This article will provide the reader with basic information on Islamic dietary restrictions. It will explain what kinds of foods Muslims can consume according to Islamic law. Although Islam is a single religion, it is important to recognize that there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Therefore, Muslims are not a homogenous group and one will find different practices among them. Some individuals and cultures will adhere more closely to the teachings of Islam than others.
What does halal mean?
Halal is the Arabic word for something that is permissible or lawful. The word haram means unlawful or prohibited and therefore is used as the opposite of halal. Although usually used in the context of food, the word halal is also used to describe other permissible things. For instance, halal income implies that one earned their money honestly, without cheating, stealing, or usury.
Which foods are halal?
Halal refers to any food product that is not prohibited. In fact, the vast majority of foods are halal and therefore too numerous to list. Almost all non-meat and non-alcoholic foods are halal.
What makes an animal’s meat halal?
When it comes to meat, halal or zabiha simply mean that the animal was slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. Islam places great emphasis on how an animal’s life ends and how it is to be treated at the time of slaughter. All life, including that of animals, is considered sacred and must be treated humanely. For more on animal rights on Islam check out this article.
This includes mentioning God’s name when slaughtering the animal, slaughtering it by slitting the throat with a sharp object, and draining its blood. One cannot eat an animal that died from electric shock, or by being beaten, stunning, or any other means.
What are the Islamic guidelines for slaughtering an animal?
The Australian Federation of Islamic Council has laid the guidelines for animal sacrifice according to Islamic law:
- The slaughterer must be a sane adult Muslim.
- The slaughterer must say the name of God before making the cut.
- The name of God is said in order to emphasize the sanctity of life and that the animal is being killed for food with God’s consent.
- The animal must be killed by cutting the throat with one continuous motion of a sharp knife.
- The cut must sever at least three of the trachea, esophagus, and the two blood vessels on either side of the throat.
- The spinal cord must not be cut.
- Animals must be well treated before being killed.
- Animals must not see other animals being killed.
- The knife must not be sharpened in the animal’s presence.
- The knife blade must be free of blemishes that might tear the wound.
- The animal must not be in an uncomfortable position.
- The animal must be allowed to bleed out and be completely dead before further processing.
Is there any meat that Muslims cannot consume?
Generally, any animal not killed according to the above criteria is not permissible for Muslims to consume. However, there are some kinds of meats that Muslims are not allowed to consume such as pork. Pork or non-halal meat is not limited to meat products, but this also includes some food items that might contain pork or non-halal meat as an ingredient. For instance, gelatin is often made from non-halal sources such as pork. Gelatin is often used in gummy products, marshmallows, and some desserts. This would make the item prohibited. However, sometimes gelatin comes from halal sources such as fish which makes it halal.
What about seafood?
Seafood is halal and Muslims can generally eat anything from the sea. There are some exceptions to this such as the prohibition of consuming alligator, crocodile, or frog meat.
Can Muslims drink alcohol?
Islam values the preservation of one’s mind and sanity. Therefore, alcohol and wine are strictly prohibited. This includes cooking food with wine.
Islam is a complete way of life. It provides its followers with guidelines about food, drink, marriage, inheritance, business, politics, and personal interactions. Do you have more questions about Islam and Muslims? Call 877-Why-Islam. You deserve to know!