What is HALAL?

What is Halal?

The word ‘Halal’ in Arabic means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’, its opposite is ‘Haram’ which means ‘unlawful’ or ‘prohibited’. Muslims can only consume food that is Halal.

Many things are clearly Halal or clearly Haram; however there are some areas that are ambiguous. Such food items fall in the ‘Mushbooh’, (doubtful or questionable) category. More information is needed to categorize them as Halal or Haram. Examples of such foods include gelatine, enzymes, emulsifiers etc and any food products that contain these ingredients. The origin of these types of ingredients is the only way to determine if they are Halal or Haram.

Halal food is defined as food permitted under the Shariah Law (Islamic rules) and should fall within all of the following parameters:

  • 1.1 Food that does not consist of or contain anything which is considered to be Haram according to Shariah Law.
  • 1.2 Food that has not been prepared, processed, transported or stored using any appliance/facility that is contaminated by anything Haram according to Shariah Law.
  • 1.3 Food that has not (during the course of preparation, processing, transportation or storage) been in direct contact with any food that fails to satisfy parameters 1 and 2 above.
  • 1.4 Food that does not contain Najs material according to Shariah Law.
  • 1.5 Food must be safe for human consumption, non-poisonous, non-intoxicating or non-hazardous to health.
  • 1.6 Food that is not prepared, processed or manufactured using equipment contaminated with Najs material according to Shariah Law.
  • 1.7 Food that does not contain any human parts or its derivatives as specified according to Shariah Law.

What is Haram?

Any material or actions that are not classified as Halal according to the EHDA Halal Standard and anything that is forbidden or unlawful under Shariah Law. Here is a list of the main things that are considered Haram (prohibited) for Muslims to consume:

  • 2.1 Swine/pork and its by-products.
  • 2.2 Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering.
  • 2.3 Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (swt). ‘Allah’ (swt) is the arabic word for ‘God’ NOT an idol.
  • 2.4 Alcohol and intoxicants.
  • 2.5 Carnivorous animals, land animals without external ears and birds of prey
  • 2.6 Blood and blood by-products.
  • 2.7 Foods contaminated with any of the above.
    Under Shariah Law, the following sources, including their by-products and derivatives are considered Haram (unlawful):
  • 2.8 Animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah Law.
  • 2.9 Pigs, boars, dogs, snakes, monkeys and similar/closely related animals.
  • 2.10 Carnivorous animals with claws or fangs such as lions, tigers, bears.
  • 2.11 Birds of prey with claws such as eagles, vultures, owls.
  • 2.12 Pests such as rats, centipedes, scorpions and other closely related animals.
  • 2.13 Animals forbidden to be killed in Islam, i.e. ants, bees and woodpecker birds.
  • 2.14 Animals which are considered repulsive generally like lice, flies, maggots and other similar animals.
  • 2.15 Animals that live both on land and in water such as frogs, crocodiles and other similar animals.
  • 2.16 Mules and domestic donkeys.
  • 2.17 All poisonous and hazardous aquatic animals.
  • 2.18 Blood and its derivatives.
  • 2.19 Food containing intoxicating or hazardous plants except where the toxin or hazard can be eliminated during processing.
  • 2.20 Alcoholic drinks and Alcoholic products.
  • 2.21 All forms of intoxicating and hazardous drinks.
  • 2.22 All food additives derived from any item that is deemed Haram according to the points above.
  • 2.23 Any food that contains any human parts or its derivatives.

What is Halal certification?

A food product can be certified as ‘Halal’ after it has been determined that the ingredients used in its production (and the process of production) is in compliance with the Halal standards of Islamic law. This requires supervision from an independent and qualified third party. A Halal certificate is normally issued for each product that a business produces.

Why Do I Need Halal Certification?

