One of the main differences between Islamic and non-Islamic lifestyle is manifested in the eating habits. Not eating pork and not drinking wine are two of these practices which are indeed evident in the life of a Muslim. This article will briefly analyze some of the reasons why Muslims do not consume pork.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the central philosophy behind all religious rules including Islamic rules and regulations is only known by the All-Wise and All-Knowing God who is the Creator of the whole universe and all the creatures.
Pork is forbidden in different Divine religions. For instance, the Bible says about pork: "And the swine ... he is unclean to you. Of the flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." (Leviticus, 11:7-8). The same command is repeated in Deuteronomy, 14:8.
Christians often depict Satan in religious anecdotes in the form of a pig. The Gospel of Barnabas mentions that Pig is Satan personified and that the pig’s body has the spirit of Satan. The present Bible among the Christians (Matthew 8-32 Marks 5-13, Luke 8: 28-39) describes how Jesus thrust the soul of Satan inside the herd of swine and sent them towards the river .
In Islam, there are two primary sources for understanding the orders of Allah: the Quran and the Sunnah . Both the Holy Quran and Sunnah have equal status as far as the obligatory orders (wajibat) are concerned. If one wajib is mentioned in Sunnah only, it has the same weight as one said in the holy Quran only  and vice versa. Both sources mention that eating pork is forbidden.
Allah has announced that eating pork is forbidden in several verses of the Holy Quran:
“You are prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine …” (5:3).
The unclean nature of swine flesh is stated in the following verse:
“Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone be 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.’ …” (6:145)
The same concept is declared in the verses (2:173) and (16:115).
Imam Reza (AS) mentions regarding the prohibition of pork, “The Almighty Allah has prohibited (made Haram) Pork because it is a horrible and dreadful animal that Allah has created for men to derive lessons from. People should also refrain from sensuality and shameless deeds that cause such a terrible appearance. And that they fear from being transformed into pigs by Almighty Allah. (In the description of past nations it is mentioned that people who committed sexual promiscuity are changed into pigs in the Intermediate world (Barzakh) [i], and they shall be raised as pigs in the Judgment Day (Qiyamat)).
Also, pigs were allowed to exist so that they are a reminder of the metamorphosis (Maskh) [ii] of previous nations into pigs. The second reason for prohibiting pork is that the staple diet of pigs consists of extremely impure (Najis) and filthy things, and its blood contains innumerable harmful germs.” 
Imam Sadiq (AS) said,“The Almighty Allah metamorphosed many nations into animals. Among them are pigs, monkeys, and bears, etc. After this these animals were prohibited from being eaten so that people derive lessons from them and do not consider the sin minor.”
Pork is very harmful to the body but we mention below only some of its harmful effects.
The present-day science of parasitology has proven some serious diseases in human beings caused by the bacteria and germs found in pork. Pork is the main carrier of many germs and parasites such as Faciolopsis buski, Paragonimus, Clonorchis sinesis, Erysipelothrix rhusiophathiae . Moreover, Dr. Joseph Mercola has cited the following diseases caused by pork: Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), the Nipah Virus, Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) and Menangle Virus .
On the whole, the pig is the cause of many serious and fatal diseases, among them, dysentery, trichinosis, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, jaundice, pneumonia, suffocation, intestinal obstruction, acute pancreatitis, enlargement of liver, diarrhea, emaciation, stone formation in liver, cancer, anemia, high fever, hindrance of growth development in children, typhoid, lameness, heart trouble, abortion, sterility, and sudden death .
It is important to note that despite hard efforts in medical science, many of the pig parasites cannot be eliminated by antibiotics, drugs or vaccines.
Some people assert that by present day means it is possible to eliminate all these parasites and make pork devoid of them, but even upon the supposition that use of sanitary equipment or cooking of meat at high temperatures eliminates all the parasites, nevertheless the harms associated with pork cannot be denied for according to the incontrovertible law, the meat of every animal bears the traits of that animal and, by means of the glands and the hormones secreted by them, influences the conduct of those who consume it.
Thus, consuming pork may transfer the attributes of sexual depravity and indifference towards the affairs of the womenfolk of the family - the most blatant traits of the male members of this species - into the person who consumes it. And perhaps, one of the reasons for the excessive sexual profligacy dominant in the West could be consumption of the meat of this sordid animal .
