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Halāl (Arabic: حلالḥalāl, 'permissible'), also spelled hallal or halaal is any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term covers and designates not only food and drink but also all matters of daily life.[1] It is one of five الأحكام الخمسة (al-ahkam al-khamsah)fard (compulsory), mustahabb (recommended), halal (allowed), makruh (disliked), haram (forbidden)—that define the morality of human action in Islam.[2] Mubah is also used to mean "permissible" or "allowed" in Islam.

Generally in Islam, every object and action is considered permissible unless there is a prohibition of it in the Islamic scriptures.[1][3][4] Clarification is given below in detail as to what is considered to be a permissible object or action in Islam, along with the exceptions.


Main article: Islamic dietary laws
A halal sign in Chinese (清真) at a restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan.

Halal is often used in reference to foods and drinks, i.e. foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic Shariʻah (law). The criteria specifies both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat and animal tissue.

The most common example of non-halal (or haraam) food is pork (pig meat). While pork is the only meat that cannot be eaten by all Muslims at all (the Quran forbids it[5]). Sura 16:115 [6]), foods other than pork can also be haraam. 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.

The food must come from a supplier that uses halal practices. Specifically, the slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying "Bismillah" ("In the name of God") and then three times "Allahu akbar" (God is the greatest). Then, the animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck, causing the animal's death without cutting the spinal cord. Lastly, the blood from the veins must be drained.

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 that are not halal for Muslims to consume as per various Qurʼanic verses are:

  • Pork[5]). Sura 16:115[6]
  • Blood[7]
  • Intoxicants and alcoholic beverages[8]
  • Animals killed incorrectly and/or without Allah's name being pronounced before slaughter[9]
    • Animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but "Allah". All that has been dedicated or offered in sacrifice to an idolatrous altar or saint or a person considered to be "divine"[6][7]
    • Carrion (carcasses of dead animals, i.e. animals who died in the wild)[6]
    • 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.[7]

Quranic verses regarding halal foods include: 2:173, 5:5, and 6:118–119, 121.

Meat offered by Christians and Jews[edit]

In Sunni Islam, meats slaughtered by Christians and Jews are halal, unless explicitly prohibited, like pork. In Surah 5:5 of the Qur'an, it is written: "The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you." Whether this verse refers to any food of the People of the Book is disputed.[according to whom?] Thus the lawful food prescribed for the People of the Book is lawful for the Muslims, subject to the express restrictions set up in v. 3 above and reiterated in 6:145 and 16:115, particularly about mentioning Allah's name at the time of slaughter.[according to whom?] The word ṭaʻām is the verbal noun of the root ṭaʻama (lit. to eat, to feed) meaning food, including crops, fruits, meat, vegetables, etc. Since the permitted and prohibited food are connected to the manner that an animal's meat is prepared, evidently the word ṭaʻām refers to animals slaughtered by Jews or Christians, provided that during the time of slaughter Allah's name is invoked (6:121). The requirement to invoke Allah'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 Allâh's name is invoked (Ibn ʻAbbās, Mujāhid, ʻIkrimah – all quoted by Ṭabarī, Ibn Kathīr).[citation needed]

According to some scholars from the Muslim world[who?] this verse speaks about the Christians of Muhammad's time and say that Christian methods of slaughter and consumption have changed over time as the diet played lesser importance in the daily practice of Christians.[citation needed] They also point to Deuteronomy, chapter 14, verse 8, in the Bible, which says "Thou shall not eat of the swine nor shall you touch its dead carcasses." Pork and pork related products, which are forbidden in Islam, are consumed by Christians (with the exception of the official teachings of The Seventh-day Adventist Church which also teaches Scriptural dietary instruction), and used widely in food and food products,[citation needed]

According to Islamic scholar Abū Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-'Arabī, because "Christians are Scripturists, God grants them a greater degree of respect than others who revere multiple divine beings; that respect is expressed through the permission of Christian meat", and therefore proclaimed:

I have been asked regarding the Christian who twists the neck of a chicken and then cooks it--may it be eaten with him or may one take it from him for food? ... I say: It may eaten, because this is his food and the food of his learned and pious authorities, even though this is not proper slaughter according to us. Nevertheless, God, exalted be He, permitted their food without restriction. Everything which they regard as permitted in their religion is permitted for us according to our religion, except for what God, praised be He, has shown to be their lies.[10][11]

Kosher meats, which are consumed by Jews, are permitted to be eaten by Sunni Muslims.[12] This is due to the similarity between both methods of slaughter and the similar principles of kosher meat which are still observed by the observant Jews today.[13][14]

Exception if no halal is available[edit]

If there is absolutely no other halal food available and the Muslim is forced by necessity, then a Muslim is allowed to eat non-halal food in order to prevent death due to starvation.[6][15]

Dhabihah: method of slaughter[edit]

Main article: Dhabihah
An animal slaughtered by Dhabihah in Egypt

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.[citation needed] 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."


