Rulings of Foods and Drinks

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See also
FiqhRulings of Shari'aManual of Islamic lawPubertyWajibHaramMustahabMubahMakruh

Rulings of Foods and Drinks (Arabic:باب الأطعمه و الأشربه) is a title of a chapter in jurisprudential sources. The chapter deals with the rulings about foods and drinks. However, various rulings about foods and drink are discussed peripherally in other chapters such as hunting and slaughtering, tahara (purification), hajj and transactions.


In Islamic jurisprudential sources, foods are generally divided into two groups: foods that are obtained from animals, foods that are not obtained from animals.

a) Animals: Explanation of rulings about the foods that are obtained from animals requires categorizing and knowing the religiously edible and religiously non-edible animals (eating whose meat is forbidden). Animals are divided into three categories:

  • Land animals: that are divided into two kinds:
1- Domestic animals
2- Wild animals: that are divided into two according to their food:
1-Herbivorous animals
2-Animals that have canine teeth and are considered as carnivorous
  • Marine animals: According to some Islamic sects there is no need to subdividing this category; however, in Imamiyya jurisprudence they are divided into: fish and non-fish; and fish are divided into: scaly and non-scaly, each of which has a specific ruling.
  • Birds: Birds are divided into: birds with claws and birds without claws.

b) Non-animals: Foods that are not obtained from animals are mostly plants. However, other subjects such as dirt and nijasat are discussed in this section; although the rulings about such a things are discussed under two broader topics: "non-edible things" and "Khaba'ith" (the impure).

Some prohibited foods and drinks are specifically mentioned in the Qur'an, such as: mayta (carcass), blood, and pork. Prophet Muhammad (s) added some other things to the prohibited foods and drinks.


Although the title of this chapter include all kinds of drinks, jurisprudential discussions in this chapter are mostly about intoxicating drinks.

According to sources, during the first years of Islam, intoxicants were not forbidden, and they become prohibited gradually by revelation of several verses of the Qur'an. The most important verses are five: two was revealed in Mecca and three in Medina.

There is no disagreement among various Muslim sects about the prohibition of all intoxicating drinks; however, they disagree on the instances and cases of them. "Nabidh" (an alcoholic drink made of fruits other than grapes such as dates etc.) and "fuqqa'" (beer) are the most controversial drinks in Islam history.

Secondary Ruling

The rulings that are explained in jurisprudence about foods and drinks are primary ruling (al-hukm al-awwali) and for normal conditions. Under special conditions, secondary ruling (al-hukm al-thanawi) can change prohibition to permission or vice versa, for instance, in an emergency situation eating haram food -to the urged extent- is permissible.

Difference in Fatwas

Different fatwas and opinions of jurists of various Islamic sets about foods and drinks are originated in following factors:

  • Different understandings form the Qur'anic verses.
  • Relying on different Hadiths, especially contradictory ones.
  • Different definitions of "tayyib" (Arabic: طَیِّب, pure) and "khabith" (Arabic: خَبیث, impure) according to common people's thoughts, that lead to different results from the verse in the Qur'an which denote "tayyib" is halal and "khabith" is haram [1].


Several monographs have been written about foods and drinks. Mu'tazili scholars such as: Ja'far b. Mubashshir and Abu Ja'far al-Iskafi and Ashab al-Hadith scholars such as: Ahmad b. Hanbal wrote books about drinks. They all chose the title "al-Ashriba" (drinks) for their books.

After the rise of Safavid dynasty, some independent works titled as "al-at'ima wa l-ashriba" (foods and drinks) were written by Imamiyya scholars, such as the book written by Radi al-Din Khwansari (d. 1125/1713-4).

See Also


  1. Those who follow the Apostle, the uninstructed prophet, whose mention they find written with them in the Torah and the Evangel, who bids them to do what is right and forbids them from what is wrong, makes lawful to them all the good (tayyib) things and forbids them from all vicious (khabith) things, and relieves them of their burdens and the shackles that were upon them —those who believe in him, honour him, and help him and follow the light that has been sent down with him, they are the felicitous. (Qur'an 7:157)