So since the scope of science and the knowledge of human beings are limited, there might be other harms still undiscovered. However, even if human beings find some way of eliminating all the physical and spiritual harms of something, it does not mean that the forbidden (Haram) law of God becomes permissible (Halal). As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we must submit to the will of God as the Creator of the whole world and the Only One who truly knows about what is good and bad for the creatures and why.
[i] The stage between this world and the hereafter
[ii] 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 which 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. For more information, please refer to http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa614
According to dictionary definitions salvation means “deliverance from the power and effects of sin” . Even some people believe that all Abrahamic religions have been sent to human beings to free them from the effects of their sins and guide them to the path of salvation. However, there are some major differences in the way that followers of different Abrahamic religions believe in the concept of salvation and that the above definition is not necessarily compatible with the Islamic meaning of Salvation. Therefore, this article is a study on the concept of salvation in Islam and tries to point out its major differences with Christianity.
Before starting the argument about the concept of salvation in Christianity, it is important to point out the two main ideas of Christian Catholic theologians:
1- ‘Adam by his sin caused the fall of the human generation on earth and as a result of this worldly life, he caused death for the human generation.
2- Adam by his fault transmitted sin to the human generation’ .
According to some Christians’ opinion, death and sin are transmitted to the human race generation after generation, "for as by the disobedience of one man, many [i.e., all men] were made sinners" (Romans 5:19) .
Now let us study how Christianity explains the concept of salvation for men who are all born sinners.
Some Christian sects believe that all men are born sinners, and it becomes more complicated when the belief comes to the point that says “no amount of human goodness, human works, human morality, or religious activity can gain acceptance with God or get anyone into heaven; the moral man, the religious man, and the immoral and non-religious, are all in the same boat” .
“In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued man through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved man’s salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). It is explicitly stated in The Bible that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)” .
There are a few differences between the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible and the Quran, one of which is the concept of original sin in Christianity that is contrary to the Islamic teachings. According to Islam, we are all born pure and even if we consider Adam’s act as a sin [i], it is not logical to count it as an everlasting sin for the whole human generation. According to Islam, everyone is responsible for his/her own acts: “no bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another” (6: 164).
Therefore, according to Islam, salvation is not defined as the human’s deliverance from the original sin, but it is a path that guides human beings towards spiritual development and reaching God.
Even following the prophets in Islam, never means that the human generation can be saved by having belief in their prophethood, but it is by following their guidance and the rules of religion and by doing “righteous deeds” (7:42) that one can reach salvation:
“And those who have faith and do righteous deeds—they shall be the inhabitants of paradise; they will remain in it [forever].” (2: 82)
In the Quran, Allah introduces prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as the one who rescues people from their burdens and shackles. (7:157). We need to find out what those burdens and shackles are and how the prophet is supposed to relieve people from them, which are all mentioned in the Quran.
By finding the answer to the above question, we will realize the Islamic viewpoint on the concept of salvation and the role of Prophets and people in attaining it.
The Quran exegetes have different interpretations of burdens and shackles that are mentioned in this Holy Book; including superstitions, wrong habits, and traditions, ignorance, discrimination, false rules of the society, oppression, and dictatorship of the government, etc. It is also said that these burdens were those hard rituals and laws that God had obliged over the Jews .
But the deliverance that prophet brings for people is not reachable by sacrificing himself. As it is mentioned in the Quran the duty of prophets is to invite people to the right path and teach them the book and purify them by giving them the guidelines for a successful life (24: 54). However, it is the human himself who has to choose and do righteous deeds to reach salvation.
Therefore, according to the Quran sins cannot be transmitted from one person to another, just as a prophet cannot take away the sins of his people by sacrificing himself; “No bearer shall bear another’s burden” (17:15).
Salvation in Islam opens the gate of hope into people’s hearts. Unlike Christianity, in Islam people are not sinful and can reach the closest levels to God and His messengers by doing righteous deeds, acting according to the religious rules and living a decent life. And having true faith in God and his apostle is necessary but not enough.
As mentioned in the Quran, the human is a creature that “its virtues and vices” are inspired to him and it is the human who chooses one and leaves the other behind . Therefore, in the Islamic doctrine, it is the human’s free will that makes his/her destiny; “one who purifies it (the soul) is felicitous, and one who betrays it fails” (91: 9-10).
