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The Permissible and the Prohibited Food Items in Quranic Sharia Legislations

 

The Permissible and the Prohibited Food Items in Quranic Sharia Legislations

Published in October 12, 2008

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

A brief introduction:

  Our previous article, titled "Smoking Does Not Spoil Fasting", in which we have proven that smoking does not break the fast of believers during the days of Ramadan, has caused hot debates within our website among our dear fellow Quranists; we have promised them to dedicate several articles tackling the issue of prohibition and allowing items as permissible or lawful within Islam (i.e., Quranism), and how this is linked to smoking. This article you are reading now is the first one in this group of articles. Please note that we, ourselves, d never smoked at all and we have chosen not to smoke, and this personal choice has nothing to do with Islam; it is for health reasons and we never have had this habit or urge to smoke.

 

Firstly: the test of the prohibition and the permission of items within the story of Prophet Adam and his wife:

 The story of Adam and his wife, the father and mother of all humanity, are repeated in the Quranic text; see 2:34-39, 7:11-25, and 20:115-123. Yet, the progeny of Adam, i.e., all human beings, rarely draw moral lessons from the story of their father Adam; this is why they live in perpetual suffering and pain. These moral lessons are as follows:

1- When God has commanded angels to prostrate before Adam, all of them obeyed except Satan, who was transformed into the Devil, out of his disobedience and pride; Satan thought that he were superior and better than Adam who was created of clay. Thus, the disobedience of Satan is contrasted to the obedience of the rest of the angels regarding the divine command of the Lord God; angels obeyed without questioning the command and passed the test of obedience, whereas Satan (or Iblis in the Quranic text) disobeyed out of arrogance and attempted to 'justify' disobedience. Thus, there is not the slightest hope that Iblis the Devil would repent; this is why God has cursed and expelled this rebel angel from the higher realm of the heavens and turned him into a devil. 

2- When Adam and his wife enjoyed living in the Barsakh Paradise, their obedience was tested; all food items there were permissible for them except the fruit of one certain tree, as God has prohibited them to come near it. When Iblis/Satan managed to tempt Adam and his wife to eat from the forbidden fruit of this tree, they were punished by being expelled from this Barsakh Paradise and they descended into the Earth, and both Adam and his wife implored God for forgiveness until they were pardoned and their repentance was accepted. All human beings, who are progeny of Adam and his wife, disobey God's commands sometimes and some people readily repent and some do not. Hence, regarding the issue of obeying our Almighty Lord God, human beings are divided into three categories as per their stances:

1- To readily obey the divine commands however apparently strange they might seem, as all pious believers do. This is exemplified when the angels kneeled before Adam when God ordered them to do so. In the Quran, God commands us to eat and drink (see 7:31) but also to fast during lunar month of Ramadan; real believers obey these commands without asking for reasons behind them. 

2- To readily disobey within adamant refusal and insistence on it, while 'justifying' this disobedience with various pretexts; such sinners and disobedient ones rarely repent as long as they justify their disobedience using any pretexts.

3- To disobey and then to readily repent and atone for one's sin of disobedience, while imploring our Almighty Lord God for pardon and forgiveness. Real believers understand the wisdom of the Quranic story of Adam in both tests: the test of angels who were commanded to prostrate before Adam, and the test of Adam and his wife who were commanded not to eat from a certain forbidden tree in the Barsakh Paradise. Thus, the pious ones learn the useful lesson that they should repent readily if they committed sins. But how is this story of Adam and his wife linked to our topic here about prohibited and permissible food items in Islam? In fact, it is the basis and foundation of that topic; let us assert the following indications:

1- Regarding permissible items and prohibited ones, we know that God allowed Adam and his wife to eat from all fruits and trees of the Barsakh Paradise except for one tree; this means that all food items on Earth are permissible to human beings except the prohibited ones mentioned in the Scriptures. Thus, Muslims are NOT to prohibit any food items never mentioned in the Quran as prohibited ones.

