Many people have not encountered this concept and don’t know the meaning of the word Halal after seeing it on packaging with different products.
Halal is an Islamic word meaning “permissible”. When the word halal is mentioned, for a non-Muslim it’s usually associated only with meat, but Halal includes much more than just that. It refers to things or actions that are permissible under Islam and is usually used to describe something permissible for a Muslim to do or participate in, e.g. eat, drink, consume, handle or use. For a food item, product, or service to be considered Halal, it must follow the Islamic rules contained in the Qur’an.
What is Halal?
Halal mostly refers to Islamic food produced following Muslim rules. We mainly talk about meat products such as chicken and beef and even specifically produced meat products like Halal sausages, because the believers are forbidden to eat meat like pork and meat that contains blood. The method of killing the animal is also considered, as it must be performed under a special ritual: you must calm the cattle, be sure to pray and kill it very quickly and painlessly.
Devoted believers of Islam use products that are made according to special rules. There is a list of allowed and forbidden foods. Halal foods are as follows:
- berries, vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives
- all food options that do not fall under “Haram” (prohibited)
- sea and river fish: eel, catfish, sturgeon
- locusts and grasshoppers are Halal to consume
- dairy products, milk. The only exception is some prohibited ingredients: yogurt with gelatin in the composition, which is obtained by melting animal bones
- ice cream
- margarine, which is made from vegetable fats
- non-alcoholic beverages, including reasonable kvass, and non-alcoholic beer
- soybeans, beans
- Halal meat
- nuts, cereals
- sweets without alcohol. An exception is products that use pure alcohol, but not cognac, rum etc. Pure alcohol isn’t considered bad in the Islamic faith
List of Prohibited Foods – Haram
Haram means forbidden food. Islam forbids pork and lard, but also the food of blood, meat from predators, and fish without scales. The animal must also not have been raised on carcasses. All forms of alcohol, including light beer, cider, wine sauce, and sweets with alcohol in them, are not permitted.
The Qur’an contains all the foods that should not be consumed by believers. The following are concrete examples of what foods are forbidden to consume:
- animal blood
- emulsifiers and dyes
- the meat of animals not slaughtered according to Islamic traditions
- endocrine glands of any animal, gallbladder/bladder, genitals
- animals that died of strangulation, falls, blows, lightning, or electric shock, died of natural death
- additional raw materials from fats, bones, the meat of haram animals: gelatinous thickeners, sausage casings, sausages
- alcohol as a beverage or component in the preparation of a dish
- fish that dies naturally
- all birds of prey with claws
- halal foods that come in contact with haram
- sweets with alcohol in the composition
- lizards, turtles, hedgehogs, snakes, cats, dogs, mice, rats
When Cooking Food
More and more food producers are bringing in goods and products that meet the needs of Muslims. The best purchasing consultant is often the customers themselves. In Muslim cooking, the meals should contain a lot of vegetables, herbs, legumes, and preferably tomato sauce.
Meats are also used a lot when cooking nutritious and tasty soups or stews. They’re then often served with a fresh salad. Usually, oils such as olive oil are used in cooking. The most common dessert is fresh fruit such as oranges, watermelon, or grapes.
Living according to Islam can be quite complicated when it comes to food. Packaged products often have a content declaration, but even if you can read all the additives included, it can still be difficult to determine the origin. Some seemingly “innocent” foods contain lard or additives made from lard and a lot of foods contain some type of alcohol.
Alcohol is sometimes used to dissolve additives but only in vanishingly small amounts.
Edible oils are often completely vegetable-based, the same as table margarine. Butter contains no additives and is only made from cow’s milk. However, animal fat may be present in baking and household margarine. Suet is lard and it’s often used in meat products, bread, and pastries. Gelatin that is used to make certain sweets and desserts usually come from pork belly so it shouldn’t be consumed.
In simple words, Halal food is all types of food that are considered to be lawful and permitted under the Islamic faith. The term Halal applies to all aspects of life and it represents a set of guidelines by which Muslims all around the world live their lives.