In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.
This post discusses the relationship between one’s material, mental and moral diet, and human relations with persons of different persuasions and dispositions, according to what can be derived from the Noble Qur’an.
Allah the Exalted states in the Holy Qur’an:
[5:4] Forbidden to you is the flesh of an animal which dies of itself, and blood, and the flesh of swine; and that on which is invoked the name of one other than Allah; and that which has been strangled; and that beaten to death; and that killed by a fall; and that which has been gored to death; and that of which a wild animal has eaten, except that which you have properly slaughtered; and that which has been slaughtered at an altar.
And forbidden is also that you seek to know your lot by the divining arrows. That is an act of disobedience. This day have those who disbelieve despaired of harming your religion. So fear them not, but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. But whoso is forced by hunger, without being wilfully inclined to sin, then, surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.
[5:5] They ask thee what is made lawful for them. Say, ‘All good things have been made lawful for you; and what you have taught the beasts and birds of prey to catch for you, training them for hunting and teaching them of what Allah has taught you. So eat of that which they catch for you, and pronounce thereon the name of Allah. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is quick in reckoning.’
[5:6] This day all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of the People of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And lawful for you are chaste believing women and chaste women from among those who were given the Book before you, when you give them their dowries, contracting valid marriage and not committing fornication nor taking secret paramours. And whoever rejects the faith, his work has doubtless come to naught, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.
Whilst reflecting on the above verses, the relationship between dietary laws and the completion of religion, and also that of marriage with the Ahlul-Kitaab (People of the Book), become evident. It appears that the relevance is to do with a similarity in our material and moral/spiritual diet, for spouses share their thoughts and feelings with each other. It becomes apparent that one can interpret these verses to apply to our ideas. All that is good and wholesome is permissible. The diet of those who follow previous divine scripture/s is lawful, so much so that it is permissible to marry the chaste women among them who possess faith. Marital partners tend to partake of each other’s intimate thoughts and feelings over the years.
Thus, these verses can be applied to what is termed as ‘food for thought’ which we obtain from various television programs, online videos, books, lectures, sermons and speeches. One can derive from the above quoted verses that we should not digest a diet of idolatry for instance, but reject anything which is not proper and wholesome, and filter it out within our minds when we watch, hear or read such ideas. We could likewise understand the flesh of swine to metaphorically refer to any ‘diet’ which constitutes wicked or immoral ideas from a person of great pomp and show, but who is evil within, as this is the Islamic interpretation of seeing a swine in a dream. Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is reported in one Gospel to have advised against casting pearls of wisdom before swine, i.e. wicked people [Matthew 7:6] . Thus, that which is wicked and immoral, such as any form of ‘Nazism’ or ‘Pharaonic mischief’, is forbidden.
Likewise, the flesh of the dead could refer to atheistic or faithless material. But if a person is studying and analysing such material for increasing one’s knowledge and awareness, not because he or she is inclined towards it, or is doing so for the purpose of refuting it, and not digesting and internalising it, then it can be said that Allah will be Forgiving and Merciful to such persons whose intentions are noble. That which constitutes an offering to idols, i.e. polytheism, is likewise forbidden. Those who are driven by necessity to study subjects which constitute atheism or polytheism or wickedness, but do not accept those teachings as such, can be said to have been given a concession, and may study such material.
From such an understanding of the verses, one can derive that those who abide by the divinely given physical and moral and spiritual ‘dietary’ laws are compatible and suitable for marriage, but those who disregard these laws and eat the flesh of swine etc., such as most of the christians encountered these days, as well as those who become idolatrous in some way, such as many Hindus and trinitarian Christians, would not be permissible for marriage in my humble opinion – an exception would be those who are unitarian or monotheist in practice.
I realise than some muslims might consider it permissible for a muslim man to marry a chaste christian woman, whether she has polytheistic ideas such as trinity or not, and whether she consumes the flesh of swine or not. However, my feelings are based on what is apparent to me from the verses quoted above, and I accept that some people will disagree with the interpretation I have derived from these verses.
One could also apply these principles to one’s choice of friends and close companions in general. One ought to avoid a very close and intimate association with the wicked and immoral people [who can be likened to swines, and a swine in a dream is interpreted as a person of great pomp and show, but whose inner condition is very bad], and also the spiritually dead [e.g. some atheists] – unless of course if they are blood relations (for the Qur’an [Q. 42:24] states: “Say: ‘I ask of you no reward for it, except such love as subsists between kindred.’“), work colleagues, or for tabligh purposes, for instance.
