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
Many of us experience situations in our daily life when we get oppressed by other people, or we witness an act of injustice. We might prefer to keep silent to prevent the probable consequences, not realizing that this may keep us away from immediate harm, but it will be followed by greater consequences and damages later on.
One may ask how keeping silent against oppression and injustice will harm us later on? And what would have happened if Imam Hussain (AS) paid allegiance to Yazid, instead of putting himself and his family in such a horrible situation?
This article tries to explain the importance of standing against oppression and injustice by learning lessons from Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising.
As we know, Imam Hassan (AS) remained silent and signed a peace treaty with the ruler of his time, Muawiaya. The main reason was that although Muawiaya had started to bring some changes in some of the rules of Islam, he still preserved his Islamic attitudes in public. Therefore, being in peace with him did not lead to so much damage to religion. But his son Yazid had no intention even to present an Islamic behavior in the Islamic society. Yet, Muawiaya chose him as the ruler after himself.
If Imam Hussain (AS) kept silence and paid allegiance to Yazid, it would have meant that he approved of his behavior. As a result, all the rulings and laws of Islam that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had suffered to teach people for a more prosperous life would gradually disappear over time.
As Yazid forced Imam Hussain (AS) to pay allegiance to him, he notified his reasons for which he could not accept Yazid’s ruling over the Islamic society. The most important reason was that he was not behaving as a Muslim and had stood up against Allah’s orders.
It is clearly mentioned in the Quran that it is prohibited for Muslims to accept the ruling of a non-Muslim or a non-believer:
“O! You who have faith! Do not take those who take your religion in derision and play, from among those who were given the Book before you, and the infidels, as friends, and be wary of Allah, should you be faithful.” (5: 57)
However, Imam Hussain (AS) did not mean to start a war, and therefore, he took his family and left Medina for Mecca. Yazid knew that Imam had a significant impact on Muslims’ decisions and was afraid that Imam’s decision would spread among the Muslims and lead to their uprising against him. Thus, he sent his people to bring the Imam (AS) and to take his allegiance.
Imam left Medina for Kufah and then to Karbala. He was surrounded by the massive army of Yazid and had to choose. Should he have paid allegiance by force and teach a lesson to people that all he did to stand against oppression and injustice was wrong? Or should he have done what he did?
Based on his ideology and belief, and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) that he had grown up with, Imam Hussain (AS) chose never to surrender against the injustice acts of Yazid. He, therefore, did not give up his duty to stand against injustice and along with his companions and sons, defended his household until they were all martyred.
The beauty and magnificence of his free spirit and his uprising started to spread throughout the world after his martyrdom.
He reached his goal to conserve the true religion of Islam and the pathway to prosperity by unveiling the real character and aims of those who desired to rule over the nation.
After the event of Karbala, his message on ‘standing against injustice and being free-spirited’ spread all over the world. He became a symbol for all those who care about their spirit, don’t want to accept oppression, tyranny, and injustice for the sake of their benefits in the short life of this world; people like Gandhi, the great leader of India.
From Imam Hussain's (AS) lifestyle, we learn that neglecting some mistakes may bring significant harm to society and, consequently, to our lives. Therefore, we should be wise and realize in our daily life to speak justice where oppression is taking place. That might be in our relations with our family members, our colleagues, or on a larger scale with those in power.
“Prophets and Imams (PBUT) are vivid examples and leaders that true believers should practically follow and not just worship. The example of Imam Hussain (AS) teaches us the lesson of standing against tyranny and injustice, the movement of honorable believers who preferred martyrdom to humiliation, and who have shown us what it means not to surrender.” 
Have you ever taken part in a challenge of self-building for a certain amount of time? These challenges, be it individual or social, need a few elements to keep you move on and get over them. Thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan seems like both an individual and a social challenge.
In this text, we would like to discover the ways that keep us motivated to finish our challenge of fasting in Ramadan. How can we complete this challenge and take the most benefits out of it?
The challenge is to perform fasting for thirty (sometimes 29) days in the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam is to avoid eating and drinking and many other worldly desires and sins from the morning prayer (Salat al-Fajr) time until the dawn prayer (Salat al-Maqrib). It is noteworthy that committing some acts will make fast invalid. 
The main goal of fasting like any other type of worship is to purify the soul and improve human beings spiritually: “Felicitous is he who purifies himself.” (87: 14)
But any type of worship, apart from its ultimate goal, has other benefits and some minor goals in training the human soul. For example, one of the small goals of praying the obligatory prayers (Salat) during the day and at night is to teach Muslims to adhere to certain principles. It is mentioned in the Quran that one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are “those who are humble in their prayers” (23:2) and “are watchful of their prayers” (23:9). These two verses, mentioned in the same Surah, show that one level of being a believer is to reach a feeling of utter humbleness in front of Allah. However, at the same time, being watchful on prayers and trying to perform them on time while observing all of its rulings is another aspect that will lead to higher spiritual levels. The same example applies to any other type of worship, especially fasting in Ramadan.
I have personally tried many different challenges for forty days; for example, forty days of waking up before dawn, forty days of avoiding fast foods, forty days of doing half an hour exercise per day, etc. I’ve been able to make some of those challenges a habit. However, in all those challenges, I needed something or someone to keep me motivated and guide me with the issues that I was facing throughout the challenge.
Regarding the challenge of fasting in Ramadan, I think it is essential to find some ways to help us enjoy fasting, instead of solely experiencing hunger and thirst.
Different things can keep us motivated to have better spiritual experiences of fasting in Ramadan. Having a different routine in the month of Ramadan, avoiding some entertainment and starting some new useful habits such as reading the supplications and contemplating on them, specifying a certain amount of time on reciting the Quran with translation and interpretation, performing the recommended prayers (Nawafil), trying to help others in any possible ways, and any other act of goodness that we can accomplish.
While we try to perform good deeds during fasting, reciting the Quran has a powerful influence on all our acts. Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran: “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible. He knows that some of you will be sick, while others will travel in the land seeking Allah’s bounty, and yet others will fight in the way of Allah. So recite as much of it as is feasible, and maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and lend Allah a good loan.” (73:20)
Allah (SWT) tells us to recite the Quran as much as we can. Then He mentions that He is aware of different conditions that people may have; some of them may be sick, some maybe traveling and working outside their houses to gain Allah’s provision, some may be fighting in the way of Allah. But then He mentions again that in whatever situation you are, do not forget to recite the Quran. It does not need to be a lot of recitation. Just recite as much as you can, and it will help you by both its miraculous and extraordinary achievements.
To provide a better definition of the above phrases, it can be said that the miraculous effects of the Quran are those effects that everyone can gain them by reciting it, even if they are not contemplating on its verses. However, exceptional achievements are for those who recite the Quran thoughtfully and intend to understand the words of Allah (SWT) as much as possible.
In sum, when you start the challenge of fasting in Ramadan and hope to gain the best results out of it, you need someone to motivate you, to be your mentor, and to elevate your knowledge and wisdom while you are going through the hard days of your challenge. The Quran could be that mentor who speaks to you the words of Allah (SWT), gives you hope, sympathizes with you in your hard moments, and guides you through the way to reach your ultimate goal. “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible.” (73: 20)