SUMMARY:

PORK: POSSIBLE REASONS FOR ITS PROHIBITION

by

AHMAD H.SAKR

Professor of Biochemistry and Nutrition

keywords: pork=pig=hog=sow=swine.

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I. INTRODUCTION

 

Islam prohibits eating of the flesh of swine, as it is a sin and impiety to do so. To the practicing Muslim the fact that the reason for its being prohibited has not been specified other than this, does not mean that one is allowed to make it LAWFUL, or does one have the RIGHT to say that he knows with CERTAINTY the EXACT reason(s) why it is forbidden. However, Muslims are encouraged to investigate by scientific means the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the wisdom of such prohibition.

 

Many food items on the market which contain pork or its by products has caused much difficulty for the practicing Muslim living in a non-Muslim society to adjust himself and at the same time to satisfy his religious commitment. There are many facts and fallacies in the society about eating pork. For these and other reasons the author feels it incumbent to write this article that brings to the reader's attention some of the basic scientific findings in the field of biochemistry, microbiology, public health, religion, history, behavior, etc. In so doing, it is left to the reader to deduce the significance of its prohibition and to act accordingly.

 

II. PROHIBITION

 

The prohibition of pork in Islam may be found and mentioned directly in four chapter of Qur'an, i.e.: Al-Baqarah (2:173), Al-Ma'idah (5:3), Al-An'am (6:145), and Al-Nahl (16:115).

From this four verses one can say that pork is totally prohibited in Islam to Muslim and non-Muslims as well. Chapter 6 is clearly explained that the prohibition is to everyone, to every human being. In this regard Allah says:

"........forbidden to be eaten by ONE who wishes to eat it,...."

(Al-An'am, 6:145)

 

III. GENERAL REASONS FOR PROHIBITION

 

The exact reason(s) and the real wisdom why the flesh of pork is prohibited is known only to Allah Almighty (hal itu ada di wilayah Tuhan [Jabali, F., 1994]). The knowledgeable believing Muslims say:

"We believe in the Book, the whole of it is from our Lord....."

(Al-Imran, 3:7)

However, a Muslim is encouraged to look into the reasons for its prohibition. It is the habit of the Qur'an in every aspect of life to encourage the Muslims to think, to ponder, to remember, to reflect, to find out, to search and to do something good about it.

Qur'an mentioned that Allah prohibits eating the flesh of swine, because it is a SIN and an IMPIETY (Rijss). This word Rijss (abdomination) has been mentioned ten times in the Qur'an in different context, some are directly related to pork, alcohol, raffle, gambling, idols, while others are indirectly related to HUMAN MANNERS). The word Rijss has been explained as meaning "filthy" and "dirty" as mentioned in the Qur'an (9:95), (7:70), (9:96), (10:100), (22:30) and (33:33).

 

IV. FLESH OR TOTAL ANIMAL

 

Is the prohibition of pork restricted to the FLESH of the swine or does it include all parts of the animal? To answer this question one has to deduce the answer directly from the Qur'an. In the Arabic language the word "flesh" includes the totality of the "edible" portion of the animal. Examples of this are many, among which are the following:

"...Look further at the bones, how we bring them together and clothe them with FLESH.............." (2:259)

"It is He who made the sea subject, that you may eat thereof FLESH that is fresh and tender............" (16:14)

"....Then we made out of that hump bones and clothes the bones with FLESH..............................." (23:14)

It is then obvious that the word "flesh" does not mean only meat, but includes the fat as well. This mean that every edible organ, system or tissue in pig is prohibited whether it is rich or poor of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.

 

V. PORK VERSUS OTHER ANIMAL'S MEAT

 

The question is asked regularly why is pork the ONLY animal to be prohibited while the flesh of other animals is not? The answer to that would be: PORK IS NOT THE ONLY ANIMAL WHICH IS PROHIBITED BUT THE FLESH OF ALL CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS, as well as that human being, is not allowed to be eaten. The meat of the CAT, DOG, RAT, MOUSE, TIGER, FOX, LION, EAGLE, FALCON, HAWK, etc. is prohibited, while the flesh of HERBIVOROUS ANIMALS is allowed to be eaten, i.e. SHEEP, COW, CAMEL, DEER, GAZELLE, GOAT, CHICKEN, DUCK, GOOSE, RABBIT, BIRD, etc.

It seems there is wisdom in prohibiting the flesh of CARNIVOROUS ANIMALS and it will be mentioned later.

 

IX. RELIGIOUS EVIDENCE

 

It seems that all religions of the world prohibit the consumption of pork. Judaism prohibits eating pork; Christianity in general and Islam in particular do prohibit the eating of pork. Searching out the literature, one finds out that Jesus came originally to the Jews and hence logic dictates that Jesus did not nullify the previous scripture but came to verify it, to purity it and to add to it. There is no place in the literature that Jesus himself ate pork in his lifetime. In "Levictus," chapter 11, verses 7-8, God says about swine:"Though he divided the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.Of their flesh shall ye not eat."

H.L. Hastings, a noted Bible expositor, says in his book, "Will the Old Book Stand," page 92:"Swine were designed to be scavenger, to eat up filth and abominations; but when they had done their work it was not designed that men should turn around and eat swine."

"Isaiah," 65:2-5 that god says:" I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh Me to anger continually to My face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;...which eat swine's flesh and broth of abominable things in their vessels; which say, stand by Thyself, come not near Me; for I am holier than Thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day."

Rev. C.L. Vories (1971) stated that the Bible so clearly and definitely forbids the eating of pork that all who love the word of God and would follow its teachings can have no question at all as to whether or not they should abstain from feasting on the unclean creature.

