Moral Teachings of Islam- Diet: General

Summary of 6.7′ “Prohibitions to Protect Faith and Life”
The main criteria for the lawful or unlawful in Islam are the objectives of Islamic law of known as Sharia’a which is summarized to include five basic areas.’ These areas are to safeguard faith, life, mind, honor and property.’ Then we dealt with each of these objectives and the measures one can take in order to achieve them.

First, we started with shirk as a way of protection of faith.’ We said that shirk which Islam regards as a moral sin means to associate others with God in His divine attributes and qualities.’ We also said that this point was regarded as a moral sin not only by Islam but by all the prophets in the past and we quoted the teachings of the prophets in the Quran.’ Secondly, we talked about other issues which relates to the protection of faith like avoiding sorcery, divination, and all types of things which shoe belief in powers other than the power of God.’ We talked about tyranny and religious oppression in relevance to the concept of Jihad in Islam which is a way of protecting faith against those who want to deprive people from the right in what they chose to believe in.

Then we started discussing the second main objective which is the protection of life or nafs.’ First, we discussed the some of the Quranic citations dealing with prohibition of killing and the sanctity of human life.’ We also talked briefly about capital punishment as it relates to the major taken to discourage people from killing others.’ We also talked about other interference of human life such as suicide, abortion and similar acts like euthanasia and how they are regarded as unlawful in Islam.

6.8′ Diet: General
Host:’ Could you explain the issue of safeguarding human life and social injustice?

Jamal Badawi:

This is classified under the protection of life also in Islam when one talks about the sanctity of life it means more than simply keeping the person alive, but rather to keep the person alive in a dignified way.’ In Islamic law for example relating to the protection of life there is a minimum guaranty, if there is a truly just Islamic society, of each individual in society in terms of his or her basic needs which include food, clothing, shelter and the means of transportation and according to some Muslim jurist tools for trade. ‘The presents of greed in society and the presents of exploitation of people who are not being paid as much as they should for their work are aspects of social injustice in Islam that could threaten the life of the human being.’ Of course we are not talking about a totalitarian system, which Islam doesn’t support, but what Islam is against are the serious inequalities and lack of justice which make some people suffer a great deal without even satisfying the minimum basic requirements of life.

Host:’ Do the dietary regulations of Islam fall under the category of safeguarding life?’ What are the dietary regulations?

Jamal Badawi:

From an Islamic perspective dietary regulations relate to the protection of nafs or life.’ Part of the objectives of Islamic law is that a person should not only be alive with his basic needs but also in good health.’ The basic philosophy of the unlawful in Islam is not deprivation or punishment but rather as the Quran puts it what is permissible is wholesome and good and whatever is unlawful is harmful.

Most of the prohibited diets, almost all are mentioned in one verse in (5:3) ‘Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.” This verse covers a wide range of categories.

Most of these categories belong to protection of life but some belong to the protection of faith for example eating animals that are dedicated to idols or when killed a name other than God’s name is invoked.

The categories that relate to the protection of life start with dead meat which is the flesh of an animal which died without being properly slaughtered with a form of releasing the blood.’ First, would someone’s human tendencies want to get a swollen dead animal and eat it?’ In terms of our human nature Allah created us to keep away from things that might have potential harm.’ The harm of this can be of different types.’ When an animal is dead it is difficult to know why the animal died as it could be from a contagious or dangerous disease which could carry over when eaten. The animal could have died after eating a poisonous plant which again can be dangerous to us.’ We also know that when an animal dies the blood congeals in the vassals.’ We are also told by scientists that blood is one of the best mediums for the growth of bacteria.’ If the dead animal has any germs or sickness the blood would be the best source for it to grow and then it would transfer the harm to the person who eats it and this why the letting of the blood is essential.

Of course one may wonder about fish, and if we should slaughter or how do we kill fish?’ Fish is exempt from this as found in one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad said that two dead things have been allowed and they are fish and locust (people in some areas eat this).’ However, if the fish has been dead for some time and might be going bad then it doesn’t make it permissible because ti may be harmful.

The other thing that is mentioned is blood.’ In the pre-Islamic days some people used to cut the animal, take some of its blood and they would drink it.’ This from an Islamic point of view is a cruel way of treating the animal.’ In addition there could be harm form drinking raw blood.’ Also the blood could be polluted.’ The only acceptation to this would be organ meat like liver or the spleen as was also mentioned in the same saying by Prophet Muhammad.’ These items do not have flowing blood even though they may contain some of the elements included in the blood.

