Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Quran and Ahaadith permit to consume some food and to completely forbid others.  Muslim can avoid foods like meat from non Halal source, beverage (like alcoholic) based upon their teaching as Muslims, but it is very difficult to determine the status of processed food as Halal. Due to advancements in food technology, presently shelves of shops and super markets are stocked with packaged and process food. Surprisingly, the original sources of ingredients and the details of their processing are not being shared with consumers; further additives are generally declared on a product label while processing aids are not mentioned. Some additives can be legally grouped into generic categories (such as spices, emulsifier) thus it is difficult for consumers to determine what exactly is in the products they buy and how these products have been processed.

Purpose of this article will report on  the findings  as per Sharia rules (Quranic & Sunnah) to judge the status of unprocessed foods like meat, sea food, drinks and plant materials but will not cover Halalness of processed food (with various ingredients, processing aids, processing techniques)

Food Status According to Sharia:
In Islamic sharia there are following categories of food
a)      Halal (allowed), any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in.
b)     Makruh (disliked), The Arabic word 'Makruh' means disliked. In the terminology of Shari`ah, it refers to something which we need to avoid. It has two categories
makrooh karahat tanzih: which means that it is better for us to avoid it, but not sinful to do it.
Makrooh karahat tahreem, which means that it is anticipated to be haram, but not certain.
c)      Haram:As for the Arabic word 'Haram', it means forbidden. In the terminology of Shariah, it refers to something that we have not to do.
d)     Musbooh or doubtful: depend upon the source of food. Food ingredient might be obtained either from animal or plant. If from animal, it should be from Halal animal which would be slaughtered as per Islamic sharia.

Halal food as per Quran:
In Surah Baqarah Verse 172, Allah Said, “O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that we have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, If it is indeed he whom you worship”

Cattles: Surah Maidah Verse 1, Allah Said, “O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations. Lawful to you (for food) are all the cattle except that which will be announced to you (herein).”

Again in Surah An-Nahl Verse 5, Allah explained about cattle in this way, “And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth, and numerous benefits, and of them you eat.”

Animals and birds of prey: Surah Maidah Verse 4, Allah Explained, “They ask you (O Mohammad Sallallaho Alaihi Wasallam) what is lawful for them (as food). Say: lawful unto you all kinds of Halal (lawful) Foods. And those beasts and birds of prey which you trained as hounds, training and teaching them (to catch) in the manner as directed to you by Allah;so eat of what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allahover it, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Swift in recokoning.”

Food of Scripture ( Jews & Christian): Surah Maidah Verse 5, Allah Said, “Made lawful to you this day, are Al-Tayyibat (lawful-good food). The food of the people of the Scripture (Jews & Christian) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them.”

Plant Food (Fruits): In Surah Inam Verse 141, Allah explained to us about plant food “And it is He who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shapes and taste and olives, and pomegreanates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof(its Zakat) on the day of its harvest, and waste not by extravagance.”
In Surah Al-Mu’uminun  Verse 20, Allah Said, “And a tree (olive) that springs forthfrom mountain Sinai, that grows (produces) oil, and (it is a) relish for eaters.”

Rain Water “(Fresh Water): In Surah An-Nahl Verse 10, Allah Explained “He it is Who sends down water (rain) form the sky; from it you drink and from it (grows) the vegetation on which you send your cattle to pasture.”

Sea Food: Surah An-Nahl Verse 14, Allah Said “And He it is Who has subjected the sea (to you), that you eat therof fresh tender meat (fish)…,”

Milk of Cattles: Surah An-Nahl Verse 66, Allah Explained to us, “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 excretions and blood, pure milk; palatable to the drinkers.”

Again in Surah Al-Mu’uminun  Verse 21, Allah explained to us that “And verily, in the cattle there is indeed a lesson for you. We giving you to drink (milk) of that which is in their bellies. And there are, in them, numerous (other) benefits for you, and of them you eat.”

Strong Drinks (Processed Food from fruits): In Surah An-Nahl Verse 67, Allah Said “And from the fruit of date palm and grapes, you derive strong drinks and goodly provision. Verily, therein is indeed a sign for people who have wisdom.”

Honey: Surah An-Nahl Verse 69, Allah Said “….There comes forth from their bellies (i.e. bees), a drink (i.e. honey) of varying color wherein is healing for people. Verily, in this indeed a sign for people who think.”

