Basic Muslim Beliefs About Eating

The Quran stipulates which foods and beverages are permitted and which are unlawful.
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Devout Muslims believe that Islam is more than just a religious creed, it is a way of life. As in any tradition, food and food consumption play a prominent role in Islamic practice. Islamic rules and regulations include a dietary code pertaining to the permitted and the unlawful -- halal and haram. For practicing Muslims, the Quran is the main source for all dietary guidelines and principles.

1 Halal

According to Islamic law, halal foods are those that are clean and free from any component Muslims are forbidden to consume. Practicing Muslims believe that all things created by Allah are permitted, with the exception of the few items stipulated in the Quran. Furthermore Allah reserves the right to declare what food is permitted and forbidden. Muslims believe that whatever Allah permits is sufficient for humans to thrive. Under extreme circumstances where survival is at stake, Muslims are allowed to consume unlawful foods.

2 Haram

Haram foods are those foods that are stated to be prohibited in the Quran. This encompasses pork and pork byproducts, meat from animals that were not slaughtered according to Islamic law, alcohol and foods containing alcohol, as well as foods containing blood and blood byproducts. Muslims are advised to avoid food and beverage when it is unclear whether they are forbidden or not. Also Islam does not endorse consuming haram food even if it is done with honorable intentions, or to achieve a virtuous end.

3 Moderation and Balance

Certain Quranic verses outline the importance of maintaining a moderated and healthy balanced diet. Muslims are advised to keep one third of their stomachs empty to avoid the ill mental and spiritual affects of over eating. Concerning the other two thirds, the Quran cites the health benefits of consuming high protein foods such as permitted meats and fresh milk, as well fresh fruits, vegetables and grains.

4 Fasting

Muslims believe that Allah has given human beings the ability to live a pure and pious life free from material attachments. Despite this, they also believe that man’s greatest weakness is his forgetfulness, as he can quickly become entangled in worldly pleasures that nurture the ego. The fast during the holy month of Ramadan is considered to be a reorientation towards Allah, a time for prayer, piety and peace. Fasting clears the mind for spiritual reflection and self improvement. Muslims must spend as much time as possible focusing on family and the tenants of Islam. In addition to abstaining from food and beverages from sunrise to sunset, Muslims must also exercise restraint around sexual activity, and sinful speech and actions during the month.

Rachel Alexander is a cultural and political area specialist of South Asia and the Middle East. She received the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship in 2011, and again in 2012, to live in northern India and study advanced Hindi. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Loyola University of Chicago.