Sub-Index for: Animals & Plants

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Question

If we know that veal is produced by exceptionally cruel means, is it wrong to eat it? It seems inconsistent that Islam, which affords animals so many rights, could sanction this.

In some countries, young calves are kept in what are called veal crates, which are tiny stalls which do not allow the calf to turn around, lie down, or even extend its limbs. The calves suffer physically and mentally. They get leg and joint disorders since they cannot use their muscles. Their bones break, and they get sores from where their bodies rub against the edge of the crate. They develop neurotic behaviour including: head tossing and head shaking. They start chewing the air through distraction.

Answered by

Sheikh Muhammad al-Manî`î, professor at Umm al-Qurâ University
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has decreed proficiency in everything. If you kill, then kill or slaughter something, then do so in a good manner. He should sharpen his blade and make it easy for the animal.” [Sahîh Muslim]

Muslims are categorically prohibited from abusing animals. The Prophet (peace be upon him) informs us of how a woman earned Allah’s wrath for her mistreatment of a cat. She entered the Hellfire on account of a cat that she imprisoned, neither feeding it nor letting it hunt for food. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

Islamic Law requires from us to be good and kind in our treatment of everything. This is especially true for those mute animals who are unable to protest or defend themselves against abuse.

Even when it comes to our lawfully slaughtering an animal for food, Islam takes the animal’s interests into consideration. We must make sure the blade is sharp, so as not to prolong the pain of slaughter by using a dull knife. We are not supposed to allow the animal to see the blade beforehand.

How much worse is it for one who raises a newborn calf in a state of abuse and misery, so that it suffers from the ailments and trauma described in your question? If the animal dies on account of such mistreatment, it is possible that the ones responsible for the calf will be punished in Hell on account of it, just like the lady who abused the cat was punished.

As for eating the veal itself, this is permissible as long as it does not cause any harm to the health of those who eat it. The meat of the calf is lawful, provided it is properly slaughtered. If eating the meat poses a health risk, then it will be unlawful to do so, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There shall be neither harm nor the causing of harm.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah, Mustadrak al-Hâkim, and others]

And Allah knows best.