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I had debated whether asking this but given the very good answers on this question I thought it would be worth a shot. I have a character in my story who is a vampire and a practicing Muslim. Specifically not undead, but a living being with altered physiology and a craving for blood similar to alcoholism. They are more or less a normal person and don't go around biting other living things.

Originally the idea was that the character satisfied their cravings for blood by making food with blood byproducts like blood sausage. However, upon further research, blood is one of the few foods that is completely haram with almost no exceptions. Given this, I'm not sure how I can depict them being both a vampire and a good Muslim, because if they were a good Muslim they'd abstain from blood entirely.

The only loophole I could think to this law is the degree that Muslims are allowed to eat non-halal foods in the event of necessity if there is no other food available. If this is correct this would mean that a vampire that has to feed on blood would be exempt from the restriction (because they need blood to survive), but my character would still not fall into the loophole.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 19 at 12:52
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Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

In the case of eating forbidden food, the Qur'an offers an out for those who really did not want to eat it, but were compelled to by hunger. The Islam stack exchange has an answer which provides 4 verses to this end. Feel free to peruse the answer there, with the associated commentary, as they are naturally far more invested in these rules than others of us might be, but I will quote one of the verses here:

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (2:173)

I remember the mental anguish of a vampire in Interview with a Vampire, who decided that human blood was no morally acceptable to drink, and tried his best to subsist on rats. In this case, the rules condemn all blood, not just human blood, so even the rats would fall under these rules.

Now if your vampire must kill a human to get their blood, that could be a different story. Murder of a believer may be more difficult to forgive. I will not speculate on what the Qur'an may say on killing non-believers to subsist. I am rather confident that none of the rules were designed to support vampires (Christianity has the same issue, as do many other religions), so the readings may become more tortured there. But at least the blood aspect of this scenario would be deemed acceptable. One might hypothesize that the vampire could put themselves into a position where killing is acceptable? Perhaps they engage in warfare as a "livelihood?" I don't know the particular rules for Islam, but I have found all religions either have a clause permitting killing in warfare, or that religion doesn't last very long.

Now one could explore an interesting corner case of human(?) psychology, riffing on the phrase "... desiring it..." Your vampire could live in mortal fear: "What if I start desiring it? What if blood starts to taste good and I crave it?" This could start to fall into a corner care of the rules. Islam, like all religions, calls for a degree of interpretation of the rules. Most practitioners who face a thorny issue, like which direction to face when praying in space, can seek a Fatwah, requesting a scholar help them with the interpretation. If your vampires are as secretive as they are in other stories, it could be particularly difficult to explain the circumstances around these inquiries without invoking too many questions.

And now I'm intrigued by how this interacts with Ramadan. There's something decidedly not religious about "fasting" by sleeping through the entire sunrise to sunset period! And the daily prayers are interesting. Everything I've seen in my cursory search suggests they are an interesting challenge for people who work night shifts.

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They Can Try:

I think this might be more of a writing SE question and less of a worldbuilding one. I'm on both stack-exchange sites, so I'll try to hit both sides. It all has to do with the psychology of your character and the physiology you choose to have the vampire deal with. So there is no RIGHT answer, per se, but that's a philosophical view. An "absolute" right or wrong answer might be better addressed by an Imam, though.

I have had vampiric characters who desperately tried to cling to their belief systems, to the point they went to a Catholic Church are received communion (and the magic/faith system of the game had interesting things to say about that...) A good book to read that deals with something somewhat similar is When Gravity Fails, a scifi novel about a Muslim character who doesn't have much faith until after he gets cybernetic implants that are technically considered against the faith. Ironically something that made him more out of synch with his religion helped him find belief.

The struggle to be faithful in the face of a reality that makes it hard is a beautiful literary trope. In my mind, it is less critical if the character is technically following all the rules, and more important HOW he deals with the choices, and how he reconciles the seemingly impossible paradoxes of his new life. This sounds like the makings of a compelling plot element.

