This article describes the perplexing process by which Iran turned forbidden fish into halal fish and kept making a load of money from it. Seems even religious law can be flexible, if contorted, when the controllers have an agenda…
Politics | H.E. Chehabi
How Caviar Turned Out to Be Halal
from Gastronomica 7:2
When the Shiite clergy acquired control over the Iranian state in 1979, they found themselves in a position where, in addition to enunciating the prescriptions of divine law (shari’a), they also had to supervise the actual enforcement by the state of the religious injunctions it comprises. Islamic law contains detailed rules about food, drink, and culinary etiquette,1 and although the actual practice of Muslim societies has never fully conformed to these rules,2 the obvious importance of food and drink in the daily lives of people confers upon religious dietary laws a subjective importance for Muslims that helps define the boundaries of their community.3 An Islamic state, as defined by modern-day Islamists, must therefore be a state in which Islam’s dietary laws are legally enforced.
The Koran explicitly forbids the consumption of only three things: pork, alcohol, and carrion. The consumption of pork and alcohol was indeed outlawed soon after the revolution of 1979, there being no need to prohibit carrion since Iranians are not particularly fond of it. Caviar, however, posed a delicate problem. Shiite jurisprudence considered it haram (forbidden), but since its production and export were a state monopoly, caviar procured the Iranian treasury millions of dollars in revenue. Trading in what is forbidden being equally forbidden under the shari’a, the Islamic Republic faced the alternative of either reneging on its promise of applying divine law or depriving itself of valuable export earnings. Moreover, caviar is the epitome of luxury and culinary refinement in Western culture,4 which alone must have rendered it suspect in the eyes of the populists who took power soon after the revolution. To find a way out of this dilemma, the status of caviar under religious law was revisited. At the end of a laborious process involving both clerics and fisheries experts, the traditional ruling was reversed, and caviar was declared halal (permitted).
Read the rest of the article at the link… it is somehow comforting to know people everywhere are afflicted with the disorder of authorities of limited ability vastly exceeded by their responsibilities.