Why eating Pork Is prohibited in Islam?
Posted April 17, 2011on:
Why eating Pork Is prohibited in Islam?
The basic principle for the Muslim is that he obeys whatever Allaah enjoins upon him, and refrains from whatever He forbids him, whether the reason behind that is clear or not.
It is not permissible for a Muslim to reject any ruling of sharee’ah or to hesitate to follow it if the reason behind it is not clear. Rather he must accept the rulings on halaal and haraam when they are proven in the text, whether he understands the reason behind that or not. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error” [al-Ahzaab 33:36]
“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allaah (His Words, the Qur’aan) and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise)” [al-Noor 24:51]
Pork is forbidden in Islam according to the text of the Qur’aan, where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“He has forbidden you only the Maytah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine…” [al-Baqarah 2:173]
It is not permissible for a Muslim to consume it under any circumstances except in cases of necessity where a person’s life depends on eating it, such as in the case of starvation where a person fears that he is going to die, and he cannot find any other kind of food, based on the shar’i principle: “In cases of necessity, haraam things are permitted.”
There is no mention in the shar’i texts of a specific reason for the prohibition on pork, apart from the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “for that surely, is impure” [al-An’aam 6:145]. The word rijs (translated here as ‘impure’) is used to refer to anything that is regarded as abhorrent in Islam and according to the sound human nature (fitrah). This reason alone is sufficient. And there is a general reason which is given with regard to the prohibition on haraam food and drink and the like, which points to the reason behind the prohibition on pork. This general reason is to be found in the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“he [i.e., the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)] 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]
The general meaning of this verse includes the reason for the prohibition on pork and it may be understood that in the Islamic viewpoint, it is included among the list of things that are evil and unlawful (al-khabaa’ith).
What is meant by al-khabaa’ith here is all things that will harm a person’s health, wealth or morals. Everything that leads to negative consequences in one of these important aspects of a person’s life comes under the general heading of khabaa’ith.
Scientific and medical research has also proven that the pig, among all other animals, is regarded as a carrier of germs that are harmful to the human body. Explaining all these harmful diseases in detail would take too long, but in brief we may list them as: parasitical diseases, bacterial diseases, viruses and so on.
These and other harmful effects indicate that the Wise Lawgiver has only forbidden pork for a reason, which is to preserve life and health, which are among the five basic necessities which are protected by sharee’ah.
Let’s take a deeper look of the well known facts that why Pork is Prohibited:
1. Pork-prohibited in Qur’an
As Mentioned above, The Qur’an prohibits the consumption of pork in no less than 4 different places. Its prohibited in 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:115.
Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked a name other than that of Allah. [Al-Qur’an 5:3] The above verses of the Holy Qur’an are sufficient to satisfy a Muslim as to why pork is forbidden.
2. Pork prohibited in the Bible
The Christian is likely to be convinced by his religious scriptures. The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of Leviticus and the swine, as he divideth the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you. Leviticus chapter 11 verse 7 and 8:
Pork is also prohibited in the book of Deuteronomy
And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass. Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 8:
A similar prohibition is repeated in the book of Isaiah chapter 65 verse 2-5.
3. Consumption of pork causes several diseases
The other non-Muslims and atheists will agree only if convinced through reason, logic and science. Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases. A person can have various Helminthes, like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc. One of the most dangerous is Taenia Solium, which in a layman’s terminology is called tapeworm. It harbours in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart it can cause heart attack and if it enters the eye it can cause blindness. If it enters the liver it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body.
Another dangerous helminthes is Taenia Tichurasis. A common misconception about pork is that if it is cooked well, these ova die. In a research project undertaken in America, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from
Taenia tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ovas present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.
4. Pork has fat building material
Pork has very little muscle building material and contains excess of fat. This fat gets deposited in the vessels and can cause hypertension and heart attack. It is not surprising that over 50% of Americans suffer from hypertension.
5. Pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth
The pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth. It lives and thrives on muck, faeces and dirt. It is the best scavenger that I know that God has produced. In the villages they don’t have modern toilets and the villagers excrete in the open air. Very often excreta is cleared by pigs.
