And eat of the lawful (Halal) and good things that Allah has given you and keep your duty to Allah.
(Holy Qur’an 5: 88)

Many people believe that Kosher Food is the same as Halal (or Muslim) Foods.  This is not the case although Muslims follow dietary laws that are similar to Jewish kosher regulations

If you are not sure of the differences you should take time to study the requirements of each religions dietary laws.

This article focuses on Muslim food and its dietary laws.

Foods that Muslims can eat are called Halal.

Prohibited foods are called Haram and questionable foods are called Mashbooh.

The terms Halal and Haram is used in this article to describe food related products, ingredients, drinks and materials.

Which foods are Halal or which foods are Haram, is decided according to the Holy Qur’an and the Glorious Shari’ah (Islamic Law).Most diets and foods are considered to be Halal unless Islamic Law specifically prohibits them.

What Is Halal?

The opposite of Halal is Haraam. It means prohibited, not allowed, unlawful, illegal.

The classification of food products as Halal is a very serious religious matter and can only be carried out by a Muslim who is an expert in The Islamic Dietary laws.

Halal is a Qur’anic Term, which means ‘Lawful’ or ‘Permitted’.

O Mankind! Eat the lawful (Halal) and good things from what is in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Surely he is an open enemy to you.
(Holy Qur’an 2: 168)

Sometimes it is translated as ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Not forbidden’. Halal foods and drinks are permitted for consumption by Allah- the supreme lawgiver. In the Holy Qur’an (the revealed book), Allah commands Muslims and all of mankind to eat of the Halal things. Eating Halal is obligatory.

Swine and pork products, as well as meat not properly slaughtered or slaughtered in any name other than Allah are Haram.

Carnivorous animals and birds of prey are also Haram. Haram animals include pig, dog, donkey, carnivores, monkeys, cats, lions, frogs, crocodiles, turtles, worms, flies, cockroaches, owls, and eagles. Alcohol, coffee, tea and other drugs are Haram.

Importantly, Halal foods that have become contaminated by contact with prohibited foods are also Haram.

The following products are definitely Halal:
  • Milk (from cows, sheep, camels or goats).
  • Fish
  • Honey.
  • Fish.
  • Plants (non intoxicant).
  • Fresh (or naturally frozen) vegetables.
  • Fresh fruits.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Legumes e.g. peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc.
  • Grains e.g. wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc.
The following products can be Halal:

Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game birds, etc., are also Halal, but they must be Zabihah (slaughtered according to Islamic Rites) in order to be suitable for consumption.

How to complete the Zabihah:

The animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim by putting the animal down on the ground (or holding it if it is small) and slitting it’s throat with a very sharp knife to make sure that the main blood vessels are cut. While cutting the throat of the animal without severing it, the person has to recite “Bismillah Allah-u-Akbar“.

Fasting is also important. Fasting is a way to earn the approval of Allah, wipe out previous sins and understand the suffering of the poor. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan and voluntary fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is also common. Muslims are encouraged to only eat to two thirds of capacity.

What Is Haram?

The opposite of ‘Halal’ is “Haram”, which means ‘Unlawful’ or ‘Prohibited”.

The other words used for Haram is ‘Unacceptable’ or ‘Forbidden’.

Haram foods and drinks are absolutely prohibited for consumption by Allah.

Eating Haram is forbidden for every Muslim. If a Muslim consumes Haram foods, he would be sinful.

The following items have been categorically spelled out as being Haram:
  • Pig and all pork by-products.
  • Blood and blood by-products.
  • Carnivorous animals.
  • Insects.
  • Reptiles.
  • Halal animals which are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Law.
  • Animals killed in the name of anyone other than God.
  • The bodies of dead animals or dead before slaughtering.
  • Alcohol and intoxicants such as Wine, Ethyl Alcohol, and Spirits etc.

When Haraam is mixed with Halal, it ruins the Halal as well. (Mishkat Sharif)

Haram products should be strictly avoided by all Muslims.

What Is Mushbooh?

“Mushbooh” is an Arabic term which means ‘doubtful’ or ‘suspected’.

If one does not know the Halal or Haram status of a particular food or drink, such a food or drink is doubtful.

A practising Muslims prevents himself from consuming doubtful things.

Foods containing ingredients in the following are example of Mushbooh:
  • Gelatin.
  • Enzymes.
  • Emulsifiers.
  • Lard.
  • Glycerol/glycerin etc.

Muslim should avoid such foods containing Mushbooh or questionable ingredients. Before consuming such items, confirmation of the provenance of the ingredients is required.

Further Sources: (Links to Sites)

Global Halal Institute

Islam Halal

The Economist (Article) Who should regulate kosher and halal food?