First of all, it should be clear that one should not think that it is better to abstain from eating meat, that doing so will be rewarded, or that being a vegetarian is closer to Allah than not, and so on. It is not permitted to draw closer to Allah in this way. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who is the best of mankind and the closest to Allah, used to eat meat and honey, and drink milk. When one of his Companions wanted to give up meat, he told him that this was wrong. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that there was a group of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); one of whom said, “I will never marry women”; another said, “I will not eat meat”; a third said, “I will not sleep on a bed”; and a fourth said, “I will fast and never break my fast.” When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was informed about this, he praised and thanked Allah, then said: “What is wrong with the people who say such and such? I pray and I sleep; I fast and I break my fast; and I marry women. Whoever deviates from my Sunnah (way) does not belong to me.” (Reported by An-Nasa’i)

There is a great difference between not eating a certain kind of food because of not liking it, or one has been put off it – for example by seeing an animal slaughtered when one was a child, which may leaving the person with a distaste for meat – and other similar reasons, and thinking that meat is haram (unlawful) by abstaining from it is an act of worship, as the Brahmins, monks and others do. (Based on a Fatwa given by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid)

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

“Allah has created some animals for our food as Allah says in the Qur’an in surat an-Nahl, ‘And cattle He has created for you. From them you drive wont and numerous benefits and of their meat, you eat.’ (An-Nahl: 5-8)

Muslims do recognize animal rights. Animal rights means that we should not abuse them, torture them and when we have to use them for meat, we should slaughter them with a sharp knife, mentioning the name of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Allah has prescribed goodness in everything. When you sacrifice, sacrifice well. Let you sharpen your knife and make it easy for the animal to be slaughtered.’

So, Muslims are not vegetarianists. However, if someone prefers to eat vegetables, then he is allowed to do so. Allah has given us permission to eat meat of slaughtered animals, but He has not made it obligatory upon us.”