Feasts of the Prophet
Ramadan and vegetarianism in Islam
by Julian Bynoe


During the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, Muslims worldwide celebrate the major holi day of their religion; Ramadan. Occuring around January, Ramadan marks the period when the religion's founder, the Prophet Mohammed, received the holy words from Allah (God) and put them down into the Koran in the 7th Century AD.
During this period, adult Muslims must fast from dawn until dusk for 29-30 days to stir universal compassion and spiritual renewal for all.
According to scholars the Prophet Mohammed, although not a vegetarian, did prefer to eat vegetarian foods and had a great love and compassion for animals. His favourite foods consisted of yogurt with butter or nuts, cucumbers with dates, pomegranates, grapes and figs. He was known to have quoted: "Where there is an abundance of vegetables, a host of angels will descend on that place."

Like most of the world's religions (except Jainism), modern Islam does not fully support vegetarianism, although certain Muslim sects such as the Shi'ites and Sufis have vegetarian followers. Throughout the African, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian parts of the Islamic World, meat is a rarity, making vegetarianism a necessity and not a choice.
During Ramadan, Muslims begin the day with a pre-dawn meal (sehri) of porridge, bread or fruit. When sundown approaches, they slowly break their fast with something simple like bread and cheese or fruit, followed by a big dusk meal (iftar) like a hearty soup or stew. When the new moon is sighted, Ramadan ends in a huge feast for family and friends, lasting for several days, called Eid-ul-Fitr.