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Halal and Haram Food

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Allah (SWT) has decreed for us what has been made permissible for us and that which is not permissible for us, Allah (SWT) has termed that which is permissible Halal and that which is forbidden as Haram. Halal and Haram extend throughout a Muslim’s life. However, this article will focus on Halal and Haram in terms of food. Eating halal is extremely important and one of the cornerstones of a Muslim and is one of the things that differentiates us from the Kuffar. In our times, the line between Halal and Haram has become blurred, with anyone and everyone claiming their food is Halal, this article will help Muslims to differentiate between Halal and haram and spread the word of the importance of eating Halal. May Allah Ta’ala accept this effort, Amin.

Why is it a must to consume Halal?

There are numerous evidences to show why one must consume Halal and only Halal. Consider the following verse:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ كُلُوا۟ مِمَّا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ حَلَـٰلًۭا طَيِّبًۭا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّۭ مُّبِين

Allah Ta’ala says “O people, eat from the earth that is Halal and Tayyib, and do not follow the footsteps of Shaytan, indeed he is a clear enemy for you”.


Here, Allah Ta’ala commands all the people to eat that which is Halal and Tayyib (pure). This command alone suffices why it is a must for a Muslim to consume Halal. But Allah Ta’ala mentions consuming Haram in numerous places in the Qur’an to show the importance of eating Halal.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُلُوا۟ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنَـٰكُمْ وَٱشْكُرُوا۟ لِلَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

Allah Ta’ala says: “O those who believe, eat from the Tayyibaat (pure things) we provided to you and be grateful to Allah, if you (truly) worship him”.

(Al-Baqarah: 172)

This verse also stresses the need to eat Halal, such a stress which Allah imposes that as a condition if you are from those who truly worship Him. Allah Ta’ala tells us to eat from the Tayyibaat which is Halal. As Allah Ta’ala explains in this verse:

 يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ مَاذَآ أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ ۖ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتُ

They ask what has been made Halal for them, Say to them “What has been made Halal for you are the Tayyibaat (pure things)”.


All these verses stress the importance of consuming only that which is Halal.

What are the harms of Haram?

The harms of Haram are many, the first and biggest harm of all is that you are disobeying Allah Ta’ala, the most powerful and most great, the one who gives you sustenance and the one who allows your heart to beat and the one who who gives life and causes death and has your good and bad fortune at his command. Bilal bin Sa’d (Rahimahullah) says,

“لَا تَنْظُرْ إِلَى صُغْرِ الْخَطِيئَةِ وَلَكِنِ انْظُرْ إِلَى مَنْ عَصَيْتَ”

Do not look at the littleness of the sin, rather look at who you have disobeyed”.

Of course, eating Haram is not a small sin, but this is so one understands that the biggest harm is the disobedience of Allah Ta’ala, and this will cause one to go upon the path of destruction. There are also numerous harms which are mentioned in the Ahadith. Rasulullah (SAW) mentions regarding the one whose sustenance was not from Halal,


‏ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الرَّجُلَ يُطِيلُ السَّفَرَ أَشْعَثَ أَغْبَرَ يَمُدُّ يَدَيْهِ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ يَا رَبِّ يَا رَبِّ وَمَطْعَمُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَشْرَبُهُ حَرَامٌ وَمَلْبَسُهُ حَرَامٌ وَغُذِيَ بِالْحَرَامِ فَأَنَّى يُسْتَجَابُ لِذَلِكَ ‏‏

Then Rasulullah (SAW) mentioned regarding a man who went on a long journey, is disheveled and dusty, who spreads out his hands to the sky saying (Ya Rabb, Ya Rabb), while his food is Haram, his drink Haram, his clothing Haram, and he is nourished with Haram, so how can he be answered.

