Unlawful Food

“The great principle for knowing what is lawful and unlawful food is that what the Holy Quraan and Hadith prohibited is unlawful and what is besides that is lawful”. There are certain things, which have not been expressly permitted or prohibited.  These are doubtful things. These are considered as Mubah or simply lawful. There are two things introduced by jurists between lawful and unlawful things: One is Mubah, near the lawful things and the other is Makrooh, near the unlawful things, but nevertheless lawful. The abominable things being near the unlawful things should be avoided as far as possible by pious Muslims, as none should even go to the neighbourhood of the places of destruction or epidemics. In that case, there is but little space to fall into illegality. The pious Muslims should not go even to the borderline of illegality. The Mubah things are lawful and can be taken if constitution and climate permit.

The effect of food and drink upon the body and temperaments is wonderful. The medical men therefore prescribe special diets for patients, so that indiscriminate diet may not injure the body. Different things have got different properties for different uses according to the requirements of men, and they have naturally got different effect on body. As soundness of mind depends on soundness of body, therefore food and drink may be said to be one of the principal causes, which lead a man to vice, and virtue. The control of food and drink is the control of the vices and promotion of virtues.

Almighty Allah and His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) therefore prescribed such food for men as are conducive to them from a temporal and religious point of view. This is also the reason why lawful food, unlawfully acquired, has been made unlawful as it greatly affects the moral tendency of a man.

The Holy Quraan and Hadith have expressly prohibited the following foods and things:

  1. Food on which Allah’s Name is not taken or meat of a lawful animal or bird which is not slaughtered in the Name of Allah. The Holy Quraan says: And don’t eat of that on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned. That is surely a transgression. (6:122)
  2. Everything which is offered to idols.
  3. All animals, which die of themselves without slaughter in the Name of Allah. These include also animals strangled to death, or beaten to death, or killed by a fall, or attacked by horns and killed, or torn to death by beasts.
  4. All bloods flowing.
  5. All beasts and birds of prey; all quadrupeds that seize prey with teeth, and all birds which seize it with talons, viz., foxes, hyenas, elephants, weasels, kites, crows, raven, crocodiles, insects, domestic asses, mules, swines, and men.
  6. All unclean things repugnant to health and morality, viz., dogs, cats, mules, horses, asses, lizards, swines, etc.

In support of these, the following Quraanic verses are quoted: Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other than Allah has been invoked, and the strangled animal, and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall, and that killed by being smitten with horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten except what you slaughter. (5: 3)

There is a reservation in case of extreme necessity, such as possibilities of death for want of food. In that circumstance, a small quantity of unlawful things, which can barely save life, becomes lawful. The Holy Quraan says: “But whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him.” (2: 173)

It so happens sometimes that the food is being served and suddenly some stranger or guest enters. The master of the house invites the newcomer to join. If the master does not invite the stranger, it is considered a very bad manner. Invitation to a Muslim brother to food is a virtuous thing, but this invitation should not be for the name’s sake. This is also a custom these days that the stranger who is invited to join the food says: “No thanks!” or say “Bismillah”. The scholars have prevented us not to say that. Anybody who is invited to join food should say, “May Allah bless you with abundance in food.”

If a man is too hungry to go out and ask the people to help him, in that case it is abiding on those persons who know his condition to provide him with food. If the man dies of hunger, the persons who knew his condition but did not give him food, would be answerable to Almighty Allah.

Sayyidah Ayesha (radi Allahu anha) asked Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) what were the things, which we cannot refuse to others. He said: “Water, salt and fire.” She said: “O Allah’s Apostle (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! Why can’t we refuse salt and fire to others?” He said: One who gives others a share in his fire, it is as if he has given in Sadaqa the entire stuff cooked on that fire, and he who gives others a share in his salt, it is as if he has given in Sadaqa the complete dish processed with that salt; and he who quenches the thirst of a Muslim at a place where water is not available, it is as if he resurrects a dead. (Ibn-e-Majah)

Sayyiduna Abu Waqed Laithi (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) came to Madina and they had liking for humps of camels and for cutting the tails of sheep. He said: “What is taken off from animals while they are alive is a dead thing. It shall not be taken” (Tirmidi, Abu Da’ood)

Lawful Foods

There are three kinds of things which are generally consumed by men, viz.

