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Koranic Dietary Laws

I have read the passages in the Koran which pertain to dietary restrictions and I have noticed that they are very similar to those in the Bible. They are practically identical to the restrictions placed on Christians who converted to Christianity from a Gentile background with one exception. Muhammad said that Muslims should not eat pork. I have thought about some reasons why this commandment was given to the Muslims. Here, I will give my opinion on the subject.

First, let us look at some passages in the Old Testament.

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:3,4, NKJV)

And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, “No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.” (Leviticus 17:10-12, NKJV)

These two passages prohibit people from eating blood. There has always been a prohibition against eating blood. In the New Testament, we can see this prohibition given twice in the Book of Acts. (Acts 15:28,29; 21:25)

In the Canons of the Holy Apostles, there is a prohibition against eating blood, too.

If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or indeed any one of the sacerdotal catalogue, eats flesh with the blood of its life, or that which is torn by beasts, or which died of itself, let him be deprived; for this the law itself has forbidden. But if he be one of the laity, let him be suspended. (Canon LXIII, Canons of the Holy Apostles)

These canons were accepted by the Quinisext Council in its Second Canon in 692 A.D. In one of the canons of this council, the eating of blood is forbidden. The Quinisext Council is an  extension of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils.

The divine Scripture commands us to abstain from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. Those therefore who on account of a dainty stomach prepare by any art for food the blood of any animal, and so eat it, we punish suitably. If anyone henceforth venture to eat in any way the blood of an animal, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be cut off. (Canon LXVII, Quinisext Council, 692 A.D.)

The Koran, likewise, forbids the eating of blood. (Koran 2:172,173; 5:3; 16:114,115)

Christians are supposed to abstain from eating foods that have been offered to idols. (Acts 15:28,29; 21:25) The Koran forbids us to eat foods that have been offered to idols, too. (Koran 2:172,173; 5:3; 6:119,121; 16:114,115)

Christians are forbidden to eat animals that have been strangled, died of themselves, or torn by wild beasts. (Acts 15:28,29; 21:25; Canon LXIII of the Holy Apostles; Canon LXVII of the Quinisext Council) The Koran, likewise, forbids us to eat animal that have died in such ways. (Koran 2:172,173; 5:3; 16:114,115)

The Old Testament has a prohibition against eating pork for the Israelites. (Leviticus 11:7,8; Deuteronomy 14:8) However, in the New Testament, Jesus declared all foods to be clean.

When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: there is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:14-23, NKJV)

Later, after Jesus had been resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, some dietary restrictions were given to the Christians who converted to Christianity from a Gentile background.

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:28,29, NKJV)

But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. (Acts 21:25, NKJV)

It makes sense to abstain from foods that have been offered to idols. We are not supposed to engage in any form of worship of false gods. Eating foods that have been offered to idols is an act of worship in pagan religions. So, if a former pagan does this, he is, in effect, practicing idolatry again after having been delivered from it through Christ.

Here are the verses from the Koran about dietary restrictions.

O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He Whom ye worship. He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 2:172,173, Pickthall)

Forbidden unto you (for food) are carrion and blood and swineflesh, and that which hath been dedicated unto any other than Allah, and the strangled, and the dead through beating, and the dead through falling from a height, and that which hath been killed by (the goring of) horns, and the devoured of wild beasts, saving that which ye make lawful (by the death-stroke), and that which hath been immolated unto idols. And (forbidden is it) that ye swear by the divining arrows. This is an abomination. This day are those who disbelieve in despair of (ever harming) your religion; so fear them not, fear Me! This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you as religion al-Islam. Whoso is forced by hunger, not by will, to sin: (for him) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 5:3, Pickthall)

How should ye not eat of that over which the name of Allah hath been mentioned, when He hath explained unto you that which is forbidden unto you unless ye are compelled thereto. But lo! many are led astray by their own lusts through ignorance. Lo! thy Lord, He is Best Aware of the transgressors. (Koran 6:119, Pickthall)

And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned, for lo! it is abomination. Lo! the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you. But if ye obey them, ye will be in truth idolaters. (Koran 6:121, Pickthall)

So eat of the lawful and good food which Allah hath provided for you, and thank the bounty of your Lord if it is Him ye serve. He hath forbidden for you only carrion and blood and swineflesh and that which hath been immolated in the name of any other than Allah; but he who is driven thereto, neither craving nor transgressing, lo! then Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 16:114,115, Pickthall)

The Koran gives a few other restrictions on eating dead animals that are not found in the Bible or in the Church Canons. (Koran 5:3) It also forbids eating swineflesh (pork).

I do not think that the reason for forbidding the eating of pork is a revival of the Old Testament dietary restrictions. Muslims are allowed to eat camels.

And the camels! We have appointed them among the ceremonies of Allah. Therein ye have much good. So mention the name of Allah over them when they are drawn up in lines. Then when their flanks fall (dead), eat thereof and feed the beggar and the suppliant. Thus have We made them subject unto you, that haply ye may give thanks. (Koran 22:36, Pickthall)

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were forbidden to eat camels.

Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. (Deuteronomy 14:7, NKJV)

Jews, nevertheless, have been known to eat camels.

Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:24, NKJV)

I think that there are two other possible reasons for the Muslims to abstain from pork. The first theory I have is that they were practicing a New Testament commandment to live in peace with their fellow man (namely, the Jews) as much as possible. The Muslims worshiped one God just like the Jews did. The Koran says that the Torah is “a light and guidance for mankind.” (Koran 6:91) There was a Jewish community in Medina. The Jews probably harassed the Muslims because they did not abide by the dietary laws in the Torah. St. Paul said these things in his letters.

I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:14-17, NKJV)

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. (Romans 14:19-21, NKJV)

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (I Corinthians 9:19-22, NKJV)

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God. (I Corinthians 10:32, NKJV)

The Muslims were probably told to abstain from eating pork in order to give no offense to the Jews.

St. Paul said in his letter to the Galatian Christians that circumcision is unimportant.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6, NKJV)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15, NKJV)

However, for the sake of the Jews whom he did not wish to offend he circumcised Timothy.

Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. (Acts 16:1-3, NKJV)

Hogs are raised domestically for food. So, Jews would probably complain more to the Muslims about raising hogs for food and eating their meat. Other animals deemed to be not Kosher would have to be hunted.

Perhaps, the Muslims’ abstention from pork is supposed to remind them to strive to live in peace with the Jews. The Koran says that we should make peace among mankind. (Koran 4:114)

If this is the reason, perhaps the Indian Muslims should abstain from eating beef in order not to offend the Hindus. I think that they would be practicing the spirit of the Koran if they would do so.

The second theory that I have is that the Muslims are supposed to abstain from pork as a form of fasting from that particular meat. I have already shown in previous blogs that the Koran commands Muslims to believe in and obey Jesus. (Koran 2:285; 3:50; 5:111-115) Fasting is one of the activities we are supposed to engage in.

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  (Matthew 9:14,15, NKJV)

In the Koran, pork is forbidden, but not declared to be unclean as it is in the Old Testament. Of course, if a Muslim has nothing else to eat but the forbidden foods, he is allowed to eat them in order to satisfy his hunger.

Muhammad did not receive any new revelations and was not an innovation among the messengers of God. (Koran 41:43; 46:9) The Koran confirms the Bible. (Koran 5:48) It does not contradict it. So, the explanation for this commandment to abstain from eating pork must be found in the Bible. These are the only two theories that I have and which are based on Biblical doctrines.

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