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Laws of Religion

Laws of Islam Concerning Food


4.  Prohibition against Consuming Blood


from the Holy Qur’an, major hadith collections

and Islamic jurisprudence


Prohibition against Consuming Blood

From Islamic Source Documents: Qur’an and Hadith


As discussed on previous pages, the Qur’an states that there are only four types of forbidden foods: dead meat, blood, swine and food over which a name other than that of Allah (God) has been invoked.[1] (Dead meat is meat from an animal that died other than by proper intentional slaughter or hunting.)



Prohibition against Consuming Blood

From Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh§):  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer of Ibn Rushd, the Risala of al-Shafi‛i and Reliance of the Traveller


The prohibitions against drinking wine, consuming blood, and eating pork or meat from dead animals are mentioned in passing in al-Shafi‛i's Risala[2] and these transgressions are referred to as “disgraceful acts”[3].


Blood that flows out of a non-aquatic animal is filth* whether the animal is living  or dead,[4] even if it is in the process of being properly slaughtered.[5] Blood coming from a living animal or a prohibited animal cannot be eaten in any quantity, no matter how small[6] but most scholars**, including Malik, Abu Hanifa and al-Shafi‛i, say that in other cases small amounts of blood can be ignored.[7] Scholars disagree on whether blood in a ritually slaughtered animal that did not flow out of the animal is prohibited.[8] Al-Shafi‛i is among those who say that the blood of fish is clean, while some other scholars disagree.[9]


As discussed on the previous page, Rules Concerning Dead Meat, Imam Dhahabi (an important 13th-14th century Shafi‛i scholar) is quoted in the English translation of Reliance of the Traveller as stating that the eating of unslaughtered meat, blood or swine are “enormities.”[10] Whoever voluntarily eats of these is a criminal.[11]




* “Filth” is explained at Food and Animal Materials that are Filth.


**Islamic scholars disagree on certain points of law based on different methodologies used in deriving the law from the Qur’an and the traditions (sunna) concerning the life of Muhammad and his closest companions, particularly as expressed in the compiled hadiths. There are four major schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam: the Maliki, the Hanafi, the Shafi‛i and the Hanbali. These names are derived from the individual scholars considered to have been the founders of each school: Malik, Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi‛i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, respectively. The source texts we have used to prepare our summaries of Islamic jurisprudence contain the legal views of these different founders and schools, as described at Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.


§The more general term sharia is often used loosely to mean the specific derived laws of fiqh, such as those summarized here.




Laws of Religion is a project of the Religion Research Society.


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Abbreviations used in footnotes:

QR:   Qur’an, with surahs (chapters) and ayahs (verses) numbered as in most modern translations, including those found here, here and here.

BK:    Hadith collection of al-Bukhari as found here (USC/CMJE website) and here (ebook download). In a few instances, the hadiths on the USC website differ from those in the ebook download, either by having slightly different numbering of the hadiths or because the hadith appears only on the USC site and not in the ebook download. Such cases are noted in the footnotes by putting either “(USC)” or “(ebook)” after the relevant hadith number when it applies to only one of these two sources.

ML:    Hadith collection of Muslim as found here and here.

DJP:  The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, by Ibn Rushd, translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, published by Garnet Publishing Ltd, Reading, UK. Volume 1, 1994. Volume 2, 1996. Full text online and download for Volume 1 is here and here and for Volume 2 is here and here.

RT:    Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, revised edition 1994, published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, USA.

SR:    al-Shafi‛i’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri, Second Edition, published by The Islamic Texts Society.

●  The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Islam.

[1] QR 2:173, QR 5:3, QR 6:145, QR 16:115

[2] SR 13 (page 68), SR 161 (pages 170-171)

[3] SR 13 (page 68)

[4] DJP 1.4.2 (Volume 1, page 81)

[5] DJP 17.1 (Volume 1, pages 563-567)

[6] DJP 17.1 (Volume 1, pages 563-567)

[7] DJP (Volume 1, pages 85-86)

[8] DJP 17.1 (Volume 1, pages 563-567)

[9] DJP (Volume 1, pages 85-86)

[10] RT p30.1 (page 673)

[11] RT p30.2 (page 673)