Some may argue that in advanced countries like Australia, pigs are bred in very clean and hygienic conditions. Even in these hygienic conditions the pigs are kept together in sties. No matter how hard you try to keep them clean they are filthy by nature. They eat and enjoy their own as well as their neighbour’s excreta.
6. Pig is the most shameless animal
The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate. It feels no jealousy. And among people who consume pork, the practice of wife swapping and other forms of promiscuous behaviour is common.
Food and drink have direct effect on our health. That is why Islam has prescribed regulations about our food and drink. It lays great emphasis on our physical as well as moral health, because both of these are equally important for a healthy society. The abstention from eating pork is one of the steps taken by Islam to practise hygiene and to attain purity of soul.
Islam, for the cultivation of inner faculties, insists upon the cleanliness of body and the purification of soul through Salaat (prayers) Zikr (remembrance of Allah) and other devotional duties. Islam teaches us how to attain the virtues and how to give up bad habits because both good and bad grow in the man according to his upbringing, education and environment.
A human being has natural desires: food, sleep and sex being the three primary ones. He has also other natural emotions: sorrow, happiness, love, fear, disgust and avarice etc. Islam doesn’t recommend the complete abrogation of these impulses but offers a method of controlling them through religious education and discipline.
The prohibition of eating pork in Islam is relevant in this context. There is a saying in English that “a man becomes what he eats.” According to physicians and medical experts, pork is a harmful diet. Consumption of swine-flesh creates lowliness in character and destroys moral and spiritual faculties in a man.
Body And Soul:
The life of a man is a compound of body and soul. Anything, which is harmful for the body, hurts the soul as well. Consumption of swine-flesh reduces the feeling of shame and as such the standard of modesty. Those nations, which consume pork habitually, have a low standard of morality with the result that virginity, chastity and bashfulness are becoming a thing of the past in Europe today. The number of unwed mothers is on the increase despite of the use of pills and other contraceptives.
According to a report, 60 to 70% of girls in Sweden become mothers before marriage. The formula of “skin to skin is no sin” is taking its toll but there is hardly any feeling of shame or remorse over the end-result. Since the European nations have become addicted to wine and pork, sexual freedom with all its attendant evils has got ingrained in their culture. Consequently, homosexuality has been legalized by the British Parliament.
The Holy Qur’an has prohibited the swine-flesh, hence the Muslims would not dare touch it. The Bible has also forbidden swine-flesh, but Christians disregarded this order and started consuming it. The Europeans now proclaim that pork is a very powerful diet, rich in protein. Some of them further argue that since there is a great scarcity of food-stuff in the world and swines are available in abundant quantity, they should be consumed in the diet to overcome the food shortage. If this argument is true, why don’t they use dog’s meat as dogs too are available in abundance? The Europeans perhaps hate the mere mention of dog’s meat in the same way as the Muslims shun pork.
Another wrong notion about swine-flesh is that its consumption lengthens life-span, although this is a pure myth and absurdity. On the contrary, people, who abstain from pork and liquor, have a longer span of life. The Muslims in Central Asia bear a testimony to this truth.
However, in the consumption of flesh Muslims are required to be selective and to distinguish between Halaal (Lawful) and Haraam (Unlawful). This step leads automatically to the deeper understanding of the need for the cultivation of a pure human nature. As blood is virtually our life-stream and whatever we consume ultimately affects the blood system, it is, therefore, necessary to exercise choice in the selection of our food and drinks as part of the requirements of the Shariah.
There are certain food and drinks specified by Allah, and His Messenger Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as forbidden. The prohibition of these food and drinks is not by any means an arbitrary action or an unwarranted decree of Allah. It is the first and foremost a divine intervention in the best interest of man and for his own benefit.
The reasons behind the Divine intervention are numerous. They are of a nature intellectual and spiritual, moral and mental, physical and economic. And the sole purpose is to show man how to develop himself according to an upright course of life in order to be a healthy unit in the structure of the family, then of society and eventually of humanity at large.
Reliable medical doctors and social scientists are able to realize how those food and drinks forbidden by Islam are harmful and destructive to the human spirit and morality as well as to the physique and moral fibre of man and to verify the benefits of Islamic legislations on the subjects.
