Muslims around the world practice Islam. The practice of Islam includes observing dietary laws which come from Islamic teachings. Islamic dietary laws define foods that are considered Halal, meaning lawful or permissible. Muslims avoid food and beverages that are considered haram, meaning not permitted for a Muslim to consume. Both Halal and Haram are two Arabic words. These words play an important role in the life of a Muslim no matter where they live.
Many foods are Halal or Haram. However, certain foods are difficult to classify because of the ingredients they contain. Check for Halal certification or read food labels on these food items before you consume them. Check carefully each time you buy food products, as these food manufacturers may have changed ingredients after the last time you purchased it.
Verifying the halalness of various food items may become important, especially in non-Muslim majority countries. A couple of decades ago, I had only heard the word Halal and Haram in books but not on products in Pakistan. Why, in Muslim majority countries, people tend to believe that everything is Halal.
Halal Certification Process
Currently, we have an extensive network of Halal certification bodies spread all over the world. Their most important job is to issue Halal certification for the products they verify to be Halal. They issue these certificates after going through an extensive screening process recommended by various Halal certification authorities such as JAKIM and MUIS etc.
Halal Products But Not Certified
For meat and poultry to be Halal, they must be slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws (Zabihah). But, especially, in many Muslim countries, Halal meat shops do not get Halal certification for the animals they slaughtered. In many Muslim countries, everything is considered Halal unless stated otherwise. Muslims should use these products as they are generally considered unless rules are violated by the slaughterhouses.
One example of a product which is not Halal certified but actually considered Halal is Oreo cookies.
Halal Foods (Permitted Foods)
Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Quran. The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, dhabiha, involves killing animals through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. Of course, these animals should be slaughtered in the name of Allah.
- Any grain product, such as bread, breakfast cereal, or baked goods prepared without adding or mixing haram ingredients
- All vegetables and fruit: raw, dried, frozen, or canned unless mixed with something haram.
- All vegetables and fruit cooked or served with water, butter, or vegetable oils
- Yogourt, cheese, and ice cream made with bacterial culture or microbial enzymes, e.g. microbial rennet
- Meat and poultry are slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws (“Zabihah).
- Nuts, seeds
- Peanut Butter
- Halal deli meats
- Dried beans, peas, and lentils
- Beverages: carbonated drinks, fruit juice, punch, cocktails, tea, and coffee
- Fats and oils: butter, margarine, mayonnaise, vegetable oils, and some salad dressings
- Miscellaneous: chutneys, coconut milk, jam, pickles, spices
- Desserts made with agar and/or carrageenan base only
- Sweeteners: honey, sugar, syrup, chocolate liquor (roasted ground cocoa bean syrup)
- Main dish entrées: any Zabihah meat or alternative dish, pizza, pasta or rice prepared without Haram foods and ingredients
- Soups/sauces: any made without Haram foods and ingredients
- Desserts and sweets: any made without alcohol, or without pure or artificial vanilla extract
Haram Foods (Not Permitted)
The following foods are considered haram.
- Foods made with any of the following: whey prepared with non-microbial enzyme, rennet, animal shortening, monoglycerides and diglycerides from an animal source, sodium stearoyl-lactylate, L-cysteine.
- Any grain products prepared with Haram ingredients such as alcohol, animal shortening, lard, or pure and artificial vanilla extract
- Any vegetables and fruit prepared with alcohol, animal shortening, bacon, gelatin, lard, or some kinds of margarine that contain monoglycerides or diglycerides from an animal source
- Cheese, yogourt, ice cream, frozen tofu desserts made with animal rennet, gelatin, lipase, pepsin, pure or artificial vanilla extract, or whey
- Pork and pork products, e.g. bacon, deli meats, ham and sausage
- Blood is used as an ingredient or used in preparing the food
- Meat and poultry not slaughtered according to Islamic dietary law
- Canned beans, peas, and lentils containing pork
- Any meat and meat alternative dish prepared with alcohol, pork products, or animal shortening
- Beverages: beer, wine, alcohol, liqueur
- Fats and oils: animal shortening, lard
- Miscellaneous: chocolates/candies made with alcohol or pure or artificial vanilla extract
- Desserts made with gelatin
- Sweeteners: chocolate liqueur (made from alcohol
- Main dish entrées: any combination foods prepared with Haram foods and ingredients
- Soups/sauces: any prepared with Haram foods and ingredients
- Desserts and sweets: any prepared with alcohol, pure or artificial vanilla extract, or any other Haram ingredient
What Should the Muslims Do?
Confirming the halalness of all food items becomes important especially if you are living in a non-Muslim society. You must verify the ingredients of the foods before consuming them. To help you do so, a lot of mobile apps have been introduced in various countries.
These mobile apps, sometimes, may not be updated regularly. However, they can help you make informed decisions in terms of food products you can consume as a Muslim.