Halal and Haram Food Products
Source: Excerpts from the Book "Halal Haram"
Issues Pertaining to Islamic Dietary Rules
6th March 2008
by Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)
The issue of Halal Haram is of crucial importance to Muslims because it touches on their Iman or Faith. They are required to be scrupulous in avoiding prohibited things as Allah (s.w.t) says in the Quran:
" 0 Mankind! Eat of what is on the earth, lawful and good ..." [Al-Quran 2:168]
" Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked and that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or killed by a fall, or by the goring of horns, and that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal - unless you are able to slaughter it (before its death), and that which is sacrificed (slaughtered) on An-Nusub (stone-altars for idols) .......... But as for him who is forced by sever hunger, with no wilfull inclination to sin (is allowed to eat the above mentioned), then Surely Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful " [Al-Quran 5:3]
According to a hadith in Sahih Muslim, Abu Hurairah (r.a) reports:
" The Holy Prophet once made a mention of a person who travels widely, his hair dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky (and thus makes the supplication); O Lord! O Lord! whereas his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful and his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How can then his supplication be accepted? " [Sahih Muslim, The Book of Zakat, Chapter: Acceptance of Sadaqa by Honest Work and its Growth]
Based on the above Hadith, we can conclude that Allah answers our prayers if what we consume or do is lawful. In Islam, dua is the essence of man's worship to Allah. His fate in this world and in the afterworld depends on the blessings from Allah. Therefore we need His guidance and protection. If the food that we eat is obtained from Haram sources, then our relationship with Allah will be severed. In this situation it is impossible for us to get any blessings from Allah. On the other hand, our dua would be useless even if we pray, fast and practise other obligations but our stomach is fed with Haram food.
While deciding whether food is fit for consumption, there is more to consider than just whether it is Halal or Haram. The Quran has numerous injunctions that instruct Muslims to choose and consume good and wholesome foodstuffs. Allah (s.w.t) says:
" So eat of the lawful and Tayyab (good) food
which Allah has provided for you ..." [Al-Quran 16:114]
The word "Tayyab" means good, which includes the meaning that the food must be wholesome, and pure from its source.
When Muslims consume food in hotels and restaurants, or purchase food items from supermarkets and hypermarkets, very often, they cannot be sure whether the food conforms to Islamic dietary rules. There is no proper certification and they do not have access to information to form an opinion. The public regard the Halal certification issued by the official Islamic institutions with suspicion because they do not have adequate skilled personnel and testing facilities to conduct rigorous inspection and testing on food offered for sale to the public. So in choosing food and drinks, Muslims must consider some very important guidelines, namely:
Whether Allah has prohibited the consumption of the food/drink concerned
Whether it is obtained through Halal or Haram means
Whether it is harmful to health
Consumption of Haram food and drinks would have undesirable effects on the health, spiritual and physical development of the individual.
There are several factors that determine the Halal/Haram status of a particular foodstuff. These include the nature of the foodstuff itself, how it is produced, processed, distributed and how it is acquired.
For example any product from pigs would be considered Haram because the material itself is Haram. Similarly, meat from animals which are not slaughtered according to Islamic rites would be Haram. Foodstuff that is acquired through means that are incompatible with Islamic teaching would also be Haram. Food and drinks that are poisonous or intoxicating are obviously Haram because they are harmful to health. Islam has laid down general guidelines to determine the Halal/Haram status of foodstuffs and other materials. They are:
All raw materials and ingredients must be Halal.
Halal animals such as chickens, cattle, goats, etc must be slaughtered according to Islamic rites. The ritual specifies that the act be performed by a mentally sound Muslim to sever the blood and respiratory channel of the animal using a sharp cutting tool, such as a knife. The name of Allah must be mentioned at the time of slaughtering by saying: "Bismillah, wa Allahu Akbar. (In the name of Allah; Allah is the Greatest.)"
The Halal ingredients must not be mixed or even come into contact with Haram materials, such as products from pigs or dogs, during storage, transportation, cooking and serving.
Thus to summarize, an item of food is Halal if:
It does not harm or interfere with the normal functioning of the body and mind
It is free of najis (filth) and of products derived from carrion or from dead animals that have not been properly slaughtered or hunted
It is free of products derived from pigs or dogs or other Haram animals.
Conversely, a food item is Haram if:
It harms or negatively interferes with physical or mental functions
It contains najis or products derived from carrion, animals that have died of natural causes, or from pigs or other Haram animals
It is derived from a permitted animal that was nevertheless not slaughtered in an acceptable way or if it was not prepared properly.
And if one is unsure about something then it is better to avoid since Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
" Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pastures) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O People!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled the whole body gets spoiled. And that is the Heart." [Sahih Al-Bukhari - The Book of Faith]
Issues Pertaining to Islamic Dietary Rules
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