(Halal & Haram)
Rules and regulations regarding permitted or lawful (Halal) food and
forbidden or unlawful (Haram) food have been laid down by Allah in
Qur’an’s verses: 2(168), 2(172-173), 5(1), 5(3-5), 5(16), 5(87-88),
5(90-91), 6(118-119), 6(121), 6(145), 16(114-116), 22(28), 22(30),
22(34). Only Allah has the right and the authority to declare an
eatable thing as Halal (lawful) or Haram (unlawful). No human being
has any authority to do so. However, a Prophet can do so if
authorized by Allah through inspiration or revelation. So Prophet
Muhammad (PBUH) has not only expounded the law of Halal and Haram
but has also declared certain animals Halal or Haram in his
Traditions. Let us have a glance at some verses of the Qur’an and
some Traditions of Muhammad (PBUH) before we present the regulations
regarding the permitted and the forbidden food items for a Muslim.
Verses of the Qur’an
Verse 2(168) lays down the basic rule regarding Halam or permitted
food. It says: O mankind! “Eat of that which is lawful and clean in
the earth.” So all lawful, clean and wholesome food has been
permitted for consumption. This rule has been repeated or clarified
in many other verses like 2(172), 5(4), 5(87-88),
Verse 2(173) lays down the basic rule regarding Haram (forbidden,
unlawful) food. It says: “He (Allah) has forbidden you to eat dead
meat (carrion), blood (that is flowing), swine-flesh (pork) and that
which has been slaughtered (or immolated) to (the name of) any other
than Allah; but whoso is forced (to take such things) by absolute
necessity, without will-full disobedience and without transgressing
due limits, then there is no sin for him. Certainly, Allah is
Forgiving, Merciful.” This rule has been repeated in these words or
in a little different words in verses 5(3), 6(145), 16(115).
Verse 5(1) permits taking of all four-legged animals as lawful food
except those animals which have been specifically prohibited. But it
prohibits hunting during Hajj when you are in pilgrim’s dress.
However, hunting on sea (like fish) is allowed in pilgrims’ dress
Verse 5(3) forbids, besides repeating the four things declared Haram
by verse 2(173), the following animals: (a) those which have been
strangled to death, (b) those killed by a violent blow, (c) those
which died through falling from height, and (d) those killed by the
goring of horns, and (e) those which have been partly eaten by wild
animals save that which you make lawful by slaughtering it (before
its death), and (f) those which are sacrificed on alters.
Food of the People of Scripture (the Christians and the Jews) is
lawful (Halal). It is allowed by verse 5(5) to the Muslims.
Strong drinks (drinking of wine) and other intoxicants (which come
under Khamr) have been prohibited (verses 5:90-91)
Verse 6(121) forbids taking of that on which Allah’s name has not
been mentioned and declares it a great sin, an abomination.
Verses 22(28, 30, 34) tell how to sacrifice animals in the name of
Allah during Hajj and declare their meat as Halal (lawful).
Traditions of Prophet
Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah made unlawful (that is)
on the day of Khaiber the domestic asses, meat of mules, every beast
of prey having a fang and every bird having a talon. (Tirmizi
Khalid-bin-Walid reported that the Messenger of Allah prohibited the
eating of the meat of horses, mules and asses. (Abu Daud, Nisai)
Abu Waqad Laisi reported that the Prophet came to Madinah and they
had liking for humps of camels and for cuttings of the tails of
sheep. He said: What is taken off from animals while they are alive
is a dead thing. It shall not be eaten. (Tirmizi, Abu Daud)
Ibn Omar reported that the messenger of Allah said: Two dead things
and two bloods have been made lawful for us: The dead things are
fishes and locusts, and the blood are liver and spleen. (Ahmad,
Ibn Majah, Darqutni)
Abu Zubair reported from Jaber who said that the messenger of Allah
said: Eat what the sea throws up (fish) and is left by the tide, and
don’t eat what dies therein and floats. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)
Jaber reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no animal
in sea which Allah has not but made pure for the children of Adam.
Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah prohibited the eating
of filthy animals and their milk. (Tirmizi)
Abdur Rahman-bin-Shibl reported that the Prophet prohibited the
eating of the meat of lizards. (Abu Daud)
Jaber reported that the Prophet prohibited the eating of cats and
taking its price. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi)
Abu Musa reported: I saw the Messenger of Allah eating fowls.
