Forbidden Food
The Dietary Shari‘ah
Question asked by .
Answered by Asif Iftikhar

I read it in the Qur’ān (very recently) that many Companions of the Prophet (sws) refused to eat food which was not Halāl, that is not sacrificed by taking God's name. Now, I know that I can't get Halāl meat in my campus. Should I go vegetarian or should I just read the kalmah and eat the meat?


According to the Qur’ān the meat of an animal sacrificed in the name of someone other than Allah and the meat of an animal which is not slaughtered in Allah’s name are not Halāl. (see the Qur’ān 2:173 and 6:121). Even when taking an animal’s life is indispensable for our survival and nourishment, it is only He that gives life who can sanction taking it. And it is only He in whose name life can be sacrificed. This is the Law. Yet, God in His infinite mercy has given us this allowance: if we cannot hold out in hunger, we can eat Harām (forbidden) food without transgressing the limit or defying Him (see the Qur’ān 2:173, 6:145 and 16:110).

What is hunger and what is the limit are subjective questions. One person may be able to hold out longer than another. The general rule is that you should not overburden yourself in areas where God Himself has given an allowance. The Divine law (al-Sharī‘ah) is based on ease. God has not given this law to make our life difficult. He has given us this law to purify us and to bless us. If you can’t even get your normal intake of food and are unable to carry on your work in hunger, you can begin thinking about availing yourself of this allowance. The only thing to remember is that you should not go beyond your need or defy God. Arguments as ‘Well, it doesn’t matter. Just say the Kalimah and eat your food – and so on’ are also a form of defiance.

This is the law and the relevant allowance. But I am certain that you won’t have to go to the extreme of waiting for food until you can’t go on in your hunger. There must be many alternatives available. A lot of Halāl food is now available all over the world. Again, if you get in touch with your local Muslim organisation, they’ll be able to help. You can also get many canned food items that take no or very little time to prepare. For example, milk, fish, oat meal and beans. Most of this stuff is good food, and a sensible assortment can give you a fairly good diet.

Although the Christians have denied the Divine Law as such, the Jews still follow it as it was revealed to Moses (sws) in the Torah. The Divine Law as revealed to the true Messengers of God has become lenient in Islam, not stricter. Therefore, you can ask for ‘Kosher’ food as well, which is available almost everywhere in the States. However, beware of the subterfuges of the Jews! They even have ‘Kosher’ wine. As I have already explained, wine – ‘Kosher’ or not – or any other form of intoxicants is prohibited in Islam. (By the way, there are non-alcoholic  wines which, obviously, are Halāl).

For Questions on Islam, please use our