The word ‘Halal’ in Arabic means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’. Its opposite is ‘Haram’ which means ‘unlawful’ or ‘prohibited’. Muslims can only consume food that is Halal.
Many things are clearly Halal or clearly Haram; however there are some areas that are ambiguous. Such food items fall in the ‘Mushbooh’, (doubtful or questionable) category. More information is needed to categorize them as Halal or Haram. Examples of such foods include gelatine, enzymes, emulsifiers and any food products that contain these ingredients. The origin of these types of ingredients is the only way to determine if they are Halal or Haram.
Halal food is defined as food permitted under the Shariah Law (Islamic rules) and should fall within all of the following parameters:
- Food that does not consist of or contain anything which is considered to be Haram according to Shariah Law.
- Food that has not been prepared, processed, transported or stored using any appliance/facility that is contaminated by anything Haram according to Shariah Law.
- Food that has not (during the course of preparation, processing, transportation or storage) been in direct contact with any food that fails to satisfy parameters 1.1 and 1.2 above.
- Food that does not contain Najs material according to Shariah Law.
- Food must be safe for human consumption, non-poisonous, non-intoxicating and non-hazardous to health.
- Food that is not prepared, processed or manufactured using equipment contaminated with Najs material according to Shariah Law.
- Food that does not contain any human parts or its derivatives as specified according to Shariah Law.
Any material or actions that are not classified as Halal according to the EHDA Halal Standard and anything that is forbidden or unlawful under Shariah Law. Here is a list of the main things that are considered Haram (prohibited) for Muslims to consume:
- Swine/pork and its by-products.
- Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering.
- Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (swt). ‘Allah’ (swt) is the Arabic word for ‘God’ NOT an idol.
- Alcohol and intoxicants.
- Carnivorous animals, land animals without external ears and birds of prey
- Blood and blood by-products.
- Foods contaminated with any of the above. – Under Shariah Law, the following sources, including their by-products and derivatives are considered Haram (unlawful):
- Animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah Law.
- Pigs, boars, dogs, snakes, monkeys and similar/closely related animals.
- Carnivorous animals with claws or fangs such as lions, tigers, bears.
- Birds of prey with claws such as eagles, vultures, owls.
- Pests such as rats, centipedes, scorpions and other closely related animals.
- Animals forbidden to be killed in Islam, i.e. ants, bees and woodpecker birds.
- Animals which are considered repulsive generally like lice, flies, maggots and other similar animals.
- Animals that live both on land and in water such as frogs, crocodiles and other similar animals.
- Mules and domestic donkeys.
- All poisonous and hazardous aquatic animals.
- Blood and its derivatives.
- Food containing intoxicating or hazardous plants except where the toxin or hazard can be eliminated during processing.
- Alcoholic drinks and alcoholic products.
- All forms of intoxicating and hazardous drinks.
- All food additives derived from any item that is deemed Haram according to the points above.
- Any food that contains any human parts or its derivatives.
A food product can be certified as ‘Halal’ after it has been determined that the ingredients used in its production (and the process of production) is in compliance with the Halal standards of Islamic law. This requires supervision from an independent and qualified party. A Halal certificate is normally issued for each product that a business produces.
Halal is required for food to be accepted by Muslim consumers. Certification makes it easier for Muslims to know which product and outlet are permissible for them.
The certification procedure also requires businesses abide by the best hygienic and good standards making the entreprise better in the process.
Thirdly, apart from the 1.4 billion Muslim consumers worldwide, there are discerning consumers who choose to eat Halal products because of the obvious positive health and hygienic benefits associated with them. Genuinely Halal products have high levels of cleanliness and care throughout their preparation.