The Importance of Halaal and its laws.
What is Halaal?
Islam is a comprehensive religion guiding Muslims through every facet of life. Since food is an important part of daily life, food laws carry a special significance. Islamic philosophy propounds that the food which man consumes affects not only his physical constitution but also his moral character and spiritual upliftment.
Halaal is an Arabic word which means lawful or permissible. In the specific context of consumables it refers to food that is lawful for consumption. The antonym of Halal (lawful) is Haram (unlawful) which refers to unlawful items. Muslims are permitted to eat the flesh of certain animals, which are required to be slaughtered according to the specified ritual procedures. Halal also encompasses all aspects of food hygiene and quality.
Why is it so important for a Muslim to strictly consume halal?
Consuming Halal is an order of Allah and an essential part of the Islamic faith. Allah has repeatedly emphasised the consumption of Halal in The Quraan. The following are some examples of such verses:
- 1.“O Messengers, eat from the pure foods and work righteousness” (Holy Quran 23:51)
- 2.“O you who have believed, eat from the pure things which we have provided you” (Holy Quran 2:172)
- 3.“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth (that is) lawful and pure” (Holy Quran 2:168)
- 4.“So eat of that (meat) upon which Allah’s name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His verses” (Holy Quran 6:118)
- 5.“And do not eat that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed it is a grave disobedience”. (Holy Quran 6:121)
Allah Ta’ala has commanded us in the Holy Quraan to eat only that which is Halaal and to stay away from that which is Haraam. Thereafter Allah Ta’ala commands the Prophets and the believers to do good actions. By eating pure Halaal foods, a person is able to easily do good actions and stay away from doing evil actions. See how easily it is for us to stay away from committing sins during the month of Ramadhan, when we are fasting.
By being careless about the dietary laws of Islam a believer puts himself in sin and difficulties both in this world and the world hereafter. In this world, due to consuming Haraam, he deprives himself from having any of his good deeds and Duas accepted by his Creator while in the hereafter he suffers the greatest loss ever imaginable i.e. refusal from being admitted to Paradise. All this is confirmed in the following Ahadith:
- Abu Hurairah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “O people! Allah is Pure and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers as He has commanded His Messengers by saying: ‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good deeds.’ (23:51) And He said: ‘O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you…”‘ (2:172). Then He (ﷺ) made a mention of the person who travels for a long period of time, his hair is disheveled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky and thus makes the supplication: ‘My Rubb! My Rubb!’ But his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful, how can, then his supplication be accepted?” (Muslim)
- S’ad RA relates: Allah’s messenger ﷺ said “O S’ad purify your food (and as a result) you will become one who’s supplications are accepted. I swear by He in whose hands the soul of Muhammad ﷺ lies, verily a servant (of Allah) tosses a Haram morsel in his stomach (due to which) no deed is accepted from him for 40 days” (Tabarani)
- Abu Baker RA narrated that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said “That body will not enter Paradise which has been nourished with Haram” (Baihaqi)
- Abu Hurayrah (RA) reports that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said, “A time will come upon the people wherein a man will not bother what he intakes; whether from Halal source or Haram.” (Bukhari)
Allah orders the Messengers and all Muslims to abstain from eating Haram food, in the same way Halal food and pure things are emphasised for consumption whilst showing thanks (shukr) for this blessing. By eating Haram food, bad characteristics are borne in an individual, the desire to perform good deeds disappears and Duas are not accepted. By eating Halal food, Noor (spiritual light) is
created. This results in good characteristics and an attraction to do good deeds. A person starts to hate evil deeds. His Duaas are accepted.
In our times, it becomes even more important to ensure the meat and poultry consumed is genuinely Halal due to the excessive deceit, cheat and false labelling of Halaal.
To meet the explosive growth in food demand worldwide, fuelled further by globalization, Man utilizes industrial production techniques. Some three thousand substances are deliberately added to food and drinks to increase their desirability. Another ten thousand compounds and combinations of these can be used during processing, packaging and storing of these products. Supermarket shelves and freezers overflow with an astonishing array of foods from all over the world.