Halal certification is required for food to be accepted by Muslim consumers. Secondly, apart from the 1.4 billion Muslim consumers worldwide, there are millions who choose to eat Halal products because of the obvious positive health benefits associated with them. Genuinely Halal products have high levels of cleanliness and care throughout their preparation.

How Does HACCP, BRC, UKAS Fit In With Halal Certification?

HACCP, BRC and UKAS are important quality management systems for the food industry. They ensure that the food is pure and safe for consumption, this is a must for all Halal food. The EHDA Halal Standard includes components of HACCP, BRC, UKAS and our auditors will ensure that all food complies with these standards before receiving EHDA certification.

How does ISO 9000 Fit with Halal certification?

ISO 9000 is another quality management system that fits in the concept of Halal. Normally a Halal Certifying agency will incorporate specific Halal procedures with the ISO procedures. It is important to recognise that ISO certification alone does not make a product Halal and that a Halal product may be produced without ISO certification.

Where Can I Find Halal Certified Ingredients ?

Halal certified ingredients are widely available. If you are intending to produce EHDA certified products, it is easier to gain EHDA certification if you have used ingredients that have already been Halal certified. EHDA can assist you in finding the right source of Halal certified ingredients for your product.

What Are The Benefits Of EHDA Certification/Training?

Amongst the general benefits of Halal certification, there are also unique benefits of obtaining EHDA Halal certification/training:

8.1 By following the EHDA Standard for producing Halal products, producers are able to accurately work to a Shariah approved format which is vital for consumers of Halal products. The procedures in the EHDA Standard are continuously refined as new techniques and new ingredients are developed. and it is consistent with HACCP, BRC, ISO and other quality and safety standards.

  • 8.2 The knowledge gained during EHDA Halal training can be passed on throughout your business/organisation, ensuring broad-based knowledge on methods of Halal handling and production.
  • 8.3 Consultation on product development, marketing, and quality assurance to help you create new products targeted to the consumers of Halal produce.
  • 8.4 The EHDA Halal Certificate and using the EHDA Logo is recognised/accepted around the world, helping you to enter new markets and gain new customers.
  • 8.5 You will be included in our online list of EHDA Halal certified products, where customers and other businesses can clearly find you.

What Is The Size Of The Halal Market?

There are around 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. In Europe alone there are over 20 million Muslims of which over 2 million reside in the UK. These figures bear evidence that the market for Halal products is vast and on the rise. As mentioned above, there are millions of non Muslim consumers who prefer to eat Halal certified products.

Can I eat the food served on Airlines?

The kind of food served on airlines differs from airline to airline. Airlines generally offer a wide variety of meal choices to meet passengers demands. Meals served on airlines include vegetarian, non vegetarian, low salt, seafood meals and others. Some airlines do offer Muslim (Halal) meals however these are not certified by a qualified Halal certifying agency. This means that we don’t know if the meat and other ingredients are derived from animals slaughtered according to Shariah law. We also don’t know if they are free from pork and alcohol. Airlines will only provide Halal certified meals when they see sufficient demand.

Every Muslim should request a Halal meal when they travel by plane. If Halal meals are unavailable, the traveller should make sure the request is recorded so that the airline may consider providing Halal meals in the future. Ask for a letter from the head of the food service section in response to your request. That way, you can be sure your request has reached the relevant decision maker.

Is all cheese Halal?

Cheese production requires curdling or coagulating milk which is done with the help of enzymes which can be derived from plant, animal or microbial sources. Enzymes commonly used for this are pepsin, lipase and rennet. Pepsin and lipase are obtained either from cattle or pigs. Rennet on the other hand is derived from the inner lining of the fourth stomach of calves, which may be slaughtered according to Halal rules or may not be Halal (Haram). These enzymes can also be made by micro organisms in which case they are Halal.

