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Dietary Customs

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Muslims are enjoined by their religion to abstain from eating certain foods. This is in the interest of health and cleanliness, and in obedience to God. In the Qur'an, Muslims are allowed to eat what is "good" (2:168) - that is, what is pure, clean, wholesome, nourishing, and pleasing to the taste. However, certain foods are prohibited. Examples include pork and its by-products, blood, and the flesh of animals which have died without being ritually slaughtered and fully bled.

Additionally, Muslims are enjoined to slaughter their livestock by slitting the animal's throat in a swift and merciful manner, saying, "In the name of God, God is Most Great." This is in acknowledgement that the life of this creature if taken by God's permission to meet one's lawful need for food. The animal is then bled completely.

Pork

Occasionally misunderstandings occur when a Muslim calls down to the nurse's station to inquire whether there is lard in a particular food item. As are people of the Jewish faith, Muslims are prohibited from eating pork and its by-products such as lard.

Many baked goods contain lard, which is listed in the ingredients as "lard," "animal fat," or often just "shortening." A listing that specifies "vegetable shortening" is the only way to be sure that the product is not made with lard.

Gelatin as in Jell-O and marshmallows also presents a problem, as it is often derived from pig skins.

"Kosher" Meat

Some Muslims will abstain from eating meat if they are uncertain of how it was slaughtered. They place importance on the animal having been slaughtered in a humane fashion with the remembrance of God and gratefulness for this sacrifice of the animal's life.

They also place importance on the animal having been bled properly, as otherwise it would not be considered healthy to eat. These Muslims would prefer to eat fish, eggs, or milk products instead of meat while in the hospital.

Another opinion holds that since the Qur'an is clear in stating that the food of Christians and Jews is lawful for Muslims, that Muslims who live in predominantly-Christian countries may eat commercial meat (apart from pork), pronouncing God's name on it at the time of eating. Consequently, the question of "kosher" meat (called halal or zabiha in Islamic terminology) is not considered relevant by all Muslims living in Western countries.

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