Wednesday 14 December 2022

Extraordinary conditions to consume otherwise forbidden food

Islam strictly cautions believers to differentiate between the Halal (Allowed) and Haram (Forbidden). This caution applies to everything, whether food, income or usage of one's position. However, the Halal and Haram apply more to the food we consume for unless the name of Allah has been pronounced while slaughtering an animal, it is forbidden to consume. Likewise, there are certain animals and birds which are forbidden to eat. 

In the 172nd verse of Surah 2. Al Baqarah, Allah commands His servants to eat from those things that are made allowable to them:
يٰٓاَ يُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُلُوۡا مِنۡ طَيِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقۡنٰكُمۡ وَاشۡكُرُوۡا لِلّٰهِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ اِيَّاهُ تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ‏ 
(2:172) Believers! Eat of the pure things wherewith We have provided you for sustenance and give thanks to Allah if it is Him that you serve.

This verse is then followed by the 173rd verse of Surah 2. Al Baqarah (The Cow) which clearly spells out the animals or birds which are forbidden to eat. However, the verse comes with a clause wherein a man can consume an otherwise Haram / forbidden food under some extraordinary conditions. One must take care that one does not exceed these limits for then he will be committing a grave sin.:

اِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيۡکُمُ الۡمَيۡتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحۡمَ الۡخِنۡزِيۡرِ وَمَآ اُهِلَّ بِهٖ لِغَيۡرِ اللّٰهِ​ۚ فَمَنِ اضۡطُرَّ غَيۡرَ بَاغٍ وَّلَا عَادٍ فَلَاۤ اِثۡمَ عَلَيۡهِ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُوۡرٌ رَّحِيۡمٌ‏ 
(2:173) He has made unlawful to you only carrion and blood and the flesh of swine and that over which there has been pronounced the name of anyone other than Allah. But he who is constrained (to eat of them) and he neither covets them nor exceeds the indispensable limit incurs no sin: Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.
This applies both to the flesh of the animal which is slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah and to the food which is offered as a vow to any other than Allah. As a matter of fact, everything whether animal, corn, or another edible: actually, belongs to Allah and is given by Him; therefore, it should be offered as charity, or as vow, only in His name as a mark of gratitude to Him. If it is offered in any other name, it means that one regards it also, instead of Allah, or along with Allah, as supreme, and the bestower of favours and blessings.  

In this verse, permission for the use of an unclean thing has been given on three conditions: 
  • (1) It must really be a case of extremity. For instance, if one is dying of hunger or thirst or if one's life is in danger because of some disease and there is nothing available except an unclean thing, one is permitted to take it. 
  • (2) One should not cherish any desire in one's heart to break the law of Allah. 
  • (3) One should not take even a bit more than what is absolutely necessary. For example, if in a certain case, a few bits or drops of an unclean thing can save life, then nothing more than this absolute minimum should be taken.
Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (The Command to eat Pure Things and the Explanation of the Prohibited Things)
Allah commands His believing servants to eat from the pure things that He has created for them and to thank Him for it, if they are truly His servants. Eating from pure sources is a cause for the acceptance of supplications and acts of worship, just as eating from impure sources prevents the acceptance of supplications and acts of worship, as mentioned in a Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad, that Abu Hurayrah said that Allah's Messenger said:
(O people! Allah is Tayyib (Pure and Good) and only accepts that which is Tayyib. Allah has indeed commanded the believers with what He has commanded the Messengers, for He said: (O (you) Messengers! Eat the Tayyibat and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am well-acquainted with what you do) (23:51), and: (O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with) He then mentioned a man, (who is engaged in a long journey, whose hair is untidy and who is covered in dust, he raises his hands to the sky, and says, `O Lord! O Lord!' Yet, his food is from the unlawful, his drink is from the unlawful, his clothes are from the unlawful, and he was nourished by the unlawful, so how can it (his supplication) be accepted'') It was also recorded by Muslim and At-Tirmidhi
After Allah mentioned how He has blessed His creatures by providing them with provisions, and after commanding them to eat from the pure things that He has provided them, He then stated that He has not prohibited anything for them, except dead animals. Dead animals are those that die before being slaughtered; whether they die by strangling, a violent blow, a headlong fall, the goring of horns or by being partly eaten by a wild animal. Dead animals of the sea are excluded from this ruling, as is explained later, Allah willing, as Allah said:
  • (Lawful to you is (the pursuit of) watergame and its use for food) (5:96), and because of the Hadith about the whale recorded in the Sahih. The Musnad, Al-Muwatta' and the Sunan recorded the Prophet saying about the sea:
  • (Its water is pure and its dead are permissible.)
Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Ad-Daraqutni reported that Ibn `Umar said that the Prophet said:
(We have been allowed two dead things and two bloody things: fish and locusts; and liver and spleen).
Issue: According to Ash-Shafi`i and other scholars, milk and eggs that are inside dead un-slaughtered animals are not pure, because they are part of the dead animal. In one narration from him, Malik said that they are pure themselves, but become impure because of their location. Similarly, there is a difference of opinion over the cheeses (made with the milk) of dead animals. The popular view of the scholars is that it is impure, although they mentioned the fact that the Companions ate from the cheeses made by the Magians (fire worshippers). Hence, Al-Qurtubi commented: "Since only a small part of the dead animal is mixed with it, then it is permissible, because a minute amount of impurity does not matter if it is mixed with a large amount of liquid.' 

