Dietary Laws

“O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He whom ye worship” (2:172)

Over the past few years I have been trying to answer a lot of my own questions by reading the Qur’an and what we generally call Islamic history. This is a topic which is hugely debated all over the world and I am sure has more fatwas than any other topic. I am not a scholar and am only trying to understand whether what I am doing is Islamic or not. As I am not a Qur’anist, I will try to include Ahadith wherever I can.

Meat (including pork)

“He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (2:173)

“Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swine-flesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful (by the death-stroke), and that which hath been immolated unto idols.

And (forbidden is it) that ye swear by the divining arrows. This is an abomination. This day are those who disbelieve in despair of (ever harming) your religion; so fear them not, fear Me! This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you and have chosen for you as religion Al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin: (for him) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (5:3)

“They ask thee (O Muhammad) what is made lawful for them. Say: (all) good things are made lawful for you. And those beasts and birds of prey which ye have trained as hounds are trained, ye teach them that which Allah taught you; so eat of that which they catch for you and mention Allah’s name upon it, and observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is swift to take account” (5:4)

“And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned, for lo! it is abomination. Lo! the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if ye obey them, ye will be in truth idolaters” (6:121).

The Prophet (SAW) told Muslims who wanted to slaughter some animals using reeds, “Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animals if the Name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them…” (Bukhari).

Allah’s Messenger (SAW) forbade the eating of the meat of beasts having canine/pointed teeth (Bukhari)

Now, just by looking at the verses from the Qur’an, there can be no doubt whatsoever that pork is completely Haram for all muslims. Many of you might have met people who would eat anything other than pork saying that ‘oh, chicken is halal, i am not going to become a vegetarian just cuz i cant find a halal restaurant around!’ That sounds quite convincing, isnt it? Lets go back to the Qur’anic verses. Reading them again, you will notice that Allah prohibits consuming blood and it is common knowledge that it is the zabiha (as described in the ahadith) which removes all the blood from the body of animals. Read the verses again and you will also see that it is actually haram to eat meat of animals that have been slaughtered without mentioning Allah’s name. So next time if you cant find a halal restaurant, make some extra effort and only eat meat at a halal certified restaurant not just because its chicken. If you cant find a halal restaurant at all, try seafood or vegetarian food. Better still, cook something yourself at home where you can also be sure your utensils are clean.

Seafood

Lawful to you is the pursuit of fishing and its use for food, for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel (5: 96)

This verse, according to the understanding of the Hanafi Mujtahids, refers to fish (with scales) only, and not other animals as it states the word specifically.

Moreover, Hazrat Abd Allah ibn Umar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Two types of dead meat and two types of blood have been made lawful for our consumption: The two dead meats are: fish and locust, and the two types of blood are: liver and spleen”. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad and Sunan Ibn Majah)

This is usually the stance of Hanafis only. The Muslims belonging to other fiqhs would normally eat several other types of seafood including octopus. As a general rule crocodiles (as they have pointed teeth), frogs (as we are not allowed to kill them) and all the creatures that live both in sea AND land are considered Haram.

Alcohol

“They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: “In them is great harm, and a benefit for the people; but their harm is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you how much are they to give, Say: “The excess.” It is thus that God clarifies for you the revelations that you may think.” (2:219)

“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless travelling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (4:43)

“O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and altars, and arrows of chance are tools of affliction used by the devil. You shall avoid him so that you may be successful.” (5:90)

“When the prohibition of alcohol was [being] revealed, Hazrat Omar (RA) said, “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement,” thus the verse which is in Baqarah was revealed, “They ask you about alcohol and gambling. Say: In them is great sin…” So Hazrat Omar (RA) was called and it was read to him and he said [again], “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement.” Thereafter the verse in Al-Nisa was revealed: “O you who believe! Do not approach prayer while you are drunk…” Hence, the herald of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) would call out when the prayer was about to commence, “Let no drunken approach the prayer,” and Hazrat Omar (RA) was called [again] and it was read to him. He said, “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement,” so the verse was revealed, “…so will you not refrain?!” Hazrat Omar (RA) said, “We refrain.” (Al-Trimidhi)

