Your Food and Drink(part 1 of 4):

Introduction to Dietary Laws in Islam

Arabic Terms

·       Halal - permissible.

·       Haram - Forbidden or prohibited.

·       Shirk – a word that implies ascribing partners to Allah, or ascribing divine attributes to other than Allah, or believing that the source of power, harm and blessings comes from another besides Allah.

The Quran and Sunnah have provided a number of guidelines for what is allowed for Muslims to eat and what is not, and thus, Muslim dietary practice is directly related to divine obedience.  Practicing Muslims obey Allah by following these guidelines, and thus they are rewarded for this, as following the guidelines of the religion is considered worship. 

Permitted food and drinks are classified as halal, while those forbidden as haram.  Since ‘you are what you eat’, Islam permits food deemed wholesome for the body and the soul and forbids what is detrimental to them, as the Quran declares:

“Today all good, pure foods have been made lawful for you.” (Quran 5:5)

In this lesson we will familiarize ourselves with basic rules of Islamic dietary law.

The General Rule Regarding Food and Drink

The general rule in the Sharee‛ah, or Islamic Law, is that everything is allowed except what is expressly forbidden which is bound to harm people’s health, character or religion. Allah reminds us that He has created everything on the earth so we can benefit from it, with the exception of things He has forbidden, as the Qur’an states, “It is He who created everything in and on the earth for you. ” (Soorat Al-Baqarah, 2:29)

Plants and Fruits

All types of plants that people plant or take off trees, herbs and mushrooms of all types are lawful and suitable for human consumption, with the exception of those ones that are hazardous to health or life or those that intoxicate and cloud the mind, such as alcoholic beverages and drugs, which are strictly forbidden due to the great harm they are bound to cause.

Intoxicants and Alcoholic Beverages

An intoxicant is an agent that clouds the mind and produces in a person a state ranging from elation to stupor, usually accompanied by loss of inhibitions and control. As the Prophet ﷺ said, “Every intoxicant is khamr (wine), and every khamr is forbidden.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2003). Therefore, any alcoholic drink is unlawful, whether it is made from fruit, such as grapes, dates, figs and raisins, or from grains, such as wheat, barley, corn and rice, or from sweet substances such as honey. Thus, the definition of khamr extends to any substance that intoxicates, in whatever form and under whatever name it may appear, even if it is added to natural fruit juice, sweets and chocolate.

Preservation of the Mind

Islam seeks to realise people’s benefits in this life and in the hereafter, and amongst these ultimate benefits are the five necessities, namely, religion, life, the mind, property and progeny.

The mind is the basis of legal responsibility (manaat at-takleef) and the main reason behind divine honour and favour on the human race. It is for this reason that Islam seeks to preserve it and protect it against anything that is bound to weaken it or derange it.

The Islamic Ruling on Alcoholic Drinks

Consuming alcoholic drinks, such as wine, is one of the major sins and its prohibition is confirmed by textual evidence from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions, including the following:

 • The Qur’an says, “O you who believe, intoxicants, gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid them so that you may be successful.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:90) Allah ﷻ describes all types of intoxicants as a type of filth and abomination and commands the believers to avoid them in order to secure success in this life and in the hereafter.

 • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Every intoxicant is wine (khamr), and every wine is unlawful. Whoever drinks wine in this world and dies addicted to it without repentance will not drink it in the hereafter.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2003)

 • Explaining once that drinking wine decreases faith and contradicts it altogether, he once declared, “When somebody takes an alcoholic drink, then he is not a believer at the time of drinking it.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5256; Saheeh Muslim: 57).

• Allah has imposed corporal punishment on drinkers, and so they lose their dignity and credibility in society.

 • He ﷻ warns those who persist in drinking wine, and all intoxicants for that matter, and die without ever repenting with a severe punishment in the hereafter. As the Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, made a covenant to those who drink intoxicants to make them drink Teenat al-Khabaal.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2002). Teenat al-Khabaal refers to the pus and other unpleasant fluids that ooze out of the bodies of those doomed to Hellfire.

 • In fact, this severe warning also extends to those who get involved in any way in any action related to the production and drinking of alcohol, for the Prophet ﷺ “cursed ten types of people in connection with alcoholic drinks: those who produce them, those for whom they are produced, those who drink them, those who serve them, those who carry them, those for whom they are carried, those who serve them, those who sell them, those who benefit from the price paid for them, those who buy them, and those for whom they are bought.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 1295).


Taking drugs, whether such drugs are plant-based or manufactured and whether they are inhaled, swallowed or injected, is considered to be one of the major sins in Islam, for while they serve as intoxicants they destroy the nervous system and afflict those who take them with various psychological and neurological disorders and even lead to their death. Allah ﷻ, the Most Merciful, says in the Qur’an, “Do not kill yourselves. Allah is Most Merciful to you.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:29)

Your Food and Drink(part  2 of 4):

📤. Are there any types of seafood that Muslims are not permitted to eat?

