By: Allamah Syed Muhammad Husain Tabataba’i
In the holy religion of Islam, anything which could be eaten and drunk is known as “halal” except a few of them, some of which are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and some others in the ahadith of the Holy Prophet (S).
The exceptional cases of haram eatables and drinkables are limited to two types: animate or animals and inanimate or soulless.
First Type: Animals
Animals are of three types: aquatic animals, land animals, and birds:
Aquatic animals: From among animals living in water only aquatic birds and fish with scales are halal to eat. The other aquatic animals such as eel, dogfish, tortoise, seal, porpoise, and the like are haram to eat.
Land animals: These animals are classified into two groups: domestic and wild.
The meat of domestic animals such as sheep, goat, cow, and camel is halalfor eating. The meat of horses, mules, and donkeys is also halal, but eating their meat is makruh. A part from these, other domestic animals’ meat such as of dogs and cats is haram.
Among wild animals, cows, rams, wild goats, zebra, and dear are halal; however, the remaining wild animals that are beasts or that have talons such as lion, leopard, wolf, fox, jackal, and rabbits are haram to eat.
Birds: The meat of the birds that have maws and gizzards or that flap their wings while flying but do not have talons such as hens, pigeons or doves, turtledove, and francolin are halal to eat, but the meat of the rest of the birds is haram for eating. Some special species of locusts or grasshoppers are lawful (for further detail, one should refer to al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah.).
Note: The halal meat of the above-mentioned animals and birds depends upon their tadhkiyah (slaughtering animals according to Islamic Shari’ah), i.e., they should be slaughtered according to the Islamic method as explained in al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah.
Second Type: Inanimate Objects
There are two kinds of soulless or inanimate objects: solids and liquids.
(a) The carcass: The carcass of any animal, whether its meat is halal or haram, is haram for eating. Also najis objects such as the excreta of animals whose meat is haram to eat, as well as those eatables which have become najis through contact with najis objects, are haram to eat.
(c) Fatal poisons
(d) Objects which are repugnant to man such as the excreta of animals whose meat is halal to eat, their nasal mucus, and anything found in their intestines are haram. Similarly, fifteen parts and organs of animals, whose meat is halal to eat, are haram for eating (for further details, one may refer to al-risalat al-‘amaliyyah).
(a) Any type of intoxicating drink is haram for drinking, even in a small quantity.
(b) The milk of animals, whose meats are haram to eat, such as of pigs, cats, and dogs is haram to drink.
(c) The blood of any animal whose blood gushes out (when its blood vessel is cut.).
(d) Najis liquids such as the urine and semen of any animal whose blood gushes out (when its blood vessel is cut).
(e) Liquids in which one of the najis things is mixed.
Note: The haram eatables and drinkables are haram when there is noidtirar (emergency or compulsion). In cases of idtirar (such as the health conditions of a person who will die of hunger if he does not eat haram food, or one who is afraid of illness or its aggravation, or one who, due to the intensity of his weakness, would fall behind his fellow-travellers and would die), one is authorized to have haram eatables and drinkables only as much as is necessary to remove his idtirar. This does not hold good in the case of a person who leaves his country for the purpose of robbery or rebellion against the Islamic government and faces an idtirar in the course of his journey.
Personal hygiene is one of the primary duties of man. Every individual can easily realize its importance with his Allah-granted commonsense.
The effects of various kinds of eatables and drinkables in maintaining personal health are very clear and evident. Furthermore, these have noteworthy effects on the morale and ethics of man, as well as in his social associations. There is no doubt at all that the mental conditions of a drunken person are not like those of a sober one and that their social behaviours are not identical. Or for example, if someone becomes accustomed to eating and drinking disgusting things, he will naturally produce an effect on his personal and social life and this effect is intolerable for common men.
Therefore, with his Allah-granted nature, man realizes that he must observe certain limitations in eating food. He should not eat each eatable or drink each drinkable. The Almighty Allah Who, according to His explicit wording in the Holy Qur’an, has created everything that is on the earth for man, Who Himself is not in need of man and the means of his life, and Who is All-Knowing and All-Seeing than others concerning the good and the bad of His creatures has declared some of the eatables and drinkables halal and some others haram for the benefit and prosperity of man.
Al-‘Imam ‘Ali al-Rida (as) has stated: “Allah has not declared any eatable or drinkable halal, unless it is to the benefit and for the welfare of man, neither has He declared any haram, unless it is the source of man’s detriment, death, and corruption.”
The philosophy behind forbidding some of these haram eatables and drinkables is quite clear for those who have a pure understanding. The detriment caused by. Some of them and the reason for their being haramhave been gradually revealed to us through scientific investigations. Regarding haram eatables and drinkables whose philosophy for being haram has not yet become available to us, it cannot be said that these philosophies will never become clear to us.
Even if their philosophies do not become clear to us, it cannot be said that they are actually devoid of any wisdom and expediency. But since these policies originate from the Holy Presence of an Infinite Knowledge, it can positively be said that these contain the best and most effective wisdom and expediency, even though we may fall short of understanding them due to our narrowmindedness and the limitations of our scientific means and equipment.