2- This command given to Adam and his wife contains an order and a prohibition together: to eat anything they liked from the trees and fruits of the Barsakh Paradise, while the prohibition is regarding one certain tree: never to eat from its fruits nor to come near it so as not to be among the unjust ones. This command is dos and don'ts, like the case in all celestial messages and sharia laws later on revealed to messengers; this is the summary of divine sharia. Each human being must choose to obey or to disobey, bearing the consequences of choice later on in the Hereafter. 

3- Adam and his wife obeyed God in eating from permissible items, but when Iblis, or Satan, tempted them to eat from the forbidden tree, they fall into committing this sin, and they descended to Earth while carrying this lesson to teach it to their progeny. This is why we find God's warning in the Quran to all human beings in this verse: "O Children of Adam! Do not let Satan seduce you, as he drove your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their garments, to show them their nakedness. He sees you, him and his clan, from where you cannot see them. We have made the devils friends of those who do not believe." (7:27).

4- The same story is repeated in celestial messages and their sharia laws; God permits us to eat anything grown from on Earth and commands us never to follow the footsteps of Satan by prohibiting the lawful, permissible items: "O people! Eat of what is lawful and good on Earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an open enemy. He commands you to do evil and vice, and to say about God what you do not know." (2:168-169); "...and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an outright enemy." (6:142); "O you who believe! Do not follow Satan's footsteps. Whoever follows Satan's footsteps - he advocates obscenity and immorality...." (24:21). The footsteps of Satan followed by the vast majority of human beings are understood within the verse 7:27. Let us discuss our topic further below within the Quranic Chapter 7.  

 

Secondly: the permissible item and the prohibited ones within the Quranic Chapter 7: Satan and prohibition of the permissible items and allowing the prohibited ones:

  When Satan was expelled from the Upper Realm, he became adamant in tempting Adam's progeny with all possible ways to make the disobey God: "He said, "Because you have lured me, I will waylay them on Your straight path. Then I will come at them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left; and you will not find most of them appreciative."" (7:16-17). At once, Satan managed to tempt Adam and his wife within the Barsakh Paradise, as he provided pretexts to deceive both of them by making them pose questions about the reason of prohibiting a certain tree, and Satan continued his temptation and whisperings to them till they committed this sin. Obedience is to obey God's command without questioning or hesitation; life itself is a test for all human beings, and part of this test is the divine commands of dos and don'ts. Human instincts hate prohibitions and commands; Satan and his devils make disobedience seem attractive to human beings as if sins were part of obedience! This is sham, fake obedience of course. Celestial messages of God came with dos and don'ts and Satan falsifies such commands by making people prohibit the permissible and legal while allowing the prohibited items, as is the case with all earthly, man-made religions of false, Satanist revelations. Thus, all these different steps are Satan's and they are part of temptation, and this is the topic of God's warning addressed to humanity in 7:27. Satan deceived Adam in the Barsakh Paradise by tempting him to think about the forbidden tree and why it was forbidden; thus, making him desirous to eat from its fruit out of curiosity, to fall into the sin of disobeying God. The same logic makes human beings commit sins like prohibiting permissible food items and allowing prohibited ones, and the same occurs in marriages, words, and deeds. Thus, some people eat the flesh of swines and pigs, drink wine, commit adultery and fornication, and commit murders to gain more earthly, transient possessions. Disobedience and sinning entails that sinners would 'justify' sinning by making sins as part of sharia legislations within fake revelations caused by the Devil; this results in the creation of earthly, man-made religions that maintain tyranny and corruption when they dominate the earth. Within such religions of the Muhammadans, prohibited items are allowed; examples are so many, and they include killing those who are innocent of murder (i.e., putting to death apostates infidels, adulterers, those who stop praying, etc.). Besides, Satan makes polytheists (who think of themselves as if they were religious people) prohibit permissible items as well; e.g., when Satan makes those 'religious' ones extremists who wear niqab or long beards and prohibit most food items ascetically as if this is part of being religious; this violates God's right to be the Only Legislator in Islam by adding rules and laws never ordained by Him in the Quran. The Sunnite religion prohibits so many food items for no reason and that a man would marry a woman and her maternal/paternal aunt at the same time. Thus Satan deceives the extremists who seek to be more 'religious' by exaggerating in all their deeds and words; they add to the list of prohibited items many things for no reason by asking about the reason behind prohibiting certain items in the Quran, and they imitate such imagined reason by adding lists of prohibited items! As if prohibitions are so many as a rule whereas the allowed, permissible items are so little and are exceptional items! This is exactly the result of Satanist whispers when Satan declared his intention to tempt the progeny of Adam in 7:16-17. This is why God warns us many times in the Quran against prohibiting legal items and against following the footsteps of Satan; see 2:168, 6:142, and 24:21. Sadly, the vast majority of human beings never heed this warning, either because they are sinners/disobedient ones, or religious zealots and extremists within corrupt, false, earthly religions: both types of people are victims of Satan. And we mention some details: within the Quranic Chapter 7, after God has narrated the story of Adam and warned us against the deceit of Satan, God says to human beings: "O Children of Adam! Dress properly at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but do not be excessive. He does not love the excessive. Say, "Who forbade God's finery which He has produced for His servants, and the delights of livelihood?" Say, "They are for those who believe, in this present world, but exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection." We thus detail the verses for people who know." (7:31-32). This means no one has the right to prohibit items made legal by God to all (dis)believing human being, while the Quran is reminding us that only pious believers will enjoy them in the Hereafter in Paradise. The very next verse confines prohibitions in general to five domains: illicit sex, sinning, polytheism, aggression, and ascribing lies to God: " Say, "My Lord has forbidden immoralities-both open and secret-and sin, and unjustified aggression, and that you associate with God anything for which He revealed no sanction, and that you say about God what you do not know."" (7:33). These prohibitions include to prohibit legal things and to attribute lies and falsehoods (like hadiths narratives) to God's religion.     

