Why are Muslims not allowed to eat pork? Any Muslim who has lived in the west has probably heard this question at least once in their life time. It is a question most Muslims struggle to answer satisfactorily. This article is no different in that sense.
The prohibition of pork in Islam is derived from the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an:
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah.”[Al-Qur’an 5:3]
Consequently, it is clear that the consumption of pork is prohibited for Muslims. Things become complicated when one tries to unravel the reasoning behind this prohibition. There have been several and varied accounts on why pork is haram (prohibited) for Muslims. For the sake of brevity I shall touch two of the main reasons advanced by Muslims.
#1. Health Reasons?
It is claimed that there is a correlation between consumption of pork and several diseases. Following this line of argument, it is said that pork can expose the individual to various helminthes worms, such as the roundworm, pinworm and the hookworm. One of the most dangerous of these worms is said to be the Taenia Solium, which, in lay man’s terminology is called the pork tapeworm. It also said that pork meats contains a lot of unsaturated fat which is unhealthy for humans.
Scoping through some online forums dealing with this topic, some people ask, well why is the consumption of chicken not prohibited? For example though the E. coli bacteria is more often associated with the consumption of beef products, escherichia coli infections can result from eating contaminated chicken as well. Salmonella poisoning, or salmonellosis, is probably the most common bacterial affliction that humans can attribute to chickens. You must admit it is a plausible counter argument.
Even though it may be argued that pork contains a lot of unsaturated fat which is unhealthy and that the consumption of pork creates the potential to contract tape worms. It is hard to say with any certainty that this is the reason why its consumption is haram. It may be a reason, it may be only one of many reasons why Allah forbade pig meat nevertheless we cannot be sure that this is why or the only reason why Allah forbade the consumption of pork.
#2. The Pig is Dirty?
It is also argued that pigs are scavengers. They live and thrive on muck, feces and dirt and as a result their consumption is haram.
Narrated Ibn umar:”Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) prohibited eating or drinking the milk of the animal which feeds on filth (Al-Arba’a except An-Nasa’i reported it. At-Tirmidhi graded it hasan).”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) forbade the milk of an animal that feeds on filth or impurity, but if the animal is detained until it becomes pure, then it is halaal according to Muslim consensus, because before that the effect of the impurity could be seen in its milk, eggs and sweat, so it gave off a rotten and evil stench. Once that is removed, it becomes taahir (pure). If the ruling is established for a reason, it ceases to apply once that reason is no longer present.” Majmoo al-Fataawa, 21/618
So what we learn from The Quran and Hadith is that Allah only wants us to eat what is Tayyib and pork is not Tayyib. Additionally eating and drinking the milk of an animal which feeds on filth is prohibited. It does not explicitly say however that the pork is haram because the pig because pigs feeds on filth.
Thus going back to the question, why are Muslims not allowed to eat pork? Why is pork haram to eat? The most credible answer is because Allah says so. It may be interesting to look into health and other reasons to seek an explanation for why the consumption of pork is haram. Nevertheless, it is hard to say with any degree of certainty that those are the specific reasons why the consumption of pork is prohibited for Muslims.