When I was eight, my father took us to the Las Vegas, where we sat down to a meal in a restaurant. If it’s one thing I remember about that trip, it was my father’s fury at the waiter who served us our food. It was spinach, or something that looked like spinach, that my father had eaten. Somehow, when the waiter returned, my father asked him what was in it, and I guess the waiter mentioned pork, to which my father exploded and proceeded to empty his stomach contents at realizing that he had eaten something we were forbidden to consume as Muslims.
I don’t remember if he did manage to throw up, but that incident has been imprinted in my mind, such that when I first set foot in the United States as an adult, during my pregnancy, I did the same thing after eating some slices of bread that had mono and di glycerides in it. I tried to make myself vomit, but I don’t think I managed to. If there is one thing most Malaysians are adamant about, it’s the halalness of their food.
He has forbidden you only the Maytatah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a scrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Al Baqarah 2:173)
Growing up, I remember being repeatedly told that whatever you eat becomes a part of you and that that’s why it’s extremely important for us to consume only halal food. The act of eating the haram prmotoes evil instincts and makes prayers ineffective, among other things. On the other hand, eating of the halal generates inner light and creates distaste for evil deeds. It also creates states in which the heart welcomes ibadah. That is why Allah told the prophets to eat of the good food.
What is unlawful or haram?
1. carcasses (dead animals, even from choking or hitting)
2. blood (it’s unhygenic and harmful. It remind me of the Sami people who eat reindeer blood)
3. flesh of swine (it’s the filthiest animal that contains bacteria tat do not die even after cooking, and interestingly, it’s the only animal which is homosexual)
4. slaughtered in names other than Allah (it was mentioned in class that a large number of ignorant Muslims do this. They slaughter animals by saying the name of Allah, but they do it to gain approval and seek pleasure from their elders)
An exception: the injunction is relaxed in cases where a person may be compelled by hunger or by fatal force, and not looking to eat it with desire or enjoyment. In other words,
“Hmm…this is good, I need to have seconds,” won’t cut it.