Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
THE HARAM (PROHIBITED) FOODS IN ISLAM
"He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name has been invoked besides that of ALLAH. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful." (Al-Baqara: 173)
Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
This Aya from Surat Al-Baqara lists the categories of meat and meat derivatives, which are prohibited in the Muslim diet. The meat of animals, which die as a result of any reason other than slaughter, is prohibited. This would include falling from a height, being gored by another animal, as a result of the stunning process in a slaughterhouse, by strangulation, etc. Any animal, which has not been slaughtered, is considered a dead animal and the meat from this animal is considered dead meat and is prohibited. This does not apply to fish, seafood and locusts, which are Halal even if they are not slaughtered (dead).
Blood, which pours from a body, whether properly slaughtered or not. This excludes the blood, which may remain in organs such as the liver or spleen.
All items derived from pigs (swine) are prohibited. This includes the meat (such as bacon, ham, pork chops, etc.), the fat (lard), the skin, the tendons and ligaments (gelatin), enzymes (pepsin) and any other ingredients derived from the animal.
All items derived from animals slaughtered while invoking a name other than that of ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, The Creator. If one slaughters in the name of an individual, any other deity, a cause or any entity other than ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, the entire animal is prohibited.
However, under certain conditions, there is no sin incurred if one partakes of these prohibited items. All the following conditions must be met to escape the sin:
Extreme need - no other food is available, including non-meat items, and some sustenance is required to maintain life. In fact, if no other food is available and one chooses to abstain, and then starves to death, they have committed a sin punishable by going to hell-fire. Consequently one must partake of just enough to sustain life.
Limited quantity - only the smallest amount necessary to sustain life is allowed. One should not have a full meal. (Remember, for a Muslim, a full meal is one third the volume of the stomach in food and one third in drink.) Some believe that three bites are all that are acceptable.
Halal activity - one who sets out to break the rules is not held without sin if he indulges in these prohibited items. If one goes out to commit a crime (sin), runs out of food and only finds these prohibited items, he is not allowed to partake of them; not even to the extent of the limited quantity defined above.
Lack of desire - there should be no desire to partake of this prohibited food. However, out of extreme need, one may have to "force it down" to survive.
Seek alternative - one must continue to seek a Halal alternative and immediately abstain from further prohibited products when the Halal alternative is found. Of course, if vegetables, roots, berries or other items are available, then these items cannot be eaten.
If one qualifies to eat any of the prohibited items discussed here, then ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, will hold him without sin for that, for ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.
In future articles, we will discuss the food of Ahlul Kitab and other Ayat concerning Halal and haram foods.
After 19 years on the list as a suspected carcinogen, saccharin has been de-listed. Added to the list of "known human carcinogens" is environmental (second hand) tobacco smoke and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alhamdulillah for Islam and Islamic guidance.
Due to low sugar prices and the risk of loan forfeiture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy US sugar. A number of factors, including good weather and productivity improvements have caused a 25% reduction in the prices received by US sugar producers. This is a stop gap measure and a long term plan is needed. (Reported in Food Ingredients Online: www.foodingrdientsonline.com)
We may soon have another low calorie sweetener in our food products. In March, the US FDA granted Tagatose the Generally Recognized As Safe ("GRAS") designation for use in drugs and medicinal products. The same designation for food products may come by June 2000. (Reported in Food Ingredients Online: www.foodingrdientsonline.com)
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.
The USDA is accepting proposals to increase U.S. lamb sales. Up to $4 million is available for competitive marketing and promotion projects. The funding will be awarded by October 1, 2000, and projects must be completed by September 30, 2002. More information is available on the web at www.ams.usda.gov/lsg/201lamb/201.htm.
Molecular Circuitry, Inc. and VWR Scientific Products have teamed up to launch a new technology for the detection of harmful bacteria in food. The new technology, named Detex, is able to test for multiple pathogens at the same time. (Reported in Food Ingredients Online: www.foodingrdientsonline.com)
Alhamdulillah for the blessing of Islam. As we learn about Islamic guidance, we often question the rationale for such guidance. In some instances, the rationale is provided and in others it has not been disclosed. When it is not disclosed, we often seek scientific or other justifications for the guidance. Some may say this is the nature of man.
We know that cleanliness is very important in Islam. While surfing the net, I came across an article from the Center For Disease Control, entitled: Why is handwashing important? Of course, we know that washing is a means of cleaning. When we wash our hands we clean offensive items off our hands. The same is true for other parts of the body or for anything we clean. Of course, the hands are a very significant part of the body. We use them to eat and touch people and things. As such, they can transmit dirt, germs and diseases from one place to another.
The article discloses that in 1846, Doctor Ignaz Semmelweis demonstrated that washing hands can prevent the spread of disease. Apparently in the hospital where he served, student physicians who worked on cadavers also delivered babies. They used to do this without washing their hands as they moved from the cadavers to the delivery room. Apparently the incidence of death in the maternity ward was 5 times higher than with mothers delivering at home! When Dr. Semmelweis experimented by insisting his students wash their hands before treating the mothers, the death rate dropped fivefold.
This may seem quaint to us now, but in those days, this was a landmark finding: handwashing (proper hygiene) is an effective way to prevent the transmission of disease.
Some common ways in which germs are transmitted:
An infected food preparer uses the toilet, doesn't wash and then prepares some food. The germs are passed to the food and whoever eats it.
A person changes the diaper of an infant with diarrhea, then touches someone else or prepares some food. The germs are passed to the person touched or the one eating the food.
A person handles some raw food, such as chicken, then handles some other food, such as salad or bread. While cooking the chicken may kill the germs present in it, the ones transmitted to the salad are not killed and are passed to whoever eats it.
A person handles some raw food, such as chicken, then contacts another person. Say a mother is handling some chicken and then notices her infant getting into trouble. Without washing her hands, she rushes to the infant and grabs him. The germs are passed to the infant.
A person covers his mouth as he sneezes or coughs, or he rubs his eyes and does not wash his hands before shaking hands with someone else. The germs have been transmitted to the other person.
Alhamdulillah, we are Muslims and we are well aware of the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in general and washing our hands in particular. We are told to use the left hand for cleaning and the right hand for shaking hands. We must perform or maintain ablution before every salat, before reading the Quran and preferably at all times. We must bathe after marital relations, childbirth and completion of the period of menses. We must wash after coming in contact with a dog and we must wash any cooking utensils which came into contact with a dog seven times, the last time with earth and water. This is some of the guidance for cleanliness and handwashing.
Information from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: www.cdc.gov