This hadith shows the severity and how scary the harms of eating Haram are. The fact that a traveler, who normally,  his du’a is accepted, and he is in such dire condition. Yet, his du’a is not accepted through the severity of the harms of eating Haram. How evil and wretched are the harms of eating Haram! May Allah save us from such a fate. Another hadith of Rasulullah (SAW) regarding the one who eats Haram, he says,

والذي نفس محمد بيده، إن العبد ليقذف اللقمة الحرام في جوفه ما يُتقبل منه عمل أربعين يوما

By the one who holds the soul of Muhammad (SAW) in his hand, Indeed the servant who puts a morsel of Haram in his mouth, no good deed is accepted from him for forty days”.

This is another Hadith which shows the severity of the harms of eating Haram. 40 days of one’s good deeds not being accepted, imagine if he dies in such a case. How many good deeds is he missing out on? May Allah Ta’ala protect us from this fate.

What does Halal mean?

Halal in Arabic means permissible, it is that which Allah Ta’ala has declared as permissible for Muslims to do. In terms of food, Halal is that which is Tayyib, the ‘Ulama have determined the principles of Halal and Haram. They say:

الأصل في الأشياء الإباحة وفي اللحوم الحرمة

“By default, all things are permissible but in terms of meat, the default is Haram”.

Therefore, for things other than meat, Halal is determined by if any Haram ingredients are used. However, for meat, the conditions of Zabh must be found on the animal, and to verify whether Zabh was done on the animal, there must be a certification from trusted authorities (which will be listed later) to determine whether the meat served in slaughterhouses, restaurants etc. is slaughtered according to Zabiha.

What does Zabiha Halal mean?

In practice, Zabiha Halal and Halal have no difference. What is not halal is not zabiha and what is zabiha is halal, and what is halal is zabiha and what is not zabiha is not halal. Zabiha is the process of slaughtering the meat to ensure that the meat is halal. There are 4 conditions which must be met for the meat to be considered to be halal. These are the following, 

Condition 1) Three out of four veins of the animal must be cut, these are 1) Esophagus 2) Trachea 3) Two jugular veins, if three out of four of these are not cut, then the animal is determined as maytah (carrion), which is Haram for eating, maytah is that animal which is not slaughtered according to Zabiha or died from natural causes.

Condition 2) Tasmiyah must be said verbally at the time of slaughter on each animal, if it is not said for any animal, then that animal is classified as Maytah. This means that one cannot say Bismillah one time and keep slaughtering multiple animals.

Condition 3) The butcher must be Muslim or believing Ahl al-Kitab. This means that the butcher cannot be a machine, as the butcher must be from what has been mentioned. If these conditions are not met in an animal then the animal is termed as maytah (carrion) and therefore Haram.

How can we ensure our meat we buy is Halal?

Nowadays, especially in non-Muslim majority countries. It is very saddening that 90% of all meat is completely Haram. In America, it has reached such an extent where a Halal label is absolutely not sufficient to determine whether a meat product is Halal, as Halal labels are given to all things even if they are Haram by essence, pork being an example. This shows that a Halal label is simply not enough to certify whether a meat product is halal, rather we have to examine the entire process of the supply chain to see whether the meat is slaughtered properly, distributed properly etc. to determine whether the meat is Halal. The ‘Ulama have made it easy for the community to ensure that our meat which we eat is absolutely 100% halal. The ‘Ulama have established two certification boards to certify whether meat is Halal or Haram, these are HMS (Halal Monitoring Services) and HFSAA (Halal Food Standards Alliance of America). These two services are the only reliable services to see whether meat is halal or haram. Therefore, we can ensure our meat is halal by seeing whether one of these organizations certified it to be Halal. 

Can we eat food of Ahl al-Kitab? 

Nowadays, Christians nor Jews follow their religion properly according to their own laws, this includes eating. Christians believe that ‘Isa (alayhis salam) died for their sins therefore they can do whatever they want without repercussion, and Jews have been influenced by the liberal powers and so they have been deviated. Therefore, most meat they eat is Haram for them, and if it is Haram for them, then it is Haram for us.

In conclusion, we must be extremely careful whether the meat we eat is Halal and Haram. We live in such a time where Halal is not accessible to the people and the line between halal and haram has become blurred. May Allah Ta’ala help us to ensure that all our livelihood is halal, whether in food, earning income etc. and not make us from amongst those who consume Haram. Amin

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