Halal Food as Per Ahaadith:
Abu Bakr Siddiq reported; As we went along with Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) from Mecca to Medina, we passed by a shepherd and Allah's Messenger was feeling thirsty. He (Abu Bakr Siddiq) said: I milked for him a small quantity of milk (from his goat) and brought it to him (the Holy Prophet), and he drank it and I was very happy. (Muslim, Book 23, Hadith 4983)

Dead Fish:
Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported; Allah's Messenger (may peace he upon him) sent us (on an expedition). We were three hundred riders and our chief (leader) was 'Ubaida b. al-Jarrah. We were on the lookout for a caravan of the Quraish. So we stayed on the coast for half a month, and were so much afflicted by extreme hunger that we (were obliged) to eat leaves. That is why it was called the Detachment of the Leaves. The ocean cast out for us an animal which was called al-'Anbar (whale). We ate of that for half of the month and rubbed its fat on our (bodies) until our bodies became stout. Abu 'Ubaida caught hold of one of its ribs and fixed that up. He then cast a glance at the tallest man of the army and the highest of the camels and then made him ride over that, and that-tnan passed beneath it (the rib), and many a man could sit in its eye-socket, and we extracted many pitchers of fat from the cavity of its eye. We had small bags containing dates with us (before finding the whale). 'Ubaida gave every person amongst us a handful of dates (and when the provision ran short), he then gave each one of us one date. And when that (stock) was exhausted, we felt its loss.(Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4757)

Horse Meat:
Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported that Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) prohibited eating of the flesh of domestic asses on the Day of Khaibar, and permitted the cooking of the flesh of horses.( Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4779)

Asma' reported: We slaughtered a horse and ate it during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) .( Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4781)

Locusts are permitted:
Ibn Abu Aufa reported: We went on seven expeditions with Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) and ate locusts.( Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4801)

Rabbits are permitted:
Anas b. Malik reported, We chased a hare at Marr az-Zahrin (a valley near Mecca). They (my companions) ran, but felt exhausted; I also tried until I caught hold of it. I brought it to Abu Talha. He slaughtered it and sent its haunch and two hind legs to Allah's Messenger () through me; and he accepted them. ( Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4804)

Haram Food  as per Quran:
The Qur’an instructs that only permitted foods may be eaten, (Al-Baqarah:168,172-173, An-Nahl:114-115) though forbidden foods may be consumed out of necessity (Al-Baqarah:173, Al-Ma'idah:3, Al-An'am:119 &145, Muslim 8:3261).
It is explicitly stated in the Qur’an that only following types of foods can be prohibited.

Pork, Blood and Dead Animal:  Allah in surah Bararah Verse 173 explained that, “He has forbidden you only the Maitah (Dead Animal), and blood, and flesh of swine and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than Allah. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him.”

And again in Surah Maidah Ayath 3 Allah Said, “forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maitah (Dead animal), blood, the flesh of swine…..,”

Animals killed incorrectly and/or without Allah's name being pronounced in their killing.
In Surah Maidah Verse Number 03 Allah Explained this with these words“…. and that on which Allah’s name has not been mentioned while slaughtering and that which has been killed by strangling, or violent blow, or by headlong fall, or by the goring of horns- and that which has been (partly) eaten by wild animal-unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death)-and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on An-Nusab (stone Altars). (Forbidden) also is to use arrows seeking luck or decision, (all) that is Gunnah (disobedience of Allah and Sin). This day, those who disbelieved have given up all hope of your religion, so fear them not, but fear me. This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But as for him who is forced by sever hunger, with no inclination to sin (such can eat these above mentioned meats), then surely Allah is forgiving and most Merciful.”

In Surah Inam Verse 121 Allah said, “eat not (o Belivers) of that (meat) on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced (at the time of slaughtering), for sure it is sin. And certainly, the shayatin do inspire their friends (from mankind) to dispute with you, and if you obey them, then you would indeed be mushrikun.

Animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but "Allah". In Surah An-Nahl Verse 115, Allah Said
“He has forbidden you only Al-Maitah (meat of dead animal), blood, the flesh of swine and any animal which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than Allah. But if one is forced be necessity, without willful disobedience and not transgressing, then Allah if forgiving and most merciful.”

Intoxicants and alcoholic beverages:  In Surat Al-Mā'idah Verse 90, Allah Said “O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks/Drugs), gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan's (Satan) handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful”.