The prohibition is based on the aim of the purification of one’s nature, because food, when consumed, doesn’t merely enter the stomach and intestines and become excreta. It is absorbed and metabolized into the system and circulated to all parts of the human body, including the brain, and this in no small way affects man’s nature.
Take a look at the nature of the pig for example. The pig is naturally lazy and indulgent in sex, it is dirty, greedy and gluttonous. It dislikes sunlight and lacks the spirit and will to “fight.” It eats almost anything, be it human excreta or anything foul and unwholesome. Amongst all animal flesh, pork is the favoured cradle of harmful germs. Pork also serves as a carrier of diseases to mankind. It is for this reason that its flesh is not suitable for consumption.
Some people have argued that the “modern pig” reared in farms is given only clean foods, therefore, its flesh should be consumable. The answer is that you may feed the pig on clean, wholesome food, but you can’t change its nature. It is still a pig and will always stay so. A pig is not a plant and you cannot change it by bud-grafting.
Dr. E. Kazim. M.D. in his article “Medical aspects of forbidden foods in Islam” (July 1981 issue of Muslim Journal has described diseases carried or caused by the flesh of the swine.
The pig is a scavenger. It is an omnivorous animal. It eats everything. There are many diseases carried from swine to man, particularly parasite infestations. Lately extensive research has been focused on senility-old age is characterized by hardening of inner lining of the blood vessels of the heart, brain etc. a process called atheroselerosis. When a clot forms, it results in coronary thrombosis or a heart attack, cerebral thrombosis or stroke.
Different dietary factors are responsible for atheroselerosis. Gross atheroma may be produced in rabbit by feeding it with cholesterol, but when you add lard (derived from hog fat) to the cholesterol, the incidence of atheroma is increased and thus you would produce coronary thrombosis, and myocardial infraction.
Besides, lard contains 2800 units of vitamin D per 100 grams and no vitamin A at all. Lately vitamin D has been held responsible for atheroma, by causing increased absorption of calcium in the blood vessels. In human beings, serum cholesterol is not dependent on the intake of cholesterol in the diet, but depends upon the proportion of animal fats in the diet, which elevates the beta-lipo protein level in the blood. Animal fats contain saturated fatty acids and these saturated fatty acids have been found to be as one of the causes of atheroma in man. Medium fat bacon contains 25% proteins and 55% fat.
According to medical research, the fat content in pork is more than any other meat (beef, mutton etc.) and it takes longer to digest. Dr. M Jaffer in an article in the Islamic Review (London) of January 1997 issue has listed 16 kinds of harmful germs, which have been discovered in pork in modern researches and the diseases, which could be caused by them. The number of patients suffering from tapeworm disease is the highest in the world among pork eating nations. Other diseases attributed to pigs are caused by tri-chinelia spirates and intestinal worms occupy first place among such nations too.
Dr. Glen Shepherd wrote the following on the dangers of eating pork in Washington Post (31 May 1952).
“One in six people in USA and Canada have germs in their muscles – trichinosis 8 from eating pork infected with trichina worms. Many people who are infected shows no symptoms. Most of those, who do have, recover slowly. Some die; some are reduced to permanent invalids. All were careless pork caters”.
He continued “No one is immune from the disease and there is no cure. Neither antibiotics nor drugs or vaccines affect these tiny deadly worms. Preventing infection is the real answer.”
After reading the statement of Dr. Shepherd, one can realize that there is no real guarantee of safety when eating pork that one would not be affected by trichina worm. That is why modern doctors advise three prohibitions during illness: no liquor, no pork and no smoking.
Muslims follow the divine law which is much higher than the medical advice. The Glorious Qur’an says,
“So eat of the lawful and good food which Allah has provided for you, and thank the bounty of your Lord if it is Him you serve. He has forbidden for you only carrion and blood and swine-flesh and that which has been immolated in the name of any other than Allah; but he who is driven thereto, neither craving nor transgressing, Lo! then Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (16:114-115)
The above is the order from the Creator of the universe and the Supreme Law-Giver. All Muslims are under the obligation to obey it. This is a plain and straightforward answer to those, who usually ask why Muslims abstain from eating pork. Nevertheless, there is no sin, if a Muslims is forced by famine or starvation to eat pork in order to save his life.
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