Ibn Majah reported that Salman said that Allah's Messenger was asked about butter, cheese and fur. He said: (The allowed is what Allah has allowed in His Book and the prohibited is what Allah has prohibited in His Book. What He has not mentioned is a part of what He has pardoned.)

Allah has prohibited eating the meat of swine, whether slaughtered or not, and this includes its fat, either because it is implied, or because the term Lahm includes that, or by analogy. Similarly prohibited are offerings to other than Allah, that is what was slaughtered in a name other than His, be it for monuments, idols, divination, or the other practices of the time of Jahiliyyah. Al-Qurtubi mentioned that `A'ishah was asked about what non-Muslims slaughter for their feasts and then offer some of it as gifts for Muslims. She said, "Do not eat from what has been slaughtered for that day, (or feast) but eat from their vegetables.' 

The Prohibited is Allowed in Cases of Emergency: Then Allah permitted eating these things when needed for survival or when there are no permissible types of food available. Allah said:
(فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ but if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits), meaning, without transgression or overstepping the limits,
(فَلاَ إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ...then there is no sin on him.) meaning, if one eats such items, for,
( إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.)

Mujahid said, "If one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing the set limits. For example, if he didn't, then he would have to resort to highway robbery, rising against the rulers, or some other kinds of disobedience to Allah, then the permission applies to him. If one does so transgress the limits, or continually, or out of disobedience to Allah, then the permission does not apply to him even if he is in dire need.' The same was reported from Sa`id bin Jubayr. Sa`id and Muqatil bin Hayyan are reported to have said that without willful disobedience means, "Without believing that it is permissible.' 

It was reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah: (غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ . . without willful disobedience nor transgressing) saying, "Without willful disobedience means eating the dead animal and not continuing to do so. 

Qatadah said: (غَيْرَ بَاغٍ without willful disobedience) "Without transgressing by eating from the dead animals, that is when the lawful is available.'

Issue: When one in dire straits finds both ـ dead animals, and foods belong to other people which he could get without risking the loss of his hands or causing harm, then it is not allowed for him to eat the dead animals. Ibn Majah reported that `Abbad bin Shurahbil Al-Ghubari said, "One year we suffered from famine. I went to Al-Madinah and entered a garden. I took some grain that I cleaned, and ate, then I left some of it in my garment. The owner of the garden came, roughed me up and took possession of my garment. I then went to Allah's Messenger and told him what had happened. 

He said to the man: (You have not fed him when he was hungry - or he said starving - nor have you taught him if he was ignorant.)

The Prophet commanded him to return `Abbad's garment to him, and to offer him a Wasq (around 180 kilograms) - or a half Wasq - of food

This has a sufficiently strong chain of narrators and there are many other witnessing narrations to support it, such as the Hadith that `Amr bin Shu`ayb narrated from his father that his grandfather said: Allah's Messenger was asked about the hanging clusters of dates. He said: (There is no harm for whoever takes some of it in his mouth for a necessity without putting it in his garment.)

