English - Ma'ariful Qur'an - Mufti Shafi Usmani RA - Vol - 1
Surah Al-Baqarah - 2 : Verses 172 - 173
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The effects of eating Halal and Haram
Verse 172 forbids eating that which is haram and along with it, allows eating that which is halal in all gratefulness to Allah. The reason is that the act of eating haram promotes evil instincts, kills the taste of 'ibadah and makes the prayers ineffective. In contrast, eating halal generates inner light, creates a distaste for evil deeds, leads towards high morals, and creates a state in which the heart welcomes 'ibadah and finds the very thought of sin sickening and of course, prayers are answered. Therefore, Allah Almighty has told all his prophets to eat from what is good and do what is righteous:
O Messengers, eat of the good things and do the righteous. (23:51)
This shows that eating and using what is halal plays a vital role in doing what is good and virtuous. Similarly, living by the halal helps the chances of a prayer being answered while living by the haram kills those chances. The Holy Prophet has said that there are many people, tired and distressed, who stretch their hands in prayer before Allah fervently calling 'O Lord, O Lord, yet haram is what they eat, haram is what they drink and haram is what they wear, how then, under these conditions, could they hope to have their prayers
answered?' (The Sahih, Muslim, and Tirmidhi as quoted by Ibn Kathir)
The word (innama harrama) is a restrictive particle, therefore, the sense of the verse is that Allah Almighty has forbidden only those things which have been mentioned later, other than which, nothing else is forbidden. So, in this verse, it is the word, innama which points out to the given sense, while in another verse (6:145): the same thing has been stated more clearly. Here, the Holy Prophet has been asked to proclaim that, in what has been revealed to him, there is nothing haram except the few things mentioned later on.
At this stage, we have a problem on our hands. The fact is that the unlawfulness of many things stands proved on the authority of other verses from the Qur'an, and also from ahadith. If so, what would be the meaning of this 'restriction' and how are we to explain the negation of 'there is nothing haram except the few things mentioned later on'?
For an answer, we can say that halal and haram are not being discussed here in the absolute sense. Rather, they are discussed here with reference to those particular animals only which the polytheists of Makkah took as halal or haram on the basis of their pagan beliefs. This has been pointed out in the previous verse where it is said that the polytheists of Makkah were used to declaring some halal animals as haram for them and this practice was censured there. Now, it is in contrast to that situation that they are being told here as to how they do not stay away from certain animals whicn have been declared haram for them, while, at the same time, they ttay away from those that are halal in the sight of Allah. Therefore, the presence of the 'restriction' here should not be taken in the absolute sense as it is relative, specially in opposition to the polytheistic beliefs.
Now, the things that have been made unlawful (haram) in verse 173 are four in number:
1. Dead animal (Maitah)
2. Blood (Dam)
3. The flesh of Swine (Lahm al-khinzir)
4. An animal on which the name of anyone other than Allah has been called (Wa ma uhilla bihi lighayrillah).
These four things have been further explained in other verses of the Holy Qur'an, and in authentic ahadith. Seen as a correlated whole, the following injunctions emerge from them, and they are being taken up in the following articles in some detail.
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