Why Eating of Carrion, Pork and Blood is forbidden?
By: Shaheed Ayatullah Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi
Consuming carrion, pork and blood and all those things on which Allah (S.w.T.)’s name has not been invoked during its slaughter are greater sins as reported by Amash from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Fazl ibn Shazān from Imam ‘Ali Riďa (a.s.). This fact is also mentioned in the Qur’an in Surah al-Baqarah Verse 173, Surah al-An’ām Verse 145 and Surah an-Nahl Verse 116.
In Surah al-Mā’ida Verse 3 Allah (S.w.T.) says,
“Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of 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 the horn, and that which wild beast have eaten, except what you slaughter, and what is sacrificed on stones set up (for idols) and that you divide by the arrows; that is a transgression.”
(Surah al-Mā’ida 5:3)
Every animal that dies without the proper religious procedure is Carrion and eating of it is prohibited. If it has warm blood then it would also be Najis (ritually impure), but if it is properly slaughtered it is pure and clean (except dog and pig which will be always Najis and never considered clean and pure).
In a compilation of Anjuman al-Tablighāt Islami it is mentioned that Islamic Jurisprudence has specified and discussed in detail and prescribed the animals whose flesh is allowed. Only an expert in Life science could fully appreciate justification on which these laws are based.
Islam has prohibited the flesh of all carnivorous animals because there is dirt in the stomachs of such animals. The flesh is dirty and smelly and its consumption causes illness. On the other hand herbivorous animals are mostly considered permissible. Animals having claws are considered Harām and hoofed animals are mostly considered Halāl though some are considered as Makruh (unpleasant) such as Horse, Ass etc. Birds that flap their wings more and glide less while flying are Halāl and those who glide more and flap their wings less are Harām. Islam has also prescribed rules for hunting. Hunting is permissible for hunters who hunt to feed their family or for their sustenance. Hunting is not allowed for fun and entertainment. One who goes for hunting just for fun and play has to recite full prayers (it is not considered Qasr) he should also observe fast because this journey of his is unIslamic. (End of quotation from the compilation of Anjuman Tablighat al-Islami)
Animals are of Three types: Terrestrial, aquatic and flying. Terrestrial animals are of two kinds, domestic and wild.
Among the domestic animals only goats, sheep, cow and camel are Halāl, while flesh of horse, donkey and mule is detestable (Makruh), other than these six animals all domestic animals are Harām, like cat etc.
None of the wild animals are Halāl except deers and its kinds like the mountain goats, (12 horns), wild Cow, wild donkey and mule. Flesh of all carnivorous animals is Harām whether they are strong and powerful like lions, leopard and jackals etc. or weak like the fox; and in the same way the flesh of rabbit which is not from wild animals is also Harām.
Reptiles like snakes and rats etc., whether domesticated or wild. Insects and worms and porcupines and lice etc. are also Harām.
Birds like pigeon and all its kind are Halāl. For example, ringdove, partridge, wild duck, ducks and its kinds. Also birds and its kinds like Bulbul (nightingale), Chandol (name of a bird). Surad (bird with broad head with a peak half-black and half-white who hunts other birds). Swan (Greyish with long head, which mostly lives on a date tree) Shagrāq - Greenish beautiful bird similar to pigeon, it has a red, green and black lining on its black feather.
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Bat, peacocks who have webbed feet or birds strong enough which can tear apart animal; or hunting birds, like Charkh (one kind of bird) Eagle, Shahīn, Bāshiq (which is also called as Bāhsā) or a weak bird like Vulture or crow and its kind should be avoided, also Zāgh (crow which inhabits cultivated soil, and Baga whose colour is black and white, those fat and black crows which eat Carrion; all such birds should not be used for food.
Whatever has been said is available in traditions in explicit terms. Regarding birds about where there is no express command these can be considered Halāl by applying the criteria mentioned in the beginning of the chapter: Birds that flap their wings more and glide less during flight are Halāl. Besides they should have Three additional characteristics: an additional finger below the thigh, crop (craw) and gizzard.
The egg of a bird has the same order as its flesh. The egg of a Halāl bird is Halāl and the egg of Harām bird is Harām. In order to determine whether an egg of unknown origin belongs to a Halāl bird or Harām we must see its shape. If one end is pointed and the other is rounded, like the egg of hen or pigeon, it is Halāl. If it is exactly round, or oval having the same shape at both ends it is to be considered Harām.
We should also remember that a permissible animal becomes Harām on account of two things:
1) By eating Najasat
2) By having been sexually assaulted by a man. The details of laws concerning the same are available in Tauzihul Masael and books of jurisprudence.
As regards aquatic animals, only those fishes are Halāl which have scales even though they might have fallen off, like the scales of Kan-at (a kind of fish) (Qoba fish). This is a very naughty fish and it bangs itself on everything and loses its scale and only the scales of its tail remain.
