Comparative Analysis of Dietary Laws in African Traditional Religion and Islam: Implications for Culture and Peacebuilding

Comparative Analysis of Dietary Laws in African Traditional Religion and Islam: Implications for Culture and Peacebuilding

Ubong-Abasi Asukwo Beatitudes Akpan (University of Ibadan, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2574-6.ch020

Abstract

It is a veritable fact that dietary laws are cultural and religious heritage of human societies. It is an also an incontrovertible fact that religions have declared certain food lawful/unlawful for human consumption. These laws are peculiar to world faiths as they evolved out of a cultural milieu. In this study, the dietary laws of Islam and that of African traditional religion are placed side by side in comparison, with the aim of bringing to the fore the implications these laws portend towards culture and inter faith peace building processes. The aim of the study is to unravel how these religious laws affect the food and nutrition level of Africans. It is geared towards highlighting aspects of enculturation and cultural revivalism.
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Dietary Laws In Islam

We begin by bringing to the fore the term “halal”, which connotes permitted foods in Islam, while the one’s not permitted, are regarded as “Haram”. Halal foods are therefore one of the principles of food consumption set by the Islamic faith to determine the level of faith and also to serve as an act of worship of Allah, as the Muslim faithful remain obligated to the principles all through his/her life. Halal is defined as that which is permissible and lawful. It is based on the following Qur’nic verses which states as follows: “ye people eat of what is on earth lawful and good (Q Al Baqarah 168), “eat of the good things with which we have provided you. (Q Al-Araf 160), “they ask you what is lawful to them as food, say: lawful unto you are all things good and pure, and what you have taught your trained animals to catch in the manner directed to you by Allah; eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it, and fear Allah, for Allah is well in taking account. (Q Al-Maidah 4). (Ibrahim; 2015).

In the context of the Halal foods, it is said that every food and drink is made permissible in Islam, unless it is prohibited by Allah in the Quran or his Prophet in the Sunnah. It is said that what is halal is much more than what has been made haram in that all vegetables, fruits, lentils and grains are permissible. More so, all seafood is also made permissible, as well as beef, chicken and lamb. This assertion therefore makes it often said in the Islamic fold that it is what is good that are permissible.

What then are forbidden foods in Islam? They are designated as haram. We highlight the major aspects of foods that are forbidden in Islam as follows:

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