Laws of Religion
Laws of Islam Concerning Food
from the Holy Qur’an, major hadith collections
and Islamic jurisprudence
From Islamic Source Documents: Qur’an and Hadith
In addition to the prohibitions against intoxicating beverages, blood and certain meat, Muhammad is cited in the hadiths as having forbidden eating from gold or silver plates or drinking from gold or silver vessels, although some hadiths mention only silver containers. Muslims will eat and drink out of gold and silver in the afterlife, after death, but those who drink from silver vessels in this life will not do so in the next life. (Editor’s note: Similar statements are cited on a previous page, Intoxicating Beverages, concerning those who drink wine and who may be denied wine in Paradise. Also, those who wear silk will be denied it in Paradise.) Muhammad is quoted in the hadiths as saying that people will eat and drink in Paradise but their food and drink will be excreted through belching and sweat, which will be like musk, with no urinating, defecating, spitting or mucous secretions.
From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh§): Reliance of the Traveller
Reliance of the Traveller says that if there is enough gold or silver in a container to collect by heating it, then the container cannot be acquired by a Muslim or used for eating, drinking or purification of impure things. A vessel repaired with gold solder is prohibited for use; it is permissible to use one that has been repaired with silver solder, but if much silver solder was used for decoration, then use of the vessel is prohibited. However, vessels made out of precious gems, like rubies or emeralds, are permitted even though those with gold or silver are not.
(Editor’s note: The prohibitions against gold and silver in jewelry and for other uses, as described in Reliance of the Traveller, are much more selective than the total ban on gold and silver vessels used for eating and drinking.) Women are permitted to wear gold jewelry unless the amount of gold is considered to be excessive. The wearing of jewelry containing gold is forbidden for men except for jewelry whose gold paint or plate is so tarnished that it is no longer visible. However, teeth may be repaired with gold.
Men, like women, are permitted to wear silver rings and also to decorate their weapons with silver. However, men cannot have silver in any type of jewelry other than rings. A 19th century commentator quoted in this section of the translation of Reliance of the Traveller says that this silver jewelry prohibition is because men are forbidden from imitating the habits of women. Silver is also forbidden in riding gear, writing implements, work knives or lamp fixtures. If the amount of silver used in decorations of ceilings or walls is enough to melt off with the heat of a fire, it also prohibited.
Imam Dhahabi (an important 13th-14th century Shafi‛i scholar quoted in the English translation of Reliance of the Traveller), lists “enormities” (defined on a previous page entitled Rules Concerning Dead Meat). For example, he quotes Muhammad as saying that eating or drinking from gold or silver is swallowing hellfire and that non-Muslims can wear silk or brocade or drink and eat from gold and silver, but Muslims must wait until the life after death to do these things. Imam Dhahabi also quotes Muhammad as saying that it is unlawful for men, but not women, to wear gold or silk.
§The more general term sharia is often used loosely to mean the specific derived laws of fiqh, such as those summarized here.
Abbreviations used in footnotes:
BK: Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.
DJP: The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Limited preview is available here (Volume 1) and here (Volume 2). Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.
RT: Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA. It can be downloaded as a pdf file from various websites such as this one.
SR: al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society. It can be downloaded here.
● The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.
 BK 7:65:337, BK 7:72:728, ML 24:5140
 BK 7:65:337, BK 7:69:536, BK 7:69:537, BK 7:72:728, ML 24:5128, ML 24:5134-5135-5136-5137-5138-5139, ML 24:5140
 BK 7:69:538, BK 7:69:539, BK 8:74:253g (USC), ML 24:5126-5127, ML 24:5129-5130-5131-5132-5133
 BK 7:65:337, BK 7:69:536, BK 7:69:537
 BK 7:65:337, BK 7:69:536, BK 7:69:537, BK 7:72:722, ML 24:5134-5135-5136-5137-5138-5139
 ML 24:5131
 BK 7:72:720 BK 7:72:723 BK 7:72:724 BK 7:72:725 ML 24:5153 ML 24:5164 ML 24:5165
 BK 4:55:544, ML 40:6798-6799, ML 40:6800-6801
 RT e2.1 (page 56)
 RT e2.2 (page 56-57)
 RT e2.4 (page 57)
 RT f17.11 (pages 201-202)
 RT f17.6 (page 200)
 RT f17.7 (page 200)
 RT f17.8 (page 201)
 RT p63.1 (pages 692-693)
 RT p53.2 (page 689)