Purification of Animals
Warm-blooded animals can be fit for consumption by using any of the two ways prescribed by Islamic law for its killing; hunting or slaughter. There are two methods of hunting, one is to hunt by a trained dog who is obedient; it must move when ordered and stop when commanded. It should not have the habit of eating its prey. Also the person who releases the dog on a prey must be a Muslim and he must utter the name of Allah (S.w.T.) at the time of releasing the dog, and throughout the hunt the dog must not go out of the sight of the hunter.
The second method of hunting is by pointed iron weapons like sword, spear or bullet etc. This should pierce the animal’s body. Whether this weapon is of a ferrous metal or made from some other mineral, it makes the prey Halāl upon condition that the archer should be a Muslim and at the time of releasing the arrow he must utter ‘Bismillah’. If all such conditions are fulfilled and the animal is killed during this process, the flesh of the hunted animal is fit for consumption (Halāl). However, if the hunter finds the animal alive he must slaughter it according to the prescribed rules of slaughter.
Animals caught in all kinds of traps could only be Halāl if the trapper finds them alive and slaughters them in the prescribed manner.
Apart from this all the Halāl flesh animals can be consumed only if they are capable of running away or flying away. If one shoots at the young one of a deer incapable of running or the young one of a partridge that cannot yet fly, their flesh is not Halāl. They should be first caught and then slaughtered with a knife etc.
Why is Carrion Harām?
Mufaddal Ibn Umar is quoted in the books al-Kāfi and Amali to have asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) why Allah (S.w.T.) has prohibited Carrion, blood and pork? Imam (a.s.) replied,
“Allah has not prohibited anything for men to take it Himself (we seek refuge in Allah (S.w.T.)). And He has not permitted things that He Himself didn’t like. (In other words Allah (S.w.T.) has not framed the rules of Harām and Halāl on the basis of His personal whims and fancies. The truth is that when Allah (S.w.T.) is Creator of everything, He alone knows what is good and necessary for the human body. Therefore he made it permissible due to His grace. He Alone knows what is harmful for the human body and, therefore prohibited it and made it Harām. But one who is helpless and there is no other way for survival is allowed to eat the same (prohibited) things. However, he must eat only as much as is necessary to save one’s life.”
After that he said, “Eating carrion makes ones body weak and thin. It destroys ones physical prowess and cuts off his generations. One who eats carrion dies a sudden death.”
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It appears therefore that in the process of slaughtering, the blood gushes out and the meat is free of the impure blood with its toxic substances which flow in the veins. When an animal dies naturally or by any process where the blood remains in the body, the meat is contaminated with toxic substances, the consumption of which is injurious to health.
A heretic asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) why Allah (S.w.T.) had prohibited carrion?
Imam (a.s.) said,
“Carrion is made Harām so that there should be difference between it and an animal upon which the name of Allah is recited. Also, the blood of a dead animal is not expelled from its body. It returns to its organs and makes its meat heavy and distasteful. Its meat is eaten with its blood.”
The heretic said, “Then the flesh of fish must also be carrion and Harām because blood is not expelled from it.”
Imam (a.s.) told him,
“The purification of fish is just that it should be removed from water and left outside to die by itself. It is not necessary to slaughter it because it does not possess (warm) blood. The same applies to locust.”
In the fourth volume of Bihār al-Anwār it is mentioned that the Imam also said that it is not necessary to slaughter fish because it doesn’t have much blood. And the blood that remains in its body is like the blood that remains in the body of an animal after it is slaughtered, which is harmless and Halāl.
Blood is of two kinds, Najis (impure) and tahir (Pure). The blood of man and all warm-blooded animals is Najis. It is a characteristic feature of warm-blooded creatures that when the main vein is severed the blood gushes out with force. If blood is found while milking a cow or buffalo, however little it may be, it is Najis and the milk is also Najis due to it. To consume this milk is Harām. On the basis of precaution (Ehtiyat) one must also refrain from consuming the minute particles of blood in an egg.
However, two types of blood are tahir (pure). One is the blood of all cold-blooded animals, like fish and mosquito etc. Secondly, the blood left over in a slaughtered animal. Hence if an animal is slaughtered according to the prescribed Islamic manner and some blood flows out, the blood remaining in its body is tahir. But if due to breathing or due to its head being placed on a raised spot the blood that has gushed out again flows back into the body, the remaining blood will not be tahir.
Apart from this it is absolutely Harām to consume blood whether it is tahir or Najis. However, that tahir blood which is a part of a fish or a slaughtered animal, and which can be considered as a part of its flesh; can be consumed. But if it is considered as blood its consumption is Harām.
Why is blood Harām?
In Tafsir of al-Ayyashi Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is quoted to have said,
“Drinking blood causes diseases of the dryness of throat and madness and also makes one stone-hearted and merciless. One who drinks blood can anytime murder his own parents, relatives or a friend. “
Then Imam (a.s.) said,
“Drinking blood cause production of yellow water in ones body.” (al-Kāfi) It makes human body to stink and makes a person bad-character. His descendants inherit a kind of madness and it makes the heart merciless.”
The heretic asked Imam Ja’far-as-Sadiq (a.s.) the reason for prohibiting the consumption of blood.
