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I don't mean to bother you. I am not Muslim, but I have deep respect for your faith and work and study with Muslims on an almost daily basis. I have noticed that some of my Muslim friends do not eat certain foods. Can truly necessary medications--insulin, for example--be exempt from Muslim dietary rules? I know God would never want a person to actively harm or kill him- or herself without very, very good reasons. I have learned that people who are ill or very elderly are not expected to fast during Ramadan, and people are asked to go on the hajj only if they can afford it. My true interest is the core of Islam. As a Quaker, I believe any religion that leads a person to find the love and truth within and live it with all people has something precious from which I can learn and enrich my own faith. I was just curious about the dietary laws.

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    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 14:19
  • If it's to save a life, a muslim can eat and drink anything, and permanent harm or serious illness also qualifies. As for diabetic muslims who need to eat, I have seen - but don't have time to look for now - religious edicts saying they are exempt from fasting, if necessary. I think even saying that you don't believe in god is permissible to save a life, but I'm uncertain of this statement.
    – G. Bach
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 14:28

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In general, necessity overrides prohibition. This comes from Qur'an verses such as:

... But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful. -- Qur'an 6:145

Other examples are: Qur'an 5:3, Qur'an 2:173, Qur'an 16:106.

Then the question becomes: when is something necessary enough to override prohibition? Unsurprisingly, there's differences of opinion on the matter.

Islam Q&A describe it as:

Necessity means cases in which a person will be harmed if he does not take the haraam option, in which the harm will effect the five essentials which are: religion, life, honour, reason and wealth.

listing two conditions by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen:

  • We are compelled to do it; there's no alternative.

  • The haram thing must meet the necessity.

But other places describe it differently, e.g. Sunnah Online.

When it comes to medication, deciding if we are compelled to do so and if the haram thing would help with the disease appropriately would require medical expertise. Generally, a trustworthy Muslim doctor should help decide:

We would also advise you to consult a trustworthy Muslim doctor; if he tells you that your case requires treatment and that there is no suitable alternative in your case apart from this type of medicine, then there is nothing wrong with you using it, in sha Allah. -- Islam Q&A

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The basic rule on using medication with haram substance is that it is forbidden. This is evident from various ahadith such as:

ليس بدواء ولكنه داء

It (wine) is no medicine, but an ailment.

Muslim

نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الدواء الخبيث

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prohibited unclean medicine.

Abu Dawud

إن الله لم يجعل شفاءكم فيما حرم عليكم

Allah did not make your cure in what He made Haram (unlawful) to you.

Bulugh al-Maram

فتداووا ولا تداووا بحرام

Treat disease but do not treat it with anything that is haraam

Abu Dawud

Some of the jurists however admit exceptions to this when certain conditions are met, such as:

  • When it is necessary to cure the issue, such as when it could lead to death
  • When there is no other alternative medicine
  • When it is known with reasonable certainty that using the medicine will cure the problem.
  • Some have allowed the case where the haram substance is not pure but is mixed with other things

Ref: Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah 1, 2, 3 and islamqa.info

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