Fortunately, one of the advantages of being an Islamic Studies student is that when they try to tell you that something you do, want, or think is haraam and you smile at them and give them a sharp answer (well, I never do this, but still) in a very gentle manner, they never bother you again, though some will insist that you stop because "God knows what's best for you, and you don't."
But this isn't about the haraam police in general. This is about vegetarian and vegan Muslims and the troubles they receive from their fellow Muslim "brothers" and "sisters." (No, not all Muslims hate on these people.)
Let's be clear on the definitions. There are different types of vegetarians out there, but generally, vegetarians find it acceptable to eat anything except meat (not all of them believe all humans should be vegetarian). That is, they can eat yogurt, cheese,eggs, and other dairy products. Vegans, however, avoid anything and everything that comes from animals, not just their meats: they don't drink milk (they use soy milk, almond milk, etc.), don't eat cheese, don't even take vitamins if they have any animal products at all. Fortunately, though, at least in the U.S., virtually everything can come vegan, including cheese :D My last roommate was vegan, and I used to tease her that she eats fake chicken even though she doesn't think people should eat chicken. And, girrrrrrrrrrrrrl, that time I was with her, I fell in love with vegan foods! Of course, I couldn't resist my love for meat, so I still made sure to eat meat (that is, REAL meat!) as often as possible. Whaaat, I'm a Pashtun - we're notorious for loving meat!
Anyway, so that roommate of mine is a convert to Islam. She converted less than a year ago. She'd tell me how so many Muslims keep telling her that you can't be vegan and Muslim. Reason? Because you're supposedly forbidding on yourself something that God has allowed you. Oh, you'll be surprised how many people actually fall for this line of thinking. I'm happy that my roommate didn't. In fact, for her, it was like, "If I have to choose one, then I choose vegan. This is my lifestyle, and if any religion's gonna forbid it on me, then I don't want to follow that religion." I completely agree with her.
|He's vegie? I had no idea!|
Then I recently found out that another of my friends is vegetarian. She's Indian. Lovely girl. She tells me how difficult it is being a vegetarian (let alone vegan! Can you imagine?!), how, for girls in her society, it's usually about "No one will marry you!" People tell her that the reason she can't or doesn't want to eat meat is that her Imaan (faith) is narrow. What the hell! Who's anyone to tell someone else when their imaan is low? WHAT about eating meat makes a person stronger in faith than someone else? You go to a party or gathering, and you have nothing to eat because every meal is stuffed with meat, and so you're screwed. And then people pity you instead of respecting you and making sure that you don't go hungry as their guest. "What will happen after you get married? Your in-laws will not tolerate your being a vegetarian. You must change." BS like this. But why? What could a family lose by cooking ONE meal that has no meat in it? Since when did it become a law of Islam, a law of God that we eat meat every single day no matter what? Since when did it become an obligation, a fard to eat meat, period?
My heart goes out to her. We can be so cruel, so vicious--and especially when it's in the name of God. Nothing can be better, sometimes, than hating someone, rejecting someone, even killing someone (physically or emotionally or mentally, or in all ways!) if we think we're doing it for God or religion. Shame on us.
Moving on. So, I was saying how I have some vegetarian friends (my former roommate is the only vegan one). Some of them were non-Muslims, and they were forced to become vegetarian after converting to Islam because the ever-present haraam police told them that Islam forbids vegetarian lifestyles!! Most of them gave in. The Muslim buddies assured them that they will "get used to" it after a while! It's as if only "good" Muslims eat meat; if you want to be a "good" Muslim, you should eat meat too. You'll get used to it eventually. You'll throw up, get sick, but it's okay -- you'll get used to it, and it's what GOD wants you to do.
Doesn't it sicken you when we disguise ourselves as God just to control people, to weaken them, to hurt them?
Now for my opinion, in case it's not obvious in the above part. There's a famous hadith in which the Prophet (pbuh) doesn't eat honey because he just doesn't like it. His followers, who want to do exactly what he does and avoid everything he avoids (understandably - he's our Prophet, the paragon of Muslimness, so following his footsteps to the best of our ability is our aim), (want to) stop eating honey as well. So God sends him revelation that he needs to start eating honey because people are thinking that it's haraam. There's another hadith in which we're told not to make haraam for ourselves what God has made halaal on us. This makes sense - when it's something that's being institutionalized. For instance, when figures of authority forbid us to eat chicken, I would completely understand the Muslims' response to such absurdity, since something is essentially being made unlawful to us when it is obviously lawful. But when it concerns an individual preference, personal taste, what does it have to do with anyone else? When someone makes a personal choice and does not force that choice upon anyone else, why is it any of our business? Don't know about you, but I often feel like minding other people's business and pretending to be God and being a part of the Haraam Police is our way of avoiding the real problems our people are facing. This way, we get something smaller to talk about and make ourselves feel good, in such a cheap way, because we think we brought someone to the Path of God -- when we only made them hate that Path more.
So I think it's ludicrous to assume that you must NEVER make haraam for yourself what God has made halaal for you. There's a difference between halaal (permissible) and fard (obligatory). Eating meat is not fard; it's permissible. Yes, you're required to keep yourself healthy to the best of your ability, but at least in the U.S., we have vegan foods -- we have vegan cheese, vegan milk, vegan EVERYTHING, and you get what I call "fake chicken" and "fake protein" and so on. So if the haraam police tell us that we must eat meat because that's where we get our protein from and our bodies need protein, remind their ignorant asses that you don't get protein from meat only.
And who's anyone else to tell you what's good for you? God didn't tell me what's "good" for me in terms of food. He only told me what halaal options I have, and He certainly never said it's absolutely obligatory for me to eat meat. Dude, I eat it because I grew up with it all my life, and now when I judge the food at a party on how good the meat is!
So, if you're vegan or vegetarian and are Muslim and are tired of heating Muslims tell you that it's haraam to be vegan/vegetarian and Muslim, ignore them. Be yourself. Stay yourself. Love yourself! No one knows your body better than you know yourself (yes, God knows it even better, but He never told you what things you're required to eat; only what you are forbidden to eat), and no one knows your preferences better than you do.
As for those Muslim vegetarians/vegans who come from societies like my friend's above: you have all my support! I am so sorry you have to live with such narrow-minded people around you. I understand our people want the best for us and so we hate it when they're sad because of us, but remember that in especially cases like this, we care more about what other people think of us than how we feel about ourselves. We live *for* other people. And I'm not saying we shouldn't respect our elders or our people, but when this harms us emotionally or metnally and their reasons are not fair or good and certainly nothing God would support, why let them control us?