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Each of the major world religions has its own set of laws that govern, among other things, the intake of a specific type of food, its provenance, and the manner in which it is prepared. These rules vary in their degree of restriction based on religion. Some specify what is permissible or wholly prohibited for their followers to eat.

You have undoubtedly heard the phrases “Halal” and “Haram” before, but you may not understand what they imply, what Muslims eat and don’t eat, and why. Muslims and non-Muslims alike can be deliberate and concerned about what they consume for nourishment and pleasure.

For Muslims, eating halal is more than just health advantages or obeying laws; it is about nourishing their bodies. Halal is a way of life that includes all areas of behavior and decisions. Muslims worldwide follow halal rules and avoid products that are considered haram. Here is a summary of what the terms Halal and Haram signify.

Halal and Haram in the Quran

The Quran uses halal and haram to distinguish between permissible or allowed and unlawful or banned. In the Quran, the root h-l-l implies lawfulness and may also suggest leaving a pilgrim’s ceremonial state to enter a profane condition. In both of these interpretations, it conveys the opposite meaning as the root h-r-m (see haram and ihram). In literal meaning, the root h-r-m can mean dissolution (for example, violating an oath) or alighting (for example, God’s anger). Lawfulness is commonly indicated in the Quran by the verb ahalla (‘to make lawful’), with God as the declared or inferred subject.

What is halal?

Halal is a collection of laws that govern the life principles of Islamic followers and ‘Muslim morality.’ It incorporates, among other things, nutritional criteria based on Islamic Shari’ah law. Halal refers to everything that is permissible or compliant with Islamic law.

The concept of ‘haram’ is the polar opposite of halal, and it refers to things that are considered improper or prohibited under Islamic law.

Please remember that halal (authorized) and haram (prohibited) pertain to various aspects of human existence and consumption.

Islamic followers distinguish between four forms of Halal:

Wajib (compulsory) – avoiding necessary deeds is regarded as a sin (e.g., prayer, monthly post, Ramadan observance);

Mustahabb (permitted and advised) – optional but highly recommended. Avoidance of some activities is not punished, but rigorous observance is praised (e.g., caring for the impoverished and sick and showing respect for the old). 

Mubah (neutral) refers to behaviors with no legal indications or contraindications. 

Makruh (allowed but not recommended) refers to activities that should be avoided, but are nevertheless permitted. However, committing them repeatedly leads to sin.

The mujtahid, a recognized scholar, classifies acts as halal (permitted) or haram (prohibited). A fatwa is a ruling that classifies a particular act.

Types of Halal Foods

The widespread understanding is that anything that is not banned is considered Halal. We will go into the many sorts of Haram meals in greater depth later, but for now, here is a list of the Halal foods:

Meat is slaughtered in an Islamic manner.

Fish and other sea creatures (not murdered)

Fruits and veggies.

What is haram?

Haram refers to forbidden or illegal foods. Prohibited means that a Muslim is not permitted to ingest such food.

It is vital to understand that food can also be regarded as uncertain or suspect in addition to being acceptable or banned. This category includes food that is not Halal or Haram and may contain ingredients of questionable origin or have been processed in a manner that is not by Islamic teachings, particularly when it comes to seafood; creatures of the sea are one of the most questionable animals used in the provision of food, and many Muslims are still unsure.

In these instances, it is best to avoid the food or speak with religious authorities to have a better understanding of its permissibility.

Types of Haram Foods

Here is a list of banned foods in Islam. To intentionally consume any of them is a severe sin unless there is no other food or drink available and the person is at risk of hunger, or for medicinal grounds.

  • Meat not slain by the Qur’an and Hadith.
  • Alcohol
  • Pork or pork byproducts
  • Food containing blood or any combination of the three (e.g., gelatin derived from Haram flesh, cakes with alcohol).
  • Any food or beverage that contains prohibited substances, food additives, or alcohol.
  • Beverages include beer, spirit wine, alcohol, and liqueur.

Further investigation into the category of non-Halal meat takes into account the types of animals that are not permitted to be eaten as well as the manner in which the animal is killed. The following animals and meats are considered Haram:

  • Carnivorous animals/birds (animals that consume other animals’ meat or blood).
  • Animals devoted to or murdered in the name of someone other than Allah.
  • Animals/birds dedicated to idols.
  • Animals/birds that have died naturally.
  • Strangulation-related deaths in animals and birds.
  • Animals and birds die as a result of the beating.
  • Animals or birds that die after falling from a height.
  • Animals or birds killed and gored by a predatory animal.
  • Amphibians, or animals that live both on land and in water, include frogs and salamanders.

Guidelines for Animal Slaughter According to Islamic Law.

The guidelines for slaughtering animals according to Islamic law are known as “Zabiha.” This process requires that the animal be faced toward the position where Mecca is located, the name of Allah be invoked (saying a blessing before killing), and the animal be killed quickly with a sharp knife. This approach minimizes the animal’s pain and is regarded more humane than other ways of slaughter such as stunning or hanging.

Why Does Islam Forbid Haram Foods and Animals?

It is critical to realize that the concept of halal and haram extends far beyond food, assisting Muslims in determining what is and is not acceptable in their daily life. Food is also thought to enhance bodily and spiritual purity.

Eating solely halal meals is thought to help maintain cleanliness, eliminate pollutants, and protect oneself from potentially hazardous elements found in non-halal foods, particularly meat.

In the Qur’an 2: 173, ALLAH forbids Muslims from eating creatures that did not die as a result of man, animals that contain blood, or bacteria that bring health problems, such as pigs, flesh-eating animals (predators), and others. Islam also prohibits the consumption of animals sacrificed to other gods.

How do I buy halal food?

The simplest approach to determining (with the greatest degree of certainty) whether a meal or product is halal is to look for the halal certification. However, consumers may find it challenging to verify halal compliance because there are numerous methods for a product to become non-halal, ranging from packing materials to additives.

Pre-packaged food and meals served in restaurants must be certified before they can be considered halal. The American Halal Foundation in the U.S. and worldwide can complete this certification. 

Final Thoughts

The Halal vs Haram food classification in Islam is an integral part of the religion that tries to promote healthy eating habits while also maintaining the individual’s spiritual and bodily purity. Following these rules allows Muslims to stay connected to their faith while also ensuring that their daily behaviors are consistent with their beliefs and ideals. For non-Muslims, the goal of halal meals is to promote safe and healthy eating habits for the immune system and physical well-being.