There is also the category of animals which are strangled.’ First, of all it is cruel to strangle the animal to death.’ Second the blood does not flow out of the animal and some of the difficulties we discussed before could be involved.’ Another category is that one can not eat the meat of animal which died of a violent blow which is because it was killed with cruelty.’ Also animal that dies because of a headlong fall can not be eaten because the blood was not let out.’ Another category is an animal which was partly eaten by another animal.’ First of all it is hard to tell how long this meat has been dead and it could have been exposed to disease through the animal that ate from it.’ The only exception would be if one reached the animal while it is still alive then one can slaughter it and let the blood out in order to make it permissible.

Host’ What is Islam’s position regarding hunting?

Jamal Badawi:

Hunting is permissible in Islam just like fishing.’ The difficulty that may arise in hunting is that one may not get to the animal in time before it dies to hold it down and slaughter it.’ Some of the major conditions for hunting in Islam are first, the tool used to hunt needs to induce blood letting.’ Also Islam has nothing against stunning an animal first, in order to reduce its pain at the time of slaughter.’ If one uses a stunning devise for hunting it is actually preferable.’ A second requirement, which is interpreted differently by Muslim jurists, is that the name of God should be mentioned when the person hunts the animal.’ So the name of God should be mentioned when the person is shooting or aiming the arrow.’ If a person is using an animal such as a dog to hunt the animal should be trained not to eat from the hunted animal.’ Fourth, it is permissible to eat the meat if the hunter is a Muslim or one of the People of the Book usually the Jews and Christians.’ The reason for this is that there is more in common between the People of the Book and Muslims.’ If one hunts an animal and reaches it before it dies it is better to let the blood out.

Host:’ What are the regulations for how to kill an animal or slaughter it?

Jamal Badawi:

In the case of slaughtering a domestic animal first of all, one must use a sharp tool which makes the killing fast and less painful.’ The best way for killing the animal is to slit the throat and the two main veins around it.’ Some jurists regard the mention of God’s name at the time of slaughter to be an absolute condition in order for meat to be legitimate.’ Other jurists believe that if one forgets to mention the name of Got that it is permissible but if it is deliberately left out then it is not.’ A third opinion is that the mention of the name of God is essential but doesn’t have to be done at the time of slaughter if one can not do it.’ An example would be if one buys meat which is slaughtered by Jews or Christians, people who believe in God, but did not mention His name when slaughtering the animal one can mention it at the time when one starts eating.’ It is preferable if Muslims within a community try to arrange to have the animals slaughtered properly with the invocation of the name of God.’ A third point is that slaughtering an animal should be done as humanely as possible.’ God has made the animals serviceable to us as God has created higher creators using lower creators.’ For example plants are eaten by animals and animals are eaten by human beings.’ On the other hand if animals are left and not hunted they might die and suffer.’ Also we should not kill for sport but rather for sustaining and improving the health of human beings.

Prophet Muhammad said in a collection of Hadith by Muslim that ‘God has ordained you to be kind in everything, if you kill you do it in a kind way, or if you slaughter you do it in a humane way.” More specifically he says ‘when one of you kills an animal let him sharpen his knife and put the animal in a resting position.” In the collection of Hadith of Al Hakim he says that one should not kill an animal in front of another animal.’ Once the Prophet saw a person getting ready to kill an animal and started sharpening his knife in front of the animal and the Prophet said ‘Would you like to kill the animal several times?’ referring to the suffering the animal would go through watching him sharpen his knife. ‘Also, one should not drag the animal in a cruel way.

Like I mentioned earlier stunning is not objectionable in Islam.’ Some people use a stunning gun that doesn’t kill the animal but nocks them down and might even reduce the pain.

For Muslims who live in predominantly non-Muslim societies God has allowed them to eat food from People of the Book unless it is already forbidden for specific reasons as in the case of pork.’ In fact in the Quran in (5:5) ‘This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.” A Muslim however can not eat meat that is slaughtered by an atheist, polytheist or pagan.

Host:’ Is it permissible to use bones or hides of dead animals?

Jamal Badawi:

These are permissible.’ The prohibitions that we discussed in this program relate to food.’ Islam doesn’t forbid one from using the hides or bones of animals for purposes other than food.’ There is more than one saying of Prophet Muhammad which justifies this.’ For example in Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet passed by a dead lamb and he said ‘Why don’t you take the hide, clean it and tan it and use it?” They said ‘Its dead oh messenger of Allah.’ He replied ‘God only forbade eating dead animals.” Another saying of the Prophet in Al Tirmidhi he says ‘Any hide which is tanned is clean.” This has lead some jurists to interpret that even the skin of animals which are forbidden like pigs for example may be used for shoes etc.

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