Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao

Why is pork forbidden in Islam?

Do you know that a poster about symbolism of Filipino identity are being sold in local and national bookstores show that roasted pork or lechon is the national food/”pambansang pagkain” of our nation? In this poster you can see the different national symbols like our national fruit/pambansang prutas, national fish/pambansang isda, and national leaves/pambangsang dahon.

With all due respect with our non Muslim brothers and sisters who eat pork, this discussion does not in any way open an insensitive argument. I just plainly want to explain why pork is forbidden or “haram” in Islam. From this discussion, I urge our religious leaders, civil society provocateurs, and Muslim legislators to heed our call to ban “pork barrel” or the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.

First, let us review what the Holy Quran (holy book of the Muslims) says about pork. The Qur’an prohibits the consumption of pork in no less than four different verses. Pork prohibited in Suratul Baqara Verse 173; Suratul Al Maida Verse 3; Suratul Al Anman Verse 145, and Suratul An Nahl 16:115.

For a Muslim like me, it is enough that I read this verse saying that pork is forbidden to us:
Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked a name other than that of Allah. [Al-Qur’an 5:3]

Thus, it has a spiritual significance and scientific basis as to why pork is absolutely forbidden in Islam, except on extreme cases like when there is no more food that you can eat for your survival, then pork may be allowed. However, based on the number of repetitions that pork was mentioned as haram, no amount of interpretation can ever change the message of the Holy Quran.

On the scientific point of view, pork contains micro-organisms like Helminthes, like roundworm, pinworm, and hookworm among others. One of the most dangerous of these worms is Taenia Solium, which in a layman’s terminology is called tapeworm. It harbors in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart it can cause heart attack and if it enters the eye it can cause blindness. If it enters the liver it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body.

Some of us will argue that if you cook the flesh of swine, then these micro-organisms die, but in a research project undertaken in the US, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from Taenia tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ovas present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.

Pork has very little muscle building material and contains excess of fat. This fat gets deposited in the vessels and can cause hypertension and heart attack. (Sources: Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai, India)

In terms of cultural views, pig is the filthiest animal on earth. It lives and thrives on muck, feces and dirt. It is the best scavenger that God has produced. In places where there are no toilets, people excrete in the open air. Very often excreta are cleared by pigs.

The symbol of corruption is also related to pork, thus we have now the pork barrel scam. In Islamic Jurisprudence, both the consumption of Pork (meat) and corruption is not permitted.
The Holy Quran mentioned in Chapter 2:188:

“And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].”

In the recent developments in Philippine politics and governance, it seems that bribery and corruption has become such a norm in our lives. Some would say that it is part of the world and we take part in it without even thinking! This is WRONG and it’s a big sin in our religion.

Going to the basic definition, corruption is the misuse of entrusted power for personal or private gain. Generally speaking, corruption exists when a person in power has the right to make decisions that concern others whose interests are at stake. The interested parties will try to find ways and means of getting what they want. One of the common ways is to offer the person in power certain favors so that the decision is made to his/her advantage. This could happen only if the decision maker is willing to accept the favor offered to him.

The problem of corruption in our country has become gigantic and people in power do these openly. This had happened in the ZTE scam, the fertilizer scam, the corruption and smuggling in government agencies, and even corruption within our Congress. Those in power start demanding what they want and those who give are very open about it as well. Take the case of the recent accused of corruption and her daughter’s big birthday party in the US. Both parties have regarded it as a norm; they don’t feel bad about it because everybody else is doing it anyway.

When do we see that this is wrong? When do we allow people to get away with these practices? Pork is haram. Pork Barrel or PDAF is haram. We must stop allowing our legislators abuse the taxes that we all pay.