To sum up, believing in Jesus and his sacrifice for the salvation of human race is not acceptable according to Islam. But the only way of salvation is the belief in the prophets, especially the last one, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and in the messages that he delivered to us. These messages invite us to do righteous deeds based on our conscious act and choice. And if the belief is not accompanied by righteous deeds it will not lead to salvation.
[i]. Muslims believe in the infallibility of prophets. Also, the reason for which Muslims do not count Adam’s act as sin is that at his time there had been no religion and no specific frameworks for human behavior. And God had not ordered him not to eat of the forbidden tree, but He recommended Adam and Eve to keep away from that tree. Therefore, they had not committed a sin, to face punishment, rather they had chosen to take an action regarding the forbidden tree and they faced its consequences.
Leaving behind the town where one is born and raised is a daring decision, which is often followed by many challenges and difficulties. You enter a new world, have to live with new people, and speak a new language. Yet it becomes even more daring when your mission is to spread a peaceful message, to lead people toward what is right and remind them of human values, which they might have forgotten, or put aside. Imam Rida (AS), the eighth infallible Imam (AS) of Shias, was made to migrate to another country and live among the people whom he didn't know. Nevertheless, his eminent personality and unique characteristics won him such a position among the people of that town that they still honor him centuries after his demise, a person whose fame went beyond any borders and reached every corner of this world.
In what follows, we will have a glance at the life journey of Imam Rida (AS), this honorable figure.
Ali ibn. Musa al-Rida was born on December 29, 765 A.D in Medina. His father was Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the seventh infallible Imam of Shias, and his mother was Tuktam . He is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the Prophet of Islam. His most famous title was al-Rida, meaning "the satisfied one" and was chosen for him due to his utter devotion and submission to Allah, which also brought him Allah's satisfaction. As Imam Jawad (AS), his son, said, "The Almighty Allah named him Rida because He was pleased with him in the heavens and the Prophet of Allah (PBUH&HP) and the Imams of guidance (AS) were pleased with him on earth" .
According to some sources, Imam Rida (AS) married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Sabika, who was a descendant of Maria, prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)'s wife &. It is reported that Imam Rida (AS) married his second wife on al-Ma' mun's suggestion, the caliph of the time, to marry his daughter, Umm Habib. This incident happened around 817 A.D. Al-Ma' mun's intention on forming this tie was to get closer to Imam Rida (AS) and to continually have him under his supervision to avoid any action against himself by Imam Rida (AS) &&.
There is a disagreement on the number of his children, yet one thing is definite; he had a son called Muhammad, also known as Imam Jawad (AS), who would follow the leadership after him .
On 799 A.D. and after the demise of Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the period of Imam Rida (AS) 's leadership began, in which he followed his ancestors' path in enlightening Muslims and reminding them of the true message of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). In the first 17 years of his leadership, which he spent in Medina, he turned into one of the well-known figures among Muslims praised for his many virtues, including his significant command of Islam and Islamic sciences . The contemporary caliphs during Imam Rida (AS) 's period of leadership include Harun al-Rashid, Muhammad al-Amin, and al-Ma' mun all belonging to the Abbasid dynasty.
After the death of Harun al-Rashid, his two sons, al-Amin and al-Ma' mun, initiated a dispute over succeeding their father's crown. To secure his position and realizing Persians favor over Imam Rida (AS) and the teachings of Ahl-ul-Bayt, al-Ma' mun sent orders to Imam Rida (AS) to leave his town and join him in Khorasan, a province in Iran. If Imam Rida (AS) would side with him, al-Ma' mun thought, his throne would have become stronger, and he could have defeated his brother effortlessly . Therefore, on 817 A.D. Imam Rida (AS) was made to migrate from Medina to Iran. The route which al-Ma' mun's representative chose to take Imam Rida (AS) to Khorasan was intentionally planned not to pass any city in which the adherents of Imam (AS) resided to avoid any possible gathering against al-Ma' mun's throne . Nevertheless, he met many people on his way to Khorasan, which asked him to make a speech for them or tell them a hadith, the most famous of which was the hadith which he narrated in Neyshabur on the request of a Muslim scholar. This hadith, best known as the "Hadith of the Golden Chain (Silsilat al-Dhahab)", whose source goes back to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and is one of the most authentic hadiths in Islamic texts, emphasizes on the importance of adhering to the Imam of the time who are chosen by Allah to continue the path of spreading His message in the absence of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) .