Rennet is a preparation containing dried, ground linings of the calf stomach. The active enzyme is called chymosin. Today, purified chymosin can also be made by microorganisms by inserting the chymosin gene from the calf into microbial cells. Manufacturers of special cheese still use calf rennet whilst high flavour ripened cheeses, (like romano) widely use pig lipases. What makes things even more difficult for Muslim consumers is that most cheese manufacturers do not mention the source of the enzyme on the product. So it is advisable that Muslim consumers ask the producer about the source of the enzyme themselves. Of course, it is possible that the source can change without notification.

Is chocolate Liquor Haram?

Chocolate liquor is sweet syrup containing chocolate, sugar and other ingredients. It is used in making candy, drinks and other chocolate-flavoured products. It is not Haram if all ingredients sourced from Halal sources. And Allah (swt) knows best.

May we eat gelatine?

Gelatine is obtained from the hydrolysis of collagen from vertebrates, including pigs, cattle and fish. It is rich in protein. The main raw materials are pigskin, cattle bones and cattle hide however pigskin is the most common source. Gelatin is commonly used in the preparation of baked goods, ice cream, yogurt, jellies and gelatine Jell- OTM. It is also used in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Other uses of gelatine include photographic film and carbonless paper. If the source of gelatin is not mentioned on any product containing it, then the source is understood to be as pig skin and cattle bones, so it must be avoided. Halal gelatine can be produced from the bones and hides of cattle that were Halal slaughtered. Such a gelatin is normally certified as Halal and is labelled as Halal gelatine. Halal gelatine is made from Halal slaughtered cattle or from fish bones and is available for the food and pharmaceutical industry. And Allah(swt) knows best.

Are Kosher Products Halal?

This question is raised time and again. To answer this question, let us understand the concept of Halal and Haram in Islam. The word ‘Halal’ in Arabic means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’ and it refers not just to matters of food alone but to all matters of life in general. When it comes to slaughtering of cattle or poultry, the term Zibah (dhibah) is often used for animals slaughtered in the Islamic way. Meat from Haram animals does not become Halal even if it was slaughtered in the Islamic way by a Muslim slaughter man. In fact a Muslim slaughter man would never slaughter a Haram animal.

Conversely Kosher is term associated only with food. It is synonymous with Halal only in the context of food. Moreover there are many differences between Halal and kosher like:-

  • 14.1 All intoxicants, including alcohol, liquor and wines are Haram in Islam, where as alcohols and wines are kosher in Judaism. Clearly kosher foods may contain alcohol/wine. And if so they are Haram.
  • 14.2 Gelatine, regardless of its source, is considered kosher by many Jews. For Muslims gelatine prepared from swine and cattle that are not slaughtered using Islamic Zibah is Haram.
  • 14.3 According to the Kosher practice, it is not required to pronounce the name of Allah (God) on the animals being slaughtered while according to the Halal way it is a must to recite the name of Allah of every animal being slaughtered.

The above differences make it quite evident that Kosher products are Haram or questionable for Muslim consumption.

To some these differences may seem trivial but the fact is indulging in Haram acts or Haram food is a serious offence against Allah (swt). Allah’s commandments in the Holy Qur’an clearly mention consuming alcohol or pork as Haram and should not be taken lightly. Not only is the pronouncement of the name of Allah on every animal at the time of slaughter is an act of worship and obedience in its own accord but also it bestows many blessings and bounties on the animal as well as the consumers of its meat. Both Muslims and non Muslims alike can taste the difference if the in meat of the animal humanely slaughtered according to the Shariah and that of an animal slaughtered without compassion. And Allah (swt) knows best.

Is lecithin Halal?

Lecithin is an emulsifier. Emulsifiers are molecules used to keep oils or fats and water dispersed in one phase to form an emulsion (i.e they prevent oils or fats from separating). It is found in plant sources such as soya beans and egg yolk amongst animal sources. Lecithin from plants, soya beans, egg yolk and from animals slaughtered according to Halal norms is Halal. Otherwise it is not. Currently in the USA most lecithin is derived from soya beans however it is still possible that it may come from animal sources also. Unless the ingredient label says soya lecithin or vegetable lecithin, you need to check with the producer to determine its source. And Allah, subhanahu wa taa’ala knows best.

