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The Origins of Food Safety – Part 2

Jun 07, 2022

We learn from the very first humans in creation, our parents Adam and Hawwa AS, that one of the initial regulations placed upon them by our Creator, Allah, was a prohibition regarding eating from a certain tree. The Noble Quran eloquently informs us that when ‘both (Adam and Hawwa AS) tasted from the tree… their Lord called out to them saying,

فَدَلَّىٰهُمَا بِغُرُورٍ ۚ فَلَمَّا ذَاقَا ٱلشَّجَرَةَ بَدَتْ لَهُمَا سَوْءَٰتُهُمَا وَطَفِقَا يَخْصِفَانِ عَلَيْهِمَا مِن وَرَقِ ٱلْجَنَّةِ ۖ وَنَادَىٰهُمَا رَبُّهُمَآ أَلَمْ أَنْهَكُمَا عَن تِلْكُمَا ٱلشَّجَرَةِ وَأَقُل لَّكُمَآ إِنَّ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنَ لَكُمَا عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
Thus he cunningly seduced them, and when they ate from the tree, their shame became visible to them and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden. Then their Rabb called out to them: “Did I not forbid you to approach that tree, and did not I warn you that Shaitan was your open enemy?” [Surah Ara’f 7: 22].

Adam and Hawwa RA faced expulsion from Paradise and their offspring are subsequently in this world striving to be admitted back into Paradise. The instruction that is given to all Children of Adam is simply stated in another chapter of the Noble Quran when Allah Most High says:

‘when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve’ [Surah Baqarah 2: 38].

We thus find that it is the innate human condition, to seek guidance regarding all lawful and unlawful matters in this world, dietary choices being no exception. The fact that all major world religions have some form of dietary regulations further bears testimony to this human consciousness of the strong link between consumption and faith.

Whether one believes in an Absolute Creator or not, an individual will still be mindful of what they consume because of its effects on the physical body. Allergies and toxins will very easily steer man away from certain foods. In fact, numerous human food safety standards and practices have been developed and implemented with the very goal of protecting human beings from harm and death.

These man-made food standards serve to regulate either the production of foods or the prevention of food adulteration. Despite the best human efforts, however, if these standards are not based on Divine Injunctions, they can never compete with those based on and upholding Divine Law. The latest scientific developments in enhancing food nutrition, for example, cannot compete with blessings gained from eating pure and lawful food, slaughtered and prepared in the name of Allah.

Furthermore, as we enter into the realm of unprecedented forms of food production, such as genetically modified grains and laboratory cloned livestock, we are more in need today of clear guidelines to separate the halal (lawful) from the haram (prohibited).

The scope of guidance provided by Islam regarding halal and haram consumption is more far-reaching than any current standards devised by man. The dietary regulations provided by Allah through the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah, aim to preserve not only the physical body but the spiritual well-being of man as well.

Thus Islam provides instruction for more than just what we eat. A Muslim finds guidance on how to eat, how much to eat, when best to eat, when to refrain from eating, how to increase the blessings found in food, as well as how to earn the livelihood lawfully with which to acquire food.

The initial lesson thus becomes beautifully clear. While in Paradise, it is understood that our parents faced no physical harm. The prohibition given by Allah to stay away from a certain tree was not meant to protect their physical selves. Rather it is understood that the injunction was first and foremost intended to keep in place their spiritual connection to Allah. As Children of Adam, we thus embrace the reality that our adherence to halal certification in this world, ultimately transforms into an investment in our relationship with our Creator.

 

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