#1 Are Muslims Vegetarian?

Although vegetarianism is strongly supported by leaders in the Islamic faith, there is no direct rule or regulation that states a Muslim has to prescribe to a vegetarian diet.

Since the religion holds the body’s health, purity, and wellbeing in high-regard – Muslims tend to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle and see it as a healthy alternative to meat consumption.

Nonetheless, the merciful killing of cattle is mentioned and permitted in the holy text of Islam, the Quran.  

There are four food categories that deem each item’s acceptability by the Muslim culture:

  1. Halal – Acceptable
  2. Haram – Unlawful
  3. Hashbooh – A gray area, debatable
  4. Makruh – Frowned upon and distasteful

For meat to be Halal in Arabic nations, it must be:

  • Slaughtered at a healthy time in their life
  • Not killed in a state of suffering or pain
  • The death must be merciful and honorable
  • The death will be made in the name of God
  • The action should be done in a swift knife stroke across the throat
  • One must not puncture the spinal cord but should cut through the windpipe
  • All blood should be drained from the carcass

If it is not these things, the meat could be considered tainted, impure, and sinful. Due to this, many Muslims choose to abstain from meat completely and live a vegetarian lifestyle.

The meats typically embraced by most subsects of Islam, and are, therefore, acceptable/Halal, are:

  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Goat
  • Sheep
  • Buck
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Rabbits
  • Birds

The only animals entirely forbidden in the Quran are:

  • Pork
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Monkey
  • Bloodied meat
  • Meat that is not killed in a state of halal, honor, and non-suffering
DailyO

Related Scripture(s)/Resource(s):

Chapter 5 Al-Ma’idah (the Banquet) verses: 1-5:

  1. O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts. Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you [in this Qur’an] – hunting not being permitted while you are in the state of ihram.[ie. Going to perform pilgrimage or Umrah] Indeed, Allah ordains what He intends.”
  2. O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month or [neglect the marking of] the sacrificial animals and garlanding [them] or [violate the safety of] those coming to the Sacred House seeking bounty from their Lord and [His] approval. But when you come out of ihram, then [you may] hunt. And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”
  3. “Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine (ie. Pig meat,) and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eatenexcept what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
  4. “They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, “Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah.” Indeed, Allah is swift in account.”
  5. “This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture (ie. Christians and Jews) is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith – his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers”

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#2 Are Muslims Allowed to Have Dogs?

Keeping a dog in the home would be seen as haram (sinful or unlawful), and it is Islamic tradition to keep one’s home dog-free.

The reasoning behind this is due to angels being allegedly unable to enter or protect the home with a dog present. There are exceptions to this rule, including Islamic families that choose to keep a dog outside or solely use the dog for hunting or guarding purposes.

There are rules regarding pets in the Islam culture, including:

  • The pet must not be inappropriate (such as a pig, which would not be a permissible pet)
  • The pet must not be dangerous (such as a venomous snake)
  • The pet must be well-cared for, fed, and tended to as a living thing deserving of compassion

The most controversial animals in the Muslim sect are dogs and pigs, often prohibited by Islam.

Some ask, ‘why is keeping a cat lawful, but keeping a dog is seen as haram?’

The answer to this is –

Because Muhammad, the most influential prophet of Islam, said so.

Jakarta Globe – The Story of a Muslim Dog Lover

Related Scripture(s)/Resource(s):

  • Verse 5:4 says “Lawful for you are all good things, and [the prey] that trained [hunting] dogs and falcons catch for you.”
  • Are dogs Unclean? – “The vast majority of Sunni Muslim scholars (72%) believe that dogs are clean, except their urine and saliva.

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#3 Are Muslims Allowed to Listen to Music?

Yes and no. It is vital to never sing scriptures from the Quran, to distract from worship to Allah, or to use singing as a means for sinful nature, lust, or temptation.

It will depend on the:

  • The strictness of that Islamic subsect
  • The type of music
  • The geological location and culture that influences that person
  • Personal beliefs and practices (some may love singing and do it anyway, despite the rules)

The thoughts surrounding music, according to Islamic tradition and law include:

  • Sometimes only vocal is halal (permissible)
  • Instruments are sometimes forbidden
  • Acapella singing is popular
  • During Ramadan especially, music may be avoided more heavily
  • Prayer songs may be embraced
  • Music that incites temptation or sexuality is strictly banned

Al-Islam.org regards singing and dancing by discussing forbidden music:

“Forbidden music is the music that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings, even if it does not arouse sexual temptations. Permissible music is the music that is not suitable for such gatherings, even if it does not soothe the nerves like the martial music and that played at funerals.”

