Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 03 Sep 2020


Did Prophet Muhammad try to discourage His followers from consuming meat?

[Shri Anil asked: Swami, in the Hadith there is a reference in which Prophet Muhammad prohibits, on a certain occasion, the eating of the meat of donkeys. In those days and in that desert area, people used to even eat lizards. Prophet Muhammad did not encourage eating lizards also, as per the following verses. Does this mean that He was gradually trying to get His devotees to abstain from eating non-vegetarian food?

The passage from the Hadith is as follows:

A devotee said: I live in a low land abounding in lizards, and these are the common diet of my family, but he (the Holy Prophet) did not make any reply. We said to him: Repeat it (your problem) and so he repeated it, but he did not make any reply. (It was repeated thrice) Then Allah's Messenger () called him out at the third time saying: O man of the desert, verily Allah cursed or showed wrath to a tribe of Bani Isra'il and distorted them to beasts which move on the earth. I do not know, perhaps this (lizard) may be one of them. So, I do not eat it, nor do I prohibit the eating of it.]

Swami replied: The highest justice is practicing non-violence towards good living beings. Violence against bad living beings is not a sin; instead, it is meritorious. We must protect good living beings and punish bad living beings. This is divine nature (Paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṃ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām…—Gītā). But violence towards bad living beings should only be adopted as a last resort. This is so that the bad living being—especially the bad human being—gets a chance for reformation by listening to the preaching of spiritual knowledge. Unless this sacred option of preaching to reform has already been exhausted, violence should not be adopted.

God throws sinful souls into the permanent liquid fire of hell forever, only after trying again and again for their reformation. Even the sanctioning of the human rebirth of some souls is done by God only for this noble purpose of reformation. Jesus agreed to this point that human rebirth exists for some souls in order to give them a second chance to reform. Even the disciples of Jesus had mentioned this concept, but it was unfortunately deleted from the scripture later on. However, the deletion of this concept was also done with a good aim. The concept of human rebirth is good to realize the omnipotence and supreme affection of God for souls. But for the ordinary human being, the concept of human rebirth is not so good. When students are told that they can attempt the examination only once and that their passing or failing the examination will be treated as final, they get serious and study hard. The majority will then pass the examination. But if they are told that there is another chance for failed students to clear the examination, they will exploit that facility and neglect their studies. Hence, we vote for the deletion of the concept of human rebirth from the scripture. If a certain concept is not mentioned in the scripture for some good purpose, it does not mean that the omission is bad. Several lies are told in the spiritual path because they lead to the progress of souls. Several truths were hidden in the past and even negated, because there was the possibility that people might get misled by them and go off on the wrong path.

Coming to the main point, harmless animals and birds must not be killed for the sake of food. Even from the point of medical science, non-vegetarian food is not good for health. In fact, all the necessary nutrients that promote health are found in vegetarian food. Even animals and birds derive these healthful nutrients from vegetarian food, after all. The meat of a dead living being can be consumed as food. But a living being should never be killed for the purpose of food. The followers of a branch of Hinduism called the Kāpālikas, eat flesh from dead bodies, but they do not kill living beings. Hence, this branch is well-respected. God came as Buddha and Ṛṣabhadeva to preach this non-violence towards harmless living beings.


| Shri Datta Swami | Did Prophet Muhammad try to discourage His followers from consuming meat? | Parirtaanaaya saadhuunaam, vinaashaayacha dushkrutaam Gita Giita