Muqatil bin Hayyan commented on: (فَلاَ إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ...then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) "For what is eaten out of necessity.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "Allah is pardoning for what has been eaten of the unlawful, and Merciful' in that He allowed the prohibited during times of necessity.' Masruq said, "Whoever is in dire need, but does not eat or drink until he dies, he will enter the Fire.' This indicates that eating dead animals for those who are in need of it for survival is not only permissible but required.

Yusuf Ali Explanation
Dead meat: maitat: carrion; animal that dies of itself; the original Arabic has a slightly wider meaning given to it in Fiqh (Religious Law); anything that dies of itself and is not expressly killed for food with the Takbir duly pronounced on it. But there are exceptions, e.g., fish and locusts are lawful, though they have not been made specially halal with the Takbir. But even fish or locusts as carrion would be obviously ruled out.

For prohibited foods, cf. also Q. v. 4-5; vi. 121, 138-146; etc. The teachers of Fiqh (Religious Law) work out the details with great elaboration. My purpose is to present general principles, not technical details. Carrion or dead meat and blood as articles of food would obviously cause disgust to any refined person. So would swine's flesh where the swine lives on offal. Where swine are fed artificially on clean food, the objections remain: (1) that they are filthy animals in other respects, and the flesh of filthy animals taken as food affects the eater; (2) that swine's flesh has more fat than muscle-building material; and (3) that it is more liable to disease than other kinds of meat; e.g., trichinosis, characterized by hair-like worms in the muscular tissue. As to food dedicated to idols or false gods, it is obviously unseemly for the Children of Unity to partake of it.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Among edibles, the Qur’ān has fundamentally prohibited only these four. Other edibles that are not appropriate for eating are proscribed through the innate guidance that the Almighty has blessed man with. In other words, man’s own nature generally provides him with ample guidance in this matter and he is able to decide the right course without any hesitation. He very well knows that lions, tigers, elephants, eagles, crows, vultures, kites, scorpions and human flesh itself are things which are not to be eaten. He is also well aware of the fact that horses and mules are a means of transportation and have no role in satisfying one’s hunger. That faeces and urine of animals are impure things are known to him very well also. His reason and intellect also guide him very well regarding intoxicants. Consequently, in this matter, the sharī‘ah of God has left this matter to the innate guidance found in human nature to lead the way. The prohibition attributed to Muḥammad (sws) (Muslim, no. 4994; Al-Nasā’ī, no. 4452) regarding beasts having sharp canine teeth, birds having claws and tentacles in their feet and jallālah is merely a delineation of this innate guidance. The prohibition of liquor is another directive which is based on innate guidance. No doubt, at times, human nature becomes perverted, but a study of human behaviour shows that generally people do not falter in this matter. It is for this reason that the sharī‘ah has not given any original guidance in this matter. In this matter, the sharī‘ah has provided guidance regarding animals and things related to these animals where it was impossible for man to decide the right course of action in the light of intellect and nature alone. The pig is a quadruped beast of the same genre as the goat, sheep, cow and cattle; however, it consumes meat like other carnivores. Should it then be considered forbidden or not? Should animals which are slaughtered in a way that all their blood is not drained out be eaten or not? Is the blood of animals impure as indeed are their faeces and urine? If animals are slaughtered by taking the name of someone other than the Almighty, can they still be eaten? Since human intellect is unable to come up with a decisive answer in this regard, the Almighty guided mankind in this affair through His prophets and informed them that the flesh of the pig, blood, the dead and animals which are slaughtered in the name of someone other than God are also impure and unclean and therefore people should abstain from them.

The actual words are: غَيۡرَ بَاغٍ وَّلَا عَادٍ. The word بَاغٍ is a nomen agentis (الاسم الفاعل) from the verb بَغَي يَبْغِي and since it is copulated to the word عَادٍ, it means “to intend” and “to desire.”

