If Only People Bothered to Read


Thursday  July 10, 2003

Dr. Mohammad T. Al-Rasheed

A sizable majority of Westerners misconstrue the notion of the “forbidden” in Islam.

Pork, in all its culinary manifestations, is forbidden in Islam. There are many theories why this is so, including the health hazard it poses in places where refrigeration and other preserving methods are not available — such as 7th Century Arabia. The matter is as simple as that.

Yet most Westerners think of such Islamic dietary bans in Jewish terms. The Jews believe in “clean” and “unclean” animals. They are stricter in many other ways: For example, a beast not slaughtered with a kosher knife is not to be eaten. Bread and salt have to be kosher, and shellfish in all its variety is not allowed. These injunctions do not exist in Islam.

Beasts slaughtered to appease idols, for example, are not to be eaten. But food of the Christians and Jews is good and can be eaten. There is a simple explanation for this: When Islam was spreading, there were still idols and temples where sacrifices were made. It was an injunction that is redundant today.

A BBC reporter following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great for a “learned” documentary stood in the western Iranian desert and picked up an old oyster shell he had found. He looked at the camera and said: “Since Muslims do not eat shellfish, we can assume that this must have been a leftover from Alexander’s army.”

There was no one at the BBC to tell the misguided expert that Muslims munch, crack, gulp, and enjoy every type of shellfish in the sea. It is the Jews who are not allowed to eat it.

As for pigs, Muslims do not consider them “unclean.” They are simply not allowed to eat them. Israel bans pigs from its land yet exports ham to Europe in great quantities. They found a way to farm pigs and not offend God. The farmers keep the pigs on wooden platforms so their feet do not touch the ground of the Holy Land. On the other hand, when in extreme cases Muslims can eat pig without hesitation.

Faced with such widespread ignorance, it is no surprise that Sen. Guy Goldis of the Massachusetts state legislature distributed a flier that suggested terrorists be executed with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, then “buried with pig’s blood, entrails, etc.”

Why should that be done? The flier adds that the practice would “instantly bar Muslims from Paradise, dooming them to hell.”

The Senator’s wishful thinking and glaring ignorance are incredible.

I can assure him that such a practice would make the equally misguided crave such a death since they would see it as another proof that they are fighting the devil. If only people bothered to read before opening their mouths.


- Arab News Opinion 10 July 2003


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