At a recent doctor visit, my doctor told me I should start taking a multivitamin (for a multitude of reasons). Now, I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m not too keen on taking medications– I’ve seen and heard about too many negative side effects. Our society tends to be obsessed with taking medicine for any little thing, which often leads to worse complications. If you’ve ever listened to the side effects list at the end of a drug commercial, I’m sure you know what I mean– the worst one I’ve heard was a recent commercial for a sleep aid. Among 20 other possible side effects: loss of sleep. (Wait– what? I thought it’s supposed to help you sleep?? . . . )
I have to admit, however, that sometimes taking medication really is necessary and healthy. So after wavering over whether or not I should actually start taking it, I decided it’s probably a good idea. The problem, however, is deciding which one to take. As I have been learning about different kinds of foods and other manufactured goods that aren’t halal, I had also recently learned that many medications also fall into that list. So far from what I’ve learned, one of the main culprits tends to be the gel-tab medications which often use pork by-products for the coating. Like always, checking with the Muslim Consumer Group is a good place to start when trying to understand if certain medications are halal or not.
Okay, so before some of you freak out and start thinking you can’t take any medicines anymore, I feel it’s important to make a note about this. I can’t remember the exact verse or hadith regarding this (someone please comment if you know!), but I remember it being said as well as discussed with friends that Allah wants us to be healthy and take care of ourselves. So sometimes, even if something has been deemed haram or forbidden to us, it may still be okay in certain circumstances. For example, if you are sick and need to take a certain medication to get better, if you cannot find a halal medication or are not sure if what you need to take is halal, it is okay to take it because your health is most important. If you have questions about this it might be best to discuss with your Imam . . .
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Like with other things (i.e. soap) I have discovered that the best solution for me is to look first at what products they have at Sprouts (Whole Foods or other natural foods stores will work too). Sprouts has a lot of vegetarian products, and they are clearly marked– most big name brands you find in other stores won’t really tell you on the label if they contain pork or other animal by-products.
So I ventured to Sprouts today, and sure enough, I was able to find a great selection of natural, organic, vegetarian medications and supplements. They also have a lot of cool homeopathic remedies that I might try sometime.
It may be a bit more expensive than the generic brands you find in most grocery stores, but I feel much better taking the stuff at Sprouts– not just because I know it’s halal, but because I also feel like it’s safer, more natural. I don’t feel like I’ll be pumping myself full of chemicals.
The more I learn, the more evidence I find that the values of Islam align with the values behind the natural, organic, non-GMO food trends we see today. It just makes sense that God would want us to take care of our body, and that he knows the best way for us to do that– leaving many instructions for us on how to do that in the Quran and in the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Here’s a few Quran verses I found on the subject (there are many more, too, but I figured we don’t need to see them all here). The second verse is especially interesting considering the trend towards drinking raw milk:
“O believers! Eat of the good and pure things that We have provided for you and be grateful to God, if you are true worshipers of God.” (Qur’an 2:172)
“And verily in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from between excretion and blood, pure milk, palatable to the drinkers.”
For those who want to read more on this subject, I found this great website focusing on being healthy as a Muslim, including eating: HealthyMuslim.com