Claiming that producing dairy products causes pain to animals
Fatwa No: 333172

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. A vegan woman whom I was doing calling to Islam asked me some questions. I told her about halal meat and how the animals submit as well as the precautions and how good it is to the animals. She pretty much accepted it, praise be to Allaah. However, she asked me why I drink milk that is not halal. I told her that I do not need to, but she told me of how horrible the dairy industry is and that they torture animals and that if you buy milk, you are helping a great evil. I asked for proof and she said that it is a global thing. Basically, you can find this info online; what happens in the dairy industry. Google peta.org dairy industry and click the first link. It explains the pain that cows go through. Like, they get artificially impregnated again and again, then their baby is taken from them, which makes them really sad. They are lactated many times a day. Please read the article that I mentioned online, as it mentions more things. The question is: she says that we should boycott the dairy industry, because if we buy the milk, then we are supporting this evil. This makes sense, because we are not allowed to keep money in savings accounts in interest-based banks, and the prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in Saheeh Abu Dawood, when his companions took away the chicks from bird and it got upset, told them to return it. Also, a women entered hell because of not feeding her cat and not letting it find food itself. She also mentions good alternatives for dairy products. I advise the answerer of this question to fear Allaah, may Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that the Islamic Sharee'ah enjoins kindness towards animals, and there are abundant texts urging the Muslims to treat animals kindly and forbid them from harming or using violence with them for no valid reason. For information in this regard, please refer to fatwa 83830. This is a primary fundamental fact which we must not lose sight of.

Secondly, Islam is a realistic religion. The Islamic Sharee'ah is a realistic divine law revealed by Allaah, Who created everything. Indeed, Allaah, The Exalted, knows best what serves the interests of His creation. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Does He Who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?} [Quran 67:14] The realistic nature of the Islamic provisions preserved Islam from the exaggeration of the idealists whose ideas cannot be applied in the world of reality.

Thirdly, the Islamic Sharee'ah aims at preserving the best interests of people. Some of these benefits cannot be achieved except by means of doing that may be considered as evils. This entails acting upon the inevitable Fiqhi rule: "In case of conflict of interests or evils, the greater of two benefits should be given precedence and the lesser of two evils should be avoided." This is in order to increase the benefits and decrease the evils. If the benefits are preponderant and the evils are outweighed, then the preponderant benefit should be realized and the outweighed evil should be overlooked. Whoever fails to act upon this fundamental principle perhaps needs to look for another world to live in other than ours; and where would he find such a world!

Fourthly, it is known that animals were created for the benefit of man as a source of food and drink and transportation, and other benefits. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and (numerous) benefits, and from them you eat. And for you in them is (the enjoyment of) beauty when you bring them in (for the evening) and when you send them out (to pasture). And they carry your loads to a land you could not have reached except with difficulty to yourselves. Indeed, your Lord is Kind and Merciful. And (He created) the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and (as) adornment. And He creates that which you do not know.} [Quran 16: 5-8]

It is inconceivable that realizing these benefits could be done without incurring some sort of pain or harm to the animals. The animal experiences some sort of pain when being slaughtered and when it carries loads, but this pain and harm should be overlooked in light of the greater benefits that it yields. It is true that it is prohibited to subject the animal to torture in the process. Therefore, it has been narrated on the authority of Shaddaad ibn Aws  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, "Verily, Allaah has prescribed Ihsaan (kindness) for everything; when you kill, kill in the kindest manner; when you slaughter, slaughter in the kindest manner; and each of you should sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal (in order to reduce its pain)." [Muslim]

Fifthly, even the plants are cross-fertilized, especially in our present time, via genetic engineering, and chemical fertilizers are used for the purpose of improving crops or producing economically important species of flowers, vegetables, grains, and the like. Such operations cause some harm to the human beings who consume such plants. This means that based on this vegan woman's point of view, she should refrain from eating many vegetables, grains, and fruits as well. There is no doubt that this would cause significant hardship and difficulty, which is not accepted by the Sharee'ah or the sound human reason. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And strive for Allaah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.} [Quran 22:78]

We advise you not to follow her in her claims, which are more a kind of theorization and have nothing to do with reality. In fact, discussing such claims yields no real benefit. It is better for Muslims to devote their precious time and efforts to discussing fundamental issues pertaining to the sound creed and celebrating the beauty of Islam; this is more effective in softening their hearts and encouraging them to embrace Islam. You can avail yourself of the useful Da'wah (proselytization) websites devoted to inviting non-Muslims to Islam, such as that of Shaykh Ahmad Deedaat.

It should be underlined that it is allowable for men to make Da'wah to women provided that the Islamic etiquette and provisions governing male-female interactions are observed and there is no fear of potential temptation. However, it is better that men do Da'wah to men and women do Da'wah to women; this is more prudent and safer against potential temptation.

Allaah knows best.

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