If you’re particularly fond of ethnic food or are of Islamic faith, you’ve likely come across the term Halal before — but do you know what it means? Not to worry; The Word Counter is here to the rescue!
In this complete guide, we explore “Halal” to uncover its definition, origin, and more. So, if you’ve ever been curious as to what Halal means or which foods are considered to be Haram, keep reading.
What Is the Definition of Halal?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the adjective “halal” is used to refer to meat from an animal that has been killed in a way that is demanded by Islamic law.
An Arabic word that means “lawful” or “permissible” in English, halal pertains to what Muslims are allowed to do in their lives, especially when it comes to food and drink. The opposite of Halal is Haram, which is an Arabic word that describes something that’s forbidden.
The term kosher is Hebrew for “fit” or “proper,” which is pretty similar to the Arabic word Halal. However, whereas Jewish people don’t speak the name of God (Allah) each time they slaughter an animal, Muslims perform a prayer over the first and last animal in any given slaughter.
Simply put, Halal is a word that is most commonly associated with strict Islamic dietary laws.
Why Do Muslims Consume Halal Food?
Halal foods are those that are free of any substance that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law (Shari’ah).
Now that you understand what our word of the day means, you might be left wondering why Muslims consume halal foods in the first place. There are many reasons why an individual may nourish their body with only halal foods, but Muslims eat halal foods primarily because Zabiha meat keeps their bodies healthy and clean.
Here are some other reasons one might eat halal:
- A halal animal is always fed clean, vegetarian food and grass. In turn, this yields meat that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which are especially healthy for the human body.
- Since halal meat lacks blood, it tends to have a better taste.
- Animals killed using haram methods might contain e-coli poisoning, bacteria, and other harmful and dirty substances.
- The halal slaughtering method is less painful for animals.
Which Foods Are Halal?
Foods that are halal can be found in many Middle Eastern grocery stores. In larger cities, you may also find Halal butchers. That said, for meat to be certified halal, it must be slaughtered in a manner known as dhabiha.
This sacred Islamic form of slaughtering animals involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid, and windpipe. Animals must be alive, well, and healthy at the time of slaughter, and all blood must be drained from the carcass.
During the process, a Muslim will recite an Islamic oath, known as shahada or tasmiya.
Foods that are considered halal include:
- Meat slaughtered under Islamic laws and principles
- Zabiha meat (beef and lamb) and poultry
- Fruits, veggies, and grains — except those that cause intoxication
- Fish with scales and other marine animals (not required to be slaughtered)
Note: Fish can’t be placed on the same plate as meat; however, it can be enjoyed during the same meal.
What Foods Are Haram?
As mentioned previously, Haram is an antonym for halal. In other words, Haram means “forbidden.” Acts that are haram are prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and Sunnah.
If something is considered Haram, it remains prohibited no matter how good the intention is. This remains true unless the person is in danger due to extreme hunger or for medicinal purposes.
Foods that are considered Haram include:
- Animal meat that wasn’t slaughtered following the methods prescribed in the Sunnah and Quran
- Pork or pork by-products
- Birds of prey
- Alcohol (and other intoxicants)
- Donkeys, mules, sheep, goats, and horses
- Fanged animals (dogs, cats, bears, monkeys, etc.)
- Shellfish (including oysters, mussels, lobster), scallops, and shrimp
Any Tips to Eat Halal?
Whether you’re eating Halal due to your faith or simply because halal meat is generally safer to consume, there’s no denying that sticking to strict eating guidelines is tough. Not to worry, though; here are some great tips and tricks to help you eat more halal and less haram:
Tip #1: To ensure that the food items are permissible under Islamic law, stick with halal products that have a Halal certification.
Tip #2: Eat fewer meat products and more plant-based foods, such as fresh veggies and fruits.
Tip #3: When halal food is hard to find, Kosher is the way to go.
Tip #4: Consider following a few Muslim food bloggers on social media for foodie inspiration.
Tip #5: When in doubt, the best way to ensure that you’re eating halal is simply by cooking at home.
The term halal means permissible in Arabic and refers to anything prepared by the name of God (AKA the name of Allah) — except pork and all intoxicating alcohols.
If you’re new to eating halal, be sure to do plenty of research before you embark on your journey. Planning is crucial because many restaurants and supermarkets serve haram (forbidden) food.
You may find it especially difficult sticking to a halal diet at first, but once it becomes a habit, you’ll begin to reap all the benefits that come with eating clean, including more energy, a clearer mind, and a closer relationship with your divine self.