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I've come across to the following hadith:

عليكم بألبان البقر و سمنانها ، و إياكم و لحومها ، فإن ألبانها و سمنانها دواء و شفاء ، و لحومها داء
... The milk of the cow contains healing, its fat is a medicine, and beware (iyyakum) of its meat, which causes sickness..

Which may be found in this video quoted by Hamza Yusuf, in Suyutis book Aljami' As-saghir, by Tabarani as well as Al-Bayhaqi and it also was declared as sahih by Albani.


While this hadith often is used as a default understanding that everything that causes harm is forbidden:

There should be neither harming (darar) nor reciprocating harm (dirar).
Link

This hadith or this understanding is for instance prohibiting smoking and other things that may or do cause harm. If the case is that everything that do cause harm is prohibited, and this hadith about cow meat causing sickness, wouldn't the same conclusion be drawn, that eating cow meat is prohibited?

  • Red meat is very nutritious and contains many vitamins, antioxidants etc. However eating too much of it is bad for you. So I would suggest that if you do eat red meat, eat it in moderation. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. . .Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)." I'm not exactly sure the number of times a week that is considered to be in moderation, but one would assume the limit to be where it is considered to be unhealthy. – Dinar Mar 31 '17 at 4:48
  • Thanks for your comment but that isn't actually relevant to my question itself. – Kilise Mar 31 '17 at 6:07
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    Cow meat is a type of red meat. – Dinar Mar 31 '17 at 15:08
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+50

Sheikh Riyad al-Musaymiri, professor at Al-Imam University in Riyadh commented on this issue thus:

In accordance with the general principles of Islamic Law, beef is essentially lawful. Allah says: “It is He who created for you all that is in the Earth.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 29]

Allah also says: “It is He who has put forth the Earth for His creatures.” [Surah al-Rahman: 10]

This hadith, which is used as evidence to support the opinion that beef consumption is disliked, is of disputed authenticity among scholars. The stronger view is that it is unauthentic.

This view is supported by the hadith related by Jabir that the Prophet (peace be upon him) slaughtered a cow on `A’ishah’s behalf on the Day of Sacrifice. [Sahih Muslim (1319)]

It is also supported by the fact that `A’ishah said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) sacrificed cows on behalf of his wives.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (5559)]

From this, it would seem apparent that, in Islamic Law, beef consumption is not disliked.

Shaykh Al Albani who declared this hadith as saheeh said:

Yes, it has been authenticated from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم during his farewell pilgrimage, that he sacrificed a cow for his wives. And it has also been authenticated that he صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ordered us with the fat of the cow and prohibited us from its meat, because its fat is a cure and its meat is a disease.

The scholars have reconciled between this hadith and the hadith of his sacrificing the cow for his wives, by stating the intention behind the prohibition of cow’s meat is only referring to consuming large quantities of it. As for eating it sometimes; there is no problem or any harm in this. And it is without any doubt permissible; because the intent behind the prohibition of beef is to consume large quantities of it; and to use beef as a replacement for the meat of sheep, goats and camels. This is the answer of the scholars.

Also; Ibn Qayyim wrote in 'Tibb An-Nabawi':

"Cow meat is cold and dry, heavy on the stomach and produces black, bilious blood that is only suitable for hard workers. Eating cow meat excessively for those who are not used to it causes black bilious illnesses. The harm that this meat causes will be neutralised when one eats it with spices, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. The meat of fat calves is one of the best, mildest and tastiest types of food. It is warm and wet and if fully digested, it provides good nutrition."

As for you comparing smoking to cow meat which may be harmful if consumed in large quantities, this is an invalid argument, because these foods are permissible and beneficial in principle, and are only harmful in certain cases, such as if one consumes too much of them. But smoking will always be harmful for your health and it will harm people around you.

Shaykh al-Islam (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

If he fears that it will harm him, then it becomes haram for him to eat it. It is not permissible for a person to eat that which will harm him or to wear that which will harm him or to sit on that which will harm him. Even the Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them), with regard to prostration, if the heat would harm them, they would spread out their garments and prostrate on them, lest they be harmed and so that they might be at ease in prayer.

What Shaykh al-Islam mentioned comes under the heading of fear of harm and indigestion, meaning that it is not as a result of the food itself, rather it is the result of consuming too much of it.

  • I like your references! But in my opinion its not relevant to my question if the hadith is sahih or not. But I am looking for a more detailed explanation of my questions, which isn't discussed in the quotes. – Kilise May 10 '17 at 14:47
  • Didn't you want the opinion of scholars regarding the prohibition of cow meat? – Casanova May 10 '17 at 14:50
  • Ok I have edited my answer. Hope it helps more now – Casanova May 10 '17 at 15:07
  • +1 Great. Smoking was just an example. You could change it to sugar, who according to most scientists harms the health. – Kilise May 10 '17 at 15:11
  • I think smoking fits better lol – Casanova May 10 '17 at 15:15
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First of all we should check: does the qur'an prohibit eating cow meat?

No (read for example 6:142-147), where Allah allowed eating all livestock, but showed why some of that was partly prohibitted for jews!

Of course there's one restriction which is also a general rule from the qur'an: we shouldn't eat in excess, and always try to find and follow the middle way!

Also note that if this hadith was sahih? Why did the Prophet () offer a cow as a sacrifice? (See for example sahih al-Bukhari and sahih Muslim).
This is by far not the only contradiction to this hadith showing that the Prophet() ate cow meat (see for example in sahih al-Bukhari and sahih Muslim when he came close to Medina during his hijra, again in sahih al-Bukhari and sahih Muslim where he accepted it as sadaqa)

There are many so called explanations of this hadith: I think @Casanova pointed at almost all of them.

I'd like to add an other one which is quoted in this fatwa in Arabic: This Prohibition for cow meat is not general, but rather special, as for example the hijaz is a very dry area and therefore the meat of cows there is also rather dry which made this meat causing sickness or harm to the people of hijaz.

However sheik al-'Othaymen seems to hold a very different opinion: When asked how to solve the contradiction which comes due to the different qualifications of this hadith, earlier scholars have mostly considered it as da'if, while later scholars have qulaified it as sahih?

وسئل ابن عثيمين في حديث لحوم البقر الذي جاء في آخره: أن "لحمه داء".بعض العلماء المعاصرين صححه، فكيف الجمع بين تصحيحهم وبين تضعيف بعض علماء السلف؟

الجواب: لا يحتاج هذا إلى جمع، أتظن أن ربك سبحانه وتعالى يبيح لك ما فيه ضررك؟ لا يمكن، إذا كان أباح لحم البقر بنص القرآن، كيف يقال: إن لحمها داء؟!! إذا كان الحديث الشاذ المخالف للأرجح منه في الرواية يرد، فالحديث المخالف للقرآن يجب رده.
(source where you might find other explanations of this hadith)

He answered promptly: There's no reason to solve an issue, do you think your Creator would allow you something which might cause harm?
That's impossible, if Allah has clearly allowed to eat the meat of cows by qur'an, how can we say it's meat cuases sickness?
If a hadith shadh is contradicting a stronger source, we must reject it, so a hadith contrddicting the qur'an has to be rejected!

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    Thanks for your answer! I read a similar fatwa about the prohibiton being just in Hijaz, i think it was ibn jawzi. But surely, the opinion of Al-Uthayman was surprising! was not aware of that – Kilise Jun 29 '17 at 7:52

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