Halal (حلال, ḥalāl; also spelled halaal) is an Arabic word that translates to “permissible or lawful” into English.
In the Quran, the word halal is contrasted with haram (forbidden). This binary opposition was elaborated into a more complex classification known as “the five decisions”: mandatory, recommended, neutral, reprehensible and forbidden. Islamic jurists disagree on whether the term halal covers the first two or the first four of these categories. In recent times, Islamic movements seeking to mobilize the masses and authors writing for a popular audience have emphasized the simpler distinction of halal and haram.
The term halal is particularly associated with Islamic dietary laws and especially meat processed and prepared in accordance with those requirements.
In the Quran
The words halal and haram are the usual terms used in the Quran to designate the categories of lawful or allowed and unlawful or forbidden. In the Quran, the root h-l-l denotes lawfulness and may also indicate exiting the ritual state of a pilgrim and entering a profane state. In both these senses, it has an opposite meaning to that conveyed by the root h-r-m (cf. haram and ihram). In a literal sense, the root h-l-l may refer to dissolution (e.g., breaking of an oath) or alighting (e.g., of God’s wrath). Lawfulness is usually indicated in the Quran by means of the verb ahalla (to make lawful), with God as the stated or implied subject.
Main article: Islamic dietary laws
Several food companies offer halal processed foods and products, including halal foie gras, spring rolls, chicken nuggets, ravioli, lasagna, pizza and baby food. Halal ready meals are a growing consumer market for Muslims in Britain and America and are offered by an increasing number of retailers. Vegetarian cuisine is halal if it does not contain alcohol.
The most common example of haram (non-halal) food is pork. While pork is the only meat that categorically may not be consumed by Muslims (the Quran forbids it, Sura 2:173 and 16:115) other foods not in a state of purity are also considered haram. The criteria for non-pork items include their source, the cause of the animal’s death and how it was processed.
Muslims must also ensure that all foods (particularly processed foods), as well as non-food items like cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, are halal. Frequently, these products contain animal by-products or other ingredients that are not permissible for Muslims to eat or use on their bodies. Foods which are not considered halal for Muslims to consume include blood and intoxicants such as alcoholic beverages. A Muslim who would otherwise starve to death is allowed to eat non-halal food if there is no halal food available. During airplane flights Muslims will usually order kosher food (if halal food is not available) to assure their chosen dish will not have any pork ingredients.
Opinions on GMO foods are mixed, although there is no widely accepted prohibition from consuming them. Some clerics and scholars have expressed support, arguing that such food production methods are halal because they contribute to human welling. Voices in opposition to GMOs argue, that there is no need for genetic modification of food crops because God created everything perfectly and man does not have any right to manipulate anything that God has created. Some others have raised concern about the theoretical consumption of specific GMO foods produced using genes from pigs.
Globally, halal food certification has been criticized by anti-halal lobby groups and individuals using social media. Critics have argued that the practice results in added costs; a requirement to officially certify intrinsically-halal foods leads to consumers subsidising a particular religious belief. Australian Federation of Islamic Councils spokesman Keysar Trad told a journalist in July 2014 that this was an attempt to exploit anti-Muslim sentiments.
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce estimated the global industry value of halal food consumer purchases to be $1.1 trillion in 2013, accounting for 16.6 percent of the global food and beverage market, with an annual growth of 6.9 percent. Growth regions include Indonesia ($197 million market value in 2012) and Turkey ($100 million). The European Union market for halal food has an estimated annual growth of around 15 percent and is worth an estimated $30 billion. Approximately $8 billion of which are accounted for in France.
The halal food and beverage industry has also made a significant impact on Supermarkets and other food business such as restaurants. French supermarkets had halal food sales totaling $210 million in 2011, a 10.5% growth from 5 years prior. In France, the market for halal foods is even larger than the market for other types of common foods. For example, in 2010, the market for halal foods and beverages in France was nearly twice that of organic foods. Auchan, a large French supermarket chain, now sells 80 certified halal meat products, along with 30 pre-cooked halal meals and 40 frozen halal products. Upscale restaurants and catering services have also added halal foods to their menus. In addition, many beverage companies such as Evian have taken the effort to add a halal stamp on their products to show that their water and other beverages are pure and not haram, or forbidden under Islamic law.
Method of slaughter
Main article: Dhabihah
The food must come from a supplier that uses halal practices. Dhabīḥah (ذَبِيْحَة) is the prescribed method of slaughter for all meat sources, excluding fish and other sea-life, per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, trachea, and jugular veins. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the qiblah. In addition to the direction, permitted animals should be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer Bismillah.
The slaughter can be performed by a Muslim or an adherent of religions traditionally known as People of the Book (Jews, Christians and Sabians). Blood must be drained from the veins. Carrion (carcasses of dead animals, such as animals who died in the wild) cannot be eaten. Additionally, an animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human), or sacrificed on a stone altar cannot be eaten.
The animal may be stunned prior to having its throat cut. The UK Food Standards Agency figures from 2011 suggest that 84% of cattle, 81% of sheep and 88% of chickens slaughtered for halal meat were stunned before they died. Supermarkets selling halal products also report that all animals are stunned before they are slaughtered. Tesco, for example, says “the only difference between the halal meat it sells and other meat is that it was blessed as it was killed.” Concerns about animal suffering from slaughter without prior stunning has resulted in the ban of slaughter of unstunned animals in Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Generally, killing animals in Islam is only permissible for two main reasons, to be eaten and to eliminate a danger, e.g. a rabid dog.
Meat slaughtered or prepared by People of the Book
Animals slaughtered by Christians or Jews is halal only if the slaughter is carried out by jugular slice, it is mentioned before slaughter that the purpose is of permissible consumption, the slaughter is carried out following the name of the God (indicating that you are grateful for God’s blessings), and the meat is not explicitly prohibited, like pork. The requirement to invoke God’s name is a must. In other words, the word ṭaʻām refers to dhabīḥah meat; i.e., the meat prepared after the slaughter of an animal by cutting the throat (i.e., the jugular vein, the carotid arteries, and the trachea) and during slaughter God’s name is invoked (Ibn ʻAbbās, Mujāhid, ʻIkrimahTemplate:Nss mdnsall quoted by Ṭabarī, Ibn Kathīr).
Kosher meats are permitted to be eaten by Muslims. This is due to the similarity between both methods of slaughter and the similar principles of kosher meat which are observed by Jews.
Lifestyle and tourism
Halal lifestyle can include travel, finance, clothing, media, recreation, cosmetics and halal food and diet.
Halal in UK shops
As of August 2012, an estimated 27 UK Tesco supermarkets, in addition to most urban Asda and many Morrisons supermarkets, have halal meat counters, selling meat approved for consumption by Muslims. According to the Food Standards Agency Animal Welfare Update report, published September 2017, 16 percent of animals slaughtered by the Halal method were not stunned before slaughter, which violates RSPCA standards on animal welfare. However, it is legal in the UK due to an exemption in the law granted to Jews and Muslims.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia