This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Like most religions, Islam has particular dietary requirements that must be observed by all the faithful.
"O men, eat of what is in the earth lawful and good; and follow not the steps of Satan; he is a manifest foe to you [avowed enemy]. He only commands you to evil and indecency [wickedness], and that you should speak against God such things as you know not." (Koran 2:163-164)God has not promised all food to be enjoyed and received with thankfulness, but only that which He has permitted us. It is Satan that would lead us, or cause us to desire, that food which God has forbidden. Such eating is evil and wicked in the sight of Allah.
While the Jewish dietary laws were quite explicit and expansive, the Muslim law of foods is much smaller.
"Say: 'I do not find, in what is revealed to me, aught forbidden to him who eats thereof except it be carrion [died of itself], or blood outpoured, or the flesh of swine -- that is an abomination [unclean or profane] -- or an ungodly thing that has been hallowed to other than God;" (Koran 6:146)
"Forbidden to you are carrion [that which dies of itself], blood, the flesh of swine, what has been hallowed to [sacrificed under the invocation of any] other than God, the beast strangled; the beast beaten down [killed by a blow], the beast fallen to death, the beast gored, and that devoured by beasts of prey -- excepting that you have sacrificed duly [made it clean] -- as also things sacrificed to idols, and partition by the divining arrows; that is ungodliness [impiety]." (Koran 5:4)It is interesting that, building upon the Jewish scriptures, Muhammad would keep the prohibition of eating pork, yet would abandon all other prohibitions such the eating of camels, gnats, certain sea animals, etc.
As with many provisions in the Koran, obedience is required, except in the case where you are forced to sin, then it is permissible.
"These things only He has forbidden you: carrion [what dies of itself], blood, the flesh of swine, what has been hallowed to [slain in the name of] other than God. Yet whoso is constrained [forced], not desiring [lusting] nor [willingly] transgressing, God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate." (Koran 16:116)Muslims are not expected to resit the compulsion of others to sin to the point of persecution and death. When pressed, they could sin without being judged as evil doers by God. You would never see a Muslim persisting in their religion to the point of death as we say hundreds and thousands of first and second century Christians do as they remained faithful to God and brought glory to Him and His message. Muslims do not have to suffer for their religion, they just have to do their best.
What Muhammad did not know and what he did not understand is that God had already, six hundred years earlier, proclaimed all foods to be clean and acceptable to mankind. Jesus, speaking of food and of eating said to the religious elite,
"Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mark 7:18-23)In remembering these words of Jesus, Peter reminds us, "Thus He declared all foods clean." (Mark 7:19) This message, that all food is now clean, was reinforced to Peter some years after. He was sitting on the roof of a house and fell into a trance and saw a vision.
"The sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, 'Get up, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky." (Acts 10:11-16)Peter understood that, what God had called clean, he was to no longer conciser unclean. All foods were now to be received with thankfulness and nothing was to be rejected simply on religious grounds, Paul echoes these words when he said, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:4-5)
Regardless of what Muhammad says, God's words are higher. Muhammad's dietary laws are a retreat away from liberty and back into law and bondage. Keeping the Muslim dietary laws may look like religion, but they are dead old works and devoid of any real power to save, cleanse, or make one holy.
More to come...