  • I believe Muslims are still allowed to receive transfusions (but I'm not Muslim, so I'm not 100% - on the other hand I know Muslims who work as blood bankers at hospitals) since medicine is in a separate category. Some faiths DON'T even allow this (Jehovah's witnesses, for example). Perhaps your character gets transfusions instead of eating - so then they aren't violating the letter of the restriction.
  • Perhaps there is a Muslim sect of vampires, and they have their own Imams and rules, making VERY different interpretations of the Koran to fill their needs. In this case, being a practicing Muslim becomes more definitional again - if the subgroup declares blood is essential, the character can decide if they accept the group ruling or not.
  • Your original interpretation about blood might not be completely off base. There is controversy as to whether foods that contain SOME traces of blood are acceptable or not. It looks like there may be enough wiggle room to allow a Muslim vampire who interprets things the right way to at least consider themselves practicing. The strictest interpretation would preclude things like raw beef, but not all.
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    $\begingroup$ IIRC, if the choice is between starvation and eating non halal food, Muslims are instructed to eat the food. Thus, if a Muslim vampire must drink blood to survive, then doing so is not against their religion. $\endgroup$ – rytan451 Jan 18 at 8:15
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    $\begingroup$ I'm on both sites ...of what? Are you a vampire that disapproves of consuming blood? :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Worldbuilding SE and Writing SE. But I do do phlebotomy (self-described vampire), regularly take human blood, and disapprove of eating it. I fully approve of transfusions, though. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jan 18 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ ...and here I thought I was making a joke. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 18 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre The best jokes have reality at the core and make you feel a little strange. I also do a mean Bella Lugosi impression ;) $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Jan 18 at 21:52
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Frame challenge

If this vampire is a natural creature, then the whole set up of the world in which this hypothetical is set is foundationally different, and the Qur'an (and thus Islam) would have taken this into account, to cater for the different biologies.

Take a reference in Islam of how men and women are treated equally in some obligations, and treated differently in others. Women are obligated to abstain from (normally obligatory) prayers when on their periods, while there is no such allowance for men. Another example is elderly and sick individuals are permitted to abstain from fasting if they so wish, while healthy individuals are not.

In conclusion, there would be an allowance in the Qur'an to cater for vampirism and its consequences. Thus, they would possibly either be told to abstain from feeding blood from others (if feeding was harmful to the target), or to use some harmless alternative (Animal blood? Tea? Something else?).

This can get technical and complicated though, and given that we're discussing commandments from God, many of which may have wisdoms that humanity barely can understand (God being All-Wise and humans not), you can have a lot of flexibility with deciding the details. The general rule to follow is to avoid harming others, and to weigh the benefits vs the costs (from an Islamic perspective).

However, a word of warning

I would severely refrain from any mentions of alterations to the Qur'an[1], and generally avoid going into the technical aspects as it may easily be perceived as modification of Islam in a way that is not permitted. Best to hand-wave from afar any justification. A possibly safe example would be to say "Just as Islam caters for differences between men and women, young and old, it also caters for differences between humans and vampires" without going into detail, even if asked by fans.

[1] By this, I mean the author altering the Qur'an by inserting hypothetical verses and other evidences. I don't mean to imply creating a taboo. It's just that there is a lot of justified aversion to actual alteration of the Qur'an and a lot of caution and sensitivity to anything that attempts to come close.

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    $\begingroup$ Luckily I managed to avoid the landmine you mention (and that's a good point to bring up); the story is set in a world where vampirism is hidden from the world and not common knowledge, and as such this world's Qur'an would be identical to our world. $\endgroup$ – user2352714 Jan 19 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ @user2352714 Perhaps. I'm not sure how it would work, but given Islam's God is All-Knowing, All-Merciful, etc, and that its message is for all sentient creatures on Earth, a realistic portrayal would involve some form of guidance to this subgroup of creatures. Perhaps they received their own Prophet and book, but then we're once more straying into the realm of alterations... $\endgroup$ – Ahmed Tawfik Jan 19 at 13:02
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Eat halal steaks rare or uncooked.

Blood is haram. Blood dripping off an undercooked steak, so long as that steak is killed halal, is not haram.

Sources:

  • source 1 - goes into the scripture a bit.
  • source 2 - muslimeater.com says it's fine.
  • source 3: Kibbeh nayeh is a dish of raw lamb or beef mixed with spices, and its sold in a halal shop

Your character loves their steaks rare. Now they can get their blood requirement served with chips and sauce in a classy restaurant and nobody will bat an eyelid.

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    $\begingroup$ Small correction: the terms are "halal" (permitted) and "haram" (not permitted). $\endgroup$ – Ahmed Tawfik Jan 18 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @AhmedTawfik I knew that. Yet somehow I mistyped it 3 times... $\endgroup$ – Ash Jan 18 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ Haha no problem. Still not one more to fix, in the first sentence (harem). ;) $\endgroup$ – Ahmed Tawfik Jan 18 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ the "blood" that drips off steaks is not blood, but myoglobin, which is largely absent in actual blood. Unless there is quite a coincidence, or the vampire's cravings are purely psychological (in which case you should avoid passing this info on to them), then they will not be sated with steak, no matter how rare $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jan 18 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ @o0' you seriously downvoted someone for a lack of factual accuracy regarding the dietary practices of vampires? You do understand that vampires aren't real, right? $\endgroup$ – Dawood ibn Kareem Jan 19 at 5:22

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