It is forbidden to add to the above prohibitions and Muslims should not deny themselves foods that Allah has made lawful (Al-Ma'idah:87‑88, Al-An'am:143‑145, Yunus:59, An-Nahl:114‑116). One hadith implies that a Muslim cannot be a vegetarian because Muhammad consumed meat and it is not forbidden to do so. (Muslim 8:3236)

There is no blame on those who ate forbidden foods before the prohibition of that food was announced by Muhammad. (Al-Ma'idah:93, Bukhari 3:43:644, Bukhari 6:60:144, Muslim 31:6016, Muslim 23:4882). This is specifically true for those who drank wine (Bukhari 3:43:644, Muslim 23:4882) which was explicitly permitted before it was banned.

The food prohibitions of Jews do not apply in Islam, so Muslims should eat what is permitted to Muslims (Hud:137‑142. Additional food prohibitions were imposed upon the Jews by Allah because of their wrongdoing (Al-An'am:146).

Food that Are Haram as per Ahaadith:
Abu Tha'laba al-Khushani reported Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon Him) having prohibited the eating of all fanged beasts of prey. (Muslim,book 21, Hadith 4750)

Ibn 'Abbas reported that Allah's Messenger (Peac be upon him) prohibited the eating of all fanged beasts of prey, and all the birds having talons. (Muslim, book 21, Hadith 4752)

Permitted Foods Not Liked or Eaten by Prophet
While all of the forbidden foods have already been discussed, there are some permitted foods that Prophet didn’t eat.

One of these is called “mastigure” in the English translation of the hadith collection of al-Bukhari and is translated as “lizard” in the collection of Muslim. It is explicitly permitted to eat this meat even though Prophet did not eat it. (Bukhari 3:47:749, Bukhari 7:65:301). One explanation given as to why Prophet did not eat lizard (or mastigure), is that he didn’t like it, (Bukhari 3:47:749, Bukhari 7:65:301) which is, in turn, explained in some Ahaadiths by saying that it is not found in Prophet’s native land.(Bukhari 7:65:303, Bukhari 7:65:312) Another reason given for Prophet’s not eating lizard is that he says that a lizard may be one of the people of the distant past, (Muslim 21:4797) or Bani Isra’il (Jews),( Muslim 21:4799) whose form was distorted by Allah (God).

It is also said that Prophet didn’t like eating garlic (Bukhari 1:12:814) and that he disliked its odor. (Muslim 4:1149) Nevertheless garlic is permitted for consumption, though Prophet says that those who eat it should stay away from the mosque, (Bukhari 1:12:812 Muslim 4:1141, Muslim 4:1142, Muslim 4:1144) keep away from others and not pray with the group (Bukhari 1:12:815, Muslim 4:1143) and stay at home (Muslim 4:1146).

Some Muslim misunderstand and think that there was a prohibition against eating garlic, causing Prophet to explain that he did not prohibit it because he cannot prohibit what Allah made lawful (Muslim 4:1149) (meaning what is not prohibited in the Qur’an). 
 Similarly, onions are permitted, but those who eat them should stay at home and keep away from others (Bukhari 1:12:814, Muslim 4:1146) and, specifically, stay away from the mosque ((Bukhari 1:12:814, Muslim 4:1146). The hadith collection of Muslim reports that Prophet prohibited the eating of both onions and leek, and when his followers ate them he told them to keep away from the mosque because the angels are harmed by the same things as people.(Muslim 4:1145, Muslim 4:1147)

Though we need to understand the Halalness of every type of food, but present article put light only on   unprocessed food. Whatever is permitted in Quran and Ahaadith is Halal for Muslims, like meat from Halal Animals, vegetable and fruits from plants (if these are not poisonous), honey, milk, water and Seafood. In case if source is not clear for any food especially for meat , then this is Musbooh (doubtful), and Muslims try to avoid such food until its source is clear.. Qur’an instructs us  only to eat permitted foods. (Al-Baqarah: 168,172-173, An-Nahl: 114-115) though forbidden foods may be consumed out of necessity (Al-Baqarah: 173, Al-Ma'idah:3, Al-An'am:119 &145, Muslim 8:3261).

Allah even prohibited Muslims to consider anything (food, deeds, believes) haram which Allah has made lawful (Surah Maidah Verse 87),  “

Prophet (may peace he upon him)  did not like to eat garlic but even though he did not prohibit to  eat garlic and explain that he did not prohibit it because he cannot prohibit what Allah made lawful (Muslim 4:1149) (meaning what is not prohibited in the Qur’an). 

From above Ahaadith, it is clear, that no one can prohibit any thing which Quran has permitted. In Surah An-Nahl Verse 116 Allah said, “And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely, this is lawful and this is forbidden, so as to invent lie against Allah, verily those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper.”

If someone avoids any food due to his personal disliking or any medical reason that is permitted as Allah is forgiving and most Merciful.

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