What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word meaning "lawful” or "permitted”. The opposite of halal is haram, which means "unlawful” or "prohibited”. When it comes to food and consumables, halal is the dietary standard of Muslims. All pure and clean things are considered halal except for the few following exceptions:
- Swine/pork and its by-products
- Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
- Animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God)
- Alcohol and intoxicants
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
- Blood and blood by-products
- Foods contaminated with any of the above products
While many things are clearly halal or clearly haram, there are some things that are not clear. These items are considered questionable or suspect, and more information is needed to categorize them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means "doubtful” or "questionable”. Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, etc. would be mashbooh because, more often than not, the origin of these ingredients is not known.
What is the difference between Halal and Kosher?
When it comes to meat and poultry, Muslims also use the term zabiha (dhabiha) to refer to meat from a halal animal slaughtered by a Muslim in the prescribed Islamic way. (Meat from haram animals does not become halal, even if it is slaughtered in the prescribed Islamic way and a Muslim would never slaughter a haram animal.) Conversely, kosher is a term associated only with food. It has a similar meaning as halal does in the context of food, but there are also many differences. Some of the differences are listed below:
- Islam prohibits all intoxicants, including alcohols, liquors and wines, whereas Judaism regards alcohol and wines as kosher. Hence kosher foods may contain alcohol. If they do, they are considered haram in Islam.
- Gelatin is considered kosher by many Jews regardless of its source of origin. For Muslims, if gelatin is prepared from swine it is haram. Even if gelatin is prepared from cows that are not zabiha, many scholars consider it haram.
- Kosher practice does not require Jews to pronounce the name of God on the animals while slaughtering, but Muslims must pronounce the name of ALLAH on all animals while in the act of slaughtering.
There are other differences between halal and kosher that make some kosher products haram or questionable with respect to Muslim consumption.
These differences may seem minor to some. However, indulging in acts or cuisine that is haram is a very serious offense against ALLAH. Consuming alcohol or pork is a clear violation of ALLAH’s commandments and should not be taken lightly. The pronouncement of the name of ALLAH at the time of slaughter is an act of worship and obedience in its own right. Not only is this pronouncement an act of worship of the most high unto itself, it also is the key to many blessings and bounties. Muslims and non-Muslims alike can taste the difference in meat slaughtered in a benign, humane manner and meat slaughtered while foregoing the rite’s inherent compassion to the animal.
And ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta’ala, knows best. (Source : IFANCA)