The Dietary Shari‘ah

The Dietary Shari‘ah


(Tr. by Shehzad Saleem)

The objective of Islam is to purify all aspects of human life and soul. It therefore insists that besides cleansing the inner-self from contamination, care must be exercised in the intake of food and drinks. Only the ritually clean among them should be eaten and drunk. Man's own nature generally provides him with ample guidance in this matter and, without any hesitation, he is able to decide the right course. He very well knows that lions, tigers, elephants, eagles, crows, vultures, kites, scorpions and human flesh itself are not meant to be eaten. He is also well aware of the fact that horses and mules are a means of transportation and have no role in satisfying one's hunger. That faeces and urine of animals are impure things is known to him very well also. His reason and intellect guide him very well regarding the filth of intoxicants too. Consequently, in this matter, the Islamic shari'ah has left it to the innate guidance found in human nature to lead the way.

No doubt, at times, human nature becomes perverted but a study of human behavior shows that generally people do not falter in this matter. It is for this reason that the shari'ah has not given any original guidance on this matter. In this regard, the shari'ah has provided guidance on animals and on things related to animals where human beings were liable to falter. The pig is a quadruped beast of the same genre as the goat, sheep, cow and cattle; however, it consumes meat like other carnivores. Should it then be considered forbidden or not? Should animals which are slaughtered in a way that all their blood is not drained out be eaten or not? Is the blood of animals impure as indeed are their faeces and urine? If animals are slaughtered by taking the name of someone other than the Almighty, can they still be eaten? Since man is unable to come up with a decisive answer to these questions, therefore the Almighty guided him in this affair through His prophets and informed him that the flesh of the pig, blood, the dead and animals which are slaughtered in the name of someone other than Allah are also impure and unclean and therefore people should abstain from them.

Following are the various aspects of this directive which are mentioned in the Qur'an:

1. No discrimination will be made between an animal who dies a natural death and an animal which suffers an accidental death. The meat of both such animals is prohibited. An animal killed by a wild beast is prohibited except if it is found alive and then slaughtered in the ceremonial way (dhibh).

2.If an animal trained for hunting cuts open a prey and the prey dies before one gets a chance to slaughter it in the prescribed way, then this cutting open of a prey by such a trained animal is tantamount to tadhkiyah, and therefore the prey can be eaten even if it has not be slaughtered in the prescribed way with one condition: the trained animal has preserved the prey for his master and has not eaten from it. In case it has, then such a prey must not be eaten.

3. An animal which is slaughtered at an altar of a shrine is also prohibited. Similarly, an animal which is slaughtered such that no name other Allah is invoked on it but the name of Allah is also not positively invoked while slaughtering is also prohibited. The same prohibition applies for a slaughtered animal and prey on which although the name of Allah is taken but the person who takes this name does not believe in God or associates partners with God and originally subscribes to polytheism as his religion.

4. It is only in compelling circumstances that one is allowed to benefit from these prohibited food items and that too with the conditions that a person neither craves for them nor crosses the bounds by going beyond his essential need.




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