The aim of this blog is to help non-Muslims to have a better understanding of the term ‘Halal’ and its importance to Muslims. One Islam – Many Muslims Though Islam is a single religion, it is important to recognise that Muslim people are not a single homogenous group. There are approximately +400,000 Muslims in Australia, who have come from over 70 countries all around the world: from Europe (ie Albania, Bosnia, Turkey), Africa, Asia (including Central Asia, South Asia, South East Asia), Pacific Islands, and North and South America. Muslims believe in the one God. Allah is the Arabic word for God, and Muslims believe in all the Prophets including Jesus, Moses, Abraham and others including Muhammad, peace be upon them.
What does Halal food really mean?
“Halal” is that permitted, allowed, lawful or legal. The method that makes food can be classified as Halal is a very serious and can only be carried out by a Muslim who is an expert in the Islamic dietary laws.
In overall, every food is considered halal in Islam unless it is specially prohibited by the Qur’an or the Hadith. By official definition, halal foods are those that are:
- Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law (Shariah).
- Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
Muslims eat to maintain a strong and healthy physique in order to be able to contribute their knowledge and effort for the welfare of the society. Muslims are supposed to make an effort to obtain the best quality nutritionally. It is mentioned in a Hadith that the prayer of a person is rejected by Allah if the food consumed is prohibited (haram).
The forbidden foods (Haram)
The opposite of Halal is Haram, which means unlawful or prohibited.
According to these guidelines that were gathered from the Qu’ran, Muslim followers cannot consume several different types of foods.
All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
- Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
- Non-Halal Animal Fat
- Enzymes* (Microbial Enzymes are permissible)
- Gelatine* – from non-Halal source (fish gelatine is Halal)
- L-cysteine (if from human hair)
- Lipase* (only animal lipase need be avoided)
- Non-Halal Animal Shortening
- Pork, Bacon / Ham and anything from pigs
- Unspecified Meat Broth
- Rennet* (All forms should be avoided except for plant / microbial /
- synthetic – rennet obtained from halal slaughtered animal is
- Stock* (a blend of mix species broth or meat stock)
- Tallow* (non-Halal species)
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
- Foods contaminated with any of the above products
(*May be consumed if derived from Halal animals.)
How is halal meat prepared?
God’s name must be invoked in a one-line blessing called the Tasmiyah, said before any slaughter. British Halal Food Authority slaughtermen use the most common version, “Bismillahi-Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah the greatest).
Reciting a short blessing beginning with “bismillah” (in the name of Allah) is a prerequisite for Muslims before embarking on any significant task. Orthodox Jews recite similar everyday blessings, including a prayer used before performing kosher slaughter.
The Islamic method of killing an animal for meat is called zabiha. After reciting the blessing, the slaughterman uses a surgically sharp instrument to cut the animal’s throat, windpipe and the blood vessels around its neck. The blood is then allowed to drain from the body.
The rule is that only one animal can be ritually slaughtered at a time and the other animals must not witness any death.
The religious law also says how the animal must be treated during its life, with the animal not allowed to have been mistreated or caused any pain. It must also be provided with enough space to roam, clean water, food and fresh air.
Some animals killed for halal meat in the UK are stunned electrically before their throats are slit, known as “pre-stunned slaughter”. The British Halal Food Authority approves of low-voltage electrified water baths to stun poultry and electric tong stunning for sheep and goats.
Islam is not only a religion it is a way of life with protocols, rules and manners governing every facet of life. Since food is an important part of daily life, food laws carry a special significance. Muslims are expected to eat for survival, to maintain good health and not to live for eating. In Islam, eating is considered to be a matter of worship of God like prayer, fasting, alms-giving and other religious activities.
1. What is Halal? A Guide for Non-Muslims. Retrieved from https://www.icv.org.au/about/about-islam-overview/what-is-halal-a-guide-for-non-muslims/
2. What Is Halal Food? Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-halal-food-2355726
3. Halal meat: what is it and why is it so controversial? Retrieved from https://www.theweek.co.uk/58447/halal-meat-what-does-it-involve-and-is-it-cruel-to-animals