Posted by: mjaga | March 31, 2011

Forbidden Food

Qur’aanic Verse 2.173:



173. Innama harrama AAalaykumu almaytata waalddama walahma alkhinzeeri wama ohilla bihi lighayri Allahi famani idturra ghayra baghin wala AAadin fala ithma AAalayhi inna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun


173. HE has forbidden upon you but the carrion, the blood, flesh of the swine, and that which is consecrated to someone other than Allah. But if one has to eat such things under any constraint, and if one does this not out of wilful disobedience or transgression, no blame on such a one! Allah is indeed Forgiving, Merciful.281 to 285

Study Notes:

281. ‘Carrion’ in the translation stands for maitata in the original Arabic. Literally, the Arabic word means ‘that which is dead’. Verse 6.145 makes it further clear that what is forbidden is a living creature found by human beings only in a dead state. So, flesh of any found-dead living being is prohibited. It should well be remembered, in this context, that for any vegetarian or non-vegetarian source of food to be permissible, it has to pass the criterion of being wholesome, and fit for human consumption. Verse 5.3 gives us further details of non-vegetarian sources of food that are forbidden.

282. As regards blood, the same Verse 6.145 as mentioned in the preceding Note, also clarifies that it is the blood, shed or poured forth, that is forbidden.

283. Swine, as we know, is an animal that lives in and breeds on filth. Eating its flesh may not therefore be conducive to physical, mental or moral health. And if my information is correct, medical opinion too confirms this view. But it is not for this reason, primarily, that the believers abstain from this food. They abstain, because Allah forbids it. Allah be praised, it is this one divine injunction that most Muslims do follow! And whatever He forbids has got to be not good for us.

284. The last in the list of forbidden items mentioned in this Verse is ‘that which is consecrated to someone other than Allah’. Some commentators of the Qur’aan have interpreted this phrase to mean an animal only that is slaughtered in a name other than that of Allah. Their interpretation is based on the fact that all the three preceding items in the list pertain to animals. So they apply a man-made law applicable to human writings. Suppose, in a human script a list of 4 items is mentioned. Out of the 4, three are distinctly recognisable as belonging to the same one general class. Then as per this man-made law, the 4th item, ought to belong to the same class. This man-made law makes allowance for human weakness, because of which the human writer might have forgotten to specify or make clear to his readers, the class of the 4th item. But the human commentators have also unfortunately and unwittingly committed a human mistake of forgetting that the Qur’aan is divine and not authored by human beings. The Qur’aan is free from human errors. So, no man-made law can be made applicable to it for correcting any blasphemously supposed error therein. Every word therein is perfectly placed by the perfect Author.

285. So, the last item of forbidden foods, mentioned in this Verse, has to be construed literally at its face value. And it literally means anything, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, that is consecrated or dedicated to any seen or unseen being other than Allah.


Mohammad Shafi


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