LeBron James may be one of the most polarizing sports personalities in the world, but one thing James’ biggest critics and biggest fans can agree on is that the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player is one of the most impressive physical specimens in sports.
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, the 31-year-old James is widely considered the ideal combination of size, strength, speed and conditioning in a basketball player. He regularly ranks among the NBA leaders in minutes played and rarely suffers a significant injury. For years earlier in his career, a lot of fans and media seriously wondered if James could leave the NBA and become an instant impact player in the NFL.
Detractors spend hours questioning James’ skill level, his ability to produce in crunch time, his character and his loyalty. One thing they cannot deny is that LeBron James is a healthy human being.
And it turns out that he owes some of that good health to eliminating pork from his diet, something he began seven years ago.
James is not a Muslim, but he recently confessed that he shares at least one thing with those who practice Islam in that he abstains from eating pork.
“Oh, you can tell the difference,” James told Cleveland.com reporter Chris Haynes. “It’s in how I recover, the energy I have. It has helped a lot with my performance. Overall, I’ve just been feeling good.”
James added: “(Eliminating pork) has worked for me. It has been one of the best things I’ve decided to do for my career.”
While James’ no-pork diet is clearly about health and fitness rather than religion, there is plenty of overlap for Muslims who do not eat pork.
Almost anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that Muslims do not eat pork. Ignorant Islamophobes have even turned that little bit of knowledge into an effective tool of displaying their hate — often using pig’s blood or pig corpses to vandalize mosques. The world’s most popular Islamophobe of the moment, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, has been repeating a story along his campaign trail about a soldier who allegedly soaked bullets in pig’s blood before using them to shoot Muslim terrorists. (Which begs the question: Which animal’s blood does Trump advocate soaking bullets in when their targets are non-Muslim terrorists?)
A lot of people know that Muslims don’t eat pork. Significantly fewer know why Muslims don’t eat pork.
The first and foremost reason is simply that Allah (swt) forbids it, and the essence of Islam is to submit to and obey Allah.
“He has forbidden you only dead animals, and blood, and the swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than God.” (Quran 2:173)
“Say: ‘I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine — for indeed, it is impure — or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 6:145)
Many Muslims also avoid pork because of the health benefits involved in doing so.
Pigs are known to carry parasites, bacteria and other viruses that are harmful to the human body. Pigs eat pretty much anything, and because they have very few sweat glands and extremely slow metabolisms, they are unable to rid their bodies of toxins with the same speed and efficiency of other animals.
Certain infections caused by tapeworms often found in pigs are prevalent in developing countries, but are rare in poorer majority-Muslim countries because the people there generally do not eat pork.
There are countless more examples of stomach-turning stories involving worms and larvae and sickness and pain that come from eating pork. But the reality is that none of them seem to significantly impact the general public’s opinion of the popular meat, especially in Western culture.
America seems to have a growing love affair with bacon. We sing songs about eating hot dogs at baseball games and we gather around the table on Thanksgiving in front of huge hams. Sausage is a breakfast staple. Pork rinds are a common snack. From roasted pig in Hawaii to pulled pork in Houston, the U.S. loves its pork.
And so, for kids who grow up in Muslim households — and honestly, for adults trying to stay on the straight path — and are trying to navigate this world of haram temptations coming at them from all angles, I would imagine that pork is just as much a societal/peer-pressure thing as alcohol, drugs, immodest clothing and premarital sex.
Similar to those other vices, perhaps the biggest dent that could be made in the public’s infatuation with pork is for celebrities like LeBron James — who are not only rich and famous but also healthy and athletic — to publicly put the bacon down.
Categories: HEALTH & FITNESS
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