What is Halal?

The term “halal” comes from Arabic and essentially means “permissible, clean”. Considerable importance is attached to this term in the Islamic faith. According to Islamic law, any acts that are permissible and in keeping with Islamic canon are deemed “halal”. All impermissible acts are grouped under the term “haram”.

Islamic jurisprudence subdivides acts into exactly five categories:

  • fard (obligatory)
  • mandub (recommended)
  • halal (permissible)
  • makrooh (disapproved)
  • haram (forbidden)

These provisions are governed in the Koran and in the Sunna and faithful Muslims comply with them. Obviously, there are also provisions with respect to food.

What foods are considered halal (permissible)?
All foods that are permissible according to Islamic law may be designated as “halal”. Examples include various kinds of poultry such as chicken, duck, goose, etc. Their eggs are also always permissible.

What foods are considered haram (forbidden)?
Many people know that consuming pork is forbidden in Islam. However, what many do not know is that other foods should be avoided as well. For example, it is forbidden to eat the flesh of animals that have died or that have been killed by other animals. It is also forbidden to eat animals that have been slaughtered in the name of another deity. The consumption of blood or processed blood is also forbidden.

What is “halal” slaughtering?
According to Islamic law, all land-dwelling animals have to be slaughtered according to a specific ritual so that their flesh remains halal. A Muslim must recite the Bismillah, an Islam prayer (in the name of God), as he kills the animal with a quick cut. All national animal protection ordinances and stipulations pertaining to slaughter are strictly observed. 

What beverages are considered haram (forbidden)?
The consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Islam. An exception is alcohol that is used solely for medicinal purposes and when there is no equivalent non-alcoholic medication available. It can generally be assumed that dealcoholized beverages are “halal”. The alcohol ban does not apply to extractions, disinfection, etc.