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Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices

Dietary Regulations

These 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 and their mutual relationship. "Surely, he will find in it strong evidence of the existence of God, and that God has not created him and other things of this world without any purpose." (Quran 3:191) 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 explain the Signs in detail for those who know." (Quran 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 worshippers of God." (Quran 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." (Quran 2:168)

It may here be 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 limit, then truly God is Forgiving, Merciful.' (Quran 16:115 & 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." (Quran 5:4)

Alcohol is also prohibited because its harmfulness is greater than its benefits. (Quran 2:219)

"O 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 jealously among you by means of intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from remembering God, and from praying. So will you not then abstain?" (Quran 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 Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

March 1991
Ramadan 1411
Letters to the Editor
The Virtues of Fasting
Qur'an and Science
Fasting (Siyam)
The Kid's Corner
Women in Islam
The Prophet Sheth
The Prophet Idris
Islamic Dietary Laws
Teachings of the Prophet
Why I Embraced Islam
List of Publishers