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Dietary Laws

The Prohibition of Eating What is Dead and its Wisdom

The first thing mentioned in the verses concerning prohibited foods is the flesh of "dead animals," that is, the beast or fowl which dies of natural causes, without being slaughtered or hunted by men. There are obvious reasons for this prohibition:

a) Eating the flesh of a dead animal is repugnant to civilized taste and is considered by thinking people in all societies to be contrary to human dignity. We also observe that all people possessing a divinely revealed scripture have prohibited it and that they do not eat the flesh of an animal unless it is slaughtered. However, the methods of slaughter may vary.

b) In whatever he does, the Muslim acts with a set purpose and intention; he does not use a thing nor reap its benefit without directing his intention,aim, and effort toward it. The significance of slaughtering, which is to take the life of the animal in order to use it as food, is to remove the slaughtered animal from the category of "dead animals." Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala does not desire that man should eat of what he did not intend or think of eating, as is the case with the dead animal; conversely, slaughtering an animal or hunting it as game both require an intention followed by effort and subsequent action.

c) If the animal died a natural death, it is quite likely that it died of some acute or chronic disease, through eating a poisonous plant, or other similar causes; hence eating its flesh would probably be harmful. The same is that case when the cause of death is old age or starvation.

d) By prohibiting the flesh of a dead animal to human beings, Allah in His Mercy provides source of food to animals and birds, who, in the words of the Qur'an, constitute an ummah (nation) like themselves. The truth of this is demonstrated by the fact that carcasses of animals lying out in the open are devoured by birds and animals.

e) This prohibition encourages the owner to guard it from disease and malnutrition lest it die and be wasted. Accordingly, in the case of disease, he will be quick to seek a cure for it or will hasten to slaughter the animal.


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

September 1992
Safar 1413
Note from the Editors
Appeal to the Readers
Islam in Prison
Muslims Teach
in Church
Libraries Receive Qu'rans
Ohio, "Islamic Day"
Why I Embraced Islam
Islamic Dietary Laws
Prayer (Salat)
Women in Islam
The Kid's Corner
Qur'anic Miracles
The Prophet Ya'qub (Jacob)
Stories of the Sahabah
Sayings of the Prophet
Awards Ceremony