Halal and Haram are Arabic words often used by those of the Muslim faith. The words are used to describe all aspects of their life, however, most non-Muslims recognize them in the context of food.
Halal is used to describe something as lawful. Haram is used to describe something as forbidden.
These words are not limited to food, but they are often seen alongside food products to help Muslims stay within their faith.
To answer the question “what is halal food”, you need to understand which foods are considered lawful in the Muslim faith.
Meat is considered halal if it has been raised and slaughtered through the Zabihah method. This method is mentioned in the Qur’an and the Hadeeth.
The idea is to cause the least amount of pain possible. The slaughtering process must follow these rules:
- The animals cannot watch the slaughter of another animal.
- The animals cannot be grouped together before the slaughter.
- The slaughtering process must be carried out by a Muslin.
- At the beginning of the process, “Bismillah” must be uttered – It means “In the name of Allah”.
- A precise cut to the throat of the creature is the only slaughtering technique – cutting the jugular vein, trachea, and carotid artery.
- The knife must be sharp to make sure the animal’s death is as quick as possible.
- The animal must be hung upside down, allowing the blood to drain.
As long as these principles have been followed, any meat can be considered Halal. The only exception is pork.
Other Halal Food
As long as the food or meal isn’t considered Haram, then it will be considered Halal. The concept is black and white.
This means all meat slaughtered using the Zabihah technique is Halal. Fish isn’t considered “slaughtered” and therefore is Halal. The same can be said for vegetables and fruits.
Most dairy products are also Halal. The only expectation are cheeses with non-Halal rennet. Rennet is made from the stomach of animals and produces the enzymes needed to ignite the cheese-making process.
If the animal slaughtered for rennet has been killed using the Zabihah technique, then the cheese is considered Halal.
To eat Haram food is a major sin. This could be because you are eating food not blessed by Allah, because you are eating food that could be contaminated, or the cruelty of hurting another animal hasn’t affected your morals – making you unholy.
Halal means refusing to allow inhumane slaughtering techniques. The cut should be quick and precise. Failing this means failing to understand that animals deserve respect too.
However, one meat is always considered Haram – pork.
Many religions consider pork to be unsafe, for example in the Bible (Old Testament) Leviticus 11:7-8 states:
“And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.”
Scientifically this almost universal rejection of pigs is understandable. Pigs of old commonly carried parasites, would eat human flesh, and cannot rid themselves of toxins very well making them a feast for bacteria.
Other Haram Food
Other Haram food includes alcohol, blood, or anything which mixes these ingredients.
The most important thing to note about Haram food is the preparation and the type of animal.
If an animal hasn’t been slaughtered in the name of Allah, then it hasn’t been blessed. This makes it Haram.
However, if an animal is carnivorous and has eaten the flesh of another animal, this means it has been contaminated with blood. Blood is considered Haram, and therefore the whole creature, blessed or not, is also Haram.
If a creature has been attacked by another animal, then it hasn’t been slaughtered using the Zabihah technique. This can help Muslims prevent eating food that is contaminated. For example, if a creature has contracted Rabies and attacked another animal due to the condition, eating either creature could mean contracting the illness yourself.
How to Identify Halal Meal
Depending on the country, most places will have a Halal Certification logo. Search for what this logo looks like in your area.
If you are unsure, choose vegan options instead. All vegan food avoids meat and animal products making it automatically Halal.
Halal is a term for lawful acts or items in the Muslim faith. Haram is the term for unlawful acts or items in the Muslim faith.
These terms are usually seen around food, but they are connected to every part of a Muslim’s life.