Rumana Ashraf, USA
The terms halal and haram were coined 1500 years ago to define two separate concepts – halal meaning “permissible” and haram meaning “forbidden.” However, it is important to understand that the terms halal and haram have significantly deeper meanings; connotations that are meant to be explored and reviewed according to context, situation and objectivity.
Evidently, there are certain things under Islamic law that are considered permissible for human use and consumption such as fruits and vegetables, milk, seafood and grains etc. On the contrary, there are things that are considered forbidden and should be avoided at all costs such as alcohol, pork, interest and drugs like marijuana. Pondering over this concept, the inevitable question arises: If certain things are considered haram, why did Allah the Almighty create them?
The simple truth is that Allah the Almighty’s infinite wisdom and reasoning behind His creations are well beyond our understanding. We can, however, understand a fraction of it with the level of capacity that He has allowed our minds.
I have chosen to use the pig as an excellent example to illustrate a well-evidenced explanation to answer our question. Since the time of the first revelation of the Holy Quran when the instruction to cease consuming pork was revealed, Muslims around the world have faithfully avoided pork for generations. In addition to the numerous health-related problems that the consumption of pork is correlated to, it is also a harbour for incredibly dangerous and pathogenic organisms detrimental to humans. So why did God create it?
It is important to understand, as mentioned before, that although God may not want us to use a certain thing in a certain way, it well could be possible He meant for us to use it another manner. Research has shown that despite the risks associated with consuming pork, the heart of a pig is actually the gold standard when used for medical research, medical-surgical trials and heart transplant procedures. Evidently, the heart of a pig is strikingly similar in both anatomy and physiology to that of a human one. Porcine hearts, like human hearts, have four chambers, two ventricles and two atriums.
The flow of blood through the organ is a reflection of how it does in a human one. “The porcine heart bears a close resemblance to the human heart in terms of its coronary circulation and hemodynamic similarities and offers ease of implementation of methods and devices from human healthcare facilities.” (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25255064/)
For this purpose, porcine hearts have been at the forefront of clinical trials related to cardiovascular disease. In shape and size too, porcine hearts have been tested and proven to be one of the best options for future heart transplants and correlated studies.
اَلَمۡ تَرَوۡا اَنَّ اللّٰهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمۡ مَّا فِي السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ مَا فِي الۡاَرۡضِ وَ اَسۡبَغَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ نِعَمَهٗ ظَاهِرَةً وَّ بَاطِنَةً ؕ وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ يُّجَادِلُ فِي اللّٰهِ بِغَيۡرِ عِلۡمٍ وَّ لَا هُدًي وَّ لَا كِتٰبٍ مُّنِيۡرٍ
“Have you not seen that Allah has pressed for you into service whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and has completed His favours on you, [both] externally and internally? And among men there are some who dispute concerning Allah, without knowledge or guidance or an illuminating Book.” (Surah Luqman, Ch.31: V.21)
In the same way that alcohol is used in conjunction with compounds for medicinal use, so can pigs also be used, if inevitable, when used for specific purposes including research and the progress of medicine for mankind. It is important to understand that there is more to the word of Allah than what first meets the eye. Deep meanings are behind every word, phrase and sentence. All creation between the Heavens and the Earth, whether considered halal or haram, are at the end of the day still Allah’s creation.
For that matter, it is our responsibility as Ahmadi Muslims, to first strive to the best of our capacity to understand the word of God. As the blessed community of the Promised Messiahas, it is our responsibility to establish firm faith within our own hearts and open up the inevitable possibility of there being a deeper explanation behind ideas and contexts that we first thought to be simple. Only by exploring new avenues, as opened to us in this ara by the Promised Messiahas and his Khulafa, can we move our understanding of Islam and the Holy Quran into the new age.