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Prohibition of the Swine; Analyzing the 'Pig'


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From Tafseer Imdad-ul-Karam by Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, January 2004

Reference to pigs in the Qur’an

There are four places in the Qur’an where the pig’s meat is declared as forbidden (2:173, 5:3, 6:145, 16:115). For instance, “Pig’s meat is forbidden because that is unclean.” (Qur’an 6, 145)

Reference to pigs in the Bible

Prior to the revelation of the Qur’an, the Bible too decreed the meat of pig as forbidden and impure:

1. “You may not eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies; they are forbidden foods for you.” (The Living Bible, 1975, Leviticus, 11, 8)

2. “And the swine … it is unclean unto you: You shall not eat their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.” (The Holy Bible, 1954, Deuteronomy, 14, 8)

It is to be noted that due to this clear commandment in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Jews too did not consume the meat of pigs.

The harmful nature of pig meat

Of course, it is sufficient for a Muslim to abhor pig meat because Allah (swt) has simply ordered us to do so and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared it as haram. But Muslims also believe that Allah (swt) is aware of all the ingredients and effect of every thing. The food and drinks which have been declared forbidden by Islam are ultimately harmful for humans, regardless of whether we are actually aware of this or not. As a doctor prevents his patient from a particular food, he does so to benefit the patient, though the patient may not realise this at the time.

In the past, simply accepting knowledge of the unseen was sufficient, but today we can for ourselves witness the grave harm of pig meat, its effect on those who consume it and its link to diseases, through the means of medical knowledge and research. One particular disease associated with pig meat is Trichinosis.

“Trichinosis or Trichiniasis: A disorder resulting from infestation with the small roundworm Trichinella Spiralis, commonly acquired by humans by the eating of undercooked pork containing encapsulated larvae of the parasite. Trichinosis is more common in Europe and the United States than in other parts of the world. In the United States the incidence of infection may be as high as fifteen to twenty percent.” (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1995)

“Trichina: Genus of Nematoda or threadworms … they give rise to the disease known as Trichiniasis. The eggs are hatched out in the intestines of the host, and the trichinae then migrate to the muscles, where they become encysted and develop no further unless the flesh of the host is eaten by some other animal. They are then set free in the alimentary canal, where they become sexually mature. The natural host of this parasite is the rat, but it is often found in pigs.” (The New Universal Encyclopaedia, London: The Caxton Publishing Company Ltd)

The moral damage of pig

Not only does the domestication of the pig cause illness in the human body, but also the consumption of its meat affects the person’s inner soul, and causes severe moral damage. This is because bad company and impure food greatly affect and influence a person’s physical and spiritual wellbeing. Consider this quote from the author of The English Pig:

Domestication alters the nature and behaviour of the controlled animal. (Similarly) Domestication also generates a familiarity with the animal that affects human consciousness. (The English Pig, London: The Hambledon Press, 1998, p. 129)

To test this observation, one should focus on the ethical and moral position of Europe, where pigs are kept and produced and where its meat is eaten with great pleasure and delight. Indecency and vice is rampant. The honour of women has been tarnished to unspeakable depths. European men fair no better but merely watch this façade. It will not be far-fetched to suggest that there is a correlation between this and the raising and consuming of pigs; it is common knowledge that when a male and female pig mate, then other pigs watch this nearby and await their turn. Whereas, other animals are very sensitive for their females and do not allow any other male to touch their females.

The nature of pigs

Pigs are extremely dirty, idle, disliked and indecent animals. Here are a few references to highlight this fact. The irony is that these quotes come from exactly those people who raise and consume pigs:

1. “The pig is a fat, sleepy, stupid, dirty animal, wallowing constantly in the mire.” (Ibid, p. 1)

2. “They will eat small quantities of many materials from a very early age, including feed, earth and the faeces of the dam.” (Fream’s Agriculture, London: Butler & Tanner Ltd, 16th Edition, 1983, p. 684)

3. “A man from St Helens, Lancashire, born in 1893, recalled of the houses: ‘Not only was there the open lavatory in the back yard, many of the people when I was young, kept a pig in the yard’.” (The English Pig, p. 42)

4. “The pig is the Husbandman’s best Scavenger, and the Huswives most wholesome sink; for his food and living is by that which will else rot in yard …; for from the Husbandman he taketh pulse, chaff, barn dust, man’s ordure, garbage, and the weeds of his yard: and from the huswife her draff, swillings, whey, washing of tubs, and such like, with which he will live and keep a good state of body, very sufficiently.” (Ibid, p. 34)

5. “The hog during life does not render the least service to mankind, except in removing that filth which other animals reject.” (Ibid, p. 30)

6. “It would be accurate to say that the pig was generally acknowledged to have a character, but that this character was not considered in any way attractive or admirable.” (Ibid, p. 1)

The word ‘pig’ as a form of insult

Muslims and Jews abhor pigs and consider the word as a grave insult. In fact, the word is used as an insult in the English language:

Indeed the pig was usually thought to be brutish, insensitive and filthy – so much so, in fact, that it became a commonplace metaphor for human greed, grossness and intemperance. (Ibid, p. 1)

Pig, swine and hog all have a similar usage in English. When these words are used in reference to a human, then it means the person is greedy, dirty, ill-mannered, selfish, unpleasant, obnoxious, foul-smelling and disliked. (The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 4th Edition, 1989)

Why is pig meat haram?

It is clear from this analysis that the pig – physically and literally – has no appeal, and nor its behaviour or food is worthy of any praise. Its meat opens the door to several illnesses. Such is the extent of its filth and gross impurity that if it was left in a clean place, it would excrete and then eat this to feed its sickening appetite. For Muslims, even to think about consuming its meat is extremely vile; even looking at it is nauseating.

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