What Is the Ruling of Eating Meat More than Once a Week?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I heard that some scholars stated that it is makruh to eat meat more than once a week (especially in the Hanbali School).

Is that true?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

It is permissible to eat meat, but one should not eat it excessively as with food in general. In the past, meat was consumed far less than it is today as it was considered a luxury food. Many historical reports attest that the middle to wealthy class would consume meat once a week (Fridays) and the poor, only on Eid. Consuming meat is more common today and consuming it more than once a week is permissible, and Allah knows best.

Do Not Be Excessive

Allah says: “O Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely He does not like the wasteful.” [Quran, 7:31]

The prohibition against wastefulness and overindulgence in eating and drinking is general in meaning and does not apply to any specific type of food or drink. Excessiveness means to exceed the customary limits in something. The prohibition is one of guidance (irshad), not prohibition (tahrim) because it is connected to the permissibility mentioned both before and after it in the Quran. [Ibn ‘Ashur, Al-Tahrir wa Al-Tanwir]

Excess Determined by Custom (‘Urf)

The specifications of wastefulness are not constant but rather determined by the prevalent custom of people in a specific time and place. [ibid]

In the time of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), consuming meat was considered a luxury. ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said that she never ate until she was full without crying because she said that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) never filled his stomach twice in one day with meat or bread. [Tirmidhi, Shama’il]

‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) Prohibited Eating Meat Everyday

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) reportedly said, “Beware of meat. It has addictiveness like the addictiveness of wine.” [Malik, Muwatta’] He prohibited eating meat every day during his caliphate.

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab saw Jabir Ibn Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with both of them) carrying some meat. He said, “What is this?” He said, “Leader of the Believers. We desired meat, and I bought some meat for a dirham.” Umar said, “Does one of you want to fill his belly apart from his neighbor or nephew? How can you overlook this ayat? ‘You squandered your good things in the life of this world and sought comfort in them [Quran, 46:20].’” [Malik, Muwatta’]

For a detailed discussion on the overconsumption of meat, see the following lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf:
Overconsumption of Meat & Prophet (PBUH) Was Semi-vegetarian

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.