  1. things of mines,
  2. vegetables and crops grown from the earth, and
  3. animals.

The first two kinds are lawful except what is injurious to health, life and intelligence. Intoxicating drugs cause harm to intelligence and are, therefore, unlawful. Poisonous plants are injurious to life and they are, therefore, unlawful.

Among lawful things, there should be some sort of discrimination for the sake of health according to taste and repugnance. Anything distasteful or repugnant to nature should not be eaten, as it may injure health although the thing to be taken is lawful. This version finds corroboration with The Holy Quraan: “O People! Eat the lawful and good things out of what is in the earth.” (2:57)

Imam Maalik (alaihir rahmah) and others hold that all aquatic animals are lawful except sea-dog and sea-hog. Imam Shafi’i (alaihir rahmah) maintains that all aquatic animals are lawful without discrimination. Imam-e-A’zam Abu Hanifa (alaihir rahmah) holds that fish, which die by accident and float, are lawful but abominable. Sayyiduna Abu Zubair (radi Allahu anhu) reported from Sayyiduna Jaabir (radi Allahu anhu) who said that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Eat what the sea throws up (fish) and is left by the tide, and don’t eat what dies therein and floats.” (Abu Da’ood, Ibn-e-Majah)

Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn-e-Abbas (radi Allahu anhuma) reported that the pre-Islamic Arabs used to eat some things and leave other things out of dislike. Then, Allah sent His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and sent down His Book and made lawful His lawful things and made unlawful his unlawful things. Whatever He made lawful is lawful and whatever He made unlawful is unlawful, and whatever He remained silent is allowable. He recited, “O Say: I don’t find any thing prohibited in what was revealed to me for an eater except what dies of itself.” (The Quraan, 6:146)


Islam finds poverty repugnant and does not allow its followers to accept it as a matter of fact, but requires them to take positive action to stamp it out.

Begging is a nuisance for prevention of which the modern societies are trying to promulgate enactment. The Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) promulgated the sound policy in this matter, which has baffled the most fertile brains of the world.  He made it unlawful except in case of deserving persons. At the same time he left instructions to the rich not to return a beggar. The Holy Quraan says: “As for a beggar, don’t drive him.” (93:10)

As a general rule, begging is unlawful in Islam for the following reasons:

  1. By begging, a man loses reliance upon Almighty Allah and complains indirectly against Almighty Allah gifts which are interwoven in his very person and all around the universe. Instead of turning to Almighty Allah for assistance and help, he turns towards men. Therefore, The Holy Quraan says: “And He will give him provision from whence he thinks not; and whoever trusts in Allah He is sufficient for him.” (65:3)
  2. By begging, the beggar lowers himself before his fellow creatures and brings himself in contemptible estimation of the people.
  3. By begging, the beggar gives uneasy trouble to one begged. The latter feels annoyance and is put between two horns of a dilemma to pay or not to pay. If alms are paid, there is loss in property, and if not paid, there is loss in fame and fear of Almighty Allah.

Sayyiduna Zubair Bin Awam (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Glorious Prophet Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: That one of you takes his rope and then comes with a load of wood upon his back and sells it is better than to beg of men whether they give or reject him. (Bukhari)

Sayyiduna Qabisah Bin Makhareq (radi Allahu anhu) reported: I became surety for a debt and came to the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) to ask him about it. He said, Wait till Zakaah comes to us, and then we shall order something thereof for you. Then he said, O Dear Qabisah! Surely begging is not lawful except for one of these three reasons  a man who becomes surety for a debt; it then becomes lawful for him to beg till he gets it, after which he shall withhold; a man having met with a misfortune which has ruined his property it is lawful for him to beg till it enables him to get livelihood (or he said means of livelihood); and a man who meets with dire necessity, till three men of understanding of his tribe stand up (and say): Dire necessity afflicted such one- it is lawful for him to beg till he finds means for livelihood. O Qabisah! What is besides these in begging is unlawful and its owner eats unlawful things. (Muslim)

Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn-e-Omar (radi Allahu anhuma) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said while he was on the pulpit speaking about charity and refraining from begging: “The upper hand is better than the lower, and the upper hand is that which gives and the lower is that which begs.” (Agreed)

Sayyiduna Samorah Bin Jundub (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: Whoso begs of men having sufficient means will come on the Resurrection Day with his begging as scratch wounds or bruises on his face. It was questioned: O Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! What is sufficient for him? He said: Fifty Dirhams or their price in gold. (Abu Da’ood, Ibn-e-Majah, Nisai)


The people of Yemen called on the Glorious Prophet of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and introduced for the first time the custom of shaking hands. (Abu Da’ood) The Sahabah accepted this custom so extensively that Sayyiduna Anas bin Maalik (radi Allahu anhu) applied perfume in his hands only to shake hands with his friends. (Adaabul-Mufrad)

Sayyiduna Bara Bin Aazib (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: When two Muslims shake hands with each other, they are pardoned of their sins before they separate.  (Ibne-Maja)

Sayyiduna Salmaan (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: When a Muslim meets his Muslim brother and shakes hand, their sins fall down like the dry leaves from a tree during a storm, and their sins are forgiven even if these are equal to the foams of ocean.  (Tabraani)

Sayyiduna Qatada (radi Allahu anhu) reported: I asked Anas (radi Allahu anhu), Was it a custom of the companions of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) to shake hands with one another? He said, Yes. (Bukhari)

According to authentic reports, the Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) never shook hands with any woman who was not his wife or a close relative. Although there is no Hadith, which describes shaking hands with women as forbidden, the Holy Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) example should be the one for us to follow. One is highly encouraged to avoid shaking hands with members of the opposite sex.


The Holy Quraan says: And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor that (so abhor the other)! And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful. (49:12)

Almighty Allah says: Woe to every slanderer and backbiter. (104:1) Backbiting is certainly one of the actions Islam forbids. Its effect on individuals and communities is all there to see. It creates ill feelings and mistrust. Moreover, it betrays a cowardly attitude, as the backbiter takes the opportunity of the absence of another person in order to speak ill of him, giving other people a bad picture of him. Had he been speaking the truth, he would not have chosen to speak of him in such terms when he is away. He actually acknowledges that he does not have the courage to face him with similar statements. The evils of backbiting and its effects on the society are well-known to everyone.

Sayyiduna Hudayfa (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: A Qattat will not enter Paradise. (Bukhari) A Qattat is a person who conveys information from one person to another with the intention of causing harm and enmity between them.

Sayyiduna Abu Sa’eed (radi Allahu anhu) and Sayyiduna Jaabir (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Backbiting is worse than adultery”. The companions of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) wished to know how backbiting is worse than adultery. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: A man commits adultery and then submits his repentance to Allah who accepts it. But the backbiter will not attain salvation unless the person against whom he has committed the crime of backbiting forgives him. (Bay’haqi)

Sayyiduna Abdur Rahman Bin Ghenam (radi Allahu anhu) and Sayyidah Asma Bint Yazid (radi Allahu anha) reported that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: Those are the virtuous servants of Allah seeing whom one remembers Allah, and those are the bad servants of Allah who indulge in backbiting and cause a separation between friends and attempt to involve an innocent man into hardships. (Bay’haqi)

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: Do you know what is backbiting? The companions said: Allah and His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) know better. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: Backbiting is when you speak of your brother with an attribute, which he may dislike. A companion asked: If my brother possesses that demerit? The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: If he has got the demerit, which you mention in his absence, it will be treated as backbiting. If he does not possess that what you mention about him, it will be treated as allegation. (Muslim)

Sayyiduna Anas (radi Allahu anhu) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: The compensation for backbiting is that the backbiter should invoke Allah for the forgiveness of the person against whom he has spoken ill. (Bay’haqi)