Moreover, just as the flesh of a snake is not tayyab (good, wholesome), and therefore not halaal (permissible), likewise, marriage with an enemy of one’s faith should not be considered halaal (permissible), for the snake is interpreted to mean satan or an avowed enemy. Thus, if one were to consider marriage with a non-Muslim, or a non-Ahmadi muslim, they should not be enemies of Islam, muslims, Ahmadi Muslims or Ahmadiyyat, and not all non-Muslims and non-Ahmadis bear enmity and venom against us.
In essence, one’s diet, in terms of marriage, should be that one partakes of that which is halaal (permissible) as well as tayyab (good, wholesome), as instructed in the Holy Qur’an [Q. 16:115], for not everyone who is ‘halaal‘ is necessarily suitable for every person for one reason or another, and having reservations about marriage with someone who may be a pious believer is not necessarily a sign of arrogance. For instance, whilst it is permissible in Islam to marry one’s cousin, there is no instruction to do so, and hereditary diseases may appear within the children, especially if such marriages start to become common within one family, an issue which would affect both families concerned. So, one should carefully consider whether it is wise to proceed with it, taking medical knowledge into account.
It becomes necessary to address a concern some people appear to have in the minds, and have expressed it, in relation to inter-racial marriages, suggesting that this does not sit easy with them. It is only right to address their concern, which may otherwise lead to objections in their hearts and minds. Inter-racial marriages are certainly halaal, for nationality, tribe, and caste, are not things that are to be highlighted in Islam, and Arab Muslims are said to have inter-married with other peoples over the course of Islamic history, yet some appear to think that there is an incompatibility between some peoples, such that, whilst the spouses may get along with each other and their respective families, the offspring of such a union might suffer from an identity crisis at some stage in their lives, and it is correct to say that psychologists have written about this. Thus, if what they say is right, and Allah knows best, then both prospective partners and their respective families have a mutual interest in carefully considering whether what they might be about to venture upon is wise or not.
And of course, it is highly recommended to perform an ‘istikhaara‘ prayer, seeking guidance from Allah the Knower of the Seen and the Unseen, before deciding on a marital partner.
Cultural barriers can be overcome by adhering firmly to the Qur’an & Sunnah, and language barriers can likewise be overcome if both spouses share a common language. So, whilst no one has the right to prevent such marriages by force, as they are ‘halaal‘ for righteous believers, and it is a decision that is to be made by the parties concerned, with the express consent of both prospective partners, as regards what future offspring might well have to deal with, for this is a mutual concern. If however someone has reservations about it not being ‘tayyab‘, there is no validity in others accusing, or even thinking of them as being arrogant or racist. One should not try to put undue pressure or coerce anyone into marriage against their will, or try to put them under an obligation to do so; their hearts ought to be open to this new journey in their lives. It would however be racist and downright arrogant if one were to exclude righteous believers from one’s circle of friendship and companionship in a Spiritual Community, and sharing sincere mutual love for fellow believers is a part and parcel of our humanity, and also something to be done for the glory of Allah Ta’aala. There is also the hadith: “Whoever would love to taste the flavour of faith, let him love a person only for the sake of Allah Almighty.” [Musnad Aḥmad 7907]. And the offspring of such a union should be treated with extra love, care, sensitivity and compassion by those around them, and endeavour to find a suitable spouse for them.
Whilst on the subject of marriage, it is relevant to state the Qur’an talks about marriage with an-Nisaa (i.e. women, or adult females), so there is no scope for underage marriages, even though male scholars have erred in interpreting a verse of the Qur’an [Q. 65:5] in this way, for the words وَّ الّٰٓیِٴۡ لَمۡ یَحِضۡنَ (i.e. and the same is for such of your women as do not have their monthly courses) in verse appears to be referring to a form of amenorrhea in adult women. They also go by ahadith which male scholars have themselves compiled and verified as authentic without the involvement of women scholars.
Another issue of concern that comes up is why the Qur’an permits Muslim men to marry chaste women from those who were given the Book before, such as Jews & Christian women, but does not permit Muslim women to marry chaste men from among the non-Muslims. My response to this is that Islam gives women more rights than the Bible, which states that women will be ruled by men, and that a wife has to submit to her husband in everything, which deprives a Muslim woman of her rights. So, it is in a Muslim woman’s best interests to marry a Muslim man. However, as I have made clear in other article/s, these rights have been taken away from Muslim women by male scholars over the centuries, and this urgently needs to be redressed by training and recognising women scholars who can the properly challenge biased male interpretation of the Qur’an and the ‘fiqh of women’.
