“Halal” is a term of significant interest to many as it pertains to Islamic law and its importance to Muslims. In Australia alone, there is a population of over 600,000 Muslims from various countries worldwide. These individuals believe in the one God, referred to as Allah in Arabic, and the Prophets such as Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and Muhammad. Halal refers to any item or action deemed permissible according to Islamic law, as opposed to haraam. It is commonly used in relation to food that adheres to Islamic dietary guidelines.
Halal is an Arabic term meaning permissible or lawful. In the context of food, it refers to the dietary guidelines outlined in the Qur’an, the Muslim holy scripture. The opposite of halal is haram, which means prohibited or unlawful. These terms apply to all aspects of life, including food products, cosmetics, personal care items, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and food-contact materials. While some things are clearly halal or haram, there may be some gray areas where further information is needed to make a determination. These items are often referred to as “mashbooh,” meaning doubtful or questionable.
Islam considers most foods halal unless specifically prohibited by the Qur’an or Hadith. Halal foods are defined as those that adhere to the following guidelines:
In Islam, Muslims eat to maintain a strong and healthy body in order to contribute to the welfare of society. Muslims strive to obtain the best quality nutritionally. In Hadith, it is stated that Allah will reject the prayer of a person if the food consumed is haram.
All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
(may be consumed is derived from Halal animals).
Ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavors may be questionable in terms of halal status because their origin is uncertain. In the meat and poultry industry, animals such as cows, veal, lamb, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, game birds, bison, and venison are considered halal, but they must be prepared according to Islamic laws to be suitable for consumption. Fish and seafood, with the exception of crocodiles, alligators and frogs, are generally acceptable for Muslims to eat, but it’s always best to check for personal dietary preferences or allergies. The preparation of fish or seafood should not involve alcohol or other prohibited substances. In cases of necessity, certain prohibited things may become permissible for the duration of the emergency or need, as Islam prioritizes preserving life over death. Qur’an Chapter 2:173 (Al Baqarah) provides further guidance on this.
Islam places great importance on the way in which an animal’s life is ended, which must be in accordance with Islamic regulations. Life is considered a sacred blessing from God for all living beings, both animals and humans. If the life of an animal must be taken for human survival, it should be done in the name of God. Therefore, the phrase “bismillah” (in the name of God) must be spoken before slaughtering an animal. Muslims cannot consume the meat of animals that are sacrificed in the name of anything other than God. Any animal slaughtered in the name of a person, dead or alive, or any deity or idol is considered haram and therefore not permissible for Muslims to eat.
Islam is not just a religion, it is a way of life with protocols, rules, and manners that govern every aspect of life. Food is an essential part of daily life, so food laws have a special significance. Muslims are expected to eat for survival and to maintain good health, not to live for eating. In Islam, eating is considered a form of worship of God, like prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and other religious activities.