Is the red colouring in the kid’s ice lolly or your lipstick derived from the crushed cochineal beetle insect? (Also known as cochineal, carmine, colour (e120), carminic acid, and colour index (ci natural red 4 and crimson lake (75470
Does the flour improver in your loaf of bread contain amino acids derived from human hair Have your fries been coated with an animal-based shortening
Do you know that the crumbing on fish or chicken could be laced with chicken stock Does the cheese you relish have a pork-derived enzyme
Does the chocolate you crave for contain liquor
Do you know that the cosmetic cream you religiously apply daily could contain human placenta and animal fat stearates
Sauce can contain white wine and veal stock? chicken stock?
The basting brush you use may be made from pork bristles?
The Prophet ﷺ predicted that “There will come a time upon my Ummah when people will not be concerned about what they consume. It will not matter to them whether it is Haraam or Halaal.” It is further reported, “When such time appears, none of their duas will be accepted.” (Al Bukhari)
A common misconception and its answer;
Let us now turn a Hadith in Bukhari that is often misquoted by many people to justify their consuming of Haraam. The hadith is as follows:
“It has been narrated from Aisha, (RA), that some persons said to Nabi ﷺ ‘People bring to us meat. We know not whether the name of Allah Ta’ala has been taken (upon its slaughter) or not? Nabi replied, ‘You people say Bismillah and eat it.’ Aisha, (RA), says, ‘the people referred to (in this Hadith) were new Muslims.’” (Bukhari)
It is clear that the slaughterers were Muslims, not disbelievers. This is further elucidated by Imam Malik (RA)’s narration (of the same Hadith) where the addition of, “this was in the beginning of Islam.” (Fathul Bari)
The actual meaning of this Hadith, as understood by similar narrations is that one should not entertain unfounded doubts about a Muslim that he would neglect to mention the name of Allah upon his slaughter.
“This is what is understood by the context of the Hadith since the answer of Nabi ﷺ to the question was, ‘Say Bismillah and eat.’ It is as though they (questioners) were told, ‘That is not your concern, rather what should concern you is to consume it (wholesomely in the Sunnah manner) by saying Bismillah before partaking thereof.” (Fathul Bari)
Question : Can we trust others’ word on whether something is Halal?
Answer : When there is ‘reasonable’ fear that a particular meat is possibly Haraam – or when it is generally the case that meat labelled ‘Halal’ is dubious–then it would be one’s duty to make sure. Nowadays is not only ‘reasonable’ fear that the meat labelled as Halal is possibly Haraam. Rather,
based on the research and investigation of many individuals and organisations, the current situation is even worse – that is there is ‘extreme’ fear that a particular meat labelled as Halal may be Haraam.
Therefore, one must not take another’s word at face value; rather it will be one’s duty to ensure that the meat is Halal, whether individually or through an organisation that one trusts and who would give this assurance.
Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said,
‘Leave what which puts you in doubt for what does not put you in doubt. For certainly the truth brings tranquillity while falsehood sows doubt.'(Sahih Muslim 2518)
The following categories including any product derived from them or contaminated with them have been prohibited.
- Meat of dead animals [carrion].
- Meat of strangled animals, preventing their blood from flowing
- Meat of dead animals through a blow/beating
- Meat of animals devoured by wild beasts
- Blood that flows (not on meat).
- Meat of swine [pig] including all its by-products, leather, bristles.
- Intoxicants including all types and varieties of alcohol or intoxicating drugs.
- Carnivorous animals, like lions, wolves, dogs, cats.
- Birds of prey, such as eagles, vultures, falcons.
- Reptiles, like snakes, crocodiles, turtles lizards. Mules etc.
- Pests and rodents such as rats, manicou, opossum, agouti, lappe
- Snakes, scorpions.
- Crabs, squid, octopus.
