Health and Prophetic Counsel Regarding Beef and Milk Consumption – SeekersGuidance Answers Spotlight

Health and Prophetic Counsel Regarding Beef and Milk Consumption – SeekersGuidance Answers Spotlight

Answered by Imam Afroz Ali


Question: Asalamu Alaikum

I recently heard that the Prophet Muhammad, SalAllahu Alayhi Wasallam, did not ever eat beef in his entire lifetime and that he in fact said that the meat of cows produces sickness whilst its milk is a cure/shifaa’. Is this true and, if so, what implications does this have on our consumption of beef?

Answer: Praise Be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, The Compassionate, The Merciful. And, may the peace and blessings of Allah descend upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and their followers.

Assalām Alaikum,

Thank you very much regarding your question; it is quite an intriguing one for us today, and may Allah, The Exalted, grant us understanding and beneficial knowledge from the examples and guidance given to us from our Beloved Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah, The Magnificent.

Hadīth About Bovine Meat

There is no Hadīth available to us that I am aware of which confirms that the Prophet in fact ate beef. I have asked this of a few of my Teachers, who are experts on Hadīth collections, who have also confirmed the same.

However, we do have a number of authenticated statements of the Prophet, which does confirm that beef, i.e., cow’s meat (also called bovine meat), contains illness and its milk, and in fact its fat and milk contains cure and healing.

For example, Imam Suyuti in his al-Jāmi’ as-Saghīr narrates that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah, said, “The milk of the bovine (cow) contains healing, its fat is a medicine, and its meat a cause for sickness.”

Tabarani also narrates the above-mentioned Hadīth as authentic, and so did Bayhaqi in his Sunan and Hakim in his Mustadrak.

Applying the Hadīth

So, what does afore-mentioned mean to us?

Firstly, bovine meat, i.e., beef, is well authenticated in the Qur’an to be permitted:

He only prohibits for you the eating of animals that are already dead (carrion), blood, the meat of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than Allah. But if one is forced, one neither desiring it nor transgressing limits, he incurs no sin for Allah is All-forgiving, Most Merciful. [2:173]

Given there are many other proofs of its permissibility, then the Prophetic Saying about beef should be taken as a serious warning and a matter for us to investigate further and learn more about. Today we know a lot about the meat-producing industry, red meat and related major health risks.

There are numerous books and research papers which are publicly availably that provides evidence-based proofs why red meat in fact is a health risk at large consumption levels which are common today. This is well corroborated with numerous Prophetic Examples, exhorting us to eat moderately, and in fact to eat quite a small amount!

Healthy Recommendations

1. Reduce beef/red meat consumption.

Amongst a plethora of studies, I would like to quote Marji McCullough, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society; “The association between consumption of red and processed meats and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, is very consistent.”

Further, after a systemic review of scientific studies, an expert panel of the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded in 2007 that “… red or processed meats are convincing or probable sources of some cancers,” further providing evidence for a link between red meat, processed meat, and colorectal cancer, and limited but highly probabilistic for links to lung, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers.

2. Try to consume organic meat for non-regular consumption.

Organic and naturally nurtured cattle contain high levels of health-conducive fats within the meats, which are often either stripped or not present in the modern-day mass-produced “lean beef”. There are plenty of studies regarding this. For example, British Journal of Nutrition (volume 105, issue 01, January 2011), provided detailed evidence that red meat from animals fed on grass for as little as six weeks before slaughter contains significantly more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than meat from grain-fed mass-production animals. Omega-3 fatty acids are important in our diets: it reduces the likelihood of atherosclerotic plaque from rupturing and causing a number of heart and artery issues, including heart attack and death.

3. Consume organic non-homogenised milk

Again numerous studies are available that provide high- level evidence that milk from organically raised cows are in fact a regenerative cure for the body. A rigorously researched study published in the Journal of Dairy Science (volume 94, issue 01, January 2011) concluded after a 2-year research that organic milk had higher concentrations of nutritionally desirable fatty acids, and was healthier for our consumption.