According to Islam, Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was sent by Allah to purify Christianity and Judaism, to verify the teachings of churches and the rabbi, and to complement and to complete the teachings of God to mankind. Islam, therefore, has placed an emphatic stress on the prohibition of pork. Anyone who eats it would be committing a sin and an impiety, whether he is a Muslim or not.

 

X. BEHAVIORAL EVIDENCE

 

There are a large number of experiments at molecular basis conducted on children to see the effect(s) upon their personality, character and behavior. It has been found that breast-feeding for infants, has instilled in them better humane characteristics than bottle-feeding. It was proven that eating the meat of calves that were injected with the hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) has influenced the character of people, i.e., it has increased homosexuality. The type of food eaten affects the chemistry of the body and hence affects the character and behavior of the individual. The effect could be a result of an individual nutrient, a gross nutrient or a food item.

Looking into diet of people, some are vegetarian (vegans, fruitarians, lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, ovo-lacto- vegetarians) and others are meat eaters. Some experiments have been conducted on children in Maryland (USA) that they were given daily food of carbohydrate and sweets without animal proteins. The children turned out to be hypersensitive, intolerant, aggressive, not sociable and hyperactive. When their food was then changed to normal diet including animal proteins, they became normal in their habitat as other children. This may partially explain what goes on in India for those who strict vegans toward the Muslims there. The sensitiveness, the intolerance and the aggression of some of the vegans toward the Muslims who are beef-eater.

Among the meat-eaters, there are herbivorous animal eaters and both herbivorous and carnivorous eaters. The strange thing about the latter group is that they eat pork as the only animal from the group of carnivorous animals, but do not eat the meat of cats, rats, dogs, mice and the like. Fangary (1971) reported that many people who eat carnivorous animals tend to be vicious, lack of humane attitudes toward other people, are ready to kill others without reason, and some are even known to eat the meat of other people.

Looking further into the behavior of the hog, one may find that it is a unique animal. The boar does not mind seeing his sow mating with another boar in front of him. This habit is unique in that other animals can not tolerate it. To speak for the boar, one may say that the boar is, in effect, saying, let his sow mate with other boars; and who cares who is mating as long as they (his sow and the other boars) agree among themselves and they are enjoying sex among themselves. Thus, the sow has the permission to mate with as many as she wants and in front of her own boar without any shame of both. In a such a situation the sow acts as the worst prostitute while the boar acts with immoralities to allow his female to mate with others even infront of his own eyes and without much concern.

To eat flesh of such animals may affect the personality character of the individual as it was mention before that such a hormone injected into calves increase the ratio of homosexuality of human who ate it. Therefore, eating the flesh of pork may affect the personality character of the individual by increasing IMMORALITY, including homosexuality, lesbianism, adultery, incest and prostitution. The free mixing of the sexes is really a dreadfully thing to observe. There is no concept of ethics or morality among many people but their concept of sex enjoyment without responsibility and free sex interchange. Pre-marital relationships and the increased rate of illegitimate pregnancies are predominant features in the western societies. The streakers and the degree of publicity they received are among the symptoms of the SICK societies that have been polluted by the wrong FOOD (and ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES) that they were eating. The degree of rape and the general obsession with sex in western societies are beyond control. The rate of incidence of looting, killing, stabbing, shooting, snipping, strangling, robbing, stockpiling of arms, and the like are among the many other evils of the modern societies that cannot be tolerated any more.

If any improvement has to take place in any society, it has to be started from the diet so that to be able to change the body chemistry including the central the central nervous system and the brain, and hence the moral standards of individuals. Moral teachings are to be followed by the society and the family.

 

XI. FALLACIES AND FACTS

 

  1. Many people think that as long as one cook pork, they will never have the danger of contracting trichinosis. USDA/FDA (United States Department of Agriculture/Foods and Drugs Administration) reported that in a series of 24 cases of trichinosis, 22 were said to have resulted from 'cooked pork'.
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  3. Pork fat has high PUFA that has been said that it is good to be used even for those who have heart attack problems. The reality is that these fatty acids are located on 1 and 3 position of the TG molecules and therefore they can not hydrolyze by PL. They are absorbed as pork fat after being emulsified and deposited as such in the human body.
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  5. Pork is nutritious and therefore one should continue to eat it as a source of animal protein. Parret (19..?) stated that hog meat is also more difficult to digest than most other kinds so that the biological value (BV) is therefore low.
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  7. Pork was prohibited in Arabia for hygienic purposes. Nowadays hogs are raised under more sanitary conditions. The fact that hog is, by choice, a dirty and filthy animal; it insists on going to garbage area to feed itself; it follows the cattle and other animals on the farm to eat the dung (tahi) and to turn it into pork for public market. Rev. Vories (1971) stated:"See the brute as he wallows in the mud. See him in the very height of his glory, on top of manure pile, with his head buried in the dung from which exalted site he gives expression to his joy and satisfaction by his rhythmical grunts". Harris (1964), anthropologist, wrote:"... it will cover its skin with its own urine and feces."
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  9. Pork has the highest content of fat impregnated with the meat that may cause overweight and obesity, high level of TG in the plasma, high cholesterol that may lead to cardiovascular diseases.
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  11. Harris (1964) tried to give anthropological answer to the riddley of the pig as to why God prohibited Jews and Muslims to eat. He said:"Pigs tasted good but they ate you out of house and home and, if you gave them a chance, used up you water as well. Well, that's why my answer. Anyone have a better idea?"