Imam (a.s.) said,
“Drinking blood causes the hardness of heart and mercilessness. It causes ones body to stink and changes ones complexion, and mostly causes leprosy.”
(Ihtijaj. Vol. 4, Bihār al-Anwār page 250)
According to Imam Riďa (a.s.),
“Drinking of blood causes plague, wounds and boils that ultimately lead to death.”
Pig and dog are two such Najis animals that every part of their body is Najis. Even those bloodless parts like hair and claws or hooves are Najis. To slaughter a pig or dog is a useless act. That is, these animals cannot be purified in any way. To consume their flesh is Harām and a greater sin.
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Imam Riďa (a.s.) mentions regarding the prohibition of pork,
“The Almighty Allah has prohibited (made Harām) 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 Barzakh and they shall be raised as pigs in Qiyāma.) Also, pigs were allowed to exist so that they are a reminder of the conversion (Maskh) of previous nations into pigs. The second reason for prohibiting pork is that the staple diet of pigs consists of extremely Najis and filthy things, and its blood contains innumerable harmful germs.”
(Uyun al-Akhbar ar-Riďa, Wasa’il chap. 1)
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
“The Almighty Allah converted 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.”
(Tafsir Ayyashi, Book of Food and Drink of Wasa’il chapter one page 248)
It is mentioned in the book Islam wa Ilme Imroz of Anjuman Tablighat Islami that pig is an animal that is classified by specialists among the thick-skinned animals. The rhinoceros wild pig and hippopotamus are all classified in this family. Pork is very harmful for the body but we mention below only some of its harmful effects.
Details Regarding some harmful effects of Pork
1. Spiritual and Moral harms
Pig is known for its shameless and wanton behaviour and for its sexual perversion. It does not honour its own females and invites other males to have sexual contact with it, and enjoys it. In addition it is awfully filthy, it thrives on excreta and has no hesitation in eating its own. Consumption of pork therefore leads to moral degradation and spiritual bankruptcy.
It is unbelievable that such a loathsome creature can eventually end up on the dinner table, where its meat is savoured and eaten with relish and this in spite of the fact that those who consume it are fully aware of its filthy and despicable characteristics. In fact many of these people when they want to abuse somebody in the most vile and insulting terms, they call him a pig, but pig it is, that they seem to relish and enjoy the most. The same surprising attitude is shown by Christians. Whenever Christians depict Satan in religious anecdotes they present him 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 swines and sent them towards the river. In spite of the satanic nature attributed to the pig by their own religion, the Christians continue to eat it.
2. Physical Harms
Pork is harmful to the body in many ways, but two serious diseases caused by its consumption are Trichinosis and Dysentery.
Trichinosis. This disease is caused by the Trichina worm which breeds in the flesh of pig. In a period of one month the female lays 10 to 15 thousand eggs. The worms enter the human system only through consumption of pork. If the individual succumbs to the infection, the worms attack the walls of the stomach and the walls are weakened.
Three weeks after entering the stomach they enter the blood stream and spread to the entire body. They multiply at lightning speed in the host body.
The first symptom is giddiness and a strange kind of fever. This fever is connected with the digestive system and soon the person is afflicted with Diarrhoea. Initially there is mild fever which gets severe day by day. Other symptoms that follow are: Stiffness of the limbs, itch in the body, tiredness, weakness, pain in various parts of the body.
It is most apparent in the abnormal way of chewing, swallowing and breathing of the patient. The mild sickness assumes enormous proportions and finally kills the patient in seven weeks.
A kilogram of pork can harbour as many as 400 million Trichina worms.
Dysentery. One of the dreadful diseases that afflict those who eat pork is dysentery. This dysentery is solely caused by the organism ‘Karam Kadoo’. This worm has a head that has two chains around the head and four branches with which it attaches itself to the walls of the stomach. The outer portion of the worm that produces eggs gets separated from the main body and is expelled along with stool. The eggs that are expelled with the stools are eaten up by pigs and in this way the eggs enter the stomach of the pig. These eggs again initiate the reproductive cycle. If the flesh of this pig is eaten by man there is every possibility that the germs which enter the stomach of man, will rise to infection. It has been proved beyond any doubt that these particular worms are only associated with the consumption of pork and the only way to be safe from them is by avoiding pork.
This infection is rampant in countries where pork is consumed in large quantities.
Besides being a source of infection, pork is heavy for digestion and causes great stress on the digestive system.
Islam prohibited pork 1400 years ago before anyone knew anything about its harmful effects. It is a pity that 1400 years hence, when the wisdom of this prohibition has been clearly defined, people still continue to consume it.
Similarly, Islam has designated dog to be absolutely Najis (Najisul A’in), and advised against keeping it in the house. Since then scientific developments have proved that various diseases are transferred to man from dogs. For example, rashes, baldness and other skin diseases caused by germs, and diseases caused by lice which breed in the fur of dog. Rabies, the most dreadful of all diseases that a human can contract, is transferred to man from dog.
All these diseases are explained in detail in the above-mentioned book. It is also mentioned that a utensil licked by a dog cannot be purified except by scrubbing it with mud.