Here's Why Pork Is FORBIDDEN (Haram) In Islam!
The dietary restrictions in Islam, mentioned in the Holy Quran and enacted in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), do not just have spiritual importance but cultural and health reason too.
One of the most well-known prohibitions is the consumption of pork, the flesh of swine, deemed "haram" in Islamic teachings. This practice is a cornerstone of many Muslims' daily lives and has garnered curiosity and discussion from those outside the faith. In this blog post, we will explore the various reasons behind the prohibition of pork and pork products in Islam.
What exactly is pork?
Pork refers to the meat of pigs and wild animal like boar, which is widely consumed in many cultures worldwide, as pig meat, pig flesh, bacon, chops and more.
Utilised in various culinary creations, eating pork for those outside of Islam is a normal daily affair and pork meat is found in traditional dishes to modern delicacies. A manufacturing process can turn pig material into food additives like gelatin (including haram gelatin that can be found in Haribo gummy bears). Despite its popularity, pork consumption is considered off-limits for Muslims due to its status as not a halal food.
Which verses mention that pork is forbidden for Muslims to eat?
The eating of pork is explicitly outlined in the Holy Quran, the holy book of Islam. In the first Suratul Baqara verse, Allah emphasises the prohibition of consuming pork and its products according to Islamic law:
He has only forbidden you ˹to eat˺ carrion, blood, swine, and what is slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah. But if someone is compelled by necessity—neither driven by desire nor exceeding immediate need—they will not be sinful. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. - Surah Al-Baqarah (2:173)
In this verse swine refers to any porcine material, although it is worth noting that Allah gives an exemption to Muslims to eat pig in cases of dire necessity, for example if you have severe hunger with no other food sources.
Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “I do not find in what has been revealed to me anything forbidden to eat except carrion, running blood, swine—which is impure—or a sinful offering in the name of any other than Allah. But if someone is compelled by necessity—neither driven by desire nor exceeding immediate need—then surely your Lord is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” - Surah Al-An'am (6:145)
Again, we can find mention of Islam with a similar prohibition of the consumption of swine flesh in the Suratul Al Maida verse:
Forbidden to you are carrion, blood, and swine; what is slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah; what is killed by strangling, beating, a fall, or by being gored to death; what is partly eaten by a predator unless you slaughter it; and what is sacrificed on altars. - Surah Al-Mai'dah (5:3)
It is important to note that Allah's commands also prohibits the consumption of dead animals that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic law. If dead meat is found, it is advised for Muslims to not eat this as it is considered haram.
Did Prophet Muhammad mention pork?
Yes, Prophet Muhammad also emphasised the prohibition of pork. In various hadiths (sayings and actions of the Prophet), he reiterated the importance of abstaining from pork consumption:
Allah forbade wine and the price paid for it, and forbade dead meat and the price paid for it, and forbade swine and the price paid for it. (Sunan Abu Dawud 3485)
His teachings reinforced the Quranic message that eating pork is haram, underscoring the severity of indulging in something that goes against the commands of Allah.
What do other religious books say about pork?
The prohibition of pork is not unique to Islam; it's also present in other religious traditions. Both Judaism and Christianity share similar dietary restrictions concerning pork.
The first time it was declared to God's people that pork was forbidden was in Leviticus (Chapter 11:7) where God says:
“… and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.”
Again in the Book of Deutoronomy (14:8) God repeats:
"The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses."
Likewise in the Book of Isaiah Chapter 66 Verse 17 God says:
“Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one who is among those who eat the flesh of pigs, rats and other unclean things—they will meet their end together with the one they follow.”
In the Torah, the holy scripture of the Jewish faith, pork is categorised as "unclean" and is prohibited for consumption for followers of Judaism.
Similarly, early Christian communities and religious leaders often adhered to kosher dietary laws that included abstaining from pork. These commonalities highlight the historical and cultural connections among these Abrahamic faiths.
Scientific reasons why pork is bad for you
Beyond religious and cultural considerations, scientific research and medical sciences have shed light on potential health risks and that consumption of pork causes human health issues.
1. Risk of heart attack ❤️🩹
Pork is high in saturated fats which can boost cholesterol in the human body. Coronary heart disease can increase by 9% for every 50g of daily pork consumed due to this excess of fat making its way through the digestive system.
Pork has a higher fat content compared to other meats, which can contribute to health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and cholesterol imbalances.
2. Risk of liver damage 🔨
Pork has high purine levels which are compounds that produce uric acid when digested. Uric acid can build up in joints and in severe cases can lead to gout. More frequent gout attacks can also occur when eating other organs of the animal body including liver and kidneys.
An extra issue with swine or pig is that it has very few functional sweat glands and therefore barely sweats. Sweat glands are what the body uses to get rid of toxins and as a result, more harmful toxins are left in the pig's body or carcass after its death.
3. Risk of disease 😷
Pigs are generally considered to be unclean animals as commonly they're found in less hygienic conditions and are known to eat their own excrement. Whether they are the filthiest animals remains up for debate.
Pigs are also susceptible to harmful bacterial diseases such as pork tapeworm (taenia solium), taenia trichuriasis and were linked to a recent outbreak of swine flu.
Additionally, pork can be a carrier of various parasites and diseases that can transfer to humans through consumption. Trichinosis, a parasitic infection, is one such example.
4. Risk of memory loss and cancer 🧠
A recent study in 2021 by H Zhang showed that an additional 25g/day of processed meat, which could include bacon, is associated with increased risks of all-cause dementia and memory loss.
Processed meats which use pork products like ham can also cause cancer as the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies processed meat as carcinogenic.
Conclusion: why is pork forbidden in Islam?
The prohibition of pork in Islam is a multifaceted concept that encompasses spiritual, cultural, and health dimensions. The explicit Quranic verses, the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, the commonality with other faiths like Christianity and Judaism, and the scientific health risks all contribute to the rationale behind avoiding pork.
It's important to note that Islamic dietary laws are not solely about restriction but are designed to promote the overall well-being of believers. By adhering to this prohibition, Muslims affirm their commitment to living in accordance with the guidance of Allah and reiterate the holistic approach of Islam to both spiritual and physical matters.
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