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that when Sayyiduna Ma’ez Aslami (radi Allahu anhu) was stoned to death after confessing the crime of adultery, a man said to the other: See him, Allah had kept his sin secret but his conscience did not leave him, and hence, he is stoned to death like a dog. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) heard their conversation and kept silent. When they advanced a few steps, they found a dead donkey with stretched limbs. The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said to those persons: Go and eat the flesh of that donkey. They said: How can we eat it, O Apostle of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)? The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: The crime that you have committed by speaking ill of your brother is worse than eating the carrion. By Him in Who holds my life, Ma’ez (radi Allahu anhu) is diving into the Rivers of Paradise. (Abu Da’ood)

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: A believer is the mirror of another believer and his brother. He should protect his belongings from destruction and save him against backbiting. (Tirmidi)

Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibne-Abbas (radi Allahu anhuma) reported once Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) went through the grave yards of Madina and heard the voices of two humans who were being tortured in their graves. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: They are being punished, but they are not being punished because of a major sin, yet their sins are great: One of them used not to save himself from being soiled with the urine, and the other used to go about with calumnies. Then, the merciful Prophet of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) asked for a green palm tree leaf and split it into two pieces and placed one piece on each grave, saying:  I hope that their punishment may be abated as long as these pieces of the leaf are not dried. (Bukhari)

However, there are cases when pointing out the faults of another person is permissible. Suppose that people come to you to ask for information about a man you know intimately. They tell you that he has proposed to marry their daughter, or to go into business partnership with them. In such a case, you have to give them all the information, which is likely to influence their decision one way or the other. You must point out the faults you know of that person in order to make an honest testimony. For example, if you know him to be stingy or hot-tempered or negligent of his family duties, you must tell them of all that because these are qualities which influence a decision on accepting a proposal of marriage. If you know from your long association with that person, that, for example, he had entered into a business partnership with others and the business collapsed and there was some suspicion about his honesty, or his handling of the affairs of the business, or that he did not have a sound business sense, you must tell that to the inquirers. In such cases, you are not indulging in backbiting; you are simply acting as a witness who must give an honest testimony.

There are, however, certain things to take into account when you are called upon to give such information. The first is that you give it only to the people who need it. You must not publicize it. The second is that you give only the information, which is necessary. Thirdly, you must be very objective. You must not allow your own prejudice to either exaggerate or make little of what you know. Fourthly, you should give the information in the least offensive way. You should use the words that give a clear idea of the man and his standing and that are not too personal. That is not backbiting by any measure.


Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radi Allahu anhu) reported: A man said to the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), “Advise me!” The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked the same again and again, and the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said in each case, “Do not become angry and furious.” (Bukhari)

Allah’s Apostle (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: The strong person is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong person is the one who controls while in anger. (Bukhari)

The Holy Quraan says: The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one, which is better, then lo! He, between whom and you there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. (41: 34) Commenting on the verse, Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Abbas (radi Allahu anhuma) says: The man who keeps patience at the time of anger and forgives his enemy of his evil doings, Allah  will keep him safe and his enemy will bow down to him as if he is the nearest and dearest friend. (Bukhari)

The Holy Quraan says: Those who avoid the greater sins and illegal sexual intercourse, and forgive when they are angry.(42:37)

And also the Statement of Almighty Allah: Those who spend (both) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger (3:134)

Sayyiduna Musa (alaihis salaam) said: O Allah! Who amongst Thy creatures enjoys a respectful status in Thy Court? Almighty Allah said: “He who forgives his enemy despite having the strength of taking his revenge.” (Bay’haqi)

The Glorious Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “On the Day of Judgment, Allah shall protect him who controls his tongue, and shall withdraw punishment from him who controls his anger”. (Bay’haqi)

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: The anger is of the Shaytaan and the Shaytaan is made of fire and the fire is extinguished by water. Therefore, whoso is in a state of anger should make ablution. (Abu Da’ood)

Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: Better are those amongst you who get angry late and come to normal soon and worse are those amongst you who get angry soon and come to normal late. Keep away from anger, as it is a live fire in the heart of a man. Don’t you see that the veins in the neck get swollen and eyes become red in the state of anger? He, who feels angry, should lie down and stick to the ground.

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