Print PDF


Summary of 6.13 "Diet: Intoxicants Continued"

There were five basic areas that we discussed last time.  First of all we took a quick look at the harm of intoxicants as derived from the Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  We said that the Quran describes it as handiwork of Satan as it is harmful morally which causes discord in society and it effects the spirituality of the individual because it clouds his or her mind and keeps them from the remembrance of God.


All of that is in addition to the physical and economic harms that are caused by intoxicants.  Any program put in place to limit the negative effect of the intoxicants can not be imposed by laws but should be preceded by a process of education and awareness and should develop motivation so that people want to rehabilitate themselves.  The strongest motive would probably be religious and spiritual.  An atmosphere must be created where intoxicants are not encouraged and advertised everywhere.


The third point was that even though the Quran does talk about delightful and pleasing drinks in paradise which in accordance to the Quran is not the same type of fermented booze we have here on earth.  There are lots of pleasures in paradise but not of the nature that we know here.


The fourth point was that the use of intoxicants, particularly anesthesia in surgery is permissible because it is an absolute necessity.  In medicines however, the basic rule is to try to avoid ones that have alcoholic content.  Also in regards to cough medicines one should try to find substitutes that do not contain it, but in absolute necessity one should use the ones that have least amount of alcohol.


We also discussed foods that may contain alcoholic contents like cakes, wine in foods or mouth washes.  These thins should be avoided as they are not permissible.


6.14   Diet: Other Issues

Host:  What about the use of vinegar?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all there is no problem with the use of vinegar which does not contain intoxicants which can becloud the mind.  A second thing is called istihala which means the total transformation of one thing to another.  An example would be grape juice which is permissible but when it is fermented it is transformed completely into wine which is not permissible.  Also the wine can transfer into vinegar.  The basic rule in Islam is that if the thing completely changes the rule can also change as to it being permissible or not.  So if grape juice turns into wine it is forbidden but if wine turns into vinegar then it becomes permissible.  This is an interesting rule that can be applied to a variety of situations.  There is one saying of Prophet Muhammad narrated in Muslim in which he says that vinegar is one of the good foods.


Host:  What about shellfish, clams, lobster, shrimp and scale-less fish?

Jamal Badawi:

There is no restriction whatsoever on anything that comes from the sea.  In fact the Quran says in (5:96) “Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food.”  Anything that comes from the sea is permissible.  Indeed one person asked the Prophet (PBUH) and he said “We travel in the sea and we only have a little amount of water what should we do?  If we use it for ablution we might go thirsty.”  He replied “You can make ablution with the water from the sea.”  He also said that the water of the sea is pure and clean and anything that comes from it is permissible.  There is no evidence whatsoever that any of those foods are restricted.


Host:  What sources can be referred to in order to find out which typs of cheese contain pepsin and which do not?

Jamal Badawi:

There is an interesting little booklet which is available at no cost from the Muslim World League Office in New York it is called Cheese and was written by Dr. Ahmad Sakr a professor of chemistry specializing in questions related to food technology.  This booklet talks about the types of cheeses and the various methods used in cheese production.  It says that the most common enzyme used in coagulating is rennet which the commercial name for rennin which is an enzyme that comes from the stomach of cud eating animals particularly calves.  Pepsin is the ingredient to watch for because it may come from the stomach of the pigs.  However, he corresponded with a number of cheese manufacturers and out of 10-11 companies only two said that they use pepsin.  The booklet also says that recent development in cheese processing is moving away from animal enzymes and towards microbial enzymes or bacterial cultures.  One of the managers of the cheese companies that he corresponded with estimated that 98% of the cheese made today is made using microbial enzymes rather than animal enzymes.


Host:  Are there any restrictions regarding cooking or serving of food?

Jamal Badawi:

No there is nothing like that.  What is intended in Islamic law is prohibiting of foods that are unclean or might cause harm so there are no restrictions by way of the preparations or mixing of foods.


The only thing that has to be watched for is serving food in solid silver or gold.  The main idea behind this is not to show off with too much undue luxury when serving food.  There are a few sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in which he says that anyone that eats using solid silver or gold it is as if they are eating fire.  Some might ask about the use of spoons, forks and knives that might be coated with silver to keep them from rusting which is ok.  The prohibition is on the use of solid silver or gold pots or serving pans.


The only other prohibition that we did not mention is any food that is not forbidden but proven to be harmful.  Suppose one discover that there is a certain kind of fish or plant which is poisonous, even though its specific name is not prohibited it is prohibited in the broad Islamic law and its objective of maintaining good health.


Host:  Are there other things that we are discouraged from eating or is recommended for us not to eat?

Jamal Badawi:

Let’s take a brief look at dietary laws within the framework that we discussed before.  We talked about acts that a Muslim should or should not do that runs along a continuum of five basic points.  These range from absolutely prohibited acts, to acts which are detestable, to acts which are permissible, then to acts which are commendable and finally acts which are mandatory.  So far we have been covering the first point, the strictly prohibited acts, which include eating dead meats (suffocated or not slaughtered properly), drinking blood, eating swine meat, eating predators, meats dedicated to other gods than God and intoxicants.


The next step down from fully prohibited is highly discouraged (detestable) which include tow items smoking and excess eating or drinking.  From the point of view of Islamic law smoking has a number of harms.  First of all, in Islam one’s health and life and body is not something that one can say that they own and can dispose of in which ever way they like.  As we know that there is definite harm from smoking (which do not only include lung cancer) then by implication if I smoke knowing that I am hurting my body I am abusing the trust which God has given me.  Second smoking represent expenditure which are unnecessary even if one is rich as in Islam ones property and possessions are not theirs in the absolute sense.