Ibn Aufa reported: We fought along with the Messenger of Allah on
seven expeditions and ate locusts with him. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Safinah reported: I ate with the Messenger of Allah the meat of a
bustard (bird). (Abu Daud)
Rules and regulations
All pure, clean, wholesome food is lawful (Halal) for a
Muslim including sea-food and meat of animals slaughtered in the
name of Allah and also food of the People of the Scripture except
those which have been specifically prohibited. Clean and wholesome
things are those which are generally eaten by the people and which
are conducive for health.
Following items of food have been forbidden by the
Qur’an and the Sunnah:
Meat of all those animals and birds which die of themselves without
being slaughtered in the name of Allah. These include animals
strangled to death, or beaten to death or killed by a fall or
attacked by horns and killed, or torn to death by beasts.
Swine-flesh. (Pork, Lord)
Food on which Allah’s name is not taken or meat of even lawful
animal which is not slaughtered in the name of Allah, or which is
slaughtered in the name of other than Allah.
Everything which is offered to idols.
All beasts and birds of prey i.e. all quadrupeds that seize prey
with teeth such as lions, tigers, leopards, jackals, etc, and all
birds such as hawks, kites, crows, raven, etc. which attack with
All unclean things repugnant to health and morality. These include
dogs, cats, mules, horses, asses, lizards.
Wine and all other intoxicants.
Hunting on land during pilgrimage when in Pilgrim’s dress.
Principle of necessity, however, makes temporarily an
unlawful thing lawful. However this principle can be applied only
where there is real necessity and not merely an excuse. For example
if someone is dying of hunger and he has nothing to save his life
except a dead animal or swine-flesh to eat, then he can take it.
Similarly a sick person can take alcohol or wine provided a doctor
certifies that he would die if he is not instantly given that.
According to the Qur’an, following two conditions should be kept in
view while making use of a haram thing:
That it should not be taken with a view to rebel against Allah or to
break the law of Allah, and
That it should be taken only in a minimum possible quantity just
with a view to save life.
The Qur’an has declared swine flesh as Haram (unlawful), has
prescribed a special way of killing (slaughtering) the animals for
food, and has permitted the believers to eat the food of the People
of the Scripture (the Jews and the Christians). Since these things
irritate the minds of many people, an explanation is necessary.
Swine-flesh (pork) has been declared with so much emphasis as Haram
that the Qur’an has enjoined its followers at least four times not
to eat it. It is also haram for the Jews and the Christians as the
Bible has declared it so. Although no reason for declaring it haram’
has been assigned by the Qur’an, but declaring it haram’ has been
justified by the doctors and the modern scientists. According to
them, it increases fat and cholesterol in the body of the person who
eats it and it causes at least seventy diseases as mentioned by Dr.
Zakir Naik in his book. More-over it is a dirty animal which eats
filth and stool. It is also an indecent animal which indulges in
group sex. And if there is any truth in the principle that what you
eat, it effects your morals, then it may cause lewdness and
immorality in its eater.
The method of slaughtering an animal in the name of Allah prescribed
by Islam is that the main artery at the throat of the animal is cut
with a knife and the animal is left to die. This method is
considered very cruel by the critics of Islam. According to them, it
causes much pain and the animal gives up life with intense pangs of
However, modern medical science has belied this allegation. The
Prophet (PBUH) has enjoined his followers to use very sharp knife.
When the main artery is cut with a sharp knife, the flow of blood to
the brain instantly ceases which stops the working of the nerves
which cause the feeling of pain. On the other hand, this method of
slaughtering brings many benefits. The blood flows out of the body
and it does not freeze or absorb in the meat as it is likely to be
in the case when the animal is killed by a violent blow. According
to the doctors, the blood which remains in the meat contains
poisonous germs and bacteria which cause many diseases. So by the
use of Islamic method of slaughtering animals one is safe from many
diseases which are likely to be caused by remaining the blood in the
meat. Moreover, the shelf-life of the meat also increases as the
meat which is free of harmful blood remains fresh and usable for a
The Qur’an has declared the food of the Jews and the Christians as
‘halal’ for the followers of Islam and it has attached no conditions
or stipulations with this permission. However, the Muslim jurists
say that their food is ‘halal’ for Muslims only when it does not
contain any haram thing like pork and wine and when the animal is
slaughtered in the name of Allah in the way prescribed by their
religion for them.
Another objection which is raised against Islam, especially by the
non-eaters of meat like Hindus and Jains is that eating of meat
makes the Muslims violent and militant. This objection is obviously
absurd that the eating of meat changes the temperament of a people.
Moreover the Muslims eat gentle animals like cow and sheep which are
fed upon land produce such as fodder, vegetables and plants. They
are not permitted to eat those animals which eat meat. Therefore,
there is no likelihood of the Muslims becoming violent due to eating