 Are mono and di-glycerides Halal?

Mono and di-glycerides are fatty acid molecules used as emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are molecules used to keep oils or fats and water dispersed in one phase to form an emulsion (i.e. they prevent oils or fats from separating). Mono- and di-glycerides are used in a wide variety of products, including baked goods, peanut butter, margarine, shortening, and other products. Mono and di-glycerides can be derived either from plant sources, in case of which they are Halal, or from animal sources, in case of which, the source needs to be determined. Unless the source is verified to be Halal products contain these are questionable. Only those mono and di-glycerides must be consumed by Halal consumers that are labelled as 100% vegetable mono and di-glycerides. And Allah, subhanahu wa taa’ala knows best.

What is the verdict on Halal and Haram lists?

In the past a group of educated Muslims expressed concern over the foods available in the marketplace. They decided to investigate various products and ingredients to guide other Muslims. This gave birth to Halal and Haram lists. The purpose of the list was to educate Muslim consumers about the food ingredients and food products. Such lists are helpful in understanding the composition of the products and making informed Halal choices.

What is the source is rennet?

Rennet is one of the enzymes used to make cheese. It is usually derived from the stomach of young calves. On slaughter, the calf stomach is removed and filled with milk. It is then allowed to dry over a period of time. When completely dried, the calf stomach is ground to make a crude extract of rennet which is either further purified or sold as it is. If the calf was Halal slaughtered then the rennet from its stomach is Halal otherwise not.

The active ingredient in rennet is chymosin. Rennet can also be prepared from microbial cells by inserting the chymosin gene into micro organisms and such chymosin or rennet is Halal.

Unless Halal certified, any product containing rennet is questionable because in general most rennet comes from calves that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic requirements. And is therefore not acceptable as Halal.

Some Muslim consumers have a wrong notion that rennet is extracted from live calves. This is clearly not the case. It is extracted from the slaughtered (dead) calves.

May I eat in Fat Food Restaurants?

When eating in restaurants there are three basic things to consider. One is the meat and poultry itself, secondly the method of preparation and the segregation of Halal versus Haram and thirdly other ingredients that make up the meal.

Let us consider meat and poultry. Here, some people quote the ayah about food of the People of the Book (Ahle Kitab). According to these people Muslims can eat the meat of Halal animals slaughtered by Christians of Jews. Others however consider the meat of Halal animals slaughtered by Christian’s or Jew to be not acceptable for Muslin consumption as Christians or Jews do not recite the name of Allah on the animal at the time of slaughter. There does not seem to be a consensus. According to one Sahih Hadith, “What is Halal is clear, and what is haram is clear, and that between these two ends are unclear things. Whosoever avoids unclear matters protects him from committing a sin and whosoever does not may fall into a sin unknowingly”. This hadith clearly illustrates that we should avoid unclear things i.e. if you are not sure about the food to be 100% Halal we should avoid it. This is of course left to the consumers to decide before eating in any fast food outlet.

Regarding the matter of preparation and segregation, most restaurants serve pork as well as chicken and beef products, so please be aware of this.

Is yellow No 5 Halal?

Yellow No 5 is a coloured dye made from petrochemicals. It is Halal in its pure form. However when used in food it may be mixed with Haram or doubtful ingredients such as gelatine. Sometimes the dye may be needed in the dissolved or dispersed form for which a non dye ingredient may be added to facilitate its application on a drink, hard candy or other food product. Secondly there are also standardizing agents added to help control the concentration of the dye. This causes reasonable doubts about the products containing these dyes.

To decide whether a product containing such dyes is Halal or not you should ask the manufacturer of the product what are the other components of the dye and where they come from. Of course if the product containing the dye is certified as Halal then it would be acceptable.

And Allah (swt) knows best.