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A halal (?) sign at a butcher's shop in Paris, France.

Halal (; Arabic: ??al?l, "permissible"), also spelled hallal or halaal, refers to what is permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law. It is frequently applied to permissible food and drinks.

In the Quran, the word halal is contrasted with haram (forbidden).[1] In Islamic jurisprudence, this binary opposition was elaborated into a more complex classification known as "the five decisions": mandatory, recommended, neutral, reprehensible, and forbidden.[2]Islamic jurists disagree on whether the term halal covers the first three or the first four of these categories.[2] 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.[1][3]

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.[3]

A Halal Market in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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.[3] In both these senses, it has an opposite meaning to that conveyed by the root h-r-m (cf. haram and ihram).[3] 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).[3] Lawfulness is usually indicated in the Quran by means of the verb ahalla (to make lawful), with God as the stated or implied subject.[3]

The terms halal and haram parallel the Hebrew terms mutar (permitted, loosened) and asur (forbidden), and -- particularly with respect to dietary rules -- the Old Testament categories of clean and unclean.[3]


A halal sign in Chinese () at a restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan.

Several food companies offer halal processed foods and products, including halal foie gras, spring rolls, chicken nuggets, ravioli, lasagna, pizza, and baby food.[4]Halal ready meals are a growing consumer market for Muslims in Britain and America and are offered by an increasing number of retailers.[5]Vegetarian cuisine is halal if it does not contain alcohol.

The most common example of haram (non-halal) food is pork (pig meat products). While pork is the only meat that categorically may not be consumed by Muslims (the Quran forbids it,[6] Sura 2:173 and 16:115 [7][8]) 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. It also depends on the Muslim's madhab.

A halal market store for groceries in Woodbury, Minnesota in the United States.

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[9] and intoxicants such as alcoholic beverages.[10] A Muslim who would otherwise starve to death is allowed to eat non-halal food if there is no halal food available.[8][11]

Genetically modified organisms (GMO)

At a conference called "Agri-biotechnology: Shariah Compliance" held in Malaysia in December 2010 by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) and International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHIA), participants "adopted a resolution that accepts GM crops and products as halal should all ingredients used to develop them are from halal sources....The only Haram [forbidden] cases are limited to products derived from Haram origin retaining their original characteristics that are not substantially changed."[12]

An article from 2000 stated: "Should a product be brought to market with a gene from a haram source [such as pig DNA in a soy product], today it would at least be considered Mashbooh -- questionable -- if not outright haram. However, all biotechnology-derived foods on the market today are from approved sources."[13]


Globally, halal food certification has been criticized by anti-halal lobby groups and individuals using social media.[14] 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.[15]Australian Federation of Islamic Councils spokesman Keysar Trad told a journalist in July 2014 that this was an attempt to exploit anti-Muslim sentiments.[16]


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.[17] Growth regions include Indonesia ($197 million market value in 2012) and Turkey ($100 million).[18] The European Union market for halal food has an estimated annual growth of around 15 percent and is worth an estimated $30 billion.[4]

Method of slaughter

The food must come from a supplier that uses halal practices. Dhabah () 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.[19] 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 "in the name of God".

The slaughter can be performed by a Muslim or an adherent of religions traditionally known as People of the Book.[20] Blood must be drained from the veins. Carrion (carcasses of dead animals, such as animals who died in the wild) cannot be eaten.[8] 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.[21]

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."[22] The British Veterinary Association, along with citizens who have assembled a petition with 100,000[23] signatures, have raised concerns regarding a proposed halal abattoir in Wales, in which animals are not to be stunned prior to killing.[24] Concerns about animal suffering from slaughter without prior stunning has resulted in the ban of slaughter of unstunned animals in Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.[25][26] Generally, killing animals in Islam is only permissible for two main reasons, to be eaten[27] and to eliminate a danger, e.g. a rabid dog.[28]

Meat slaughtered or prepared by non-Muslims

In Sunni Islam, animals slaughtered by Christians or Jews is halal only if the slaughter is carried out by jugular slice and mentioned before slaughter that the purpose is of permissible consumption and the slaughter is carried out following the name of the God (indicating that you are grateful for God's blessings), unless explicitly prohibited, like pork. The requirement to invoke Allah's name is a must. In other words, the word ?am refers to dhabah 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 Allâh's name is invoked (Ibn ?Abb?s, Muj?hid, ?Ikrimah‍—‌all quoted by ?abar?, Ibn Kath?r).[19]

Kosher meats are permitted to be eaten by Muslims.[29] This is due to the similarity between both methods of slaughter and the similar principles of kosher meat which are observed by Jews.[30]

