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What does Islam say about eating animals?

I know it restricts us from eating pork, but in general, does it say that it is preferable not to eat animals? Also if it say we can eat animals, isn't it mentioned in the Qu'ran that it is preferable not to eat animals?

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The Qur'an clearly permits eating animals where it says,

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. Indeed, Allah ordains what He intends.

In addition to pork, which is clearly condemned in the Qur'an, there are various opinions forbidding or discouraging the eating of particular animals like carnivores or certain seafood, but there's no reason to believe that eating animals in general is discouraged or prohibited.

  • I am not sure if this is answering his question. He is not asking if the Quran permits it. I am sure he/she knows that already. The idea that it's mentioned in the Quran that animals is halal to eat doesn't mean its preferable or the way around. – Kilise May 15 '17 at 19:52
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There is no verse in the Quran saying its preferable not to eat meat but there are indications for that in the Sunnah of the Prophet.

If we look at the Muslims, traditionally, they wouldn't eat much meat:

“Meat is not a necessity in Shari’ah, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat, if they were wealthy, like middle class—once a week on Friday. If they were poor—on the Eids.”
- Hamza Yusuf (The Science of Shari’ah)

he continues mentioning that the Prophet was a semi-vegetarian:

So traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians. The Prophet was, I mean, technically, the Prophet (SAWS) was in that category. He was not a meat-eater. Most of his meals did not have meat in them.

In the Muwatta, it is mentioned that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said about meat:

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيدٍ، أَنَّ عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، قَالَ إِيَّاكُمْ وَاللَّحْمَ فَإِنَّ لَهُ ضَرَاوَةً كَضَرَاوَةِ الْخَمْرِ ‏.‏
Beware of meat because it is addictive as khamr (wine)

Now, there is a hadith that indicates that eating too much meat isn't good.

Conclusion
While one cannot find any statements about that in the Quran, there are indications in the sunnah and history of Muslims that one shouldn't eat meat too often. There are certainly hadiths speaking about over eating and the humans eager to fill his ego.

  • Did the non-Muslims at that time eat meat in the same frequency as Muslims did? Meat may have not been easily available during those times! – Aboudi May 15 '17 at 19:24
  • @Aboudi You got a point, but it doesn't necessarily mean one should eat lots of meat when its available. Hamza Yusuf adds (in the same source as in the answer) that: "And the other hadith in the Muwatta—there is a chapter called ‘Bab al-Laham,’ the chapter of laham, the chapter of meat. Both are from Sayyidina Umar. And Umar, during his khilafa, prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row. He only allowed them to eat [it] every other day....", then as I mentioned there is the hadith speaking about cow meat "، و إياكم و لحومها" – Kilise May 15 '17 at 19:50
  • Interesting, I knew that one of the khaliphs obstained from eating meat in sympathy with those who couldn't aford it but I never knew they forbade people from consuming it as stated in your comment, would you happen to know why? Sounds like it is a form disciplining the sole – Aboudi May 15 '17 at 21:57
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    @Aboudi I think it was Umar who did that in sympathy to the poor. (I remember that from the tv serie of his life.) Apart from this speech from Hamza Yusuf I haven't heard this before. I also have heard in another speech of Hamza Yusuf that the students of certain salaf used to make their students to promise to not eat meat while studying with them. That do sound like a form of disciplining. This is also one of the reasons I stated in the conclusion that "there are indications in the sunnah and history of Muslims that one shouldn't eat meat too often.", more than that i cannot say. – Kilise May 15 '17 at 22:05

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