Understanding Halal and Haram Food in Islam

Islam is not just a religion or spiritual matters it is a way of life. Islam has its rules and manners supervising every aspect of life. Since food is an important part of everyday life, food laws carry a unique significance. Muslims are supposed to eat for survival, maintain a healthy life, and not just live for eating. In Islam, eating is a matter of worship of Allah like prayer, Zakah, and other spiritual exercises.

What does Halal mean?

You may have come across the Halal sign on windows of restaurants throughout the country. Have you ever thought about it, what does it mean? Halal is determinest which means that something is permissible to consume especially by the Qur’an or the Hadith, whereas the opposite Haram which means it’s not allowed to consume. So, why should it matter what we eat or what we don’t eat? Well, it’s just like people watch what they eat for a diet or their physical health. Islam cares for spiritual well-being in essence. Islam teaches you that you are what you eat. 

Divine texts of Islam teaches you that all the attributes you see in different animals can become a part of your soul the more you eat that animal.

ِAllah says in the Quran “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He whom ye worship” (2:172). 

Forbidden (Haram) food in Islam

People wonder why Muslims can’t eat pork and with the divine teaching of “you are what you eat” you can understand why. Because certain attributes and pigs could have harmful spiritual effects on a person. Similar to that predator animals are forbidden due to their vicious attributes and harmful effects on our soul. 

These are effects that you may not notice physically but without a doubt, it affects the soul.  

In General, in Islam All types of food are halal except what Qur’an or the Hadith prohibits.

When does Islam consider food not Halal ?

  • Animals/birds that have died due to natural causes, beaten, strangulate, not slaughtered the proper way, and animals that slaughtered in the name of anyone other than Allah. When ending the life of an animal, the name of Allah must be mentioned. Therefore, the responsible man must say just before slaughtering an animal the phrase Bism Allah ”in the name of Allah”.
 Allah said in the Quran “He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, 
and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any
 other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor
 transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (2:173).
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey, (that eat flesh and drink their blood): Allah’s Messenger prohibited eating the meat of beasts that have fangs (Sahih Albokhary).
  • Alcoholic drinks and drugs: Islam is “Deen-Al-Fetrah” or the natural religion. All its orders are aimed at preserving the nature of man. Alcohol is a departure from this natural state, for the individual and society. Therefore, Islam prohibited the consumption of alcohol and drugs. Allah says in the Quran” O you who believe! Intoxicants (all kinds of alcoholic drinks), gambling, idolatry, and divining arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handiwork. So avoid that so that you may be successful. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Verses 90 and 91of Surat Surat Al-Ma’idah). The prophet Mohamed (PBUH) also said, “whatever intoxicates in large quantities, a small quantity of it is forbidden.”

When Gelatin and Enzymes are Halal?

  • Gelatin: Animal gelatin is a soft, viscous material that is not soluble in water. It is extracted from animal bones and tissues by means of lengthy boiling in water. It is not permissible to extract the gelatin from the flesh, bones, and skin of pigs or permissible animals that have not been slaughtered in a prescribed way. It’s allowed to extract the gelatin from the skin, sinews, and bones of animals that are permissible to eat and have been slaughtered in the prescribed manner, also from plants that are not harmful or toxic.
  • Enzymes: Not all enzymes are Haram, Microbial enzymes are more compatible with halal food because it eliminates the use of animal-derived enzymes. The source of animal enzymes is a concern for Muslims. The use of microbial enzymes is more compatible with halal food production because it eliminates the use of animal-derived enzymes. 

How to identify Mashbooh Ingredients:

Sometimes the ingredients are not clear so the recipe may have haram food. And in order to figure Mashbooh, ingredients you need to think about their source. Is it plant-based or animal-based? If its animal-based like chicken, beef, or something else. Then you ask if the animal slaughtered in an Islamic manner. There are many ingredients use to improve the appearance, texture, and shelf-life of a final product, for example, salad dressings need to be creamy, so food companies use Emulsifiers which could either be from plants or could be from animals.

Cakes need to be light and airy, so food manufacturers use additives like Monoglycerides or Diglycerides and these additives could also be plants or animal-based. Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure unless you investigate the source. These are all serious issues for Halal consumers. The easiest solution is to look for a reliable Halal certified symbol on the package. When you see the Halal symbol you know that the product ingredients have been thoroughly checked by the authorities.

Muslims Should Eat Halal Food

The Zabhah method of slaughter ensures that what we are putting into our bodies is healthy, and to assure that it has been slaughtered without any pain and in a humane way.

When Muslims want to eat, they make sure that the food they eat and consume is Halal. And they make sure that the meat served was slaughtered in the Islamic way. Also, they have to be certain that the meal does not contain any kind of Haram food.

You must remember that the amount of Halal food is uncountable and prohibiting a few types is only for human benefit.