“Allah’s Messenger cursed ten people in connection with wine: the wine-presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it, the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one who sells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and the one for whom it is bought.” (Al-Thirmidi)

Nowhere in the Qur’an it states that alcohol is haram and thus you will find a lot of people consuming alcohol and justifying their acts by saying that the word haram does not appear any where in the Qur’an. May Allah guide them and help them understand that it is an act that takes one away from the Salaat and thus away from Allah.

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14 thoughts on “Dietary Laws

  1. Oh I know what u mean…i guess this post was for ‘everything is halal’ sorts, but then im sure there are more ‘everything is haram’ sorts these days. im sure u have met ppl who can label educating females as haram.
    I just hate it, why do we have to agree all the time!

  2. Well I commented in Anas’s blog but I guess it did not get posted for some reason.

    Anyways. First thing first. Pork. Not allowed. Straight forward. Mind you, this only beef is with pork :p meaning the meat is disallowed – this does not render the whole pig as outcast! If you don’t want to keep them, please do not but dont cite religion in it.

    Alcohol. Yes its not haram per se in Quran but its strongly recommended in Quran to stay away from it. As it is stated in 2:219 ‘..Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.”

    Seafood. Will I eat a crocodile? No. because its not part of my culture.

    My opinion of course 🙂
    Take care

  3. as far as i know ‘swine-flesh’ is haram and i would stay away from anything that mite have even traces of it. It just occured to me a few days back while reading the Qur’an only that even cheesecakes (one of my most fav things in the whole world) have gelatin (usually made of pig fat) as one of the main ingredients. i just thought id share it here so that anyone else who didnt think of it this way can either stay away from cheesecakes or can make em at home with beef based gelatin.
    secondly, from what I have read and understood, hanafis are the most strict wen it comes to dietary laws and anything and everything with fangs is disallowed or disapproved of. Thus, you will even find many Hanafi scholars saying that sharks and whales are not allowed as well. We all know that sharks are sold and eaten in Pakistan even though we have a high percentage of Hanafis living here.
    Obviously, the Qur’an does not specifically say anything about sharks 🙂

  4. And yea, i also found out why it is prohibited to offer Salaat wen drunk: Salaat means to concentrate and wen drunk, it is, i am sure, quite difficult to concentrate

  5. This is the point I wanted to say when I said ‘the only beef is with the meat’. See. You can eat cheesecake and it will not be haram! You are only disallowed pork! this has rendered pig as a total outcast in muslim societies even it can be used somewhere effectively. I am also not saying that go out and hug a pig!

  6. The argument that alcohol is not “said” to be forbidden reeks of an anachronistic analysis of text usually done with the help of translated English these days. Quran does not speak in the language as we would find in modern texts of law such as pakistan penal code. It rather employs the tone of conversational speech in which there are ways of conveying something to be “haram” without actually using the word.

    The arabic word used in the verse is Ijtinab which conveys the sense of avoiding something by “staying aloof or estranged” (ref. Lane’s dictionary). Unfortunately, in urdu it got carried in loosely to the effect of merely avoiding or neglecting something. However, in arabic it can convey the same sense as equivalent to saying “door hut jao” in urdu. For example, it is used in the following verse:

    “Those who “avoided” (did ijtinab from) worshiping Taghoot and turned instead toward Allah…” (39:17)

    May be someone would find it smart to say after reading the translation that based on just the verse above, avoiding worshiping Taghoot (let us put off what it means) can be considered strongly discouraged but not Haram as the word is not to be found there. But it is difficult to find people familiar with arabic agreeing to it.

