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
Throughout the Qur’an and the hadith collections Muhammad is seen eating and drinking many things. However, some foods or drinks seem to be favorite items, consumed by him often or singled out for particular praise.
Muhammad refers to tharid as the best food and compares it to his wife, Aisha, who is said to be among women as tharid is among foods. In the English translations of the hadiths, tharid is described as a meat and bread dish, bread soaked in soup or simply an Arab dish. Muhammad is very often seen in the hadiths as drinking milk, which is described in the Qur’an as a pure and pleasant-tasting drink that God created. When picking fruit from the Arak tree, Muhammad tells others to pick only the black fruits since they are the best to eat. He praises the date palm as being like a faithful Muslim, (though he is referring here to the tree and not its edible fruit.) The Qur’an says that the fruit of the date palm is, like grapes from the vine, a wholesome food. When Muhammad ate dates, he ate an odd number of them. He praises vinegar as a good condiment or as the best condiment. Muhammad ate gourd (pumpkin), and Anas bin Malik said that he liked it ever since he saw Muhammad eating it.
Muhammad was clearly very fond of honey. There is a story about how two of his wives, who had discovered that he was spending much time with a third wife drinking honey, tricked him into vowing not to drink honey by making him think it caused his breath to smell bad. It is said that this vow of Muhammad’s not to drink honey led to the passage in the Qur’an in which Allah (God) questions Muhammad as to why, in order to please his wives, he has forbidden (to himself) something that Allah permits. (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.)
Confirmation of the permissibility of eating certain foods may be inferred from reports that Muhammad or those close to him ate such foods. Horse meat was eaten by Muhammad's companions during his lifetime and it was explicitly permitted by Muhammad on the day of Battle of Khaibar. Locusts were also eaten by those fighting with Muhammad. Muhammad is reported to have eaten chicken or fowl and to have accepted the legs of a rabbit or hare as a gift. The Qur’an says repeatedly that one purpose of cattle is to serve as a source of meat to eat.
From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh/sharia§): Reliance of the Traveller
Reliance of the Traveller lists a number of specific animals as permissible to eat: the oryx, zebra, hyena, fox, rabbit, porcupine, daman (defined by the translator as a Syrian rock badger), deer, ostrich or horse. Also, aquatic game other than frogs and crocodiles is permitted for eating.
§The specific derived laws of fiqh summarized here are often referred to by the more general term sharia law.
Abbreviations used in footnotes:
BK: Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC/CMJE 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. Part or all of the hadith collections of al-Bukhari, with somewhat different numbering systems, can also be found here, here and here.
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. Full text online and download for Volume 1 are here and here and for Volume 2 are 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. Reliance of the Traveller can be found here and here.
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.
● The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.
 BK 7:65:339, BK 4:55:623, BK 4:55:643, BK 5:57:113, BK 5:57:114, BK 7:65:329, BK 7:65:330, ML 31:5966, ML 31:5992-5993
 BK 4:55:623, BK 4:55:643, BK 7:65:328
 ML 30:5793
 BK 5:57:113
 BK 1:4:210, BK 2:26:723, BK 3:31:209, BK 3:31:210, BK 3:40:542, BK 3:42:619, BK 3:47:745, BK 4:56:812, BK 5:57:4, BK 5:58:245, BK 5:58:247, BK 5:58:256, BK 7:69:509, BK 7:69:512, BK 7:69:514, BK 7:69:516, BK 7:69:517, BK 7:69:523, BK 7:69:525, BK 7:69:540, ML 23:4983, ML 23:4984, ML 23:5032, ML 23:5033, ML 23:5034, ML 23:5103-5104
 QR 16:66
 ML 23:5090
 BK 3:34:411, BK 7:65:355, BK 7:65:359
 QR 16:67
 BK 2:15:73
 ML 23:5093, ML 23:5094-5095, ML 23:5096
 ML 23:5091-5092
 BK 3:34:305, BK 7:65:291, BK 7:65:331, BK 7:65:344, BK 7:65:346, BK 7:65:347, BK 7:65:348, BK 7:65:350, ML 23:5067, ML 23:5068-5069
 BK 6:60:434, BK 7:63:192, BK 7:63:193, BK 7:65:342, BK 7:69:504, BK 7:69:518, BK 7:71:586, ML 9:3496, ML 9:3497
 BK 6:60:434, BK 7:63:192, BK 7:63:193, BK 8:78:682, BK 9:86:102, ML 9:3496, ML 9:3497
 BK 7:63:192, BK 8:78:682, ML 9:3496
 QR 66:1-4
 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
 BK 7:67:418, BK 7:67:419, BK 7:67:420, BK 7:67:428, ML 21:4781-4782
 BK 5:59:530, BK 7:67:429, BK 7:67:433, ML 21:4779
 ML 21:4801-4802-4803
 BK 5:59:668, BK 7:67:426, BK 7:67:427, BK 8:79:712
 ML 15:4046-4047-4048-4049
 BK 7:67:397, BK 7:67:443
 ML 21:4804
 QR 5:1, QR 6:142, QR 16:5, QR 23:21, QR 40:79.
 RT j16.2 (page 362)
 RT j16.4 (page 363)