Modern cattle production (as opposed to traditional farming practices) to feed the already-obese world is also amongst the most significant environmentally destructive forces. I recommend the following books as valuable resources to understand the science (and politics) of food:

i) The China Study, authored by T. Colin Campbel and others;
ii) The Ethics of What We Eat, authored by Peter Singer and Jim Mason;
iii) Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, authored by Vandana Shiva

The ethics and spirituality of producing and consuming food is a seriously important science within the vast knowledge of Islam, and we need to undertake further high-level scientific studies to understand the nature of food based on Prophetic Advice, and how it can help humanity in improving health and wellbeing.

Insha Allah the answer above is of help to you.


4 Responses
  1. B.a. says:

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

    I really appreciate when Muslims look into natural medicines and fixing the diet as per the Sunnah, as many of our pious predecessors such as Imam Shafi and Imam Dhahabi rahimahumullah were extremely knowledgable in medicine. Masha Allah!

    However, many people lump lamb meat or even goat into the same category as beef. If you look at the old books of Tibb, beef was indeed deemed hard to digest and unhealthy except for those who were physically active, such as farmers and labourers. However, lamb was considered the king of meats and was eaten by our Prophet sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam.

    With the plethora of confusing information provided by studies and nutritionists funded by companies with ulterior motives, most people have fallen for every new diet fad that crops up every few years: low-fat, vegan, carb-free, etc. As Muslims its best to leave these strange diet experiments and return to the beautiful legacies our scholars have left us with their books on deen, and medicine/science as well.

    Some references that are helpful:
    Imam Dhahabis book: Tibb an Nabawi
    Shaykh Ibn Qayyims Tibb an Nabawi
    Hakim Archuletta
    Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

    I really appreciate you promoting non homogenized milk. We’ve had no idea for so long how processed even our milk is, which is something important in Tibb an Nabi! May Allah give the Ummah health and may they use it for His pleasure.

  2. Naeema Zaman says:

    Thank you for clarifying. I wonder, when given the fact that most Halal meat shops do not care how the animal was treated or what it was fed before they bought it and slaughtered it in the name of Allah, whether it is better to skip this meat altogether, and buy grassfed meat (which is non zabiha).

    • Malick says:

      If one understands the spirit rather than the letter of the rule, one sees that halal goes beyond the simple recitation of Allah’s name during slaughter, and in my view, is really not the most important one, considering which meat is targeted, the one on which the name of God was not recited, or the one on which another name was recited? It is pretty well documented that the meat industry is broken, each condition, each step of the process that brings meat to our table is meant to maximize the profits for some and the side effects for everyone, including the environment. I believe one should not eat that much meat to begin with, ethically, for it distances one from the awareness that that meat comes from a creature. One should not eat processed meats at all, for it is no longer meat and is dangerous to the health. To eat supermarket beef is to eat stress, packaged as convenience, stress from crowded conditions, stress from the wrong feed, stress from slaughterhouses, stress from hormones, antibiotics, mistreatment, coloring…
      I buy my half of beef from a local rancher, who brings someone to shoot the steer from a distance then takes it to the butcher shop for processing. The steer is grass fed, pastured raised, relatively happy. While Allah’s name is not recited on it, I feel better consuming it than I have ever felt eating any other meat, even halal. (Interestingly, I got the farmer to say In the Name of God before he shot the sheep I last bought from him. Previously, I slaughtered them myself.

    • Eman says:

      I wonder the same thing. Isn’t it within our responsibility to ensure that the animal is treated a certain way and fed certain foods and allowed certain freedoms such as roaming in order for it to be really Islamically raised? If a cow lived all of its life trapped and force fed corn and not allowed to live a natural life then at the end it was zabiha slaughtered is it really a zabiha ready animal? Isn’t it our responsibility to treat all creatures made by Allah with care and respect? Organic zabiha meat is not available anywhere near me. I’ve tried the mail order organic zabiha meat but it is incredibly expensive.

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