by some Hindus: Why has Islam allowed the eating of animal flesh?]


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