Al-Anaam · Juz 8 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah al-Anaam Ayaat 118 – 121

Eating What was Slaughtered in the Name of Allah

Earlier in Ayah 116 we read “And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah.” Through this we understood the prohibition of blindly following the people and knowing that majority is not always right. The current Ayaat [118 – 121] were revealed pertaining to a certain event. The unbelievers tried to put the Muslims in doubt by commenting that they did not eat of the animals killed by Allah [i.e. by natural death] while they had no problem with eating what they killed [slaughtered] themselves. Some Muslims reported this doubt before the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam. Thereupon, these Ayaat were revealed.

Responding to their doubts Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,


Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala commands the Muslims to eat only those animals that were slaughtered in His Name. It is also understood here that He did not allow those animals to be eaten upon whom His Name was not taken while slaughtering. This was the practice of the pagans of Quraysh who used to eat dead animals and that which was slaughtered for the idols.

In Ayah 119, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala encourages eating from the meat of sacrificed animals on which His Name was mentioned upon slaughtering.


Meaning what reason do you have for not eating that animal on which the Name of Allah has been mentioned. You must eat it! In fact, that is the meat that you should eat. Further on, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says that He has already explained what is halal and haram earlier. Now the question arises that we did study about halal and haram in Surah al-Baqarah and Surah al-Ma`idah, however both the Surah were revealed in Madina while Surah al-Anaam is a Makkan Surah. So what does Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala mean by saying that it has already been stated? Here it means Surah an-Nahl.

In Surah an-Nahl Ayah 115, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala said, “He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah.” This proves that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has already removed any confusion and made it clear in detail what is prohibited. A person is not supposed to consume any of these except out of extreme necessity such as extreme hunger. In which case, he is allowed to eat whatever he can find.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala next mentions the ignorance of the idolaters in their misguided ideas. He says, “And indeed do many lead [others] astray through their [own] inclination without knowledge…” Meaning the justification that the idolaters present that “You don’t eat the animal that Allah killed [died naturally],” seems really impressive. However, through these statements people are leading others astray because of their whims and desires. They “want” to eat the dead animals or haram food therefore they come up with such arguments. It is their desire that they want to fulfill and through that they want to mislead you as well. Their desire is not based on any knowledge [that is the Qur’an].

When a person is practicing something and others are not he will try to justify his practice. He will come up with false statements to convince others too.

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala ends the Ayah by saying that He has complete knowledge of their transgression, lies and inventions.

The gist of the answer given is: You are Muslims. You observe the injunctions of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala and Allah has told you all about the halal and the haram. So keep abiding by that. Do not entertain any doubts. As for the scruples of unbelievers, just pay no attention to them.

In Ayah 120, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala commands the people to leave both apparent and concealed sins. He says,


There are certain sins that are done publicly and some that are done in secret. Examples of open sins may include cohabiting with a non-mahram, drinking alcohol at a restaurant, not wearing hijab [because it is an open disobedience to Allah’s command], buying a house or car on riba, not offering Salah, listening to music, backbiting etc. Meaning he has the confidence to do all of that openly without fear of Allah or what the people will say.

Concealed sins are those that a person does behind closed doors such as fornication, watching pornography, doing backbiting with only one or two people, entertaining grudges, plotting against someone, and riya [show off]. Concealed sins are those done secretly or in the heart such as hypocrisy and jealousy.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that An-Nawwas bin Sam`an said, “I asked Allah’s Messenger about Al-Ithm. He sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam said,

الْإِثمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي صَدْرِكَ وَكَرِهْتَ أَنْ يَطَّلِعَ النَّاسُ عَلَيْه

“The sin is that which you find in your heart and you dislike that people become aware of it.”

Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has put a sinometer in everyone. And that is our heart. Sometimes when someone is doing gheeba and is told not to do so, he replies, “I am not afraid of them. I can even say this on their face.” It is not the people that we should be afraid of but Allah! Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala commands us to leave all types of sins because we will be recompensed for whatever we commit.

Once again Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala reminds us not to eat that animal on which His Name has not been taken. He says,


Eating of that which is haram has been called a grave disobedience and sin. This shows it is a big deal! Sometimes we are really careful in front of the people about the ingredients and halal and haram. But when we are alone or with those to whom the haram is acceptable we will not refrain from consuming that. Allah’s laws are both for our public and private life.

It is the Shayateen that put these ideas and thoughts in the hearts of their friends from human beings who then come forward to argue with other people. Argue regarding what? Concerning the permissibility of that which is haram. And if we obey those who argue with us based on logic and not Shariah, then we will be of the mushrikeen. Why was this said? It is because the matter of halal and haram is exclusively Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala’s right, and if we begin taking this guidance from someone other than Allah then we are committing shirk.


– We learn about the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala to eat only that which is permissible. When Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has made something permissible for us then it is necessary for us to take benefit from it. When Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has commanded something we have to accept it whether we like it or not, whether it makes sense or not and whether other people follow it or not. It does not mean we have to over indulge because some people over indulge in permissible things as well.

– We also learn that majority of the people do not follow the law of Allah. They follow their whims and desires. Eating is fulfilling your desire. In order to fulfill their desires people look for something that will make permissible what they “want” to eat. We see celebrities following a particular diet or eating a certain food and we join them ignoring what the Book of Allah says.

– People lead others astray due to lack of knowledge. People share their opinions about matters about which they have absolutely no idea. For example, one most common example is of hijab. People often say where in the Qur’an it says you have to cover your hair. When you see someone contradicting mainstream religion then know that person doesn’t have any knowledge.

– There is a noteworthy thing in these Ayaat. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala began with aqeedah and then talks about akhlaq. This is a lesson for those who do da`wah that while you do guide people about aqeedah also focus on good character and morals because that is the essence of Islam.

– We learn the command to leave all types of sins whether one has the confidence to do in front of others or not. In Surah al-A`raf Ayah 33 Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “Say: My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed.”

– We should leave all the sins due to the fear of Allah as He reminds us of the consequences. An apparent sin indicates we have no fear of the people. On the other hand, a concealed sin indicates our fear of the people. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala reminds us that we should only fear Him because of our accountability in front of Him.

– The animal has to be slaughtered properly that is its blood is drained and the Name of Allah must be pronounced.

– A person deliberately eats of that on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned then he is committing a sin even if it’s chicken or beef. But if a person unintentionally eats something that is haram then he is forgiven however he has to seek forgiveness.

– If a person follows those people who base everything on logic and not Shariah then that is Shirk. Sometimes people prefer the opinion of their scholar over what the Book of Allah says. This was the problem of the People of the Book. They followed their Rabbis and scholars, and that was equated with their worship of their scholars which is a Shirk. We should give preference to the command of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.

Download PDF: al-Anaam Ayaat 118 – 121

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