I’ve heard (and asked) this question many time: You drink, you have sex but you won’t eat pork?
Post-9/11, our knowledge of Islam has “expanded” and most of us (North Americaners) are now aware that alcohol, premarital sex and swine are all forbidden in Islam just like in some other faiths. And like in other faiths, some Muslims sometime cheat. However, more often than not, at least with the Muslims I have encountered, they will often drink alcohol or have premarital sex but will still refrain from eating pork; something that baffles most of us who have delected in the awesomeness that is bacon, pulled pork sanwiches, BBQ’ed pork ribs or pineapple ham!
In western society, pork has become widely accepted, if not become a staple of our “cuisine”. An awesome burger is hardly considered “awesome” without a generous serving of bacon slices! It has become so widely accepted that we almost expect everyone to have eaten pork a few times within their lifetimes. However, certain things remain tabboo: we have an age limit on alcohol consumption, and sex has an age on consent. Alcohol abuse is widely frowned upon regardless of backgrounds and varying degrees of acceptance of premarital sex exist based on age, number of partners and gender. Pork is an assumed thing, alcohol is of limited consequences, sex is an eventuality. That is the “western” mentality.
Muslims have similar views when it comes to sex and alcohol, with the added religious pressure. But when it comes to pork: the mentality is completely different. Muslims (some/most) see swine, not only as forbidden food, but as disgusting, unhealthy, disease-ridden meat. Personally, if someone were to say to me “what? You drink alcohol, you have premarital sex, but you won’t eat cockroaches?” Well, no… I won’t. It’s not a pleasing food for me. I have heard many times before that cockroaches (and ants) are full of vitamins and are considered a delicacy in some country… but I don’t particularly give a shit! You’re still not going to catch me eating cockroaches EVER, unless I am literally starving; and even there! I may have an inner struggle whether death might be a more appealing idea! That’s how much I do not wish to eat cockroaches!
Now if you were Muslim, and told that pork was basically a gigantic meaty cockroach, would you eat it? No. So next time, when you hear of a Muslim that will drink alcohol, have premarital sex but won’t eat pork, just remember my cockroach analogy!
For me, I’ve had pork many times in my lifetime and it is pretty darn great, but it’s still not a food of particular impact on my lifestyle. Barring pork out of my diet meant only removing the Easter ham and the occasional ham sandwich since I had already switched to chicken-bacon and beef hot dogs a long time ago for health reason. So now I chose not to eat pork for religious and only religious reasons. I have set myself a goal of removing alcohol from my list of beverage and I chose to be in a monogamous relationship (the latter is not only for religious reasons, I do lov emy boyfriend). Point being, I make choices based on my belief, but also based on my experience, my knowledge and my preferences. You won’t see me be nauseated at the sight of pork like you would if it were a cockroach served to me, but cultural and religious sensitivity has to be learned by one and all for a peaceful society. So grab your preferred beverage and CHEERS TO THAT!