Main articles: Islamic dietary laws and Dhabihah

Generally, killing animals in Islam is only permissible for two main reasons:

  • To be eaten.[16]
  • To eliminate their danger, e.g., a rabid dog.[17]


Globally, halal food certification has been criticised by anti-Halal lobby groups and individuals using social media.[18] These critics argue that the practice results in added costs, a requirement to officially certify intrinsically-halal foods, leads to consumers subsidising a particular religious belief.[19][20] Australian Federation of Islamic Councils spokesman Keysar Trad told a journalist in July 2014 that this was an attempt to exploit anti-Muslim sentiments.[20]

The British Veterinary Association, along with citizens who have assembled a petition with 100,000[21] signatures, have raised concerns regarding a proposed halal abattoir in Wales, in which animals are not to be stunned prior to killing.[22]

Concern about slaughtering, without prior stunning, has resulted in the religious slaughter of animals being banned in Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Quran 7:157
  2. ^ Adamec, Ludwig (2009). Historical Dictionary of Islam, 2nd Edition. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 102. ISBN 9780810861619. 
  3. ^ Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1726, Book:24, Hadith:7
  4. ^ Quran 6:119
  5. ^ a b Template:Cite url=http://corpus.quran.com/concept.jsp?id=pork
  6. ^ a b c d e http://quran.com/2/173 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "forbidden_food_1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ a b c Quran 5:3
  8. ^ Quran 5:90
  9. ^ Quran 6:121
  10. ^ Freidenreich, David M. (2 July 2011). Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law. University of California Press. p. 201. ISBN 9780520253216. The most strident argument for permitting meat over which a Christian has invoked Christ is articulated by Abū Bakr Muḥammad Ibn al-'Arabī (d. 1148, a Mālikī of no relation to the famous Sufi known by the same patronymic). In the course of taking Sunni insistence of the permissibly of Christian meat to its logical extreme, Ibn al-'Arabī expresses most clearly the logic that underlies this stance. "God praised be He, permitted their food even though He knew that they invoke a name other than God's over their slaughter. Nevertheless, greater respect is accorded to them than to idolaters because they adhere to God's Book and cling to the coattails of prophets." Because Christians are Scripturists, God grants them a greater degree of respect than others who revere multiple divine beings; that respect is expressed through the permission of Christian meat. Ibn al-'Arabi proceeds to offer what he calls "an original statement" on this matter. 
  11. ^ Freidenreich, David M. (2 July 2011). Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law. University of California Press. p. 201. ISBN 9780520253216. 
  12. ^ "Lawful Foods". Just Islam. Retrieved 2 May 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. 
  13. ^ "Islamic ruling on Christian food". islamqa. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  14. ^ "What Muslims can eat" (PDF). Kalamullah. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  15. ^ Maqsood, Rubaiyat Waris (2004). Islam. Teach Yourself World Faiths. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-340-60901-9. 
  16. ^ Sunan an-Nasa'i 4349, Book:42, Hadith:87
    • Quran (40:79)
  17. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 3314, Book:59, Hadith:120
  18. ^ Hansen, Damien (7 March 2012). "Halal Certification Stamp - Today Tonight (Australia)". Today Tonight. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  19. ^ Johnson, Chris (28 December 2014). "Why halal certification is in turmoil". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Masanauskas, John (18 July 2014). "Halal food outrage from anti-Islam critics". Herald Sun. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  21. ^ 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 1 February 2015. 
  22. ^ 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 26 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Sekularac, Ivana (28 June 2011). "Dutch vote to ban religious slaughter of animals". Reuters. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Comment: Danish halal, kosher ban leaves religious groups with nowhere to turn". Special Broadcasting Service. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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, pp. 211–215.

External links[edit]