In any case, whilst I fully agree that a Muslim woman should marry a good Muslim man, and not a non-Muslim, there is nevertheless no punishment prescribed for her in case she does make the mistake of marrying outside of the faith, and she should be prayed for and sympathised with rather than bullied about it, and the just Islamic rights of women should be restored to them without delay so that muslim women are not driven away by unjust rulings made by male scholars, including requiring wives to obey their husbands, ruining the advantage true monotheist Islam has over Judaism and Christianity.
Just as love is of different types and degrees, and love for Allah Ta’aala should be the greatest in the hearts of believers, followed by love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a., who is closest to Him, similarly, one should have a preference to having closer and more intimate relationships of love, companionship and friendship with those true and sincere believers who are righteous, and close to Allah the Exalted.
Likewise, one ought to reflect over and follow the Noble Qur’an, the Guaranteed Preserved Word of Allah Ta’aala, far more than any other source of religion and ideology. The Qur’an is the ‘Hablullaah‘ (the Rope of Allah), which we are instructed to grasp firmly, and not be divided. And because the Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a. followed the Words of Allah Ta’aala, he also becomes a ‘Rope of Allah’.
One should also keep in mind other relevant verses of the Qur’an in this regard. The Ahmadiyya motto of ‘love for all, hatred for none’ is an Islamic motto, supported by the following verses:
[Q. 19:96] “Those who believe and do good deeds, Ar-Rahmaan (the Gracious God) will create love (within the hearts). So We have made it (the Quran) easy in thy tongue that thou mayest give thereby good tidings to the righteous, and warn thereby a contentious people.”
The attribute Ar-Rahmaan signifies love for all of creation in general, whether they be believers or otherwise, humans or animals. Had the attribute Ar-Raheem been used, then it would have restricted the scope of application of the verse, to my understanding. Thus, the verse supports the endearing Ahmadiyya motto of ‘love for all, hatred for none’.
An aspect of love for the righteous is manifested in giving them glad tidings, whereas love for the contentions ones who reject true faith and corresponding righteous deeds is manifested in the form of admonishments which may help them perceive the light of truth.
Another relevant verse in the context of human relations is the following one:
[Q. 60:10] “Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of (your) religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and deal equitably with them; surely, Allah loves those who are equitable.”
Other than towards those who are waging physical warfare against us, one ought to be kind and equitable in one’s dealings to all sorts of other people. One may feel like shrinking back from manifest acts of kindness and friendliness towards a person who is blaspheming against those personalities who are, and what is, held sacred in the religion, and are waging a sort of verbal or written warfare against us, but we are instructed to be patient with such persons, and act righteously [Q. 3:187]. We are also told that being just is closer to righteousness [Q. 5:9]. There is also no prohibition from Allah the Exalted against kind and equitable dealings with people such as apostates, atheists, agnostics, people whose standards of modesty and chastity are wanting, and other non-believers of various religions and ideologies.
Moreover, we should keep in mind that if an atheist or polytheist or an opponent is uttering the truth in a debate, we should hasten to accept it, as the Promised Messiah a.s. has taught us, regardless of their opposition or enmity, because the foundation of Islam is on the truth, which is not merely the truth that even a child can perceive, but is much more to do with unseen truths.
We should also keep in mind that there are many false ahadith, errors in commentaries on the Qur’an, and other muslim literature which incite towards wrongdoing such as murder for blasphemy, apostasy, adultery, homosexuality, promote offensive jihad, and such like. All these notions are not only contrary to the Noble Qur’an and should be rejected outright, but some of them are dangerous ideas which incite towards extremism, hatred for people, and terrorism. These should also be rejected by true and sincere Muslims, and measures ought to be put in place to neutralise the effects of such harmful literature on the minds of people, and safeguard the innocent people of the world from harm.
(The views expressed here reflect a current study of these issues, and are subject to modifications in the light of further guidance, feedback, research and reflection, InshaAllaah. The ideas contained in this article about human relations and diet were first presented online in 2002 after a debate with ahmadis on an online forum in which I proved that it was erroneous to consider the idolatrous greek philosopher Socrates a Prophet, which is what mirza tahir sahib had erroneously suggested in his 1999 book entitled ‘Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth’.)
[Q. 19:77] Allah increases in guidance those who follow the guidance.
[Q. 20:48] Peace be upon those who follow the guidance.