 

Thirdly: the permissible item and the prohibited ones within the Quranic Chapter 6:

 As Satan plays a pivotal role in tempting human beings to prohibited permissible items and allow prohibited ones, we read in the Quranic Chapter 6 about the role of Satan and his followers in spreading Satanist, devilish revelations that are contrary to the divine Quranic revelation; Satan's followers of that type are described as enemies of God's prophets. God reminds us to use the Quran as the criterion to prove the falsehood of such Satanist revelations and to reach guidance: "Likewise, We have assigned for every prophet an enemy-human and jinn devils-inspiring one another with fancy words in order to deceive. But had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. So leave them to their fabrications.  So that the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter may incline to it, and be content with it, and that they may perpetrate whatever they perpetrate. Shall I seek a judge other than God, when He is the One who revealed to you the Book, explained in detail?... The Word of your Lord has been completed, in Truth and justice...If you were to obey most of those on earth, they would divert you from God's Path...Your Lord knows best who strays from His Path, and He knows best the guided ones." (6:112-117). After these verses, God commands us to eat in a certain way: "So eat of that over which the Name of God was pronounced, if you indeed believe in His verses." (6:118); this means that the role of Satanist revelations is to change and adulterate God's sharia laws and legislations given to each prophet; this is done by sinners who follow the footsteps of Satan. Part of this evil scheme is to prohibit permissible food items and to allow prohibited food items as well. The legal food items are the one's God's name pronounced over them; this symbolizes the fact that God permits these food items: all food items except the ones mentioned in the Quran as prohibited ones. The verse 6:118 does NOT mean to utter the name of God, Allah, before slaughtering animals. The verse 6:118 refers to all food items, while those not having God's name pronounced on them are the prohibited ones mentioned as such in the Quranic text, and this is understood from the very next verse: "And why should you not eat of that over which the Name of God is pronounced, when He has detailed for you what is prohibited for you, unless you are compelled by necessity? Many lead astray with their opinions, through lack of knowledge. Your Lord knows best the transgressors." (6:119). Thus, even prohibited food items are allowed in cases of necessity (e.g. to avoid dying of hunger) without transgression against God's laws. In this light, we understand that the verse 6:121 refers to never eating prohibited items mentioned as such in the Quran: "And do not eat from that over which the Name of God was not pronounced, for it is abomination..." (6:121). The prohibited food items are as follows: "Say, "In what was revealed to me, I find nothing forbidden to a consumer who eats it, except carrion, or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine-because it is impure-or a sinful offering dedicated to other than God. But if someone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious-your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful." (6:145). We notice here also that God's Quranic sharia legislations are dos and don’ts, or prohibitions and commands. We draw the important lesson from the previously quoted verses that God's sharia laws here are commands and prohibitions, as follows:

1- We are commanded separately in the Quranic Chapter 6 to eat from all permissible food items and we are prohibited to eat from items deemed as abominations. We are not to ask for the logic or reason behind prohibiting certain food items; see 6:121, 6:145, and 6:119. 

2- God prohibits real believers from following the footsteps of Satan regarding this topic, as per these verses: "...The devils inspire their followers to argue with you; but if you obey them, you would be polytheists." (6:121); " O people! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an open enemy. He commands you to do evil and vice, and to say about God what you do not know." (2:168-169); "...Eat of what God has provided for you, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an outright enemy." (6:142). This means we are NOT to engage into debates with polytheists about food items they prohibit and allow, as they follow the footsteps of Satan who managed to deceive Adam and his wife in the Barsakh Paradise by questioning the logic of prohibiting the fruits of a certain tree; see God's warning within the verses 7:20-27.

3- Of course, Satan and devils go on with their role in tempting human beings and whispering to them; devils never tender their resignation and never stop evil whispering; hence, Muhammadans argue all the time about the reason of prohibiting certain food items by God in the Quran and about whether all harmful items are to be prohibited or not, while forgetting the prohibition is the right of God ONLY; we are to obey Him without questioning or asking for reasons for divine commands and prohibitions.  

4- This (dis)obedience is the perpetual test of all living human beings on earth; the same test is undergone by Adam and his wife, and angels and Satan before them; we are never to question God about His commands and prohibitions if we are real believers, as per this verse: "He will not be questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned." (21:23). People are never to prohibit legal food items or to allow forbidden ones.  

5- The verses 6:136-144 engage into a dialogue with Meccan polytheists of Qorayish who slaughtered sacrificial animals to their gods and saints/deities and prohibited certain food items by ascribing lies to God: "...so leave them to their fraud." (6:137); "...fabricating lies against Him. He will repay them for what they used to invent." (6:138); "...Eat of what God has provided for you, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an outright enemy." (6:142); "...Who does greater wrong than he who invents lies and attributes them to God, in order to mislead people without knowledge? God does not guide the unjust ones." (6:144).  

6- God says in the Quran: "Say, "In what was revealed to me, I find nothing forbidden to a consumer who eats it, except carrion, or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine-because it is impure-or a sinful offering dedicated to other than God. But if someone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious-your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful." (6:145). This means that all items not mentioned in this verse are permissible; even those prohibited items are allowed in cases of extreme necessity.

7- Some Jews messed with prohibitions within food items and were punished by God: "For the Jews We forbade everything with claws. As of cattle and sheep: We forbade them their fat, except what adheres to their backs, or the entrails, or what is mixed with bone. This is how We penalized them for their inequity. We are indeed Truthful." (6:146). This is a warning to Quran-believing people as well.

8- God promises mercy to real pious believers and threatens/wans criminals/sinners: "If they accuse you of lying, say, "Your Lord is Possessor of infinite mercy, but His wrath cannot be averted from the criminal people."" (6:147). Thus, this is linked to faith tenets. This means that those who prohibit the permissible items and allow the prohibited ones are criminals and polytheists who will be punished in Hell for eternity in case they do not repent before death. 

9- Those polytheists who prohibit legal items will regret their grave sin and their stubbornness on the Last Day, when it is too late for them: "The polytheists will say, "Had God willed, we would not have practiced idolatry, nor would have our forefathers, nor would we have prohibited anything." Likewise those before them lied, until they tasted Our might. Say, "Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us? You follow nothing but conjecture, and you only guess."" (6:148). Thus, God defies them to produce evidence to prove their lies and guesses.

