From birth to death, there are certain foods that Muslims consume and those that they avoid. This is due to the fact that the Quran, the sacred text of the Islamic religion, contains passages that list lawful and unlawful foods. These dietary laws are intended to meet the nutritional needs of Muslims and ensure that no foods considered harmful, either physically or spiritually, are consumed.
For Muslims, there is an important practice regarding nutrition that begins at birth. The Quran contains several passages that discuss the importance of Muslim mothers breastfeeding their infants. In fact, the Quran instructs mothers to breastfeed for a period of two years. Therefore, it is not only socially acceptable to breastfeed infants in Muslim culture, but it is also considered a religious duty. The nutrition of infants is so important that in the case of a divorce between a Muslim couple, special arrangements are to be made to ensure that the mother is able to breastfeed the infant for the first two years of life even if the child does not live with her.
Ramadan, a monthlong celebration, is an important annual event in Muslim culture that requires fasting from sunset to sundown. Each Muslim who is capable of fasting is required to do so; however, there are some exceptions for Muslims whose health would be negatively impacted by fasting. For example, if a woman is pregnant and fasting is believed to compromise her health or the health of the unborn child, she is exempt from fasting during Ramadan. In addition, children who have not yet reached puberty and adults with certain medical conditions are often not required to fast, as it is believed to interfere with their health and well-being.
The Quran lists foods that are lawful, or halal, which are seen as the only kinds of foods Muslims should eat. For example, pastas, grains, vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, milk, seafood, nuts and certain deli meats are all considered lawful foods. However, there are certain rules about which kinds of meat are lawful. A Muslim must slaughter the animal and the slaughtering must be done in accordance with Islamic law. In general, lawful foods are those that do not contain any ingredients from unlawful foods.
Unlawful foods, also known as haram foods, fall into two categories: those made from animals that are forbidden to be killed and those considered harmful. Haram foods include any food containing carnivorous animals with claws, birds with claws, pigs, boars, donkeys, dogs and animals that live on water and on land, such as frogs and crocodiles. In addition, foods containing vanilla extract, alcohol and other sweeteners are considered unlawful.
- Islam Halal: Introduction to Halal Foods
- Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project: Food for the Newborn Child
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: General Guidelines for the Use of the Term "Halal"
- Colorado State University: Islamic Holidays and Observances
- National Health Service: Ramadan Health Frequently Asked Questions
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