Why Pork Was A Pivotal Issue In Master Of None

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
The third episode of Master of None, aptly titled "Religion," revolves around Dev grappling with his Islamic roots — as a pork-eating, premarital sex-having guy. While he doesn't follow several of Islam's lifestyle guidelines, his parents and relatives do, and they consider it an unshakable part of their identity.
One of the pivotal scenes in the episode sees Dev convincing his observant cousin, Navid, to try pork for the first time. For those who aren't familiar with Islamic dietary laws, this is a big deal.
"It’s one of those things that is prohibited for Muslims," Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations tells Refinery29. He compares it to similar prohibitions around pork within Judaism. Pork (and pork by-products) are considered haram, or forbidden, in the Quran, which states simply that God doesn't allow it and that it's "impure." And Dev's love of bacon aside, many Muslims take this rule very seriously.
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"Even those who are more or less non-observant in their lives still don’t eat pork," Hooper says. "It’s just at that level of taboo in the Muslim community."
In fact, a 2015 survey from Pew Research found that nine in 10 American Muslims avoid pork entirely. By comparison, it's been estimated that only 70% of Muslims worldwide adhere to all halal (or lawful) Islamic principles (which include avoiding blood products and only consuming animals that were slaughtered in the name of Allah, in addition to avoiding pork products). Basically, Hooper explains, if you follow one rule of Islam, it's probably the one about pork.
So, considering how important it is for many Muslims to avoid pork, Dev's choice to eat it anyway isn't a mere plot detail. It's a window into the role that faith plays in his life, and it provides some insight into his internal struggle on how he should express his religious beliefs. He tells his parents he isn't all that religious, but adds that he's living by his own interpretation of Islam: "Why can’t I have my interpretation where I’m just nice and I eat pork?”
Of course, there's no "right" or "wrong" here — whether or not someone follows a religious law (dietary or not) is a highly personal decision. But, for Dev, rather than living by a set of preexisting rules, he decides for himself which Islamic values are most important to him. And actually, that's something that a lot of millennials — of all faiths — can relate to.
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