10- God created human beings free to obey or to disobey and to choose (mis)guidance on their own accord, within this test of life: " Say, "To God belongs the conclusive argument. Had He willed, He would have guided you all."" (6:149).

11- In this verse, God defies those who prohibit things and violate God's right as the Only Legislator in His religion: "Say, "Produce your witnesses who would testify that God has prohibited this." If they testify, do not testify with them. And do not follow the whims of those who deny Our verses, and those who do not believe in the Hereafter, and those who equate others with their Lord." (6:150). God here has warned Muhammad against following whims of polytheists, as prohibition is a serious issue related to faith tenets and it differentiate between those who believe in God's verses and those who deny and reject them by deifying themselves as legislators within religion of God and by ascribing lies to God.  

12- Within the verse 6:151-153, which we call the Quranic Ten Commandments, we read about prohibited items and about commands of faith: the Commandment No. 10 tells us to follow only the Quran and nothing else regarding real Islam, to save ourselves in the Hereafter: "This is My path, straight, so follow it. And do not follow the other paths, lest they divert you from His path. All this He has enjoined upon you, that you may attain piety." (6:153). This means no one has the right to issue legislations added to the Quran, especially about food items.

 

Fourthly: the permissible item and the prohibited ones within the Quranic Chapter 2:

1- As a general rule, all food items on Earth are permitted except the ones mentioned as otherwise in the Quran; we are not to follow Satan, our arch-enemy, by breaking this rule about prohibited and permissible food items: "O people! Eat of what is lawful and good on Earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an open enemy. He commands you to do evil and vice, and to say about God what you do not know." (2:168-169).

2- Within the pre-Islamic era, Arabians used to prohibited items they hated as per ancestral traditions; God warns against blindly following the ways of the forefathers, as we are only to use the Quran as the sole criterion in all aspects. When the Quran contradicts ancestral traditions, we are to reject them, and if certain traditions do not violate Quranic teachings, they are legal and permissible items. Polytheists, as the Quran explains and exposes their mentality, follow blindly anything inherited from their ancestors, including prohibiting legal food items: "And when it is said to them, "Follow what God has revealed," they say, "We will follow what we found our ancestors following." Even if their ancestors understood nothing, and were not guided? The parable of those who disbelieve is that of someone who calls upon someone who hears nothing except screaming and yelling. Deaf, dumb, and blind-they do not understand." (2:170-171).         

3- In the very next verse, God repeats the command to real believers to eat legal food items as a general rule, while prohibited items or abominations are exceptions: "O you who believe! Eat of the good things We have provided for you, and give thanks to God, if it is Him that you serve." (2:172).

4- God confines prohibited food items to four types only that even one might eat from them in cases of extreme necessity, without violating God's laws and His right to be the Only Legislator in Islam: "He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and what was dedicated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled, without desiring or exceeding, he commits no sin. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (2:173).

5- Within the verses 2:174-175, God warns those sinners who prohibit legal items and allow prohibited ones while concealing the Truth from God away from people: "Those who conceal what God revealed in the Book, and exchange it for a small price-those swallow nothing but fire into their bellies. And God will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they will have a painful punishment. It is they who exchange guidance for error, and forgiveness for punishment. But why do they insist on the Fire?" (2:174-175). This is because they violated God's right to be the Only Legislator in Islam and died without repenting this grave sin. From the verses 2:170-171, revealed in Yathreb, and the verse revealed in Mecca: 6:121, 6:136, and 6:155, we know that polytheists among Arabs and Jews used to imitate their ancestors and follow the footsteps of their forefathers in prohibiting legal items, and God refutes their claims and defies them in the Quran to produce evidence of their views, while describing them as polytheists. This entailed that prohibited food items are emphasized and mentioned several times in the Quranic text, while warning against adding anything to this list of prohibitions.      

