Many verses of the Quran draw man's attention to his own self and invite him carefully and seriously to study his body and soul and the nature of their mutual relationship. It is therefore necessary to keep the physical body very healthy so that other things (i.e., spirit and soul) may also remain healthy and so help him in the service of both his material and spiritual attainment. Diet has therefore played an important role in Islamic medicine. Islam has prohibited certain foods because of their ill effects and allowed all other pure, good and clean things.
"O Muhammad! Ask them who has forbidden the decent and clean things that God has produced for His servants and (who has forbidden) the good and pure things of life granted by Him. Say: All these things are for the believers in this world but on the Day of Resurrection, these shall be exclusively for them. Thus do We make clear Our revelations to those who possess knowledge." (Qur'an 7:32)
And in Surah Al-Baqara, we read, "O believers! Eat of the good and pure things that We have provided for you and be grateful to God, if you are true worshipers of God." (Qur'an 2:172)
Then people in general are advised to eat good and pure things and not to indulge in impure, bad and harmful things, following their open enemy, the Devil.
"O People! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth and do not follow the footsteps of the Evil One, for he is your open enemy." (Qur'an 2:168)
It may be here pointed out that the word 'pure' has been qualified with the word 'lawful' so that impure things may not be made lawful merely because they have not been included in the list of prohibitions. As regards the criterion for judging whether a thing is pure or not, it should be noticed that all those things are pure which are not unclean according to any principle of Islamic Law, or which are not offensive to good taste or have not universally been regarded as repugnant by cultured people.
After stating this general principle with regard to permissible foods, the Qur'an specifies the prohibited foods in these words, "He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and swine flesh, and that (food) over which the name of other than God has been invoked; but if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then truly God is Forgiving, Merciful." (Qur'an 16:115 and 2:173)
These four things are absolutely forbidden in Islam for reasons best known to God. However, research in these things has shown that some of them are injurious to human health (as dead meat; blood and swine flesh) and some are harmful to moral health as well (as flesh of swine) and still others to spiritual health (as food over which the name of any other than God has been invoked). This list of prohibited foods also includes the following, "That which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless you are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); and (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows. This is impiety." (Qur'an 5:3)
Alcohol is also prohibited because its harmfulness is greater than its benefits.
They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) belefit, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." (Qur'an 2:219)
"You who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, idols, and raffles, are only a filthy work of Satan; turn aside from them so that you may prosper. Satan only wants to stir up enmity and jealousy among you by means of intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from remembering God, and from praying. So will you not then abstain?" (Qur'an 5:90-91)
The physical, moral, social and spiritual evils of intoxicants and gambling are clearly referred to in the above verse of the Qur'an.
The Qur'an has also given very useful tips regarding a balanced diet which contains every useful ingredient necessary for the growth, strength and repair of the human body, including animal protein, fat, calcium, iron, salts, etc. The most balanced diet consists of meat, fish, fresh milk, cheese and fruit.
Fish is considered to be food of very high protein and very important for human consumption. The Qur'an refers to this fresh food in these words, "It is He Who has made the sea subject, that you may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender." (Qur'an 16:14)
And again in Surah Al-Fatir, we read, "Yet from each (kind of water) you do eat flesh fresh and tender." (Qur'an 35:12)
The Qur'an then refers to the importance of animal protein in general in human diet.
"And the cattle He has created for you; from them you derive warmth, and numerous benefits, and of their meat you eat." (Qur'an 16:5)
And in Surah Al-Mu'min, we read, "It is God Who has made cattle for you, that you may use some for riding and some for food." (Qur'an 40:79)
The usefulness of fresh milk is stressed in these words, "And in the cattle there is truly a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies; there are in them, (besides), numerous other benefits for you; and of their meat you eat." (Qur'an 23:21)
And in Surah Al-Nahl, we read, "And truly in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, between the refuse and the blood, pure milk palatable to the drinkers." (Qur'an 16:66)
Fish is considered to be food nourishment is described in these words, "And of the fruits of the date-palm, and grapes, you get out wholesome drink and also good nourishment (as food). Behold, in this also is a Sign for those who are wise." (Qur'an 16:67)
"(And We produce) grapes and nutritious plants, and olives and dates, and enclosed gardens of thick foliage, and fruits and fodder, provision for you and your cattle." (Qur'an 80:28-32)
In Surah Al-Rahman, we have: "Wherein is fruit, the date-palm and pomegranate. Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?" (Qur'an 55:68-69)
The righteous are promised all kinds of fruits in Paradise.
"Every fruit will be there for them, and they shall have whatever they call for." (Qur'an 36:57)
In Surah Al- Zukhruf, we read, "You shall have therein abundance of fruits, from which you shall eat (those of your choice)." (Qur'an 43:73)
And in Surah Al-Waqi'ah are these words, "And with fruits, any that they may select." (Qur'an 56:20)
Again, in the same Surah, we read, "And fruit in plenty, neither out of reach nor (supply) limited." (Qur'an 56:32-33)
The Qur'an also reminds man of the many Bounties of God, especially various kinds of fruit.
"Then We produce for you therewith gardens of date-palms and grapes, wherein is much fruit for you and whereof you eat." (Qur'an 23:19)
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
|March / April 1993|
|Ramadan Is Here|
|Letters to the Editor|
|Islamic World News|
|Islamic Dietary Laws|
|Women in Islam|
|Miracles of the Qur'an|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|Stories of the Sahabah|
|The Kid's Corner|
|Sayings of the Prophet|