Eating The Islamic Way
Islam is not merely a religion, it is a way of life; a holistic approach designed by our Creator to benefit all of humankind. The comprehensiveness of Islam allows every aspect of life to be an act of worship, from praying to sleeping, from washing to working. Every chore from the menial to the profound can earn countless rewards simply by a person wanting to please Allah with their every thought and action.
When Allah created the world He did not set things in motion and then leave us to our own designs; quite the contrary He sent us guidance. This guidance comes in the form of Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic Traditions) of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him. Within these two sources of guidance we will find the rules and regulations, and the rights and responsibilities that allow us to deal with any situation we may find ourselves in.
All actions performed in the daily course of life can be raised to the status of worship simply by remembering to praise Allah and seek His pleasure. Yes, even eating; it has an etiquette that raises its status from a mundane act to a rewarding act of worship. Think about it. Food plays a significant part in our daily lives. Shopping, storing, preparation, eating, and cleaning - all take up a large amount of time, effort and money. The rewards accumulated from the act of eating can be innumerable and of more substance than a full belly or bulging waist line.
Dietary Laws In Islam
The Quran and Sunnah have provided a number of guidelines for what is allowed for Muslims to eat and what is not, and thus, Muslim dietary practice is directly related to divine obedience. Practicing Muslims obey Allah by following these guidelines, and thus they are rewarded for this, as following the guidelines of the religion is considered worship.
Permitted food and drinks are called halal, while those forbidden are termed haram in Arabic. Since 'you are what you eat', Islam permits food deemed wholesome for the body and the soul and forbids what is detrimental to them, as the Quran declares:
"...all pure things are lawful to you." (Quran 4:5)
Mainstream Christianity claims no dietary laws to speak of, whereas Judaism has numerous and rigorous dietary laws. In Hinduism, food is one of the principal indices of social status, as food observances help to define caste ranking. Islamic dietary laws, on the other hand, bond the community of faithful in one whole, and in their rigor they lie somewhere in between Judaism and Christianity.
Is Kosher Halal?
Often times Muslim consumers tend to assume 'Kosher' is similar to 'Halal'. Although the slaughtering rituals of Jewish people resemble those of Muslims; kosher and halal are two different entities carrying a different meaning and spirit. Muslims, therefore, are provided with the following basic information about Kosher so they can exercise care in distinguishing halal from kosher.
Kashrut (in Hebrew) is the system of Jewish dietary laws. Kosher (kashur in Hebrew) means 'fit, or proper for use' according to Jewish law. Examples of kosher are: the meat of the 'fore quarter*' of the cattle slaughtered ritually, fruits, vegetables, all fish that have fins*, all wines*, all cheeses*, gelatine*.
The opposite of Kosher, as applied to food in Treif (in Yiddish), or trefah (in Hebrew) meaning 'not suitable for use', or 'forbidden'. Trefah literally means 'torn by a wild beast' (Exodus 22:30). Examples of Trefah are: blood, swine, rabbit*, all shell fish*, wild birds such as wild hen*, wild duck*, and the birds of prey.
(*) these food items exhibit a marked difference between kosher and Halal as well as trefah and haraam.
Smoking: A Social Poison
Discovery Of Tobacco: Tobacco was discovered by the Spanish sailors on the American shores at about 1500 CE (900 AH). Since its discovery, the epidemic of smoking has continued to spread all over the world. In our times, one seldom finds a house not afflicted by it. As early as the Seventeenth Century, the European countries realized the dangers of smoking and fought against it Laws were ordained in England, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, and other countries, prohibiting smoking and punishing violators. Nowadays, the Western countries continue their attempts to protect their peoples from the harms of smoking. They employ media means, ordain laws and regulations, and apply other methods to discourage people from smoking. Because of that, the rate of smokers has declined to a certain degree in those countries.
Smoking Among Muslims: Smoking was introduced to the Muslim countries by the Europeans around 1000 AH. Its spread among the Muslims was similar to that in the West. The unfortunate fact, however, is that in the Muslim countries, no similar measures were exerted to protect the people from it. To the contrary, the media continues to advertise smoking and encourage people to do it. This caused the epidemic of smoking to continue to spread in those countries to such an extent that it has become hard to control.