Laws of Religion
Laws of Islam Concerning Food
from the Holy Qur’an, major hadith collections
and Islamic jurisprudence
From Islamic Source Documents: Hadith
While all of the forbidden foods have already been discussed, there are some permitted foods that Muhammad didn’t eat. One of these is called “mastigure” in the English translation of the hadith collection of al-Bukhari and is translated as “lizard” in the collection of Muslim. It is explicitly permitted to eat this meat even though Muhammad did not eat it. One explanation given as to why Muhammad did not eat lizard (or mastigure), is that he didn’t like it, which is, in turn, explained in some hadiths by saying that it is not found in his native land. Another reason given for Muhammad’s not eating lizard is that he says that a lizard may be one of the people of the distant past, or Bani Isra’il (Jews), whose form was distorted by Allah (God). This is explained in one hadith in which Muhammad is quoted as saying that Allah punished a tribe of the Bani Isra’il by distorting them into beasts that move on the earth. Muhammad also says that geckos are noxious creatures that are to be killed and doing so with one stroke will be rewarded.
It is said that Muhammad did not eat garlic or onions because he conversed with supernatural beings. It is also said that Muhammad didn’t like eating garlic and that he disliked its odor. Nevertheless garlic is permitted for consumption, though Muhammad says that those who eat it should stay away from the mosque, keep away from others and not pray with the group and stay at home. One report says to keep away from the mosque after eating garlic until the odor is gone. Some also imply that the offending odor can be reduced or eliminated if the garlic is cooked before eating it. Similarly, onions are permitted, but those who eat them should stay at home and keep away from others and, specifically, stay away from the mosque. The hadith collection of Muslim reports that Muhammad prohibited the eating of both onions and leek, and when his followers ate them he told them to keep away from the mosque because the angels are harmed by the same things as people.
One hadith says that Muhammad forbade garlic at the battle of Khaibar, when he also forbade eating donkey meat. But in another hadith it is said that Muhammad told people who ate garlic not to approach those in the mosque, which led people to misunderstand and think that there was a prohibition against eating garlic, causing Muhammad to explain that he did not prohibit it because he cannot prohibit what Allah made lawful (meaning what is not prohibited in the Qur’an). As discussed on a previous page, Forbidden Foods – General Rules, the Qur’an states that only four types of foods can be prohibited: dead meat (that is, from animals that died other than by proper intentional slaughter or hunting), blood, swine and food over which a name other than that of Allah has been invoked. It is forbidden to add to these four prohibitions and Muslims should not deny themselves foods that Allah has made lawful.
From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh§): Reliance of the Traveller
According to Reliance of the Traveller, if one has eaten food with a bad odor then there is no reason to go to group prayer. (Such food would include raw onions or garlic, according to a 19th century commentator quoted in this section of Reliance of the Traveller).
§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 3:47:749, BK 7:65:301, BK 7:65:303, BK 7:65:312, BK 7:65:314, BK 7:67:444, BK 7:67:445, BK 9:91:372, BK 9:92:457, ML 21:4783, ML 21:4784, ML 21:4785-4786, ML 21:4787, ML 21:4788-4789, ML 21:4790, ML 21:4791-4792-4793-4794, ML 21:4795, ML 21:4796, ML 21:4798, ML 21:4799, ML 21:4800
 BK 3:47:749, BK 7:65:301, BK 7:65:303, BK 7:65:312, BK 7:67:445, BK 9:92:457, ML 21:4790, ML 21:4791-4792-4793-4794, ML 21:4795, ML 21:4798, ML 21:4799
 BK 7:65:303, BK 7:65:312, BK 7:67:445, ML 21:4790, ML 21:4791-4792-4793-4794
 ML 21:4797
 ML 21:4799, ML 21:4800
 ML 21:4800
 ML 26:5560, ML 26:5561, ML 26:5562, ML 26:5563, ML 26:5564, ML 26:5565, ML 26:5566
 ML 26:5564, ML 26:5565, ML 26:5566
 BK 1:12:814, BK 9:92:458, ML 4:1146, ML 23:5099
 BK 1:12:814, BK 9:92:458, ML 4:1146
 BK 1:12:814, BK 9:92:458, ML 23:5099
 ML 4:1149, ML 23:5097-5098
 BK 1:12:812, BK 1:12:813, BK 1:12:814, BK 7:65:362, ML 4:1141, ML 4:1142, ML 4:1144, ML 4:1146, ML 4:1148, ML 4:1151-1152
 BK 1:12:815, BK 7:65:363, ML 4:1143
 ML 4:1146
 ML 4:1142
 BK 1:12:813, ML 4:1151-1152
 BK 1:12:814, BK 9:92:458, ML 4:1146
 BK 1:12:814, BK 9:92:458, ML 4:1146, ML 4:1151-1152
 ML 4:1145, ML 4:1147
 BK 5:59:526
 ML 4:1149
 QR 2:173, QR 5:3, QR 6:145, QR 16:115
 QR 5:87‑88, QR 6:143‑145, QR 10:59, QR 16:114‑116
 RT f12.5 (pages 172-173)