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Muslim Dietary Requirement


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The Greatest Gift - The Human Body
Diet plays a very important role in the daily life of a believer. There are many verses in the Noble Qur’ân which draw man's attention towards his self and which invite him to carefully study his body and soul and the nature of their mutual relationship. By doing so, one will firstly find in it strong evidence of the existence of Allah and that Allah has not created mankind and all other beings of this world without any purpose as mentioned in the Noble Qur’ân:
Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose.” (3:191)

he Importance of Healthiness
It is therefore necessary to ensure that the physical body is kept healthy so that the soul and spirit may also remain healthy thus in turn aiding the believer in the service of both his spiritual and material attainment. Diet therefore, plays an important role for this purpose. For this reason Islam has prohibited certain foods due to their ill effects and permitted all other pure, good and clean food products. Allah Ta’ala says in the Noble Qur’ân:
O’ Believers! Eat of the good and pure (lawful) that We have provided you with and be grateful to Allah, if you truly worship Him.” (2:172)

Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Halal is clear and the Haram (unlawful) is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which people do not know. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his deen(religion) and his honour are safe, while if some one indulges in it, he may be indulging in the unlawful…"(Bukhari)
General Qur’anic guidance dictates that all foods are Halal except those that are specifically mentioned as Haram (unlawful or prohibited).

Muslims in general are advised to eat good and pure things and not to indulge in impure, bad and harmful things thus following their open enemy Shaitaan:
O People! Eat of what is lawful and good on the Earth and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitaan, for he is your open enemy.” (2:168)

Muslims permit all foods, pure and clean for consumption. Islamic Jurisprudence has derived certain principles from the Ahadeeth to determine whether a particular animal or bird is lawful or unlawful.

HALAL: This is an Arabic term which means permissible or lawful in Islam. In reference to food, it is the Islamic dietary standard, as prescribed*in the Shari’ah (Islamic Law).

Halal Animals

The following animals are fit for Muslim consumption:
All cattle,
All types of buck,
Fish ,

The aforementioned animals excluding fish and locusts will only be considered Halal when they*are slaughtered according to the Islamic guidelines as formulated by Jurist.

Please refer to Halal Monitoring Committee (www.halalmc.org) website for the guidelines.

It is also required that the Halal animals be slaughtered while pronouncing the name of Allah at the time of slaughter.

Eat of that over which the name of Allah hath been mentioned, if ye are believers in his revelations” (6:118)
And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned, for lo! It is abomination. Lo! The devils do inspire their friends to contend with you. But if ye obey them, ye will be in truth idolaters”. (6:121)

Unlawful Organs of Animals Slaughtered as Halal
· Flowing Blood
· Male reproductory organ
· Testicles
· Female reproductory organ
· Pancreas
· Gall bladder
· Bladder
· Spinal cord

HARAM: This is another Arabic term which means impermissible or unlawful in Islam.

Meat is the most strictly regulated of the food groups. Blood, pork, and the meat of dead animals or those immolated to other than Allah strongly prohibited.
The unlawful foods are specifically mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an, in the following verses:

He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swine flesh, and that on which hath been invoked any other name besides Allah’s……..” (2:173)

Forbidden unto you (for food) are: carrion and blood and swine flesh, and that on which hath been invoked the name other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been gored to death, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful (by slaughter) and that which hath been immolated to idols and that ye swear by the divining arrows. This is an abomination….” (5:3)

Haram Animals: The consumption of the following animals is against the dietary laws of Islam. Likewise any ingredient or product derived from them or contaminated with them is also prohibited for a Muslim to consume:

· Meat of swine (pig) including all it’s by products
· Meat of an animal that was not blessed with the name of Allah at the time of slaughter
· Meat of dead animals (carrion)*
· Meat of animals that were strangled to death
· Meat of animals that were beaten to death
· Meat of animals that died due to falling from a height
· Meat of animals that were gored to death by a horn
· Meat of animals that were devoured by wild beasts
· Animals killed in a manner which prevents their blood from being fully drained from their bodies;
· Carnivorous animals with fangs, e.g. lions, dogs, wolves, tigers, etc…
· Birds of prey e.g. falcons, eagles, owls, vultures, etc
· Reptiles, snakes, crocodiles
· Mules and Asses
· Pests’ e.g. rats and scorpions
· Insects excluding locusts

Haram Fluids
· All types of alcohol
· Blood
· Intoxicating of all types, including alcohol and drugs

Alcohol is also prohibited, as its harms have been proven greater than its benefit. This has also been stated by Allah in the Noble Qur’ân in Surah al-Baqarah. Other physical, moral, social and spiritual evils of intoxicants have been mentioned in many verses of the Holy Qur’ân and blessed traditions of the Holy Prophet*(PUBH). Many of these ill effects can also be easily noticed in our societies.

This prohibition of alcohol and other intoxicants is evident according to the following guidance:
O ye who believe! Intoxicants and games of chance, and idols and divining arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.” (5:9)

A Balanced Diet - Prescribed in the Qur’ân
The Qur’ân has not restricted itself in merely mentioning the permissible and impermissible foods but goes to the extent of giving useful tips regarding a balanced diet, a diet which contains most if not all the useful ingredients required for the growth, strengthening and repairing of the human body. These ingredients include animal protein, fat, calcium, iron, salts, etc. The most balanced diets consist of meat, fish, fresh milk, cheese and fruit. Both direct and indirect references have been made regarding the afore mentioned.

