At the outset, it needs to be understood that the
basic objective of Islam is purification -- both physical and spiritual.
Therefore, it only prohibits things that are unclean and hinder purification.
Certain edibles are also prohibited because of this very reason.
The second thing which needs to be appreciated is that in
case of most edibles, human nature is well equipped to know for itself which
food stuff is inedible It is only in
a very small sphere that human nature is unable to pronounce a clear verdict on
edibles that are unclean, and it is in this sphere in which the Sharī‘ah has
guided man. Consequently, where this guidance is stated, the words of the Qur’ān
subtly allude to the fact that this guidance is being provided about edibles.
The prohibition of animals or stuff which is non-edible is not mentioned for the
simple reason that human nature has already pronounced them to be inedible:
Say: ‘I find not in the Message received by me by
inspiration forbidden to a person who eats things which are edible, unless it be
dead meat, or blood or the flesh of swine ….’ (6:145)
Human nature has always remained averse to eating beasts.
No one generally eats carnivores (animals that feed on meat) like lions, tigers,
elephants etc. Such animals were never liked by man for eating. On the other
hand, herbivores (animals that feed on plants) like goats, cows and camels have
always been relished by human nature. The meat of such animals has always been
Consider now the pig. We know that besides being a
herbivore it is also a carnivore. Such an animal we know is called an omnivore.
In other words, since the pig simultaneously belongs to both categories
it would have been difficult for human beings to class it in either. Its
herbivorous nature could have impelled some to eat it while its carnivorous
nature could have dispelled some from eating it. So man could have faltered in
grouping it in either of the two categories. It is here that the Almighty told
us that its carnivorous nature (and therefore its beastliness) is dominant over
its herbivorous nature, and therefore it should be avoided.
Consequently, in the Old Testament, the prohibition of
pork is mentioned in words which subtly allude to this double nature of the
The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it
does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.