Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
I love food, I love eating food, making food and serving food to others. Food now as opposed to the time of our Prophet (saw) and the Salaf is more complicated than ever but fear not, Allah swt is Ar-Razaaq and has provided for us, alhamdulillah.
The Prophet (saw) said: Indeed Allah swt is tayyib (good) and only accepts that which is tayyib. Allah swt has commanded the belivers as He commanded is messengers.”
I remember the fear that used to grip me when I’d go to relatives houses and food was being served, having that awkward conversation with myself, “Should I Just Eat It and NOT Ask Questions?”
Many Muslims will tell you that if you say “Bismillah” and just eat, then there’s no sin in your actions. This is based on the hadith of the Prophet (saw) which states:
“Mention the name of Allah upon it and eat” [Bukhari]
But when put into context, we find that this issue was raised by a number of people who came to the Prophet (saw) who were recent converts to Islam and were unsure as to whether the name of Allah swt had been mentioned upon meat before being slaughtered. This not only clears up the misconception that saying Bismillah is enough, it also teaches us an important lesson about reading hadiths (and Qur’an for that matter) in context.
It’s important as a new Muslim to get into the habit of asking those seemingly difficult questions such as “was this cooked in the same pots or with the same utensils as pork”, “is there alcohol in this?” or simply “is this halal?”
In Surah Baqarah v. 168, Allah swt says “O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.”
It is a blessing from Allah swt that He has put so many things on this Earth for us that are halal and good for us to eat and drink.
“And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat….” [Suratal- Nahl: 14]
Amd the grazing livestock He has created for you…. and from them you eat! [Suratal- Nahl:5]
For me when I first became Muslim, it felt like EVERYTHING was haraam but on reflection, it was the whispers of Shaytaan pushing me to doubt the blessings of Allah swt. There is DEFINITELY more halal than haraam out there. Yes, you will have to make lifestyle changes when you become Muslim, but don’t we owe it to Allah swt to try our best in this duniya (this life) so we can be rewarded in the akhirah (the next life)?
So here are some general principles that I learnt to help you determine whether something is halal or not:
- By default, all foods are halal (lawful/permissible) unless they have been outlawed by the Shari’ah e.g. pork, alcohol etc
- Food items should not be harmful to one’s health
- Food items must be pure
- When halal and haraam coexist within a substance, the haraam is given priority
- When a substance transforms chemically, it acquires the description of purity
**I will go into detail with these 5 principles in a later post inshaAllah as the fiqh surrounding it is quite interesting!**
So to answer the initial question: Should I Just Eat It? And the answer is No. As harsh as this may sound, you have made the choice by the will of Allah swt to become Muslim. That means accepting Allah, His Messengers, His Books, His Angels, the Day of Judgement and His Divine Decree. It also means changing your life to please the Creator your heart yearns for. It’s a slow process, and you’ll be constantly learning but this is all for the love of Allah swt and your reward is with Him and Him alone.
Wasalaam – Peace Be Upon You