The reference regarding the importance of meat protein in the human diet is given in the following verse:
And the cattle, He has created them for you, in them there is warmth (clothing) and numerous benefits, and of them you eat.” (16:5)

In this verse special reference has been given to the importance of eating despite having said, “…numerous benefits…”. Reference regarding other types of meat has also been given such as the meat of fowls in the following verse:
And the flesh of fowls that they desire.” (56:21)
Fish has always been considered as a food of very high protein and is very important for human consumption. Allah says:
And from them both (fresh and salt water) you eat fresh tender meat (fish).” (35:12)

The usefulness of fresh milk is stressed in these words:
And verily in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretion and blood, pure milk, palatable to the drinkers.” (16:66)

The benefits of fruits as good nourishment can be understood from this verse:
And from the fruits of date palms and grapes, you desire strong drink and a goodly provision.” (16:67)

Similarly there are verses which cover the whole range of fruits, salads, and vegetables which also play an important role in a nutritious, balanced diet:
“It is He who sends down rain from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date palm and its spate come clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety and taste). Look at their fruits when then begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof.” (6:99)

Islam, being a complete religion, also teaches and advises the believer as to what the best method of eating is. The believers are advised to be moderate in every aspect of life. Direct reference has been made in the Noble Qur’ân regarding moderation in eating and drinking.
And eat and drink, but waste not in extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste in extravagance.” (7:31)

Abstain from meat
To abstain from meat in Islam is permisable as long as one does not consider the consumption of meat to be haraam (impermissable) - During the time of Rasoolullah the Muslims were basicly semi-vegetarian - (occasional consumption of meat). Meat was considered an expensive luxory. After the conquest of more fertile lands like Syria and Iraq, the subsequent wealth increase of Muslim, meat became easier to afford. Sayyidina Umar(Ra) says, 'Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.' And the other hadith in the Muwatta—there is a chapter called 'Bab al-Laham (the chapter of meat). Both are from Sayyidina Umar. During his khilafa, he prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row, only allowing meat consumption every other day. In one incident He saw one man eating meat every day, and he said to him, 'Every time you get hungry you go out and buy meat? Right? In other words, every time your nafs wants meat, you go out and buy it?' He said, 'Yes, Amir al-Mumineen, ana qaram (I love meat),'. And Sayyidina Umar said, 'It would be better for you to roll up your tummy a little bit so that other people can eat.'

The well to do muslim (middle class) of the time used to consume meat once in every two weeks.
So even if one is averse to eating meat, it is however possible to consume meat occasionally.

Moderation- The Teachings of the Prophet (PUBH)
The Best of Teachers and the Mercy of the Worlds*(PUBH) is reported to have clarified the meaning and limit of moderation in a tradition in which he is reported to have said that one’s worst weakness is one’s belly. If you must eat make sure you fill one third of your stomach with food, one third with water and leave one third for air i.e. leave it empty.

The Messenger of Allah SWT said: "No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for breathing ." [Ahmad, At-Tirmidhee, An-Nasaa'ee, Ibn Maajah - hadeeth saheeh.]
In another narration, the reason for moderation has been clearly stated. The Prophet*(PUBH) is reported to have said:
The stomach is the tank of the body and the veins go down to it. When the stomach is healthy the veins come back in a healthy condition, but when it is in a bad condition, they return diseased.”
In short, believers are advised to always take care of their stomachs and refrain from foods and practices that might pollute the stomach with various diseases. In order to do so the Prophet*(PUBH) is reported to have advised believers to always stop eating before their stomachs are completely full i.e. stop eating when the urge to eat more is still present.

Conclusion - The Etiquette's of Eating and Drinking Islam teaches us many other etiquette's of eating and drinking. The Prophet*(PUBH) made a point of developing remarkably clean and healthy eating habits among his followers. He asked the companions to wash their hands before and after, to start eating with the praise of Allah, to eat using the right hand, not to eat until they really felt hungry, not to eat and drink excessively. Finally, by praising and thanking Allah for the food and drink, for our consumption.
From all that has been mentioned, the importance of healthy eating, a balanced diet and hygiene can be understood in the light of the Qur’ân and Sunnah. Islam has stressed on the importance of these things right from the start unlike health authorities etc., which have just recently begun to stress its importance. This could be counted as just another gem that manifests the perfection of Islam.


Eating with non muslim
For most new muslim the common concern is eating with non-Muslims without one having to eat and indulge into unlawful practices, but at the same time, they are drinking wine and eating unlawful (haram) meat, etc.
The ruling with regards to such situations is that, to make a habit of this would be impermissible. However, if there is a genuine need (such as work get-togethers) and it is done infrequently, then it would be permissible, provided one does not be affected by the ways and practices of the Kuffar (contrary to Islam)
In conclusion, it will be impermissible to eat with non-Muslims (or even Muslims) if it entails one participating in unlawful things, or if the food party is connected to a religious event of the non-Muslims. Besides that, if one eats with them now and then without forming a habit, and limits it to the genuine need, then there is nothing wrong with that. And Allah knows best

Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari (Darul Iftaa)
For detailed answer please refer to Q&A portal -Sunnipath & Daruliftaa.


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