Lifestyle and tourism

Halal lifestyle can include travel, finance, clothing, media, recreation, and cosmetics as well as halal food and diet.[31]

Halal in UK shops

As of August 2012, around 27 UK Tesco superstores had halal meat counters, selling meat approved for consumption by Muslims.[32] Halal meat is "stun-free", so violates RSPCA standards on animal welfare and is against the law in the EU,[33] however it is legal in the UK due to an exemption in the law granted to Jews and Muslims.[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b Juan Eduardo Campo, ed. (2009). "Halal". Encyclopedia of Islam. Infobase Publishing. p. 284.
  2. ^ a b Vikør, Knut S. (2014). "Sharah". In Emad El-Din Shahin. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lowry, Joseph E (2006). "Lawful and Unlawful". In Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Encyclopaedia of the Qurn. Brill. doi:10.1163/1875-3922_q3_EQCOM_00107.
  4. ^ a b "USDA Foreign Agricultural Service - Halal Food Market" (PDF). Retrieved 2016.
  5. ^ "Halal la carte". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Pork (? ?) From the Quranic Arabic Corpus - Ontology of Quranic Concepts". Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ "Surah Al-Baqarah [2:173]". Surah Al-Baqarah [2:173]. Retrieved .
  8. ^ a b c "Surah An-Nahl - The Noble Qur'an - ".
  9. ^ Quran Surah Al-Maaida ( Verse 3 )
  10. ^ Quran Surah Al-Maaida ( Verse 90 )
  11. ^ Maqsood, Rubaiyat Waris (2004). Islam. Teach Yourself World Faiths. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-340-60901-9.
  12. ^ "Resolution on Halal Solution on Halal Status of GM Crops and Foods adopted at Agri-Biotech Workshop for Islamic Scholars". Crop Biotech Update (Dec. 10, 2010). Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ Hazzah, K. "Are GMO's Halal?". AG Bio World (Aug. 4, 2000). Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ Hansen, Damien (7 March 2012). "Halal Certification Stamp - Today Tonight (Australia)". Today Tonight. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ Johnson, Chris (28 December 2014). "Why halal certification is in turmoil". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ Masanauskas, John (18 July 2014). "Halal food outrage from anti-Islam critics". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ "Dubai Chamber Report shows increasing preference for halal food as global market grows to US$1.1 trn | Zawya". www.zawya.com. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "REPORT: Consumer Demand for Halal is On the Rise". www.fdfworld.com. Retrieved .
  19. ^ a b www.halalcertification.ie. "Islamic Method of Slaughtering - Department of Halal Certification". halalcertification.ie.
  20. ^ Josef Meri, ed. (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Muslim-Jewish Relations. Routledge. p. 311.
  21. ^ [Quran 5:3]
  22. ^ Eardley, Nick (12 May 2014). "What is halal meat?" – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  23. ^ Wilkinson, Ben (30 January 2015). "Millions more animals are slaughtered for halal food: Numbers rise 60 per cent amid calls for them to be stunned before death". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2015.
  24. ^ Rahman, Khaleda (25 January 2015). "Fury over plans to use taxpayers' money to fund halal abattoir that refuses to stun its animals before killing them". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2015.
  25. ^ Sekularac, Ivana (28 June 2011). "Dutch vote to ban religious slaughter of animals". Reuters. Retrieved 2015.
  26. ^ "Comment: Danish halal, kosher ban leaves religious groups with nowhere to turn". Special Broadcasting Service. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  27. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 4349, Book:42, Hadith:87;Quran (40:79)
  28. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 3314, Book:59, Hadith:120
  29. ^ "Lawful Foods". Just Islam. Retrieved 2014. Now in the case of Jews this is very easy. As long as the Jew is a practising Jew and the meat is slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law (Torat Moshe) then this meat and other Kosher food is lawful (halal) and can be eaten by Muslims.
  30. ^ "Islamic ruling on Christian food". islamqa. Retrieved .
  31. ^ "Halal Lifestyle in Indonesia - UN World Tourism Organization" (PDF). Retrieved 2016.
  32. ^ "National Halal Centre". National Halal Food Group. National Halal Food Group. 20 August 2012. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 2012.
  33. ^ "RSPCA Religious Slaughter Factsheet". RSPCA Farm Animals Information Sheet. RSPCA. February 2009. Retrieved 2012.
  34. ^ "Halal hysteria". New Statesman. 9 May 2012. The stunning of livestock before slaughter has been compulsory in the EU since 1979 but most member states, including the UK, grant exemptions to Muslims and Jews.

Further reading

  • Yungman, Limor, "Food", in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol I.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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