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Islamic Dietary Laws

Pork and its Harmful Effect

He has only forbidden you carrion, blood and pork and what has been consecrated to other than Allah. But anyone who is forced to eat it-without desiring it or going to excess in it-commits no crime. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 2:173)

Cycle of Pork ConsumptionEating pork is harmful to health in a great many regards. This harm still persists today, despite all the precautions that are taken. First and foremost, no matter how clean the farms and environments on which it is raised may be, the pig is not by nature a clean-living animal. It often plays in, and even eats, its own excrement. Due to this and its biological structure, the pig produces much higher levels of antibodies in its body than other animals. In addition, far higher levels of growth hormone are produced in the pig compared to those in other animals and human beings. Naturally, these high levels of antibodies and growth hormone pass across to and collect in the pig's muscle tissue. Pork meat also contains high levels of cholesterol and lipids.

It has been scientifically proven that these significant amounts of antibodies, hormones, cholesterol and lipids in pork represent a serious threat to human health.

The existence of above-average numbers of obese individuals in the populations of countries such as the USA and Germany, in which large quantities of pork are consumed, is now well-known.

When exposed to excessive quantities of growth hormone as a result of a pork-based diet, the human body first puts on excessive weight and then suffers physical deformations.

Another harmful substance in pork is the "trichina" worm. This is frequently found in pork and when it enters the human body, it settles directly in the muscles of the heart and represents a possibly fatal threat. Even though it is now technically possible to identify pigs that are infected with trichina, no such methods were known in earlier centuries. That means that everyone who ate pork risked infection by trichina and possible death.

Islam has prohibited blood of any type. A chemical analysis of blood shows that it contains an abundance of uric acid, a chemical substance which can be injurious to human health. 98% of the body's uric acid is extracted from the blood by the kidneys and removed through urination. The medical science finds that there is a risk for various diseases the pig is found to be a host for many parasites and potential diseases. It is important to note that the pig 's biochemistry excretes only 2% of its total uric acid content, the remaining 98% remains as an integral part of the body.

Plus as everyone knows that swine (pig) eats its own excretion, which means that of all the uric acid and the other waste products excreted, most of it goes back inside again.

Read The Labels

The law requires that food manufacturers provide ingredient information on the food labels. That makes our job easier. All we need is to read the labels carefully. To be sure, ingredient labels are not the most readable part of many food packages, and they may not always contain sufficient information to determine the Halal status of a product. But reading food ingredient labels is the first essential step in that direction. As you read the labels, especially look for the following ingredients. They deserve a hard look:

Bakery and Cereal Products

Look for these in all bakery and cereal products: Gelatin, mono- and di-glycerides, animal shortening, whey. In cereals look for marshmallows. (They contain gelatin)

Fruits and Vegetables

Additives and preservatives may be added in the preparation of processed and canned fruits and vegetables. Look for: Gelatin, mono- and di-glyceride, cheeses, alcohol or wine.

Candies

Look for: Animal fat, gelatin, alcohol, whey, glycerol, glycerine, and marshmallows.

Meet The Suspects

Now that we have learned how to spot the suspect ingredients on a food label, here is more information that will help us decide whether these ingredients can be considered Halal or non-Halal.

Lard

Lard is a saturated fat obtained from swine (pigs), particularly from the abdominal cavity of the animal. Any food containing lard is completely Haram.

Mono- and di-glycerides

Mono-glyceride and di-glyceride are lipid (fat) molecules used as emulsifiers in shortening, bakery, and dairy products. These may be manufactured from vegetable oils, beef fat, lard, or marine oils. Therefore, Muslims should stick to labels saying vegetable or marine mono- and di-glvcerides.

Shortening

Shortening is a blend of fat and/or oil. If the label simply says 'shortening', stay away from it; it may even be lard. When the label says 'vegetable shortening' without listing all the vegetable sources or adding, the words "pure" or "100%". Even 1% lard will make it 100% haram.

Enzymes

Enzymes are a protein substance found and formed in all living cells that bring about chemical reactions inside or outside of the body. Enzymes can be extracted from animal sources, calves and pigs. Vegetable enzymes are okay.

When In Doubt

Remember, you can always look for the symbols K or U which is Halal (but not on alcoholic items). Absolutely no pork and if unsure choose vegetable ingredients.

Why Bother?

In a way, the life of a Muslim revolves around the concept of Halal. He or she must earn income from Halal sources, be involved only in Halal transactions, and eat Halal food. In every walk of life, staying away from Haram is a lifelong struggle. It is obvious that Muslims should seek an education and training for their children that will well prepare them for this. Education of Muslim children can not be complete if it fails to inculcate in them a strong faith in the superiority of Halal practices.

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The Islamic Bulletin
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Vol. XX, No. 26
Note from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Everyday Dua'a
Giving Up Sins
Thomas Jefferson's
Quran
Finding Islam
in America
The Wisdom in Islam
Women in Islam
How I Embraced Islam
Mecca Metro Station
Hajj / Umrah Guide
99 Names of Allah
Supplications After
Prayer
Remembering Allah
Stories of the
Sahabah
Quran & Science
Cook's Corner
Excellence of Reading
the Quran
The Arabic Alphabet
Tajweed Chart
Islamic Dietary Laws
Kid's Corner