Ultimately, it may be taken on a case-by-case basis and depend on the legalistic/traditionalistic nature of that individual. But the major consensus is that if the music deviates one’s path away from the one true God, Allah, then it is haram (sinful).

There is no direct reference to music in the Quran, the legal authority of Islam.

Figure 3 – Metro, Music of Ramadan

Related Scripture(s):

  • Quran: “And of the people is he who buys the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without the knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.” – Surah Luqman, verse 6.
  • From AsiaSociety.org – Music and Islam: “Drawing from these traditions, Muslims have an understanding of the permissible audio arts. For the legally minded, the traditional consensus is that nothing can be forbidden that is not explicitly forbidden by the Qur’an or the Prophet. As a result, contemporary scholars including Shaykh al-Azhar Mahmud Shaltut, Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini have all issued legal rulings that audio arts that do not encourage people to go against the faith are permitted.”

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#4 Are Muslims Allowed to Touch Dogs?

This is a controversial issue in Islamic parts of the world and can be seen as haram or halal, depending on who you ask. While some Muslims love animals an incredible amount (with even the Humane Society citing Muslims as ‘the most avid pet owners;’ opposingly,  others argue that dogs are sinful, should not be in the home, are unsanitary, and should never be touched.

Officially, there are no rules or direct references in the Quran regarding them, and Muslims are certainly allowed to touch dogs. The question is not if they’re allowed to, but more so, if they would want to. One person of the Islamic faith may jump at the chance to give a pup a hug, while another would instinctively recoil to get away from the canine.

The main rules are:

  1. Never keep a dog in the home (angels cannot enter or protect the house if it is unclean)
  2. Keep your outside dog well-cared for and cleanly
  3. Do not touch the membranes of the dog where mucous and saliva are present (the mouth and nose), each considered impure
Dogs in Islam

Related Scripture(s):

  • Verse 5:4: “Lawful for you are all good things, and [the prey] that trained [hunting] dogs and falcons catch for you.”
  • Sahih Al Bukhari, “4:54:542, “That he heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “If somebody keeps a dog that is neither used for farm work nor for guarding the livestock, he will lose one Qirat (of the reward) of his good deeds every day.”

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#5 Are Muslims a Race?

No, Muslim is not necessarily a race.

The classification of ‘Muslim’ could better be described as:

  • A culture surrounding the Islamic faith
  • An ethnic group (with its own National Council)
  • A monotheistic Abrahamic faith – Muslims practice Islam (Islam is the religion, not Muslim. Muslims consider themselves as Montenegrins of Islam)

If you were seeking to break this down by race, Pew Research Forum surveyed to discover a demographic outline of Muslims in America (currently estimates at 3.45-million people). They found that out of the surveyed responses in the United States:

  • 41% were white
  • 20% were black
  • 28% were Asian
  • 8% were Hispanic

The countries with the highest Muslim population from 2010-2015 are:

  1. Indonesia
  2. India
  3. Pakistan
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Nigeria
  6. Egypt
  7. Iran
  8. Turkey
  9. Algeria
  10. Iraq

Signifying that most Muslims are classified in the races of Indian, African, or Asian.

Related Scripture(s)/Resource(s):

Related Video(s):

#6 Are Muslims Allowed to Smoke?

Despite the fact that contemporary rulings have stated that smoking is of severe damage to one’s health and should be avoided – many Muslims still smoke.  

There are mixed views on tobacco, known as fatwa in Islam, but officially in Islamic law, smoking is prohibited for Muslims. Although it may be considered toxic, addicting, and impure to some, smoking is very popular in the Muslim culture.

This table from The United States National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health breaks down smoking prevalence in 30 Muslim countries, surveying populations of 100% Muslim people. They write:

“A fifth of the world’s population is Muslim,1 and most Muslims live in areas where the prevalence of smoking is high and often increasing.2 But even among the many Muslims living in Europe, smoking prevalence (particularly among men) remains high. For example, in England in 2004 the overall prevalence of smoking was 40% in Bangladeshi men and 29% in Pakistani men compared with 24% among the male general population.”

Smoking is officially banned for Muslims because it is harmful and addicting, both of which are haram (sinful and prohibited). Al-Quran 2:195 states, “Do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction,” and this is the doctrine of thought that Muslims follow.

The Tempest – Smoking as a Hijabi

Related Scripture(s):

  • Al-A’raaf (7:157): “And He makes good things halaal for them and bad things haraam.”
  • “Do not kill yourselves” (Al-Quran 4:29)

Related Video(s):

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