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
Everybody has a name and is known by that name among his/her friends, family, and in the society. Names might seem as some letters simply put together that form a word, but there is more to names than that. Every name represents the identity of its owner and sometimes affects the personality of that person. In Islamic teachings, great attention is paid to the names, and a lot of advice exists on how to choose a proper name for the new-borns. Someone who converts to Islam is said to be a re-born, so, is he/she required to choose another name for him/herself after this new birth? and should he/she Chang his/her Name after Converting to Islam?
The answer to the question above depends on what one’s name means and the origin of that name. There is no need to change the names:
without any specific orientation like the names of the flowers, or the names which are popular in a region or area but without any ideological persuasion, etc.;
without any negative backgrounds;
that do not bear negative historical, conceptual or educational meanings.
On the whole, a convert is not obliged to change his/her name, unless in the above where he/she is free to decide. In this regard, considering the Islamic teachings in naming can be helpful.
Choosing a proper name is one of the children’s rights over the parents. A good name positively affects its owner’s mind, and its meaning unconsciously strengthens the features implied in it in the character of the owner . On the contrary, a funny or ridiculous name causes the owner to be laughed at or to be mocked by others.
This matter is of great importance in Islam that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said choosing a good name is a duty of the father . Also, giving the child a good name is known as the first gift a father gives to his child . In another narration, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) commands Muslims to choose good names for their children since on Judgment Day also they will be called by the names they have in this world .
But, what is a good name?
In Islam, the concept of being good and evil is first determined based on rationality and then according to the Islamic law (Shari’a), so do proper names. A good name should be therefore rationally pleasant.
Are Non-Islamic Names Allowed?
In Islam, some names like those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Imams (AS) are said to bring abundant blessings to its owner and his/her family . Choosing these names for children, according to a narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), is the sign of the devotion that one has for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his family (Ahl al-Bayt (AS)) .
However, choosing names other than these names are not prohibited by Islam. In other words, the meaning of the name, its history, and the educational effects it has on one’s personality, matter much more than the fact of being Islamic or not.
During the history of Islam, there existed some converts who had common non-Islamic names after they converted. Since they hold the names common in their regions or tribes and free of any negative concept, they kept their names after embracing Islam. Hence, there is no obligation in choosing an Islamic name.
- Name in Islam
- S. Hal-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 128.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 131, T. 29.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 129.
- Shaykh Sadouq, “Sawab-ul-Aamal wa Iqab-ul-Aamal”, p. 300.
All Abrahamic religions believe in the return of the savior, the liberator of the human beings and redeemer, in the End-Time. Prophets and divine messengers have promised the day that the whole universe will be full of justice and tenderness. Other religions also have similar beliefs, although they differ in some minor aspects, which will be discussed below. We go through references from different religions and faiths to examine their views about the last savior.
In Upanishads, which is a collection of ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, the last savior is called Kalki. He is believed to be the tenth avatar of Hindu god Vishnu in the last of the four stages in the endless cycle of existence known as "Samsara," which is defined "as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Or as the world of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukkha)" . He rides a white horse with a fiery sword. He will end the darkest and destructive period to remove adharma [i] and will usher in the Satya Yuga [ii].
Another reference talks about a just commander at the end-time who is the leader of angels and humans, who knows the truth and gets hold of everything from deep in the seas too high in the mountains, and no one greater than him will come to earth .
In Zoroastrianism, there are three saviors who each will rise in a thousand years. The last one is an eschatological savior figure who will destroy evil and will bring about the renovation of the world. He is called Saoshyant, which means the beneficent in its single form. Yet, in its plural form, it is considered to mean the redeemer. The Khorda Avesta describes this savior as such:
Whose name will be the victorious SAOSHYANT and whose name will be Astvat-ereta. He will be SAOSHYANT (the Beneficent One) because he will benefit the whole bodily world; he will be ASTVAT-ERETA (he who makes the bodily creatures rise up), because as a bodily creature and as a living creature he will stand against the destruction of the bodily creatures, to withstand the Druj of the two-footed brood, to withstand the evil done by the faithful. 
Accordingly, the Soashyant will rise at the end-time and fight against the vices in the world and spread justice and goodness far and wide.
In some of the Buddhist references, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, we read about the future Buddha of this world, called Maitreya, who will be a successor to the present Buddha. In Sanskrit, Maitreya means kindness and love. According to Buddhist religious texts, Maitreya will be the fifth and last Buddha who will appear on the earth. The arrival of Maitreya is expected at a time in the future when the dharma will have been forgotten by most on the earth. That is when Maitreya will appear on the earth to achieve complete enlightenment and to teach the pure dharma .
The Taoist last savior, called Li Hong, is depicted as an ideal leader who would reappear to set right heaven (tian) and earth (dì) at a time of upheaval and chaos. Li Hong will appear at the end of the world cycle to rescue the chosen people, who would be distinguished by certain talismans, practices, and virtues .
