When Western people travel to eastern Islamic countries, they often prefer to eat the folk and favorite local food of the region. But what is it that makes western Muslims starve for a KFC classic chicken–on–the–bone bucket meal, or a McDonalds’ double burger if they don’t eat meat?! Muslims are Muslims, not vegetarians and eating meat in Islam is allowed, But like the followers of other religions who have specific slaughtering rituals, Muslims also have explicit rulings for slaughtering particular animals to make it lawful (Halal).
As it is defined in the Quran, believers are welcomed to enjoy all of the blessings of this world . Therefore, about eating meat, Allah does not mention what to eat, but He excludes what is not lawful to eat and maybe physically or spiritually harmful to the human's body and soul. "You are permitted animals of grazing livestock, except what is [now] announced to you…" (5:1) and what is recited as prohibited is mentioned in the Quran as below:
You have prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and what has been offered to other than Allah, and the animal strangled or beaten to death, and that which dies by falling or is gored to death, and that which is mangled by a beast of prey— barring that which you may purify —and what is sacrificed on stone altars [to idols], and that you should divide by raffling with arrows...(5:3).
Other than the mentioned meats all other kinds of meat are Halal as described in the Quran: Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone is forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine—for that is indeed unclean—or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful’ (6:145).
Please note that all kinds of lawful (Halal) meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rulings: “Do not eat [anything] of that over which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned, and that is indeed transgression…” (6:121).
Even the above mentioned prohibited meats are lawful (Halal) while you are living in a problematic situation and following the rules of Islam will put you in extreme difficulty. Please note that difficulty does not mean that you do not have ready food at home and therefore you may eat forbidden (Haram) meat. A difficulty, as written in Islamic jurisprudence, is when one’s life is at risk, and there is no other food available but forbidden (Haram) meat.
A Detailed Description of Lawful (Halal ) and Forbidden (Haram ) meats
To be more precise on which meat is lawful, let’s have a review of the Islamic jurisprudence.
Fish that have scales are the only type of Halal sea creatures. Other sea creatures and fish are Haram .
Among all domestic land creatures; sheep, cow, and camel are Halal, but eating the meat of horse and donkey is detestable (Makruh). The rest of domestic land creatures such as dogs, cats, etc. are forbidden (Haram).
Deer, cow, zebra, mountain goat, and wild donkey are all Halal. However, eating the meat of wild predatory animals that are predatory in essence, have strong and sharp nails, claws, and fangs such as, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wolves, or animals with less sharp fangs such as foxes and hyenas as well as rabbits, while not part of the predatory category, are considered Haram.
Also, insects and reptiles, such as snakes, mice, lizards, hedgehogs, fleas, lice, etc., are all Haram. Animals who have undergone metamorphosis (maskh) [i] such as, elephants, monkeys, bears, etc. are Haram as well .
Birds that flap their wings more than they glide while flying are Halal, but birds that glide and spread their wings more while flying in the air instead of flapping their wings are Haram. Also, birds with gizzards and spurs at the back of their feet are Halal [ii] .
All insects are Haram [iii] .
It is permissible to eat Halal meat cooked or uncooked or even burned (as long as it has no harm to human health) .
Please note that the rules of slaughtering and eating hunted meat are slightly different from all the rulings mentioned above, and we will discuss that in a separate article.
"For every nation, We have appointed a rite so that they might mention Allah’s Name over the livestock He has provided them" (22:34).
Although Jews have their specific rules of slaughtering that have many similarities to the Islamic rulings, as there are minor differences in the slaughtering of Jews and Muslims, therefore kosher meat is not lawful (Halal) for Muslims .
[i] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment that was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis .
[ii] Birds with sharp claws such as eagles, hawks, falcons, etc. are Haram.
[iii] If a locust is caught by hand or any other means, it is lawful (Halal) (after dying) .
- “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32)
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 137, the book of foods and drinks, issue 2; al-Mukhtasar al-Nafi’, pg. 251; Sharayi’ al-Islam, pg. 169.