On reaching Merv, the town al-Ma' mun chosen as the center of his caliphate, Imam Rida (AS), was summoned by al-Ma' mun to both welcome him and inform him of an important decision he had made with regard his throne. He first welcomed Imam Rida (AS) warmly and then told him that he had decided to leave the crown to him, yet Imam (AS) firmly refused this idea. He then came with another offer, asking Imam (AS) to be his heir and successor of his throne. But Imam (AS) refused to accept this offer, too, since he knew al-Ma' mun had certainly another plan in mind and only wanted to win Imam Rida's (AS) support to save his own position against possible threats. Nevertheless, al-Ma' mun didn't give up and repeated his offer, this time implying a death threat on Imam Rida (AS) in case of his refusal. Therefore, Imam Rida (AS) was reluctantly made to accept being al-Ma' mun's successor, under certain conditions: "So, I accept if I do not give any command and do not prohibit, I neither give Fatwa (religious creed) nor do I judge, I neither assign anyone to any task nor do I change anything's position." . As a result, al-Ma' mun gave allegiance to Imam Rida (AS) as his crown prince on March 817 A.D. in front of people.
As it was mentioned above, "Imam Rida (AS) knew about al-Ma 'mun's intention and told him, 'you want that people say, 'Ali b. Musa (AS) is not uninterested in the world and leadership, but it is the world that is uninterested in him. Do not you see how he (AS) has accepted to become the crown prince greedy for caliphate?' He answered those who asked him why he accepted to be the prince, "I accepted that unwillingly and under pressure.' The conditions Imam Rida (AS) declared for taking this position were, in fact, his withdrawal from cooperation in the government of al-Ma' mun, because Imam (AS) said that he neither would assign anyone to work nor would depose anyone; he neither would break a custom nor would he change anything in the current situation" . This dubious agreement ended when al-Ma'mun felt his position in danger due to the threats he received from other members of the royal family and decided to remove Imam (AS) by murdering him.
Moreover, Imam (AS) had revealed his hostility toward al-Ma' mun's caliphate through many of his manners. One of the most notable instances is his attendance in Eid-al-Fitr prayer. Despite al-Ma' mun's constant request on Imam Rida (AS) to lead the Eid prayer, Imam (AS) refused due to the conditions he had set on accepting al-Ma' mun's successorship. Yet, upon al-Ma' mun's insistence, he agreed to lead the prayer provided that he would attend it the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. Therefore, despite the people's expectation to see Imam (AS) coming for the prayer in the pompous manner of caliphs, he appeared in modest clothes and barefooted while reciting Takbir (Allah-u-Akbar, e.g., Allah is the Greatest) [i]. When people saw Imam's (AS) manner, they also followed him and took off their shoes and said Takbir. Terrified for this gathering to end in a rebel against his throne, al-Ma' mun ordered one of his handlers to ask Imam (AS) to return and leave off leading the prayer. Therefore, Imam (AS) went back home without performing the prayer .
Despite being a crown prince and having the opportunity to use the pretentious joys of wealth, Imam Rida (AS) led a simple life and treated everyone with honor and respect regardless of their social level or wealth. It is reported that when the food was served in his house, he would call everyone, even the servants, to sit and eat with him. When others saw this manner of Imam (AS), they would recommend him to separate his food from his servants and treat them differently, yet he would say, "All are created by God, Adam is their father and Eve is their mother. Everyone will be dealt with by God according to his deeds. Why should there be any discrimination in this world."
In another account, a man praised Imam (AS) and told him, "By God, there is none who is superior to you in the nobleness of your ancestry." Yet, Imam (AS) replied, "My ancestors are honored merely for their Godliness, piety, and worship." Another man once declared," By God, you are the best in the world." The Imam checked him by saying: "Don't you declare an oath. Any man who is more pious than me can be better than me" .
Following his forefathers' footsteps, Imam Rida (AS) cared deeply for the people in less desirable circumstances and tried to help them by all means. According to an account, Imam Rida (AS) had given all his money away at once on the day of Arafah. One of his companions found Imam's (AS) action to be harmful to him, yet he answered, "It is, in fact, useful. Never regard an action which will be rewarded on the hereafter, as a compensation" .