📥 All kinds of food from the sea are permissible, whether they are plants or animals, alive or dead. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Lawful to you is (the pursuit of) water-game and its use for food – for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel…” [al-Maa’idah 5:96]. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “ Sayduhu (lit. hunting, pursuit) refers to whatever is taken from it alive, and ta’aamuhu (lit. its food) means whatever is taken dead.”

There are a few things – certain types of water animals – which some scholars exclude from the permission outlined above. These are:

Crocodiles. The correct view is that eating these is not allowed, because they have fangs and live on land – even though they may spend a lot of time in the water – so precedence should be given to the reason for forbidding it (it is a land animal that has fangs).

Frogs. It is not permitted to eat them because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade killing them, as is reported in the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Uthmaan, who said that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade the killing of frogs. (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad). The rule is that everything which we are forbidden to kill, we are not allowed to eat; if we are allowed to eat it we are allowed to kill it.

Otters and turtles. The correct view is that to be on the safe side, it is permissible to eat them after slaughtering them properly, because they live both on land and in the sea. Here the rule is that in the case of animals that live both on land and in the sea, the rules concerning land animals should be given precedence, to be on the safe side, so they must be slaughtered properly, except for crabs which do not need to be slaughtered, even though they live both on land and in the sea, because they do not have blood.

Everything that can cause harm is forbidden as food, even if it comes from the sea, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you.” [al-Nisa’ 4:29] and: “… and do not throw yourselves into destruction…” [al-Baqarah 2:195].

And Allaah knows best.

What are the lawful animals?

The general rule in Islamic Law is that all animals are allowed to be used for food except for those that are expressly forbidden in the 

Qur’an or the Prophet’s traditions.

🔸Land Animals

For land animals to be lawful, two conditions must be met:

They must be considered lawful for their flesh to be used for food.

They must be hunted or slaughtered according to Islamic law (Sharee‛ah).

Prohibited Foods

1. Prohibition of Carrion

Allah says in the Quran:

‘Indeed, what He has forbidden to you is the flesh of dead animals…’ (Quran 2:173)

The first prohibited food is the flesh of “dead animals,” that is, the animal which dies of natural causes, without being slaughtered or hunted.  There are many health hazards in carrion, details of which can be found here.

But Allah has created other beings in such a way that they are able to benefit from carrion as a source of sustenance.. An exception to this rule is sea-food.   Prophet Muhammad said of the sea:

 ‘Its water is pure and its dead are halal (to eat).’ (Musnad)

This maybe due to the preserving factor of salt coupled with the fact that it is next to impossible to catch live fish and “slaughter” them. It may be also due to the physiology of fish itself.

2. Prohibition of Flowing Blood[1]

The second prohibition relates to flowing or liquid blood which cannot be used as food or drink.  It’s rare to find recipes using blood anyway!

The third prohibited food is pork, that is, the flesh of swine.  All pork products like sausage, pepperoni, salami, chops, ribs, lard, bacon, and ham are forbidden.

- Pigs: Pigs, indeed any of their body parts and by-products, are considered ‘filthy’ in Islam and thus forbidden for human consumption. As the Qur’an states, “Forbidden to you for food are dead animals, blood and the flesh of swine.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:3)

By the mercy of Allaah and His kindness towards us, Allaah has permitted us to eat all good things, and He has not forbidden anything but those that are impure. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“…he allows them as lawful At‑Tayyibaat (i.e. all good and lawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods), and prohibits them as unlawful Al‑Khabaa’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons and foods)”

[al-A’raaf 7:157] 

We do not doubt for an instant that the pig is a dirty and filthy animal, and that eating it is harmful to man. Moreover it lives on dirt and filth, and it is something that is off-putting to those of a sound nature who refuse to touch it, because eating it is either a cause or a sign of a person’s oddness.


With regard to the physical harm caused by eating pork, modern science has proved a number of things, such as the following: 

‎    Pork is regarded as one of the kinds of meat that contain the most cholesterol, an increase of which in the bloodstream leads to an increased likelihood of blocked arteries. The fatty acids in pork are also of an unusual formation, when compared with the fatty acids in other types of food, which makes them more easily absorbed by the body, thus increasing cholesterol levels.

‎    Pork meat and pork fat contribute to the spread of cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate and blood.

‎    Pork meat and pork fat contribute to obesity and related diseases that are difficult to treat.

‎    Eating pork leads to scabies, allergies and stomach ulcers.

‎    Eating pork causes lung infections which result from tapeworms, lungworms and microbial infections of the lungs. 

The most serious danger of eating pork is that pork contains tapeworms which may grow to a length of 2-3 meters. The growth of the eggs of these worms in the human body may lead to insanity and hysteria if they grow in the area of the brain. If they grow in the region of the heart that may lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks. Another kind of worm that is to be found in pork is the trichinosis worm that cannot be killed by cooking, the growth of which in the body may lead to paralysis and skin rashes.

It is well known that there are some diseases that are unique to humans and are nor shared with any other animals except pigs, such as rheumatism and joint pain.

