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What Is Halal?

June 20th, 2008 · No Comments

Dave Mangione, Extension Educator, Ross County (Originally Published in Sheep Team Newsletter June 2004)

Understanding the religious restrictions associated with the Muslim faith is important to accessing this consumer market. The method in which an animal is harvested for human consumption by someone of Muslim faith is very specific. The term Zalrihah is used to describe the harvest of an animal. This method of harvest allows the blood of an animal to be completely expelled from its body. Blood and blood by-products are not permitted in the diet of someone of Muslim faith. Thus the removal of blood from an animal for human consumption is very important. The following terms and descriptions are specific to the Muslim faith relating to food.

“Halal” is a Quranic Term, which means, ‘Lawful’ or ‘Permitted’. Sometimes it is translated as Acceptable’ or ‘Not forbidden’. Halal foods and drinks are permitted for consumption by Muslims. Haram the opposite of ‘Halal’ means ‘Unlawful’ of Prohibited’. The other words used for Haram is Unacceptable’ or ‘Forbidden’. Haram foods and drinks are absolutely prohibited for consumption. “Mushbooh” is an Arabic term which means ‘doubtful’ or ‘suspected’. If one does not know the Halal or Haram status of a particular food or drink, such a food or drink is doubtful. A practicing
Muslim prevents himself from consuming doubtful things.

The terms Halal and Haram will be used strictly to describe food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, food ingredients, beverages and food contact materials. Which foods are Halal or which foods are Haram, is decided according to the Holy Quran and the Glorious Shari’ah (Islamic Law). Most diets and foods are considered to be Halal unless Islamic Law specifically prohibits them. The following products are definitely Halal:

Milk (from cows, sheep, camels or goats)
Plants which are not intoxicant
Fresh or naturally frozen vegetables
Fresh or dried fruits
Legumes like peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc.
Grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc.
Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game birds, etc., are also but they must be Zabihah (slaughtered according to Islamic
Rites) in order to be suitable consumption. The procedure is as follows: the animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim by putting knife to make sure that the main blood vessels are cut. While cutting the throat of the animal without severing it, the person has to recite “Bismillah Allah-u-Akbar”.

The following items have been categorically spelled out as being Haram:

1. Pig/Swine/Pork and its by-products
2. Blood and blood by-products
3. Carnivorous animals
4. Reptiles and insects
5. Halal animals which are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Law
6. Animals killed in the name of anyone other than God
7. The bodies of dead animals or dead before slaughtering
8. Alcohol and intoxicants such Wine, Ethyl Alcohol, and Spirits etc.

The above mentioned items are Haram and should be strictly avoided by all Muslims. Foods containing ingredients in the following are example of Mushbooh:

1. Gelatin
2. Enzymes
3. Emulsifiers
4. Lard
5. Glycerol/glycerin etc

A Muslim should avoid such foods containing Mushbooh or questionable ingredients. Before consuming such items, he or she needs to confirm the source of these ingredients.

Source: The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America

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