In the interview we conducted with the Vegan Muslim Initiative, we respond to some of the most frequently asked questions that appear in the public discourse in our region. How does Islam view veganism and what to do with the Qurban?
1) You as a vegan muslim, would you say it’s possible to be vegan and muslim, are those two things exclusive ?
As far as I know, everything is permissible in Islam unless stated otherwise. I do not see anything that forbids one to live in such a way which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals. Being vegan and Muslim for me goes hand in hand.
2) As a fellow vegan muslim, does God wants us to eat animals ? What is there that so many muslims miss to see?
In my understanding, God sets guidelines and we need to be aware the contextual relevancy of these guidelines. He did not mandate we eat animals, nor did Islam originate the idea. Humans domesticated and consumed animals around 10,000 – 12,000 years before Islam. Islam heavily regulated the practice within the specific context of human dependency on animals for basic survival needs.
I feel many Muslims have generally been disconnected from nature and don’t view animals as sentient, intelligent beings but mere commodities; unless they are our pets. Many Muslim majority societies unfortunately have a reprehensible culture when it comes to animals and this is ingrained into them from childhood. I simply do not accept Islam sanctions this type of outlook towards God’s creatures.
3) What is the hardest part of your activism and what was your step into all of this (short story about how did you realize of all this)?
Breaking cultural norms and traditions that have been conditioned into people for generations would be the biggest challenge. People do not want to be told what they have been conditioned into believing the past 10, 20, 30 or 40 years is wrong!
My journey began in 2013 when I initially did research for health reasons. As I uncovered the main causes of most illnesses and ailments plaguing humanity at large, it led to me look into how the food supply works. What I discovered was beyond horrifying. I challenge every Muslim to do their own research and then ask themselves if they feel God Almighty or the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would sanction such actions towards God’s creatures. I then made a conscious choice to never again be part of a system that’s built on worldwide animal suffering and abuse.
4) When it comes to Eid, a lot of muslims use that as excuse to conclude that Islam order us to eat animals. How do you look at this?
The primary purpose of Eid is to feed the poor. Today, we have an overabundance of food whereby we can feed the planet many times over without the need to mass slaughter millions of animals – a practice in of itself that is directly contributing to every environmental disaster this planet currently faces.
Eid is not about killing animals; otherwise we are saying Islam demands blood. Eid as I understand it, is about giving from your most valuable and cherished resources so those less fortunate can benefit. For people in 7th century Arabia having certain animals was a distinguishing social symbol of wealth and meat was a delicacy. Today, it is not – we value many more things today than animals considered “livestock” so using this day as an opportunity to shed so much blood is only contributing to our planet’s problems which is largely caused by…shedding so much blood.
5) What would you say to those who want to be vegan but are muslim, and that stops them as they think Islam doesn’t allow them to be vegan?
I would argue Islam doesn’t allow them to exploit and harm God’s creatures needlessly at a time when doing so is having so many disastrous consequences world over. Do your own research and do not let anyone tell you to go against what your heart already knows.rGoing vegan today is one of the best things I feel we can do as a community. Everyone wins – the animals, the planet and us – why would Islam be against that?