Islamic Food Taboos
Food as a symbol can refer to any aspect of a culture or individual’s history and identity. Commonly recognized and articulated referential domains include
Ethnicity, region, gender, religion, ethos, social status, and social relationships .Like rice in Asian cultures, beans and tortillas in Mexican cuisine, curry spices in Indian cuisine. Through their consistent use, these foods become associated with that identity (Katz 3,377).
In talking about one of the most interesting cultures in his world, The Islamic culture, we will notice that it has its own food restrictions, and many foods are considered forbidden. In the following pages, we will show what kinds of foods are (forbidden) for Muslims and the reasons for that. Also the similarity between Islam and other religions in Forbidden foods.
Forbidding foods in Islam
Islam basic source is The holly book “Qur’an” at “The Bees” ,Verse 115,which translated by Yusif Ali on The University of Southern California site:
“He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, – then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
And also on “Al Bakara” Verse 219 on the same site:
“They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.”
These two verses in Qur’an shows the most forbidden foods and drinks in Islam ,which are, Dead animals,blood,Pig’s meat and alcohol. The Islamic rules on “haram” (forbidden) foods and drink, are not considered akin to specific time or occasion, but they are continuous all Muslims’ life (Katz 1,616).
Muslims could eat any kind of meat just in two cases: The animal is slaughtered and not dead with any other way and the other thing is telling The God’s name (Alnaggar 2) on the animal. Muslims don’t eat dead animals that which dies naturally (carrion) (Katz 2,295) because killing it without slaughter makes its blood stay in the animal’s body, which is not healthy keeping the blood content of viruses or chemicals or body’s Filth .Slaughtering animals may be cruel in some people’s opinion, but it seems to be the healthiest way to keep the animal’s body clean for humans .
Blood contains many kind of waste such as: Nitrogen components imposed by cells such as ammonia, urea, Uric acid and fatal blood-borne poison usually macro for disposal outside the body through the urine.
Blood also contains any kinds of viruses that might be in the body, so, because the harmful effect of what may be in the blood of any animal, it was forbidden by Qura’n (Alnaggar 2).
Pig’s meat (Pork)
The most famous forbidden kind of food for Muslims is Pork. You may notice how every Muslim asks about the meat served for them before eating “Are this is Pork?” They always ask before eating, because Pig’s meat is mentioned in many places in Quran telling that it’s a dirty animal(Alnaggar 2),which is real because its abhorrent nature. Pigs often wallow in mud (Katz 3,78) and eat any animal’s filth and even eat their owns and this allows many harmful bacteria and viruses like: Trichina Worms, Trichinellaspiralis and Ascaris, to combine their meats and bloods and makes this kind of animals a source of many fatal diseases such as: Trichinellosis and Brucellosis. Pork also spoils faster than any other meat. Muslims don’t eat any part of the pig’s body even after processing it. For example, Black Sausages are considered forbidden also (Alnaggar 2).
Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol (Katz 3,216) and The Prophet Muhammad forbade his followers the consumption of alcohol. Although he acknowledged that wine could make people happy and sociable, he believed that its threats to social order and morality were so great that alcohol should be banned (Katz 3,555). Alcohol is haram, along with other mind-altering substances (Katz 2,295)
Religions like Jews ,have similar forbidden foods to those in Islam, like swine or pigs (Katz 2,350) Muslims are like Jews, they Slaughter their meat according to religious guidelines (Katz 2,446) and Islam also permit the consumption of meat slaughtered by Jews or Christians (Katz 2,294).
There are many Dietary differences among cultures according to the religion, customs or even weather. Islam is a very specific about that and consider food as a way to live and worship god, and consider it as a way to share and give, not only pleasure, and that is all derived first from the Qur’n and secondly from the hadith-the sayings and deeds of Muhammad (Katz 2,293), which care about Muslims’ body and sole health. The restrictions are not permitted to skip or loose it’s an almost hard law, a kind of Taboo.
Ali, YUSUF. USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts. The University of Southern California. 30 May 2007 <http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/016.qmt.html>.
Alnaggar, Zaghloul. “Scientific miracles in Qura’n (Al Nahl).” Alahram Newspaper 15 Mar. 2004 [Cairo, Egypt]: 2
Katz, Solomon H. Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (6 Th ed., Vols.1-3), 2003.