In another account, a man on his way back from the holy pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) came to Imam Rida (AS) and asked him some money since he had lost all his money on his journey. Imam (AS) went inside his house, returned after some time, and without showing himself passed a significant amount of money to the man from behind the door and told him, "Take this money and make the most of it. Now leave here instantly, so that neither I see you, nor do you see me." When Imam (AS) was asked of the reason for this manner, he replied, "I didn't want him to see him ashamed and feeling belittled because of his request" .
Imam Rida (AS) was famous for his many debates with great scholars of different sects and religions in his time about religious and jurisprudential issues. When he was in Medina, he would sit in the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) mosque, and people brought their questions and problems to him to solve. Also, when he migrated to Merv, Al-Ma' mun brought many knowledgeable and well-known scholars to engage in a debate with Imam (AS) and, of course, secretly desired to belittle Imam's (AS) position should he defeat in any of these debate sessions. However, all these scholars were amazed by Imam's (AS) vast knowledge and excellent command of religious matters and admitted his superiority over them . When al-Ma' mun saw that these debate sessions are turning into a threat against his seemingly high position, he tried to restrict them and forbid Imam (AS) from holding these gatherings anymore .
Moreover, in the hadiths and narrations left by him, Imam Rida (AS) includes many recommendations regarding health, medicine, proper eating habits, ways to prevent diseases, and personal hygiene. His book called, Tibb al-Rida (AS), also known as Risala al-Dhahabiyya (The Golden Treatise), contains these kinds of information.
The reason for all the significant characteristics that Imam Rida (AS) manifested in his manners was definitely his deep faith in Allah. He was so immersed in his devotion to the One and Only Creator, which didn't even take a step without first considering His satisfaction.
This devotion both appeared in his manners toward people and the way he worshiped his Lord. It is reported that he would instantly interrupt a debate session on hearing the call to prayer (Adhan) to attend his Beloved Lord and perform Salat. Numerous accounts narrate his long and sincere worship at night. Once, Imam Rida (AS) told the man to whom he gave his shirt away, "take care of this shirt with which I have prayed a thousand rak' as every night for a thousand nights and wearing which, I have finished recitation of the Qur'an for a thousand times" .
Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Rida was finally martyred by al-Ma' mun through giving him a poisonous fruit in 818 A.D . After establishing Imam (AS) as his successor, which he did to strengthen his throne and win the favor of Persians by having Imam's (AS) support, al-Ma' mun found that Imam (AS) was not the kind of person to be suppressed and taken benefit from. Imam Rida (AS) implicitly showed his hostility and opposition to al-Ma' mun's crown on many occasions and gatherings. Therefore, in one of their meetings, he gave Imam (AS) a poisoned fruit, which resulted in his death two days later . Imam Rida's (AS) body now rests in a shrine in Mashhad, Iran.
[i] It is a tradition to say Takbir loudly on the Eid al-Fitr before the prayer.
- Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 14.
- Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, V.49, P.4.
- Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā, vol. 2, p. 91.
- Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 492.
- Yāfiʿī, Mirʾāt al-jinān, vol. 2, p. 10.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 7, p. 149.
- Qarashī, Ḥayāt al-Imām ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Riḍā, vol. 2, p. 408.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 271.
- Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā, vol. 2, p. 64.
- S.M.R. Shabbar, Story of the Holy Ka'aba And its People, p.85. Pdf.
- Motahari, Majmūʿih āthār-i ustād shahīd Motahari, vol. 18, p. 124.
- Sadūq, Maʿānī l-akhbār, p. 371.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 259.
- Jaʿfarīyān, Ḥayāt-i fikrī wa sīyāsī-yi Imāmān-i Shīʿa, p. 443-444.
- S.M.R. Shabbar, Story of the Holy Ka'aba And its People, p.90. Pdf.
- Ibn Shahr Āshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol.4, p.360.
- Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.49, p.101.
- Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 152.
- ibid, vol. 2, p. 172.
- Ṭūsī, al-Amālī, p. 359.
- Āmilī, al-Ḥayāt al-sīyāsīyya li-l-Imām al-Riḍā, p. 169.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 270.