Why are some Foods and Drinks prohibited (with examples)?

In this article, I am going to touch on the concept of prohibited foods and drinks in Islam, shedding light on the reason they are prohibited from sharia perspective as well as modern science. There will be 3 parts to the paper:

1) Haram foods and drinks.

2) Evidence from Qurán and Sunna.

3) Five prohibited foods and drinks.


Haram foods and drinks:

Islam is the most comprehensive way of life. It organises people’s lives in relation to Allah, themselves and environment. That’s why Islam tackled the issue of harmful consumption. Generally, foods and drinks are lawful except for some specific types. Some harm types are as follows:

  • The dead animal.
  • Blood.
  • Swine (i.e. pork)
  • That which is not slaughtered according to the sharia.
  • That which has been strangled, beaten to death, killed by a fall, gored to death ar savaged by a beast of prey.
  • Intoxicants.
  • All what is harmful.

Sheikh Saleh Al Fawzan stated that scholars have formulated the prohibited animals in the following types:[1]

  • What the sharia indicated, such as domestic donkeys.
  • That which sharia put a rule for, such as fanged animals of prey and anomals with talons.
  • That which eat carrion, such as crows.
  • Foul animals, such as rats and snakes.
  • That born between a halal animal and a haram one such as mules.
  • Animals we are asked to kill or asked not to kill.

Evidence from Qurán and Sunna:

  • Eating good food:

Evidence from the Qurán: Allah, the Exalted says:

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good” (Qurán 2:168)

“They ask you [O Muhammed] what has been made lawful for them. Say, ‘Lawful for you are all good foods …” (Qurán 5:4)

“Forbidden to you [for food]are: the dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, the meat of that which was slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah, that which has been strangled, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by the goring of horns, and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal.  “(Qurán 5:3)

“… and do not throw [yourselves] with your own hands into destruction” (Qurán 2:195)

Evidence from the Sunnah:

Jabir narrated, “The prophet (PBUH) forbade eating the meat of domestic donkeys… “[2]

Ibn Abbas said, “The messenger of Allah (PBUH) prohibited eating any of the fanged beasts of prey or any of the birds having talons”[3]

Five prohibited foods and drinks:

  • Wine

Sharia Evidence: Allah, the Exalted, says: O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful” (Qurán 5:90)

Scientific Evidence: France’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) did a study on drinking alcohol. The institute’s president, Dominique Maraninchi, said, “Small daily doses of alcohol are the most harmful. There is no amount, however small, which is good for you.’

The study warned, “The consumption of alcohol is associated with an increase in the risk of cancers – mouth, larynx, oesophagus, colon-rectum, and breast cancer.”[4]

  • Pork

Sharia Evidence: Allah, the Exalted, says: “Forbidden to you [for food] are: the dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine…” (Qurán 5:3)

Scientific Evidence: Scientific evidences prove that pig meat is least healthy having different harmful agents like Cholesterol and Fatty Acids, Bacteria and Toxins and a number of parasites. The pig meat is high in fat and cholesterol that causes the cardiovascular diseases, obesity, the incidence of large intestine cancer. Bacteria and Toxins associated with pigs spread many diseases like salmonellosis, which leads to the acute gastroenteritis and diarrhea.[5]

Sharia Evidence: Allah, the Exalted, says: “… and do not throw [yourselves] with your own hands into destruction” (Qurán 2:195)

Scientific Evidence: Tobacco smoking strongly increases the risk of developing cancer of the lung, oral cavity (mouth), pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, pancreas, bladder and renal pelvis (the kidney outlet). It also increases the risk of cancers of the nasal cavities (nose) and sinuses, stomach, liver, kidney, cervix (neck of the uterus) and bone marrow (myeloid leukaemia).[7]

  • Rats

Sharia Evidence: The prophet (PBUH) said, “Five fawasiq[8], should be killed in al-Haram: rats, scorpions, kites, crows and rabid dogs”[9]

Scientific Evidence: One of the most historically dangerous rat-borne diseases is the bubonic plague, also called “Black Plague,” and its variants. Transfer occurs when fleas from the rats bite human beings. Fleas transported on rats are considered responsible for this plague during the Middle Ages, which killed millions. From the transmission of bubonic plague to typhus and hantavirus, rat infestations can prove harmful to human health.[10]

  • Black pudding

Sharia Evidence: Allah, the Exalted, says: “Forbidden to you [for food] are: the dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine…” (Qurán 5:3)

Scientific Evidence: Black pudding has ingredients which are forbidden. They are pork and blood. As mentioned in item number 2, swine flesh is scientifically proven to be harmful. Blood is also the medium for a number of bacteria and harmful agents that cause many diseases to humans.


Black Pudding. [online]. [Accessed 17 DEc 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_pudding>

Daily Mail. [online]. [Accessed 17 Dec 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1148611/Drinking-just-glass-wine-day-INCREASE-risk-cancer-168–say-French.html#ixzz2nhdgCI6s>

Green Facts. [online]. [Accessed 17 Dec 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.greenfacts.org/en/tobacco/3-tobacco-smoking/2-tobacco-smoking-tobacco.htm#0p0>

RAT-BORNE DISEASES. [online]. [Accessed 17 DEc 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.orkin.com/rodents/rats/rat-borne-diseases/>

الفوزان, الشيخ صالح. 2009. الملخص الفقهي. دار المودة.

[1] Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence, Sheikh Saleh Al Fawzan, pp.609, 2009 (Arabic version)

[2] Bukhari & Muslim.

[3] Sunan Abo Dawood

[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1148611/Drinking-just-glass-wine-day-INCREASE-risk-cancer-168–say-French.html#ixzz2nhdgCI6s

[5] Qamar M. F., Raza I., 2012, Scientific evidences that pig meat (pork) is prohibited for human health. Scientific Papers. Series D. Animal Science, Vol. LV, ISSN-L 2285-5750, 281-286.

[6] Although smoking isn’t food or drink, it is worth mentioning here as it is commonly consumed by a large number of people all over the world.

[7]  IARC “ Tobacco Smoking and Tobacco Smoke, Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation
Volume 83 – Chapter 5.2: Human carcinogenicity data – Cigarettes, 2004.

[8] Impure, foul

[9] Al Bukhari

[10] http://www.orkin.com/rodents/rats/rat-borne-diseases/

About Ahmed Othman

Ahmed is an English teacher, a teacher trainer, a public speaker, a writer and a therapist.

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