The "Lahm" (flesh) of the Pig
"Prohibited for you are 'al-maytah' (dead animals), 'Al-Damm' (blood),
'lahm Al-Khinzeer' (the flesh of the pig), and animals dedicated to other than God"
In order to deduce the law of God contained in any Quranic verse, it is essential first to accept that God is the most efficient in delivering any message. As a result we must accept the direct and literal meaning of the words. Often, readers of the Quran have ignored the simple meaning of words and in stead consulted various books of interpretation which usually destroy the simple meaning and replace it with a far fetched meaning, one that is not suggested nor implied by the words used in the verse. To justify this alteration of God’s words, these interpreters claim that the Quran is not easy to understand, and that only they are able to decipher its mysteries!
Needless to say, this claim is totally in violation of God’s description of the Quran as a clear and easy to understand book:
"A.L.R. These are the signs of the clear book" 12:1
"We have made it (the Quran) easy to understand and in your own tongue (language) may you take heed." 44:58
With the above in mind, we inquire: what did God prohibit regarding the pig? Are we prohibited from eating any part of the pig? or just the meat of the pig?
One guideline we are given in 5:3 is the use of the words:
- Prohibited for you are 'al-maytah' (dead animals)
- and the 'lahm Al-Khinzeer' (lahm is usually translated as flesh or meat)
The above words confirm that anything from a dead animal is prohibited and not just the meat, this is because God said 'al-maytah' which literally means 'the dead'. God did not say (the meat of the dead). Thus the whole body of the dead animal is prohibited.
On the other hand, God deliberately said “lahm al-khinzeer” (the flesh of the pig), and not just 'the pig'. This deliberate singling out of the ’lahm’ means that only that part of the pig is prohibited and not the whole pig.
It pays to be reminded once more that the words of God's are very deliberate and precise. We should not add or subtract to these words. Nor allow any interpreter to corrupt the meaning.
The next stage in our analysis of 5:3 is to determine what is the exact meaning of the word ’lahm’. The common understanding of this word is that it means meat. But it is more important that we should determine the Quranic meaning of words to arrive at the correct meaning. Common definitions of certain words are not always in harmony with the Quranic definition. Examples of such words are the words : Ummi, Shaheed, Rajim and many others.
The reader can find more information on this issue at: Misinterpreted Quranic Verses
When we conduct a research on how the word ’lahm’ is used in the Quran in order to understand the correct prohibition in 5:3, we must study various verses where the word “lahm” is used. The following verse is of particular significance:
[23:14] Then we developed the drop into a hanging (embryo), then developed the hanging (embryo) into a bite-size (fetus), then created the bite-size (fetus) into bones, then covered the bones with ’lahm’. We thus produce a new creature. Most blessed is God, the best Creator.
The above Quranic words describe the various stages of development of the human fetus up to the stage of becoming a full creature.
We read that after the bones are created they are covered with ’lahm’. This indicates that the word ’lahm’ is used for everything that covers the bones and not just the meat. This would include meat, fat, tendons, cartilages veins and arteries and so on. It would thus be appropriate to understand the word ‘lahm’ to mean flesh.
We also read tha everything we eat from the sea is classed under ’lahm’:
[16:14] And He committed the sea to serve you; you eat from it tender ’lahm’, and extract jewelry which you wear.
Once again, sea food is not composed only of meat, it contains everything else like fish roe, skin, fish oil and so on.
The deduction we get from the above analysis is that everything that covers the bones in the pig is prohibited. This includes the fat of the pig (lard) but not the bone or bone marrow.
The prohibition of only parts of certain animals is not unfamiliar in the Quran. We are told in 6:146 for example, how God prohibited only the fat of the cattle and sheep (except that which is carried on their backs, or in the viscera, or mixed with bones).
In concept, prohibitions are means through which God the Creator tests the obedience of the human being. What was prohibited to one people may be lawful for another as we have witnessed in the Quran. This indicates that the item of prohibition is not always prohibited for an inherent reason within the item itself. Since God prohibited the fat of some animals for the Jews but made it lawful as per the Quranic law, this can only mean that there is no physical harm in the fat itself. Following from that, God could have created a world without pigs and without alcohol and drugs, but God created these items and placed the laws of prohibitions so as to test the human being and his obedience to His Maker.