An Introduction to Halal Food
Islam has specific and clear regulations on food. Food which complies with Islamic Law is called “permissible” (Halal) food.
In the Qur'an, Allah the Almighty commands: "Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which Allah's Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering…"(Qur’an 5:3)
Prohibited foods also include birds of prey, beasts, or omnivores. Domestic animals and some amphibians (such as frogs) or reptiles (such as turtles and tadpoles) are also prohibited.
Any derivatives of these prohibited foods (or drinks) are also considered prohibited, such as lard, broth, sausages, etc.
Additionally, the blood of animals - even of animals permissible to eat - is also prohibited, such as chicken blood, duck blood, and pig blood.
Foods in the sea, however, whether animals or plants, alive or dead, are all permissible for Muslims to eat.
Poultry (chicken, duck, and goose), which Muslims commonly eat (as well as cattle, sheep, and camels), must all be slaughtered according to Islamic Law.
The conditions for slaughtering according to Islamic Law are as follows:
- The animal must be healthy and alive.
- The knife for slaughtering must be sharp, such that – in one swipe - it can cut the large arteries, trachea, and esophagus, causing blood to completely drain out, and allowing for the animal to die quickly (minimizing pain).
- Upon slaughtering, the Name of Allah must be mentioned.
All meats of cows, sheep, chicken, ducks, etc. that have satisfied the aforementioned conditions are considered permissible-to-eat (Halal) meat products.
Packages of Halal food products will be labelled with the words “Halal” (English), "清真" (Chinese), and “حلال” (Arabic).
In general, the meat of the cattle, sheep, chicken, and ducks sold in the markets are “Haram” (not permissible to eat), and may not be consumed without applying the Islamic Law for slaughtering meat.
Alcoholic beverages are also “Haram” to consume because it makes people "drunk" (i.e. lose their sense of reason).
Finally, food items that have been worshipped upon are all considered forbidden to eat, even if it is vegetables or fruits.
- All meat products, even soup stock, must be "Halal."
- All animals in the sea are permissible to eat.
- Derivatives of prohibited items may not be used, such as sausage casings, lard (i.e. animal fat), sausage, ham, bacon, meat floss, chicken, duck, beef, sheep blood, meat extracts, etc.
- Food seasonings must not contain any alcohol, non-halal animal fats, or narcotics.
- Other items, such as kitchen utensils, should not be shared, rather a separate set should be used. This is to prevent any kind of food contamination. Therefore, any used frying oil, frying pan, steamer, knife, cutting board, spatula, soup ladle must all be avoided.
- Muslims only consume foods prepared according to Islamic Law (i.e. Halal food).
- "Halal" is an Arabic Islamic term that covers "any practice which is approved by Allah Almighty or permissible according to Islamic Law", and the term can be applied to all aspects of life, including eating and drinking, sexual behavior and social relationships.
- The Qur’an has set various restrictions on food. Muslims are forbidden to consume pork, meat from animals that are not slaughtered in the Islamic way, meat from animals that die of natural causes, and blood, as well as any of its byproducts. Alcohol and the meat of carnivorous animals are also considered impermissible.