Answer: As I understand it, Surah Maida is generally considered as the last surah revealed, and verses 2 and 3 indicate that. If the first four verses are read in order and then verse five, it appears that Allah has clearly declared the meat of certain forms of death as not suitable for eating. Furthermore, verse 5 couples two permissions: food of the People of the Book and marriage with 'chaste women' from among the People of the Book. I feel the logical derivative is that the permissible or clean portion of the food of the People of the Book is permissible, while we are to avoid that which is already declared as unsuitable for consumption.
Also worth pondering is the fact that food and pilgrimage are mentioned together. Perhaps there is a closer link between our spiritual and physical wellbeing than we think, or perhaps we need this analogy to understand the significance of why certain kinds of food are not permissible.
Consider the first ten verses of Surah Maida.
Holy Quran, Chapter 5, Verses 1-10
1 O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all four-footed animals, with the exceptions named: But animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb: for Allah doth command according to His will and plan.
2 O ye who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the symbols of Allah, nor of the sacred month, nor of the animals brought for sacrifice, nor the garlands that mark out such animals, nor the people resorting to the sacred house, seeking of the bounty and good pleasure of their Lord. But when ye are clear of the sacred precincts and of pilgrim garb, ye may hunt and let not the hatred of some people in (once) shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah. for Allah is strict in punishment.
3 Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
4 They ask thee what is lawful to them (as food). Say: lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure: and what ye have taught your trained hunting 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 swift in taking account.
5 This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).
6 O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful.
7 And call in remembrance the favour of Allah unto you, and His covenant, which He ratified with you, when ye said: "We hear and we obey": And fear Allah, for Allah knoweth well the secrets of your hearts.
8 O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
9 To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward.
10 Those who reject faith and deny our signs will be companions of Hell-fire.
Many Muslims keep arguing about what they call ‘halal meat’ without even knowing the Quranic criteria. Most of those who reach the USA or Europe from other countries, or those who convert to Islam in the Western countries, are usually confronted by some Muslims, “Do not eat but the halal meat.” What do they really mean by halal meat? Nothing Quranic!
Most importantly, let us not equate halal with Zabeeha. The word ZABEEHA does not even appear in the Quran. God knew in His infinite Wisdom that the ways of slaughtering would keep changing with time.
16:115 He only prohibits for you the dead animal, blood, and swine-flesh and anything that has been dedicated to other than God….
6:116 Do not keep uttering in falsehood, “This is lawful and this is unlawful”, thus inventing lies against God. Those who fabricate lies against God, fail to prosper in their own ‘self’.
The upholding of any prohibitions not specifically mentioned in the Quran is nothing but idolatry. Such man-made restrictions represent some other god(s) beside God. If we obey God alone, we will uphold His laws alone and honor only His commandments. God very clearly mentions in the Quran what is prohibited from the food and meat.
2:173 He has forbidden you: dead meat (carrion), blood, swine-flesh, and anything (NOT JUST MEAT) that has been dedicated to other than God (be it a person, an idol or a tomb 5:3) …
In addition to ignorance, the term “halal Meat” is a term often used for profits. Those calling their meat halal, are actually claiming that any other meat is not halal. And that the meat sold in the general groceries (supermarkets in the West) is not halal. They make more money on their products by selling it expensive. Ordinary Muslims get deceived that their meat is the only halal meat for them. God Almighty always knew that many Muslims would be living among People of the Book and sharing their food and for this reason God stated the following:
5:5 “Today, all good food is made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book) is Lawful (HALAL) for you……”
BEFORE EATING: God Almighty has also specified a simple criterion for His servants. Mention God’s Name on EVERYTHING you are going to eat. See 5:4, & 6:118-119.
6:119 Why should you refuse to eat on which God’s Name has been pronounced (i.e. it is dedicated to Him alone)?
NOT BEFORE SLAUGHTERING: Muslims have substituted God’s command (mentioning His Name on food before eating it) by a non-Quranic condition of their own making. They have made slaughtering (ZABEEHA) the ONLY lawful method of killing an animal for its meat. There is absolutely no such restriction in the Quran. As a result of this man-made restriction, the Mullah-minded Muslims and meat merchants insist that the Name of God must be mentioned on it before slaughtering an animal. The following observations prove that this imposed restriction is false and that it is non-Quranic:
01. The first reason is that unless you have slaughtered the animal yourself, you cannot be sure that the Name of God has been mentioned on the animal. Therefore, the only choice available is to mention God’s Name before eating.
02. Another reason behind mentioning God’s Name on our food before eating is appreciation:
16:114 So enjoy all the lawful and decent THINGS which God has provided for you. And be grateful for God’s bounty if it is Him you truly serve.
This act of appreciation for God’s blessings would not be genuine and heartfelt if we rely on someone else taking God’s Name somewhere in the slaughter house.
03. By reading 16:114, we note that the command of uttering God’s Name is related to whatever we eat, ANYTHING, and not just meat. This includes fruit, vegetables, or even snacks like cookies, biscuits or peanuts etc. Should we slaughter fruit, cookies and peanuts? So, the only way to obey God’s law is to take His Name before eating all foods.
04. Verse 5:5 makes it clear that God has made it Lawful for us to eat the food of People of the Book (Jews, Christians). As the Christians in particular do not take God’s Name before slaughtering, their food is still lawful for us. This can only mean that the duty is laid on each of us before eating our food and nothing else.
BLOOD: Muslims need to recall that People of the Book also consider blood as Forbidden. Whichever way the animal is killed for consumption, its blood either drains out or lodges in its veins. This blood is automatically removed during washing the meat. See that happen in a chicken you buy from a Christian merchant or from a Muslim pushing for ‘Zabeeha’ meat.
A HADITH DISCARDED: The Hadith lovers even discard their beloved Bukhari (2057) here: Narrated by Bibi Aisha, A group of people asked the Prophet, “People bring us meat and we do not know if God’s Name has been mentioned on it.” The Prophet (S) replied, “Say BISMILLAH and eat it.”
Surat Al-Maidah 5.3
Surat Al Baqarah 2:173
Surat Al Baqarah 2:168
Surat An-Nahl 16-115
Surat An-Nahl 16-116
Surat Al-Anam 6-118
Surat Al-Anam 6-119
Surat Al-Maidah 5-5
http://quran.com/2 is the best site for verifying Quran with English translation.
We can never be the better for our religion if our neighbour is the worse for it