 

Fifthly: rules of legislations regarding the permissible items and prohibited ones within the Quranic Chapter 16 (revealed in Mecca):

 These rules can be summarized as follows: (A) legal items are the general rule, whereas forbidden items are few exceptions, (B), we are never to prohibit permissible items, and (C) prohibiting legal items is sheer polytheism and violation of God's right as the Only Legislator in Islam. The Quran has its unique methodology of linking these three rules together; let us take examples from the Quranic Chapter 16: "Eat of the lawful and good things God has provided for you, and be thankful for God's blessings, if it is Him that you serve. He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and anything consecrated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious, then God is Forgiving and Merciful. And do not say of falsehood asserted by your tongues, "This is lawful, and this is unlawful," in order to invent lies and attribute them to God. Those who invent lies and attribute them to God will not succeed. A brief enjoyment-then they will have a painful punishment." (16:114-117). 

1- Within 16:114, we infer that the general rule is that all food items are permissible within few exceptions; anything not mentioned as prohibited in the Quran is allowed to be eaten and consumed; this command is linked to serving God and worshiping Him.

2- Within 16:115,  there are four types of prohibited items that are mentioned as exceptions to the rule in 16:114, and even these items could be consumed in extreme cases when one is about to die of hunger and finds no other food items. Thus, even in this exception of having to consume them, one is NOT to legalize these items as permissible, so as not to violate God's right as the Only Legislator in Islam. 

3- Within 16:116, God prohibits anyone from adding any other items to prohibited food items mentioned in 16:115, while asserting that those who ascribe lies and falsehoods to God will never prosper or succeed in the Hereafter. 

4- Within 16:117, God warns those violators who prohibit legal items against Hell-Fire, because they are polytheists because of this grave sin.

5- Real believers are to avoid the pitfall/snare into which the ancient Jews fell when they prohibited legal food items and God punished them when they added to the list of few prohibited items: "For those who are Jews, We have prohibited what We related to you before. We did not wrong them, but they used to wrong their own selves." (16:118); this is repeated within another instance, regarding the Sabbath: "The Sabbath was decreed only for those who differed about it. Your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences." (16:124).

6- Within the same Quranic Chapter, God puts emphasis on the fact that prohibiting legal food items is sheer polytheism: "The idolaters say, "Had God willed, we would not have worshiped anything besides Him, neither us, nor our ancestors, nor would we have prohibited anything besides His prohibitions." Those before them did likewise. Are the messengers responsible for anything but clear communication?" (16:35). 

7- What asserts 16:116 about the grave sin of ascribing lies to God by prohibiting legal food items and allowing prohibited ones are other verses in the Quranic Chapter 10: "Say, "Have you considered the sustenance God has sent down for you, some of which you made unlawful, and some lawful?" Say, "Did God give you permission, or do you fabricate lies and attribute them to God?" What will they think-those who fabricate lies and attribute them to God-on the Day of Resurrection? God is bountiful towards the people, but most of them do not give thanks." (10:59-60). This means that God is the Only Legislator in Islam and this is His exclusive right: we can consume and use anything on earth since God does not mention these things as prohibited in the Quran; we are not to question God about why certain items are prohibited. In fact, 10:59-60 are echoed in 7:32-33, as we can infer clearly: "Say, "Who forbade God's finery which He has produced for His servants, and the delights of livelihood?" Say, "They are for those who believe, in this present world, but exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection." We thus detail the revelations for people who know. Say, "My Lord has forbidden immoralities-both open and secret-and sin, and unjustified aggression, and that you associate with God anything for which He revealed no sanction, and that you say about God what you do not know."" (7:32-33).     

8- As prohibition is a very serious issue related to God's divinity, Muhammad has been rebuked severely in 66:1 when he prohibited certain food items upon himself to please his wives: "O prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has permitted for you, seeking to please your wives?..." (66:1). Thus, prohibition is God's right only and the mission of messengers were confined to conveying God's message. Messengers were the ones conveying and uttering the divine scriptures; the Quran uttered and written by Muhammad is preserved by God: we are to follow Muhammad the messenger as he followed ONLY the message he conveyed from Almighty God: "" (7:157). While rebuking the prophet in 66:1 shows that a prophet as mortal human being had his words in his daily life which are NEVER part of religion and he might make mistakes. Muhammad as a messenger who uttered the Quran could not have possibly made mistakes in conveying it; this is the difference between the Quranic terms "prophet" and "messenger". More details are found in our book titled "The Quran Is Enough as the Source of Legislation in Islam".  

