Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Salam. Is there an alternative to Qurbani? I’m a vegetarian so don’t agree with giving the money to spend on meat or the slaughter of an animal (yes I know it’s a bit controversial but vegetarianism is allowed in Islam) but I would like to offer something instead. I don’t live in or near a Muslim community so cannot ask anyone, so I thought I’d ask for advice here? Jazak Allah khairan.
Answer: Assalam alaykum
While being vegetarian is a personal choice that is permissible in our religion—as eating meat is simply permissible (mubah), not per se recommended, let alone obligatory—the definition of a “Muslim” is one who accepts to submit (taslim) to the Command of Allah, in whom they believe (iman), which is “accepting the truth and reality” of God).
Thus, if it is established that Allah Most High has commanded us—as He commanded past Prophets and their peoples—to slaughter as
(a) an expression of our slavehood, submission, and deference to His Command and Will;
(b) in gratitude to His countless blessings upon us; and
(c) as an specific, Divinely-Commanded, expression of concern for the poor, needy, and of maintaining relations with family and friends… then our faith and submission would entail leaving our personal preferences for the Divine Command.
This is one of the many lessons from the deep and challenging example of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) when he was commanded to sacrifice his dearly beloved son.
While we’re not challenged in such testing ways, we are called to leave our preferences for what Allah has preferred—out of His Lordship, Will, and Wisdom—for us. In this, we have complete certitude (yaqin) in His Wisdom, Justice, and Mercy, for all creation, for He tells us, “Truly, My Mercy encompasses all things.” [Qur’an]
In terms of ethical concerns for animals, there are many options, including: choosing to slaughter animals raised ethically, and slaughtering them according to the sunna—or seeking out individuals or agencies that slaughter in such a manner. Other ethical choices would include sending one’s money to countries where people are in desperate need of food—and where meat is a luxury and joy that most experience only rarely.
Please also see:
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani