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CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE » Eating and Drinking

Ruling 2641. It is unlawful (ḥarām) to eat all birds of prey that have talons, such as falcons, eagles, hawks, and vultures. Similarly, all types of crows, even choughs, are unlawful to eat, based on obligatory precaution (al‑iḥtiyāṭ al‑wājib). Also, every bird that flaps its wings less than it glides while flying and has talons is unlawful to eat. However, every bird that flaps its wings more than it glides while flying is lawful (ḥalāl) to eat. Therefore, birds that are unlawful to eat can be distinguished from those that are lawful to eat by considering how they fly. However, if it is not known how a particular bird flies, then, if that bird has a crop, gizzard, or a spur at the back of its feet, it is lawful to eat, and if it does not have any of these, it is unlawful to eat. As for other birds, apart from the ones that have been mentioned, such as chickens, pigeons, sparrows, and even ostriches and peacocks, they are all lawful to eat. However, killing some birds is disapproved (makrūh), such as hoopoes and swallows. As for animals that fly but do not have feathers, such as bats, they are unlawful to eat, so too are bees, mosquitoes, and flying insects, based on obligatory precaution.

Ruling 2642. If something [from an animal’s body] that contains life is separated from the animal – for example, a person cuts off the tail fat or some flesh from a living sheep – it is impure (najis) and unlawful to eat.

Ruling 2643. Even from those animals that are lawful to eat, some parts must not be eaten. These things are fourteen in number:








pituitary gland;

spinal cord;

the two nerves that are on either side of the vertebral column, based on obligatory precaution;



urinary bladder;

iris of the eye.

All these things are from animals whose meat is lawful to eat, excluding birds, fish, and locusts. With regard to birds, their blood and droppings are definitely unlawful; apart from these two things, in the case of birds, all the other things mentioned in the list above are unlawful based on obligatory precaution. Similarly, based on obligatory precaution, the blood and droppings of fish and the droppings of locusts are unlawful; apart from these, nothing else of them is unlawful.

Ruling 2644. It is unlawful to drink the urine of animals whose meat is unlawful to eat. The same applies to the urine of animals whose meat is lawful to eat, even that of camels, based on obligatory precaution. However, there is no problem in drinking the urine of camels, cows, and sheep for medical treatment.

Ruling 2645. It is unlawful to eat mud. The same applies to soil and sand, based on obligatory precaution. If one is compelled to, there is no problem in eating Daghistani or Armenian mud, or other mud, for medical treatment. It is permitted (jāʾiz) to eat a little – i.e. up to the size of an average chickpea – of the turbah[1] of His Eminence Sayyid al-Shuhadāʾ [Imam al-Ḥusayn] (ʿA) for medicinal purposes. If the turbah is not taken from the sacred grave itself or from around it, then even if it can be called ‘turbah of Imam al-Ḥusayn (ʿA)’, based on obligatory precaution, it must be dissolved in some water and suchlike until it becomes diluted and then drunk. Similarly, this precaution (iḥtiyāṭ) must be observed when one does not have confidence (iṭmiʾnān) that the turbah is from the sacred grave of His Eminence and there is no proof to verify it.

Ruling 2646. It is not unlawful to swallow nasal mucus or phlegm that has gathered in the mouth. Similarly, there is no problem in swallowing food particles that become dislodged from between the teeth when using a toothpick.

Ruling 2647. It is unlawful to eat or drink anything that would cause death or inflict significant harm to a person.

Ruling 2648. It is disapproved to eat the meat of a horse, mule, or donkey. If someone has sexual intercourse with these animals, their meat becomes unlawful. Similarly, their milk and offspring after intercourse with them become unlawful to consume, based on obligatory precaution, and their urine and dung become impure. Such animals must be taken out of the city and sold elsewhere. If the person who had sexual intercourse with the animal is not its owner, he must pay the value of the animal to its owner. The money received from the sale of the animal belongs to the person who had sexual intercourse with it. If a person has sexual intercourse with an animal whose meat is usually eaten, such as a cow, sheep, and camel, their urine and dung become impure and it is unlawful to eat their meat. Similarly, based on obligatory precaution, drinking their milk and the milk of their offspring is unlawful. Furthermore, the animal must be killed and burnt, and if the person who had sexual intercourse with it is not its owner, he must pay its value to its owner.

Ruling 2649. If a kid [i.e. a baby goat] suckles milk from a pig to the extent that the milk strengthens its flesh and bones, the kid and its offspring become unlawful to eat and their milk becomes unlawful to drink. In case a kid suckles milk to a lesser extent, then based on obligatory precaution, it must undergo a process of istibrāʾ, and after that it becomes lawful to eat. The process of istibrāʾ for a kid is that it must suckle pure milk for seven days. If it does not need milk, it must eat grass for seven days. Based on obligatory precaution, a suckling calf, lamb, and the young of other animals whose meat is lawful to eat fall under the same rule (ḥukm) as a kid. It is unlawful to eat the meat of an excrement-eating animal, but in the event that it undergoes the process of istibrāʾ, it becomes lawful to eat. The process of istibrāʾ for such animals was explained in Ruling 219.

Ruling 2650. Drinking wine [and other alcoholic beverages] is unlawful. In some traditions, it is considered one of the gravest sins. It has been reported from Imam al-Ṣādiq (ʿA) that he said, ‘Wine is the root of evil and the origin of sins. A person who drinks wine loses his intellect, and at that moment, he does not know Allah, fear any sin, keep the respect of anyone, observe the rights of his near relatives, or turn away from openly obscene acts. If he takes a sip of it, Allah the Exalted, the angels, the Prophets, and the believers curse him. And if he drinks until he becomes intoxicated, the spirit of belief and the ability to know Allah leave him and the spirit of filthy evil takes their place. His prayers (ṣalāh) are not accepted for forty days (even though it is obligatory (wājib) on him to perform his prayers and his prayers are valid (ṣaḥīḥ)).’

Ruling 2651. It is unlawful to eat something from a table on which wine is consumed. Similarly, [it is unlawful,] based on obligatory precaution, to sit at such a table.

Ruling 2652. It is obligatory for every Muslim to give food and water to another Muslim who is on the verge of dying from hunger or thirst and save him from death if his own life is not in danger. The same applies if the person is not a Muslim and is someone whom it is not permitted to kill.

[1] A turbah is a piece of earth or clay on which one places his forehead when prostrating.
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