But even if we did not know about the harmful effects of eating pork, this would not change our belief that it is haraam in the slightest, or weaken our resolve to abstain from it. You know that when Adam (peace be upon him) was expelled from the Garden, it was because he ate from the tree from which Allaah forbade him to eat. We do not know anything about that tree, and Adam did not need to enquire into the reason why it was forbidden to eat from it. Rather it was sufficient for him, as it is sufficient for us and for every believer, to know that Allaah has forbidden it.

It is not permissible to sell pork or to receive payment for carrying it, or to help with it in any way, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah and His Messenger have forbidden the sale of alcohol, dead meat, pork and idols.”

Prohibited Foods

4. Animal Dedicated to Anyone Other Than Allah[3]

The fourth prohibition refers to animals[4] which are dedicated to anyone other than Allah, that is to say, those which are slaughtered with the invocation of a name other than the name of Allah, such as idols, celestial objects, prophets or saints.  When slaughtering an animal, the Arab polytheists would invoke the names of their idols.  In this case, the reason for the prohibition is entirely related to faith: to safeguard the belief in Allah, to purify worship, and to oppose shirk in matters of food consumption. Indeed it is Allah who created man and subjected the animals to him and permitted him to take its life for food on the condition that His name be pronounced at the time of slaughter.  Pronouncing the name of Allah while slaughtering the animal is an announcement that one is taking the life of this creature by the permission of its Creator, while if one invokes any other name, he has forfeited this permission and must be denied the use of its flesh.

5. Slaughtering with means which does not properly allow the exit of Blood[5]

Allah in the Quran mentions various forms of this category:

- Strangulation: An animal which has been strangled, for example, by a rope around its neck, or suffocated is forbidden.

- Beaten to Death[6]

- A Fallen Animal[7]: An animal which dies as a result of a fall from a high place, or by falling into a gully or ravine.

- Gored[8]: An animal which dies as a result of being gored by the horns of another animal.

- Partly Eaten by Other Animals[9]:An animal partly consumed by wild beasts and dies as a result.

6. Insects: All land insects are not lawful because they cannot be slaughtered, with the exception of locusts, as the Prophet ﷺ said, “Made lawful for you are the flesh of two dead animals: locusts and fish.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 3218)

7.  Snakes and Mice: These are also considered unlawful and Islam even goes as far as to command us to kill them. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There are five animals for which there is no blame on the one who kills them even if he is in a state of consecration for the pilgrimage (ihraam): crows, kites (hawk-like birds), mice/rats, scorpions and mad dogs.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaare: 3136; Saheeh Muslim: 1198)

8. Domestic donkeys, which are generally used in the countryside for riding and carrying loads.

9. Other Animals

The Quran says concerning the Messenger of Allah:

“...(he) makes lawful to them what is good and makes unlawful what is foul...” (Quran 7:157)

In addition to the terrestrial animals prohibited by the Quran, the Prophet also forbade the eating of any carnivorous animals with canine teeth, and any bird with talons.[10]  Carnivorous animals denote those which prey on others and devour them by tearing them apart, e.g., the lion, leopard, wolf, and the like; birds with talons such as the hawk, eagle, and the falcon.

Necessity Dictates Exceptions

“...He has explained to you what He has made haram for you, except that to which you are compelled...” (Quran 6:119)

In Islamic law, necessity is deemed to exist when one fears death or great harm. If one finds nothing else to eat except that which is prohibited, and the person fears death, he may apply this rule.  One should, however, stay within the limits and eat only enough to keep him alive.

Vegetarianism and Other Diets

Many meats are halal, but a Muslim does not have to eat meat, it’s not part of faith! A Muslim can be vegetarian by choice. There are many foods which a Muslim can choose to eat from, and one should not feel that they must eat things they do not desire. The Prophet himself preferred not to eat onions or garlic, nor desert-lizard, a type of meat some ate in his time. One should not think, however, that there is something ethically wrong with eating meat, or else they would in a sense be legislating ethics, which is a right of Allah alone.

Islamic Slaughter

This means slaughtering animals in a manner which satisfies the conditions of slaughtering stipulated by Islamic law.

Conditions for slaughtering animals in Islam

 1. The person undertaking the slaughtering process must be Muslim or a member of the People of the Book (that is, Jews or Christians). In addition, he must have reached the age of discretion and carries out this act for the intended purpose.


2. The tool used for slaughtering the animal must be suitable for the intended purpose and sharp, such as a knife. It is forbidden to use anything that may kill the animal due to its heavy weight, hit its head to death or shock it and render it unconscious by resorting to electric stunning, for instance.


3. The name of Allah must be pronounced by saying Bismillaah (in the name of Allah) at the time of slaughtering the animal.


4. The cut must sever at least three of the following: the trachea, the oesophagus and the two blood vessels on either side of the throat.

If these conditions are met, the meat of the slaughtered animal will be lawful; however, if one single condition is not met, its meat will not be lawful.

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