Do you remember last week’s conversation? We looked into the opinion of the Qur’an and Sunnah on the matter of drinking milk. I promised you a scientific explanation of things, so, here it is! The scientific truth behind ‘the milk fear-factor’:
The (Scientific) Truth
Before delving into science, there is something you should know…
When milk is mentioned, we involuntarily think of ‘cow’s milk’, right? But, when the Quran and Sunnah talk about milk (i.e. laban in Arabic), it is not referring to only cow’s milk. In fact, these sources mostly refer to cattle milk in general, which can be from camels and goats as well as cows. The nutritional value of these kinds of milk are not all the same. For example, camel milk has many more nutrients than cow’s milk.
During the time of the Prophet (PBUH), it was more likely for camel’s and goat’s milk to be around, than cow’s milk.
And even the cow’s milk that the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned would have been a result of a very natural process of cow farming. This is very clear in the aforementioned hadith (see Part 1 of this article!), where he (PBUH) says, “…as it (cow) eats from all types of trees”. From this, we see that these cows were living a very natural life.
And by ‘natural life’, I mean, so natural that the cows are outside in the fresh air, eating fresh grass and other types of plants. Also, their birth is natural too! A cow will get impregnated by a bull through intimacy and carry the fetus for 9 months. Then, a calf is born through a very natural process. The calf is weaned naturally for up to three months and the farmer milks only the excess milk by hand for his other needs.
My description of such an organic life is idyllic and complete, but the reality is far from that. The problem is, most of the milk you consume does not come from such natural sources. Let me explain. This milk comes from highly industrialised and modern-day farming processes that have no regard for any ethical or environmental practices.
So, the picturesque scene that I may have created for you, unfortunately, is something of the past, as industrialisation has brought about 100s of unnatural practices to this simple and natural process.
In modern-day industrialised dairy farming, cows are artificially inseminated and kept impregnated almost continuously, in order to produce milk. I agree, how barbaric!
These cows are not allowed to have much rest between pregnancies and this creates a whole load of issues and diseases for the cows. What do you think the quick solution to this is? Why, of course! The use of antibiotics and hormones for the sick cows!
To make matters worse, these animals spend most of their lives indoors and are fed from an indoor stall or a crowded feedlot. They are expected to produce milk for more than 300 days a year! All such unnatural practices take a toll on the cow, its milk, and as a consequence, we the humans who drink it.
So when drinking cow’s milk from such sources, there is a fair chance you may develop diseases. In this case, it is no longer a cure for us. Rather, it is something of the opposite.
Most of the scientific studies that associate milk with diseases are exclusively about this industrialised, processed, packaged cow’s milk.
So when consolidating all the evidence from the Quran and Sunnah as well as the empirical research about cow’s milk, here is the truth we have been searching for:
- Cow’s milk is nutritious, healthy and wholesome, as long as the milk comes from cows that live a natural life and mostly outdoors on fresh green pastures.
- Cow’s milk could be a source of diseases, if the milk comes from cows that live in indoor stalls, eat mostly grains and are treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Finally, here is my ultimate recommendation when consuming milk or dairy:
Consume dairy from pasture-raised animals that are living a natural life. Look for the organic variety when possible (organic farms mostly don’t treat its animals with antibiotics or hormones).
I hope and pray that this enables us to take advantage of the sources of goodness that Allah subuhanwutaa’la and His messenger (PBUH) have prescribed for us.