Halaal animals for Muslims are cattle, calves, sheep, goat, camel, deer, poultry, rabbit, game-birds, fish, etc. These animals will only be considered Halaal when slaughtered according to the Islamic method.
Laws of Slaughtering Three legal requirements
. Correct method of Slaughtering .1
Reciting Tasmiyah (bismillah) at the time of Slaughtering .2
. Legit( muslim) slaughterer .3
Method of Slaughtering
The four vessels should be cut i.e. trachea (air passage), esophagus (food passage) and both jugular veins. If however, one cuts three of the vessels it will suffice.
The tool, knife used must be sharp so that it easily cuts and pierces the animal because of its sharpness and not its heaviness. It is necessary that the blood flows.
Tasmiyah at the time of Slaughtering
Say Bismillah at the time of Slaughtering, verbally by movements of the lips. Allah ﷻ mentions in the Quran: And do not eat that on which the name of Allah has not been mentioned [at the time of slaughtering].
If a person omits the Tasmiyah forgetfully at the time of slaughtering, the animal will still be Halal. If however, a person intentionally omits the Tasmiyah then the animal is Haram for consumption.
· It will be un-lawful to consume the slaughtered meat of the “People of the Book” unless one is certain that the method of Islamic slaughtering is adhered to
- Stunning is objectionable and should be avoided.
- Machine slaughtered chickens are not halal. It is not permissible to purchase, sell and consume such chickens
The issues of concern from a shar’i perspective are:
- The passage of chickens through electrified water to stun prior to slaughter
- The cutting of throats with a rotating blade / knife
- The obligation of mentioning Allah’s name
- The passage of chickens through hot water after slaughter
Contamination of meat
Once the meat is slaughtered in the Halaal manner this does not certify that this same product will be consumed Halaal. The Halaal diet entails that the product, whether from the slaughter house or any other source, remains Halaal throughout the processing, storing, cooking and serving stages.
An item can become Haraam if during these procedures it is contaminated by Haraam items.
Takeaways and eating out
Muslims are urged to exercise great caution when eating in non-Muslim outlets as there is either very little or NO awareness regarding Halaal. A vegetarian Pizza or fish can be contaminated by utensils, hands or even filtered oil!
If the source of Gelatin is derived from a Halaal source then its usage is permissible, whilst if the source is Haraam or Mashqook [doubtful] then it will be considered Haraam. The animal which the gelatin is derived from must be slaughtered Halaal according to Shari’ah.
Minimal amounts of alcohol, used as carriers or solvents used in food products will be permissible to consume on condition that the alcohol is not sourced from grapes or dates.
Only products containing alcohol sourced from other than dates or grapes, as a preservative only, are permissible, like some biscuits, cakes, ice cream and fizzy drinks.
Products containing such alcohol that are intended for external use will not be regarded as impure, like some deodorants, perfumes and sanitizers.
If a product is certified as kosher, e.g. chicken or products which contain animal derivatives, does this mean that it is Halaal also?
It is important to understand that kosher foods or meats do not necessarily meet the requirements of halal. Due to major differences between Kosher and the requirements of Halaal according to Shari’ah, it is would not be permissible for a Muslim to rely on a Kosher approval.
The ruling of carmine (e-120 )
A popular natural food dye today made from beetles, the deep red crimson colouring is also known by the following names: cochineal, carmine, colour (e120), carminic acid, and colour index (ci 75470) natural red 4 and crimson lake.
According to majority of the Shari’ah scholars, the consumption of insects is not permitted and falls under the purview of the Quranic verse, ‘…He (Allah Ta’ala) permits pure substances for them and forbids filthy substances unto them.’ (Surah7 verse 157.)
Therefore it is impermissible to consume any products containing carmine. Also in cosmetic products e.g. lipstick, where there is a strong possibility of intake, its usage will not be permissible.
What to do with Haraam food items?
According to Shariah, it is not permissible to give any consumable items which contain Haraam (forbidden) elements to human beings, animals or any other creature. Rather, one will have to dispose of consumable items which contain Haraam elements.