Thursday, January 22, 2009


Halal the most important term to the muslim. What is halal??? Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. However, in these terms only in relation to food products, meat products, food ingredients, and food contact materials. While many things are clearly halal or clearly haram, there are some things which are not clear. These items are considered questionable or suspect and more information is needed to categorize them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.

All foods are considered halal except the following, which are haram:

  • Swine/pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God)
  • Alcohol and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
  • Blood and blood by-products
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products
Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, etc. are questionable (mashbooh) because the origin of these ingredients is not known.


masz_mikan said...

Salam,i want to add something in here
Dietary laws for Muslims are very clear. As outlined in the Qur'an, Muslims are forbidden from consuming pork, alcohol, blood, meat dedicated to false gods, etc. It is easy to avoid these basic ingredients, but what about when the ingredients are disguised as something else? Modern food production allows manufacturers to start out with one basic product, then cook it, boil it, and process it, until they can call it something else. However, if its original source was a forbidden food, then it is still forbidden to Muslims.

So how can Muslims sort through it all?

Some Muslim dieticians have published books and lists of products, from Burger King hamburgers to Kraft cheese, to indicate which things are forbidden and which are permitted. The soc.religion.islam newsgroup compiled a FAQ file using this approach back in the 1990s. But as Soundvision points out, it is nearly impossible to list every possible product. In addition, manufacturers often change their ingredients, and international manufacturers sometimes vary the ingredients from country to country. Such lists often become outdated and obsolete rather quickly.

As another approach, the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America has compiled a list of ingredients that is very helpful. You can use this list to check labels for items that are forbidden, permitted, or suspect. This seems to be the most reasonable approach, as the short list is not likely to change over time. With this list in hand, it can be very simple for Muslims to purify their diets and eat only what Allah has permitted.