Here is an exception to compelling circumstances in which a person is not able to find lawful food for himself. As per this exception, a person shall not be punished if he consumes prohibited edibles. This is evident from the words: فَلَا٘ اِثْمَ عَلَيْهِﵧ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ غَفُوْرٌ رَّحِيْمٌ. Obviously, the same directive should also hold for circumstances in which one is forced to eat prohibited food. In this regard, the correct attitude is that when such a situation arises one should use this concession given to him and should not refuse it in one’s enthusiasm for perseverance. This is also evident from the practice of Muhammad (sws) reported in certain narratives regarding tayammum (dry ablution), shortening of the prayer and wiping of socks in wuḍū. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, the requirement of one’s beliefs may entail a different attitude. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāhī writes:
… However, there can be certain circumstances in which it is befitting for an honourable Muslim to give his life and not tolerate eating forbidden food. For example, if at some places the rulers are very insolent and disobedient to God and as a result there remains no distinction between lawful and unlawful food and in these circumstances a person is forced to eat prohibited food items, then it is the requirement of his faith to adopt the path of perseverance and lay down his life in order to revive the faith of others. This deed would not be regarded as a sin and, God willing, he would be rewarded the position of shahādah for upholding his honour and for respecting the rights of the sharī‘ah. At least, for the scholars of religion and reformers of society, it is better if they adopt this path in such circumstances. Who is unaware of the hardships suffered by the Companions of Muhammad (sws) in the early Makkan period merely because they had professed faith in one God. Many of them were martyred at the hands of the enemies of tawḥīd. Their life was always in danger but none of them professed disbelief to save their lives even though the Qur’ān explicitly allowed them to do so. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 1, 420)
Tafsir Qur'an Wiki:
Then comes a list of what has been forbidden for the Muslims to eat. It starts with an Arabic word which indicates that the restriction is limited to the given items: “He has only forbidden you carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which a name other than Gods has been invoked.”

Both carrion — dead putrefying flesh — and blood are unhygienic and offensive to human taste. Centuries after this Qur'anic statement was revealed, modern medical research has shown that both attract harmful germs and carry deadly substances. There could be many more reasons why they were forbidden by Islam, which modern medical science has yet to discover.

The next item is the flesh of swine, about the banning of which some have recently raised doubts. The pig is an unattractive animal with foul habits, and God has forbidden its flesh a very long time ago. Only recently, human knowledge has shown it to be singularly prone to infection with parasitic worms that are a serious health hazard to humans. Some may yet argue that advances in health care and modern cooking methods have reduced or even eliminated this risk. But this has only come to light several centuries after Islam, and there is no guarantee that pig’s meat does not carry other risks of which we are yet to become aware. Islamic law has been well ahead of human science by many centuries. It deserves our unqualified trust. It must be considered the final arbiter in what is wholesome and what is not. It is the legislation revealed by the One who is wise and who knows all.

The meat of animals slaughtered in dedication to something or someone other than God is forbidden for Muslims to eat for that very reason. There is nothing physically wrong with the meat, but it is spiritually tainted by the fact that it was sacrificed in reverence of a creature of God. This impairs one’s loyalty to, and faith in, God. This makes it akin to material impurity and dirtiness. Of all prohibited things this type is most relevant to faith.

It becomes clear, yet again, how strongly and closely the principle of God’s oneness is linked to the source of religious guidance and lawmaking in Islam, God Almighty.

In establishing the above restrictions, however, Islam takes account of the circumstances under which they would apply. Necessities could arise which would entail a measured lifting or relaxation of those restrictions. These are dictated strictly by the need at the time, and on condition that consumption of forbidden meat is not, in any way, permitted for reasons of self-indulgence or in defiance of God’s instructions.
“But he who is driven by necessity, not intending to transgress nor exceeding his need, incurs no sin. God is much-Forgiving, Merciful.” This is a general Islamic principle in all matters of this kind, and can be extended to situations of a similar nature. Any life-threatening situation creates a necessity which would allow a person to eat or drink forbidden things if alternatives cannot be found, within the conditions mentioned above.
Scholars differ in their definition of what constitutes necessity. Are the situations in which necessity exists only those specifically cited by God, or could other, similar circumstances be included? Nor is there any consensus of opinion among scholars on what constitutes relieving the necessity: is it confined to the smallest of measures, or is it a full meal or drink? However, we are happy to confine our discussion here to pointing out the general principles that are of relevance in these matters, without discussing these differences in detail.

Now you may listen to the following short clipped video to explanation of the aforesaid Ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages  and Understanding Al Qur'an for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
Photo | Tafsir References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from the following sources: 
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Translation Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Qur'an Wiki
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
In addition, references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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