The Jews belief in the savior is manifested in the idea of the coming of Moshiach (i.e., Messiah). This person is believed to be a descendant of King David, who will "gather the Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the land of Israel" . There are many verses in different scriptures and Talmudic [iii] literature which refer to this figure and enumerate his characteristics and manners [iv]. For instance, Isaiah says:
And there shall come forth a rod from the stock of Jesse [King David's father], and a branch shall grow from his roots; and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge by what his eyes see, nor decide by what his ears hear. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Those who follow Judaism believe that their savior has not been born yet. Therefore, they are eagerly awaiting the coming of the one who will save them and establish a just dominion in which "there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living" .
Christians believe that Jesus Christ (PBUH) is himself the savior of humankind, and he was born for this purpose. The name Christ literally means "the anointed one" or the Messiah . As the Gospel of Matthew says, Jesus Christ (PBUH) has been sent to "Save his people from their sins" (1:20-21). It is also believed that Jesus Christ (PBUH) had been crucified to atone the sins of humanity and lead them toward salvation. According to Christian sources, Jesus Christ (PBUH) was the savior who was awaited by the Jews as whose coming was predicted in the Torah as the Moshiach.
Another point which makes Jesus Christ (PBUH) the awaited savior in Christianity is the idea of his second coming or the Second Advent in the end-time to whose "day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32). This is the belief in "the future return of Christ in glory when it is understood that he will set up his kingdom, judge his enemies, and reward the faithful, living and dead" . Different gospels, including Matthew chapters 24–25; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21:5–26, and John, chapter 14:25–29, are mentioned as the evidence for this belief. Moreover, according to biblical verses, there will be many signs indicating the end-time among which the second coming of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and the last judgment.
Therefore, like many other religions, Christians also believe in a savior or as they call it the Messiah, who will make this world a better place and free it from oppression and injustice.
In Islam, the belief in the savior is rooted in the fact that Allah never leaves His creatures, especially human beings, on their own and support them through sending His apostles to guide them toward the right path: "and there is a guide for every people" Quran (13:7). He had sent 124000 prophets (PBUT) first, followed by righteous leaders who continued the path of previously chosen messengers of Allah. As the Quran says, "Certainly We wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: 'Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth.'" (21:105).
Therefore, the earth will never become empty of Allah's guide, and people will benefit from these guiding lights either directly or indirectly. Imam Mahdi (AS), the twelfth leader of Muslims and a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who is leading a secret life at the time, will ultimately rise and spread peace and humanity throughout the earth. "The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) informed Muslims about his reappearance, telling his names, attributes, appellations, and peculiarities" . The time of his coming is unknown, and it is followed by the preparation of particular circumstances.
The signs that indicate his coming include "Widespread injustice and oppression, the advent of Dajjal (Anti-Christ) who would misguide the thinking of the people, the advent of Sufyani who is one of the pillars of mischief and corruption on the earth, the formation of the Islamic army, which would raise up black standards, the voice of the angel of the sky giving glad-tidings of his reappearance, the coming down on earth of Jesus Christ (PBUH) and his paying allegiance to and praying behind in congregation Prayers led by Imam Mahdi (AS)" 
This belief in the last savior, who would stand against tyranny and injustice and remind human beings of their real value, also, highlights Islam's optimism toward the future of the world.
Finally, we have reviewed the belief in the last savior or the person who will save humankind from the evilness and destruction in this world in different faiths and religions. On a more in-depth look, we can find many similarities between these beliefs. However, the Abrahamic religions had a more precise and more tangible attitude toward the idea of the last savior and the time of his coming. Therefore, the concept of the savior is one of the most essential and significant matters regarding the future of human destiny.
[i] Opposite to dharma, which includes unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, wickedness, and vice.
[ii] The period when humanity will be governed by gods and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal, and humanity will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme.
[iii] The central text of Judaism and the primary source of the Jewish religion.
[iv] Isaiah 2, 11, 42; 59:20, Jeremiah 23, 30, 33; 48:47; 49:39, Ezekiel 38:16, Hosea 3:4-3:5, Micah 4, Zephaniah 3:9, Zechariah 14:9, Daniel 10:14.
- the man on the white horse
- The Vishnu Purana, trans. Horace Hayman Wilson, London: Trübner & co., Book IV, Chapter 24.
- Khorda Avesta, Translated by James Darmesteter (From Sacred Books of the East, American Edition, 1898.), Part five
- Anna K. Seidel. "Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist Messianism: Lao-tzu and Li Hung." History of Religions, Vol. 9, No. 2/3
- The end of days
- what does christ mean
- second coming
- Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Milani, The Promised Savior: An inquiry into the imamate of Imam Mahdi (as) from the viewpoint of Muslim thinkers, part 1, p.8.
- Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi, The Life of Imam al-Mahdi, Trans. Sayyid Athar Husayn S.H. Rizvi, p.259-283. Pdf.