 

Sixthly: more details of prohibited items and permissible ones in the Quranic Chapter 5 (revealed in Yathreb):

1- As Arabs at the time debated too much about prohibiting legal items and allowing prohibited item, the very first verse of the Quranic Chapter 5 assert what is emphasized in other verses: "O you who believe! Fulfill your commitments. Livestock animals are permitted for you, except those specified to you; but not wild game while you are in pilgrim sanctity. God decrees whatever He wills." (5:1). We read here about the exceptional prohibition of hunting during performance of pilgrimage; of course, hunting is legal by non-pilgrims, as all beasts can be eaten except the ones prohibited by God in the Quran in 5:3; this is asserted further in this verse: "... All livestock are permitted to you, except what is recited to you. So stay away from the abomination of idols, and stay away from perjury." (22:30)     

2- God says in the Quran: "O you who believe! Do not violate God's sacraments, nor the Sacred Month, nor the offerings, nor the garlanded, nor those heading for the Sacred House seeking blessings from their Lord and approval. When you have left the pilgrim sanctity, you may hunt. And let not the hatred of people who barred you from the Sacred Mosque incite you to aggression. And cooperate with one another in virtuous conduct and conscience, and do not cooperate with one another in sin and hostility. And fear God. God is severe in punishment." (5:2). The prohibition of hunting is temporary: "...When you have left the pilgrim sanctity, you may hunt..." (5:2). The very next verse, 5:3, gives more details about prohibited food items.

3- God says in the Quran: "Prohibited for you are carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and animals dedicated to other than God; also the flesh of animals strangled, killed violently, killed by a fall, gored to death, mangled by wild animals-except what you rescue, and animals sacrificed on altars; and the practice of drawing lots. For it is immoral. Today, those who disbelieve have despaired of your religion, so do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My favor upon you, and have approved Islam as a religion for you. But whoever is compelled by hunger, with no intent of wrongdoing-God is Forgiving and Merciful." (5:3). This verse explains the meaning of the four prohibited items of dead meat, blood of animals, flesh of pigs (i.e., not lard, for instance), and animals sacrificed to other deities/idols or mausoleums/saints; indeed, all food types (not just meat) offered as oblation or offerings to mausoleums/saints are prohibited. We find the assertion that in case of extreme hunger, one might consume these items and God will forgive one in that case. 

4- When one hunts using trained dogs and birds of prey, one can eat of what they clutch and catch as legal food items, allowed by God Himself, while pronouncing God's name on them before eating this meat: "They ask you what is permitted for them. Say, "Permitted for you are all good things, including what trained dogs and falcons catch for you." You train them according to what God has taught you. So eat from what they catch for you, and pronounce God's name over it. And fear God. God is Swift in reckoning." (5:4).

5- God says in the Quran: "Today all good things are made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste believing women, and chaste women from the people who were given the Scripture before you, provided you give them their dowries, and take them in marriage, not in adultery, nor as mistresses. But whoever rejects faith, his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers." (5:5). Among legal food items are food cooked by the People of the Book (i.e., the Quranic term indicating Jews + Christians), and they can eat food cooked by Muslims as this is part of equality in Islam. Likewise, Muslims and non-Muslims can intermarry: a Christian or a Jewish man can marry a Muslim woman and a Muslim man can marry a Jewish or a Christian woman, within legal marriage conditions in Islam: (witnesses in contracts, paying dowry, mutual consent, etc.). 

6- The Quranic Chapter 5 contains more emphasis on the prohibition of the grave sin of violating God's right by prohibiting permissible items: "O you who believe! Do not prohibit the good things God has permitted for you, and do not commit aggression. God does not love the aggressors. And eat of the lawful and good things God has provided for you; and be conscious of God, in whom you are believers." (5:87-88). Thus, if one feels too disgusted to eat dogs, insects, mice, worms, etc. (consumed as food in some Asian countries), one is NOT to consider these items as prohibited items that should not be eaten as per one's culture. Culture is NOT part of religion. For instance, in Egypt, one would desire mutton meat or cow meat, but never meat of dogs, snakes, and donkeys and never cockroaches and insects, though Egyptians eat shrimps. We are not to prohibit food items that Egyptian culture does not allow but are consumed by others, since these items are not prohibited in the Quran and we must not violate God's right to be the Only Legislator in Islam.  