Property is a trust from God in ones hands and one is not entitled to abuse it in an unbeneficial and harmful way.  Third, smoking has been proven to be strong habit forming which is very difficult to get rid of.  Again the Islamic attitude towards life is that one should not be dominated by such bad habits.  In Islamic law one is not supposed to hurt themselves or others.  The harm of smoking is not like that of coffee or tea which can also be harmful.


The other item that is highly discouraged is access eating or drinking.  For example in the Quran (7:31) it says “eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.”  Access here could mean over eating and drinking or it could mean a lack of a balanced diet.  A third meaning of excess on the negative side which is where people think they can be more pious by neglecting their body and not getting enough nutrients.  These things are not approved in Islam as one should always eat in moderation.  In Nissai and Tirmithi which are collections of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) where he says that a human being does not fill any worst container than one’s own stomach.  In other words the worst container to fill is one’s own stomach.  He says that it is enough for the human to eat a few meals a day to keep him going.  When a person eats one should allocate a third of his stomach for food, a third for drink and a third for air.  Of course this is symbolical so that one divides their stomach into three parts rather than filling the stomach totally.  This was revealed 1400 years ago and today we find in medical research that the body does not really benefit from all the food one eats.  This means that the body would have to exert certain effort in order to digest and then more effort to get rid of the extra food one has eaten.


The other thing that is detestable that the Prophet (PBUH) said as narrated in Bukhari that one should not eat while reclining.  Again this does not reflect humbleness.  In addition to this there are some things that are detestable under certain conditions.  The Prophet said that people who eat fresh onions or garlic should stay home and not mix much in public.  There is no prohibition for eating cooked onion or garlic but if it is fresh one better keep away from people for a while.


Host:  Are there certain foods and drinks that are recommended?

Jamal Badawi:

Yes, there are few things that are encouraged but are not obligations.  There are a few foods that we find reference to in the Quran and in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and people who keep this diet stay quite healthy.  First of all honey, as there is a whole chapter in the Quran called An Nahl (The Bees) and in verse 68 and 69 it talks about he blessing of the honey that God gave us “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations;  Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.”  In addition to the glucose found in honey there are other very useful ingredients.  Honey can be used as a gentle laxative.  It is very effective as a cough medicine.  In fact if one puts some honey in warm water with a few drops of lime it really soothes coughs and may be a substitute for cough medicines that have alcohol.  It is also used for intestinal problems and indigestion.  A pharmacist told me of a person who was about to die from hepatitis.  After trying many medicines they started using honey intravenously and the person recovered.


The second food that is mentioned is milk.  The Prophet (PBUH) was narrated to have said whenever he ate something “Oh God, bless this for us and give us something better than it.”  But when he drank milk he said “Oh God, bless this for us and give us more of it.”  This means that milk is one of the top healthy recommended foods.


The third is olive oil.  The olive tree is mentioned in the Quran as a blessed tree.  Fourthly, the Prophet (PBUH) recommended we eat 7 dates in the morning.  He said this is very good for us and people who have tried it keep very healthy.


Finally, something that is useful is the voluntary fasting which gives the digestive system a rest.



Host:  Are there any other points that are commendable related to diet?

Jamal Badawi:

There are things that I classify under proper etiquette.  There are few things that are recommended regarding etiquette in regards to diet.  There is a saying by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he was advising a young boy he said “When you eat start by mentioning the name of God, eat with your right hand and eat from the closest point to you from the dish or serving tray.”  This single saying summarizes three of the etiquette of Islamic eating.  First, one is to mention the name of God.  One of the known formulas is Allahuma barik lana fi ma-razaktana wa quina athab al-nar which means oh God bless what you have provided for us and save us from the hell fire.  The second thing is to eat with the right hand because the left hand is used for other things.  The third aspect is to eat from nearest point (avoid extending the hands too much) which is a matter of basic manners.


Other things that were recommended by the Prophet is that a person is required to wash their hands thoroughly before eating, if one eats using his hand he should use three fingers and the person should eat while sitting.  Another interesting thing that the Prophet said as reported in Tirmithi and Ibnu Maja is that when people eat they should eat together as a group not alone because there is more blessing when a group of people eat together.  Another point is that if a Muslim does not like a particular food he should not criticize it.  Abu Hurira a companion of the Prophet said that the Prophet (PBUH) never criticized any type of food but whatever he liked he ate and what he did not like he did not complain about which is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim.  Another one is that if one has guests it is not appropriate to finish eating before them.  The idea is to be sensitive to the guest who might feel a bit shy and if the head of the house stops eating he may stop even though he really would like to eat more.


If people are eating together one should not eat before everyone else finishes unless there is an urgent need to take leave.  If a person is offering drinks (permissible ones) he should offer the others and be the last one to drink.  In Abu Dawood, Ibnu Maja and Tirmithi it was reported that we should wash our hands after eating especially if it is greasy.  Finally, after the person finishes eating he should thank God for what He provided.  One of the common formulas for this is AlhamduliAllah alathi ata’mana wa- sakana wa-ja’alana Mulsimeen which means Grace or thanks to God who gave us food and drink and made us Muslims.  The Prophet indicated this specifically when he said “God is pleased with his servant if whenever he eats or drinks something he thanks God for it.

| + - | RTL - LTR
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.