what-is-halal

What is Halal?

In Islam, Halal is an Arabic term meaning “lawful or permissible” and not only encompasses food and drink, but all matters of daily life.

The following is a partial list of Halal non-meat products:

  • Bread products
  • Cereals – breakfast, natural and organic
  • Cheese and cheese products and coatings
  • Coffee mixes
  • Dairy Products – whipped toppings and drink mixes
  • Desserts – cakes and pastries
  • Eggs – powdered, frozen, and processed
  • Fish and Seafood
  • French fries and Processed Potatoes
  • Fruits – fresh and/or dried
  • Grains
  • Honey
  • Ice Cream / Ice Cream Toppings
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Legumes and Nuts
  • Milk (from species considered Halal)
  • Pastry Items – frostings and coatings
  • Pastas
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pizzas
  • Plants (which are non-intoxicating)
  • Sauces and dressings
  • Seasonings
  • Soup and Soup Base
  • Syrups – table and flavored
  • Tea Blends
  • Vegetables – fresh and frozen

Non “Food” items which may also be Halal certified are:

  • Capsules – Pharmaceutical and Vitamin
  • Cosmetics
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Protein powders
  • Vitamins and minerals

In the meat, poultry and food industry, animals such as cows, veal, lamb, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, game birds, bison, venison, etc., are considered Halal, but they must be slaughtered according to Islamic laws in order for their meat to be suitable for consumption.

The Social Context of Halal

Halal applies not only to food products but to all aspects of life and social context. One may hear mention of, “Halal money.” What does this mean? For example, if a new religious center, school, hospital or any facility for social benefit is to be built, the funding must come from “clean” money or what is known as “Halal income.” For example, money derived from gambling, the selling of alcohol, drug trafficking, illicit social vices, or any illegal activity is considered Haram or detrimental to society and therefore not acceptable or considered a Halal income.

This is but one brief example of Halal in a social context. Therefore, when one hears the word Halal outside the food industry, one must think of it as a way in conduct of all aspects of life and betterment of society. Halal certification of food also means a pure and more wholesome nourishment for mankind.

What is Haram?

The opposite of Halal is Haram, which means “unlawful, not permissible or prohibited.”

They may also be summarized as: A. B. C. I. S.

A: Alcohol

B: Blood

C: Carniverous animals or carriers of disease

I: Idolartry (any animals or poultry sacrificed for voodoo, witchcraft or anything

denying the existance of the the Deity is the same as paganism or atheism.)

S: Swine and all pork by-products and/or derivatives

The following products are Haram and negate the Halal status:

  • Swine/pork and all of its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Animals killed or falsely sacrificed in any name other than God, the Merciful such as slaughter of “false sacrifice” to witchcraft, paganism, voodoo or idolatry are forbidden.
  • Alcohol, intoxicants and narcotic drugs
  • Carniverous animals, birds of prey and scavenger animals or foul
  • Blood and blood by-products (blood is the circulatory cleansing fluid of the body and is not to be consumed)
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products or contaminated with “impurities” (in Arabic, “najis”) from processing, such as manure, urine, rodent droppings, infectous fluids, pus, etc are considered Haram.

The following list of ingredients is a partial list of examples of what should be avoided and are considered non-Halal as well:

  • Alcohol
  • Non-Halal Animal Fat
  • Enzymes *Microbial Enzymes are permissible
  • Gelatin * – from non-Halal source (fish gelatin is Halal)
  • L-cysteine (if from human hair)
  • Lard
  • Lipase* only animal lipase need be avoided
  • Non-Halal Animal Shortening
  • Pork Bacon
  • Pork Ham
  • Unspecified Meat Broth
  • Rennet* All forms should be avoided except for plant/microbial/synthetic.
  • Rum
  • Stock* – a blend of mix species broth or meat stock
  • Tallow* – non-Halal species
  • Wine

*May be consumed if derived from Halal animals

Halal Education

Many people assume that Halal and Kosher are the same thing. They are mistaken! If a product is Kosher certified, it does not mean the product is automatically Halal. The Kosher process differs from what is allowable by the Islamic Shari’a. For example, there are Kosher wines and alcohol but this is not permissible or acceptable for Halal foods. Another example of the difference between Halal and Kosher are slaughter procedures. For Halal meat and poultry processing, the Muslim slaughterman is required to acknowledge God’s Creation and to thank God for providing sustenance by stating a prayer before each and every slaughter. Muslim slaughtermen invoke God’s name before each and every slaughter with the statement, “In the name of God – God is the Greatest/Bismillahi Allahu Akbar.” The Shochet, or Jewish slaughterman, does not and is not required to invoke God’s name on each animal before each slaughter. With Halal slaughtering, the entire carcas is utilized. With Kosher slaughtering, only the front four-quarter of the beef carcass is utilized. The Kosher hind quarters cannot be considered Halal as the Shochet does not adhere to Islamic Law and Halal guidelines and does not pronounce the name of God before each slaughter. Within the meat industry, some companies and distributors attempt to claim or purport Kosher hind quarters to be sold as “Halal” beef. Within Islam, Kosher slaughtering and handling is respected and industry is responsible to understand the guidelines and differences between Halal slaughter, invoking God’s name before each slaughter, and traditional Kosher slaughter rites and not mislead consumers.

Simply put, Halal and Kosher are similar but yet as different as “vegetarian” and “vegan.” However, it is a fact in some situations and circumstances, Kosher consumers accept Halal and some Halal consumers may accept Kosher.

ISA offers educational seminars on topics such as:

  • Halal requirements
  • The difference between Halal and Kosher
  • The Halal industry
  • Ingredient Analysis

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