Halal food is widely misunderstood.
People don’t know enough about it, and they are not informed about it so their opinions about it are based in inaccuracy. Typical misunderstandings include claims that halal food is not healthy or not prepared in healthy manner. Throughout this article, we will elaborate why these impressions are wrong.
What is halal?
“Halal” means lawful or permitted, hence the halal food applies to all foods that are permitted by Islamic Sharia law. In order to have halal status, food must be prepared according to Sharia law.
Every type of food is subjected to a process of certification which guarantees that they do not contain any forbidden ingredient. The foods in question are mostly meat or made of animal tissue.
What is haram?
Haram means forbidden and applies to things, events, and foods that Muslims should never do, or eat. Haram foods are:
- Meat from pig
- Pork-based products or products derived from pork tissues
- Animals that weren’t slaughtered properly
- Animals sacrificed in someone else’s name rather than Allah’s
- Most carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and land animals that don’t have external ears (snakes, reptiles)
- Other foods that contain the above mentioned ingredients and components.
In order to make halal food, the animal or poultry needs to be slaughtered through a ritual called “zabihah.”
People often tend to mix up halal and zabihah. However, they do not indicate the same thing and don’t have the same meaning. While halal means permitted (as stated above), zabihah means “slaughtered.” Zabihah alone doesn’t determine what’s halal or not. It is just one of the components that halal meats need to contain. Even their origin is different. The term “zabihah” is invented by human beings to describe the process of slaughtering, however, the term “halal” derives from the Quran and Sunnah.
Zabihah makes sure the meat is prepared in the best possible way. The purpose of this process is to conduct the slaughtering in the must humane way, without torturing animals.
In order to start, zabihah requires all animals to be alive and healthy, because carrion is strongly forbidden in Islam. The reason carrion is forbidden is in the fact that Islam forbids animal blood. Carrion refers to the meat of an already dead animal – hence the haram status.
Windpipe, jugular vein, and carotid artery need to be severed with a big knife that is also razor sharp. Additionally, the process has to be completed in one swipe. This is easy to explain: one swipe, razor sharp knife and the cut in the right place ensures a fast performance, and that is why the animal doesn’t suffer.
The person who’s conducting the slaughtering process needs to recite tasmiya or shahada. These verses need to be recited because according to Quran: the person has to thank God for the food they are about to eat and the food the God made lawful.
To sum up zabihah’s tasks and objectives:
- The animal should be alive and healthy
- The slaughter should be performed by a Muslim
- The person who performs the slaughter has to recite shahada or tasmiya
- All the blood from an animal has to be completely drained
- Employment of modern methods has to be considered thoroughly, and new methods still have to meet with sharia law
- Slaughtering must be done in a place where there Is no pork slaughtering as well
- The animal has to be fed and drink water normally prior slaughtering
- The animal must not see the slaughter of other animals
- Both the slaughterer and animal should face Mecca
- The animal must not suffer from ailments or lacerations.
Why is halal food and halal meat better than non-halal food?
Halal methods of preparing food allow the complete drainage of blood from the animal. Blood in meat leads to increased decomposition, and it also affects the taste in a bad way. Also, methods that use stunning to kill animals cause them to secrete lactic acid which makes the putrefaction process even faster, since lactic acid prevents meat from resisting all kinds of bacteria.
Halal meat and foods are healthier, more tender, and better tasting. Additionally, halal meat stays fresh longer than regular meat because the drainage of blood makes it better able to resist bacteria.
Halal ways of preparing food are the most hygienic ways. Also, halal way of slaughtering animal is the most humane manner of conducting that process.
Benefits of halal foods
Halal foods are more beneficial than standard food and here is why:
- Reduced risk of food poisoning
- Fewer allergic reactions. Studies have shown that certain artificial colors and animal enzymes can induce allergic reactions. Artificial colors, like Red 40, are so harmful that they are banned in some countries.
- Non-halal foods, especially meat, can lead to problems with the liver, kidneys, and other organs
- Halal foods are easier to digest
Certified halal foods will always have labeling identifying them as such In Islam, some foods can be very halal, or very haram. However, there are some foods whose status can sometimes be unclear due to the ingredients they contain; the best thing to do is to check the labels on those foods and see their certification.
Below is a list of some halal foods:
- Grain products – including pasta, rice, bread, cereals, and baked goods that are made out of halal ingredients
- Vegetables and fruit – all vegetables and fruit can be considered halal in most cases. They can be raw, frozen, dried, canned, cooked, and they may be served with water, butter or vegetable oils. Juices are halal too. When it comes to vegetables and fruit, they would be haram only if prepared with alcohol, animal shortening, or gelatin.
- Milk and dairy products – milk, yoghurt, ice cream, or cheese prepared with bacterial culture or microbial enzymes. On the other hand, haram dairy products would include those made with animal rennet, gelatin, or pure or artificial vanilla extract.
- Meat and alternatives – this is pretty clear. Halal meat is meat which is slaughtered according to Islamic law. Meat alternatives that fall under the category of halal foods include seafood, eggs, peanut butter, halal deli meats, nuts and seeds, tofu, and dried beans, peas and lentils. As opposed to this, haram meat and alternatives would include everything made out of pork and any meat which is not slaughtered according to Sharia law.
- Beverages – fruit juice, carbonated drinks, cocktails, tea, punch, coffee. Forbidden beverages include beer, wine, liquor, and alcohol.
- Fats and oils – margarine, butter, vegetable oils, mayonnaise, some salad dressings. Animal shortening and lard are haram.
- Miscellaneous – coconut milk, jam, spices, pickles, and chutneys. However, chocolate and candies made with pure or artificial animal extract are haram.
- Sweeteners – syrup, sugar, honey, chocolate liqueur (non-alcoholic).
- Desserts and sweets – all of them are halal if they are not prepared with alcohol or vanilla extract
- Soups and sauces – are all halal (if they don’t contain any haram component)
- Main dish entrees – halal meat or alternative foods, rice, pizza, and pasta prepared without haram ingredients
Halal food offers more health benefits than standard food, especially when it comes to meat. With halal food, one is sure the food one eats is bacteria free, produced in the most humane way, and the most hygienic. The purpose of this text was to introduce halal food and describe its benefits and processes. Hopefully, all doubts and questions about the world of halal food have been answered.
If you would like to shop for halal food and halal groceries and you are based in Singapore, do click on the button below to view the marvellous variety of halal products we have for you.
May Peace be upon you.