7- God prohibits wine consumption in this verse: "O you who believe! wine, gambling, mausoleums, and idols are abominations of Satan's doing. Avoid them, so that you may prosper." (5:90), and one may drink other beverages as legal and permissible, as per 5:93.

8- God says in the Quran: "Those who believe and do righteous deeds will not be blamed for what they may have eaten, provided they obey, and believe, and do good deeds, then maintain piety and faith, then remain righteous and charitable. God loves the charitable." (5:93). This means that beyond prohibited food items mentioned in the Quran (carrion, pig's flesh, animal blood, and food offered in honor of saints' mausoleums), one can consume other items whatever they are, and all beverages except wine, provided that one earns money and food legally within piety and the fear of our Lord God.    

9- Within the early verses of the Quranic Chapter 5, we see legislations about prohibited food items, and the temporary prohibition of hunting animals by pilgrims, and more details of this last point are found in these verses: "O you who believe! God will test you with something of the game your hands and spears obtain, that God may know who fears Him at heart. Whoever commits aggression after that will have a painful punishment.  O you who believe! do not kill game while you are in pilgrim sanctity. Whoever of you kills any intentionally, its penalty shall be a domestic animal comparable to what he killed, as determined by two honest persons among you-an offering delivered to the Kaaba. Or he may atone by feeding the needy, or its equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the consequences of his conduct. God forgives what is past. But whoever repeats, God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Avenger." (5:94-95).

10- An exception is made to pilgrims as they are allowed to fish: "Permitted for you is the catch of sea, and its food-as sustenance for you and for travelers. But forbidden for you is the game of land while you are in pilgrim sanctity. And fear God, to whom you will be gathered." (5:96). Thus, even when sea creatures are dead after being fished, they are still made legal and permissible by God. Thus, beyond all these clear details and rules of legal and illegal food items within the Quran, no one is to add to the list of prohibited food items nor allow prohibited items as legal. 

 

Lastly:

  We have thus briefly examined most Quranic verses related to prohibited and permissible food items, and we conclude the following points:

1- The permissible items are good, beneficial ones and the prohibited items are bad, harmful ones.

2- The general rule is that all things/items are permissible, whereas prohibited items (by God in the Quran) are few exceptions. 

3- It is strictly forbidden in Islam to prohibit permissible items.

4- To prohibit permissible items is sheer polytheism and violation of God's right to be the Only Legislator in Islam.

A query is raised now: what about smoking in light of the above facts? We assert the following points:

1- Smoking is NOT among food items or a drink that goes to the stomach; smoking makes smoke enters into the respiratory system and not the digestive system. Thus, fasting is not broken or spoiled at all when fasting persons smoke during the days of Ramadan. Even if smoke enters into the blood circulation, this does not make it spoil the fast; the Quran mentions that fasting is to stop eating, drinking, and having sex with one's spouse, from dawn to sunset during the lunar Ramadan, and nothing is mentioned in the Quran about smoking at all. Not all substances that enter into the blood circulation might be considered as food; e.g., we smell aromas and perfumes while fasting and no one would say the fasting is spoiled; cooks breathe the aroma of food being cooked and this never spoils fasting; and finally, while fasting, we breathe cars exhaust and breathe in millions of germs and our skin absorbs Vitamin D from the sun, and all these things NEVER spoil the fasting as such things are not food items.

2- To understand better the notion that smoking is not prohibited in the Quran, and NOT even mentioned at all in the first place, and that we must not add to the list of Quranic prohibited items, we must get to know better the Quranic methodology of prohibition. This is the topic of our next article titled (in English): "The Quranic Sharia Legislation Methodology of Prohibition: A Practical Study".


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