- food in Islam
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 603.
- Tawdih al-Masa’il (annotated by Imam Khomeini), vol. 2, pg. 593, issue 2622.
- Imam Khomeini, Tahrir al-Wasilah, vol. 2, pg. 162
- Halal food
- halal food in Islam
The Holy Quran mentions about the Racism: O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you. Indeed, Allah is all-knowing, all-aware (49:13).
"The issue of equality between all human beings, opposition to any type of racial, ancestral and class discrimination, fairness between all the children of Adam in relation to human rights and that no person is better than another due to his skin color, language, lineage or race - is one of the most important societal issues in the Qur’an which has been mentioned in various verses of this Heavenly Book. The Qur’an has denounced all sorts of superiority - whether it be of race, language, or skin color."
Likewise, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) says: Surely all of mankind – from the time of Adam until our time – are like the teeth of a comb (all equal to one another) and there is no greatness for an `Arab over a non-`Arab and no greatness for a red-skinned person over a black-skinned person, except due to one’s consciousness of Allah (taqwa).”
There are numerous verses in the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) that invite human beings towards brotherhood and equality. Throughout his life, the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) taught people that all humans are one and the only difference that exists is in their God-wariness as mentioned in verse 13 of Surah Hujarat. We learn from the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) and the Ahlul Bayt (AS) that Islam has established equality for the entire human race and struck at the very root of all distinctions based on color, race, language or nationality. According to Islam, Allah has given man this right of equality as a birthright. Thus, no man should be discriminated against on the basis of the color of his skin, his place of birth, his race or the nation in which he was born.
Apart from conveying the pure teachings of Islam, the Holy Prophet (PBUH &HP) was also able to rouse hope in the hearts of the poor and the downtrodden section of his society. In many instances within his practical life, he was successful in eliminating bigotry and racism that was surrounding him. In order for him to reach his aim of equality between all human beings, he married the daughter of his uncle to a slave named Zaid. In addition, he gave Bilal, who was both a non-`Arab and an African slave (at one point in his life), the important religious post of being the Muaddhin, the one who calls to prayer. He also convinced Ziyad ibn Labid who was one of the richest and noblest men from amongst the Ansar to marry his daughter to an African slave named Jubair. This marriage between a nobleman's daughter and a slave, was the beginning of many such marriages that broke mental and social barriers among the followers of Islam. Islam is a practical example of how human beings and societies can fight racial discrimination and create a society based on unity and brotherhood.
The annual ritual of Hajj is an outstanding display of beauty and splendor among the followers of Islam and it is this very beauty of Islam that inspired (Martyr) Malcolm X to write the following letter after he made his first Hajj:
"Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.....There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug)-while praying to the same Allah with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of the blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the ‘white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We are truly all the same-brothers.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds."
The Holy Quran tells us:
"Certainly, We have honored the Children of Adam, and carried them over land and sea, and provided them with all the good things, and preferred them with a complete preference over many of those We have created." (17:70)
The Holy Quran teaches us that Islam lays down some rights for man as a human being. Every man whether he belongs to one country or the other, whether he is a believer or a non-believer, whether he lives in forest or desert, whatever be the case, he has some basic human rights simply because he is a human being, which should be recognized by every human being.
Today, the world is struggling to come to terms with equality in true sense. Racial discrimination continues to be a challenge, even for the most developed nations. However, Islam has shown the way to fight racial discrimination and create a society based on amity, love and unity. InshaAllah, the world will very soon realize that the only solution to racism lies in following Islam.
- Islamic Moral System: Commentary of Surah Al-Hujurat Ayt. Jafar Subhani
- Malcolm X's letter http://islam.uga.edu/malcomx.html
Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?
Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.
What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?
Converting to Islam
Having faith in the pillars of Islam
Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.
As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.
It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.
In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” . Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.
Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.
Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.
Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” .
We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.
If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.
[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.
[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” 
[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” 
[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” .
- Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.
- Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)