    Of course I do not mean to discourage people from reading translation. In fact, just the opposite. However, it is always wise to keep in view the limitation of our methods of study. Ideas are versatile things in the sense that they can be carried along easily from one language to another. So it is quite easy to understand through translations the fundamental themes discussed and recurred in Quran like Tauheed, akhirah etc. However, doing juristic analysis and that too of nitt-gritts requires much more rigorous knowledge of the actual language. I happened to once sign a contract with a university in france and even though english translation was provided in parallel to the french text, in the end there was a short statement that in case of dispute only the text in french would be legally binding.

    In the end, it was a good effort at putting things in perspective. Appreciates I.

  7. Frankly, those who want to do alcohol, do not need to refer to Quran whether it allows alcohol or not. For me, I believe that Quran does not mention alcohol being ‘haram’, though strictly recommends to abstain from it – and I do not consume alcohol. Simple.

  8. To comment on brickwall and the postman….

    I think Qur’an hold different interpretations for different people, and this is not me making stuff up, It has been proven time and again. A waqiyah come to mind but I ll not put it here cuz my memory is a little fuzzy on it. Even this fact is open to interpretation.

    Khair… Qur’an shows the righteous path to those who seek it, and the stray path to some who seek it (the stray path). Which essentially means that you can find all the excuses to do what is haram right there in the Qur’an itself, whereas you can find the reasons and logic for halal almost in the same sentence. It is an open book, which does nt mean its… for the lack of a better word… clear in its meaning, shall we say OPEN to interpretation. It all depends on the niya’t of the seeker. If things were so cut and dry, we would nt be living on Allah’s green earth, would we?

    Plus Qur’an takes a -shall-we-say- an indirect approach to narrating things because it does not want to exclude exceptions. IF qur’an said something was haram directly then even thinking about it would be a sin of the utmost order. There are cases where consumption of sharab (Qur’an does nt say CH3COOH any where, which beats the arguement of alcohol usage for say olfactory purposes… again I m saying what I have or think I have read.) is a necessity, for example medicinal purposes…. reduction of intense pain or anesthetic, cleaning agent, etc.

    Wa’Allahu Ala’m baths sawab.

  9. Yes Quran does not talk of CH3COOH. Quran uses the word ‘khamr’ meaning ‘to cover’ and ‘sukara’ (strong drink). The best word in translation is ‘intoxicants’. So intoxicants are bad as they are stated in

    5:91 – Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?

    Anything that serves the above purpose, is not allowed. This allows the use of intoxicants for use in, for example, medicine.

  10. wow, i just love the fact that wenever i stay away for a day or two, i see a lot of comments on a post which is not the latest post 🙂

    anyway, now coming back to the topic of alcohol, for me its enough that the Prophet (SAW) has cursed anyone who has anything at all to do with alcohol, i dont need any more justifications. i never have and never will consume alcohol unless it is for medication. as for people who consume alcohol will never consult the Qur’an, well you are quite right there PostMan. They enjoy alcohol and wouldnt want another justification. And then there are actually few ppl who would abstain from sin even wen given ‘open invitations’ and/or chances.

    now the matter of translation. sadly, i do not understand arabic. i know its shameful because the Qur’an uses only 1100 words which are not difficult to learn. After all people manage to learn 3000 words for GMAT quite happily. but i do not want that to be a hindrance between me and the Qur’an. I do not want to simply recite the Qur’an daily without making the slightest attempt of understanding it. Please do pray for me that I muster up courage to commit myself to learning Arabic.

    Finally, yes, the same statement in the Qur’an can mean different things and thus we have soo many different translations, so many different tafasirs and thus so many different sects…and new sects emerging every other day.

  11. want a sincere advice? forget about arabic.
    Seriously. No kidding. Just pick up a Quran and start reading it with translation.

    Want a second sincere advice?
    Do not read the ‘tafseer’! Seriously and again no kidding!

    Just you and God, word by word and no human interpretation involved. Worried about ‘controversial’ topics/ words? Does not matter. Controversial verses or words are extremely few. I can count them even for you.

    Just start reading it… you’ll get to know. Its my 9 years of Quran recitation with translation that is saying this.

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