In the Quran, the word halal is contrasted with haram (forbidden). In Islamic jurisprudence, this binary opposition was elaborated into a more complex classification known as "the five decisions": mandatory, recommended, neutral, reprehensible, and forbidden. Islamic jurists disagree on whether the term halal covers the first three or the first four of these categories. In recent times, Islamic movements seeking to mobilize the masses and authors writing for a popular audience have emphasized the simpler distinction of halal and haram.
The term halal is particularly associated with Islamic dietary laws.
The words halal and haram are the usual terms used in the Quran to designate the categories of lawful or allowed and unlawful or forbidden.
In the Quran, the root h-l-l denotes lawfulness and may also indicate exiting the ritual state of a pilgrim and entering a profane state. In both these senses, it has an opposite meaning to that conveyed by the root h-r-m (cf. haram and ihram). In a literal sense, the root h-l-l may refer to dissolution (e.g., breaking of an oath) or alighting (e.g., of God's wrath). Lawfulness is usually indicated in the Quran by means of the verb ahalla (to make lawful), with God as the stated or implied subject.
The terms halal and haram parallel the Hebrew terms mutar (permitted, loosened) and asur (forbidden), and — particularly with respect to dietary rules — the Old Testament categories of clean and unclean.
Several food companies offer halal processed foods and products, including halal foie gras, spring rolls, chicken nuggets, ravioli, lasagna, pizza, and baby food. Halal ready meals are a growing consumer market for Muslims in Britain and America and are offered by an increasing number of retailers. Vegetarian cuisine is halal if it does not contain alcohol.
The most common example of non-halal (or haram) food is pork (pig meat products). While pork is the only meat that categorically may not be consumed by Muslims (the Quran forbids it Sura 16:115 ), other foods not in a state of purity are also considered haram. 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.
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 which are not considered halal for Muslims to consume include blood and intoxicants such as alcoholic beverages. A Muslim who would otherwise starve to death is allowed to eat non-halal food if there is no halal food available.
At a conference called "Agri-biotechnology: Shariah Compliance" held in Malaysia in December 2010 by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) and International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHIA), participants "adopted a resolution that accepts GM crops and products as halal should all ingredients used to develop them are from halal sources....The only Haram [forbidden] cases are limited to products derived from Haram origin retaining their original characteristics that are not substantially changed."
An article from 2000 stated: "Should a product be brought to market with a gene from a haram source [such as pig DNA in a soy product], today it would at least be considered Mashbooh — questionable — if not outright haram. However, all biotechnology-derived foods on the market today are from approved sources."
Globally, halal food certification has been criticized by anti-Halal lobby groups and individuals using social media. Critics have argued that the practice results in added costs; a requirement to officially certify intrinsically-halal foods leads to consumers subsidising a particular religious belief. Australian Federation of Islamic Councils spokesman Keysar Trad told a journalist in July 2014 that this was an attempt to exploit anti-Muslim sentiments.
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce estimated the global industry value of halal food consumer purchases to be $1.1 trillion in 2013, accounting for 16.6 percent of the global food and beverage market, with an annual growth of 6.9 percent. Growth regions include Indonesia ($197 million market value in 2012) and Turkey ($100 million). The European Union market for halal food has an estimated annual growth of around 15 percent and is worth an estimated $30 billion.
The food must come from a supplier that uses halal practices. 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. 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".
The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim. Blood must be drained from the veins. Carrion (carcasses of dead animals, such as animals who died in the wild) cannot be eaten. Additionally, 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 cannot be eaten.
The animal may be stunned prior to having its throat cut. The UK Food Standards Agency figures from 2011 suggest that 84% of cattle, 81% of sheep and 88% of chickens slaughtered for halal meat were stunned before they died. Supermarkets selling halal products also report that all animals are stunned before they are slaughtered. Tesco, for example, says "the only difference between the halal meat it sells and other meat is that it was blessed as it was killed." The British Veterinary Association, along with citizens who have assembled a petition with 100,000 signatures, have raised concerns regarding a proposed halal abattoir in Wales, in which animals are not to be stunned prior to killing. Concerns about animal suffering from slaughter without prior stunning has resulted in the ban of slaughter of unstunned animals in Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Generally, killing animals in Islam is only permissible for two main reasons, to be eaten and to eliminate a danger, e.g. a rabid dog.
In Sunni Islam, animals slaughtered by Christians or Jews is halal only if the slaughter is carried out by jugular slice and mentioned before slaughter that the purpose is of permissible consumption and the slaughter is carried out following the name of the God (indicating that you are grateful for God's blessings), unless explicitly prohibited, like pork. 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).
Kosher meats, which are consumed by Jews, are permitted to be eaten by Muslims. This is due to the similarity between both methods of slaughter and the similar principles of kosher meat which are observed by some Jews today.
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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.
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