What is Halal?
In Arabic, the word halal means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines gathered from the Qu’ran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following:
- pork or pork by products
- animals that were dead prior to slaughtering
- animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah
- blood and blood by products
- carnivorous animals
- birds of prey
- land animals without external ears
These prohibited foods and ingredients are called haram, meaning forbidden in Arabic.
Halal is One of the Most Humane Methods of Animal Slaughter
Muslims are taught through the Qu’ran that all animals should be treated with respect and well cared for. The goal is to slaughter the animal, limiting the amount of pain the animal will endure.
When an animal is slaughtered, the jugular vein is cut and the blood is allowed to drain from the animal. Remember, Muslims are prohibited from consuming animal blood.
Where to Find Halal Foods
Halal foods can be found in many Middle Eastern, European and Western grocers. In larger cities, you may be able to find halal butchers, markets, supermarkets and restaurants.
In Malawi, mostl food markets are certified by the Halal Department of Malawi which started its operations in early 90s. Non-Muslims in Malawi developed trust in halal food-stuffs as early as 1996, as meat products that are certified by the national halal body comply with strict veterinary requirements.
“It’s much safer eating halal certified meat products. At least you are assured that they can not just grab a sick animal for slaughter,”
A Protestant based in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre, told IslamOnline.net. In Malawi, committees were established at mosques to oversee the proper slaughtering of animals.
The concept of halal has traditionally been applied to food. Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah (the Arabic word for God), must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
With the growing demand for Halal foods in some areas, some national supermarket chains are carrying halal meats even halal turkeys for Thanksgiving.