Halal – defined

What does ‘halal living’ mean?

Incase you didn’t know, I’m a Muslim! As a Muslim I try to live a life that is in line with my religious beliefs. Therefore I try my utmost to keep my lifestyle as halal as possible.

Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘permissible’ or ‘allowed’. Halal can be applied to any aspect of life and can be used in many different contexts. To me, halal living means

  • living a god-conscious life
  • consuming products that are halal
  • not doing anything that compromises Islamic beliefs

Halal meat —  The animal should be looked after with kindness and care. Animal welfare is of utmost importance. The animal should then be slaughtered whilst it is still alive with the name of Allah (God). The action should be quick with a sharp knife in order to minimise pain. The blood of the animal is then drained.

Any residue blood that is apparent before cooking is halal as the animal has already been slaughtered in the halal way. Therefore a rare or blue steak is halal!

Kosher meat is considered permissible for Muslims to eat.

Pork/ham/bacon from a pig is not allowed. Fish does not require religious slaughter.

To stun or not to stun? A lot of debate has taken place about stunning. The Quran clearly states that an animal that has died before slaughter is not permissible for Muslims (eg. roadkill) to consume. If the animal dies during stunning then the animal cannot be deemed halal. If the animal is still conscious then it is permissible. The severity of stunning depends on many things like the slaughter-house or the country of origin. 80% of halal meat in the UK is stunned.

Halal food (that isn’t meat)— Food products with gelatine or alcohol are not permissible. (Unless the gelatine is derived from halal meat). Sweets and chocolates are the most common foods where I need to check ingredients.

Halal certification — A product does not need to be certified as halal for it to be consumed by a Muslim. For example, a bottle of water is halal for Muslims because it doesn’t contain any of the non-halal ingredients mentioned above.

A loaf of bread may have a halal symbol on the back to indicate it is halal. This means that it doesn’t have any alcohol or meat derivatives in it. It does not mean it is ‘blessed’ in any way. If it’s not an animal it doesn’t need to be blessed.

Many food items manufactured for global distribution may have a halal symbol on it. This is most likely because they are exporting to a Muslim country which requires the certification before importing it. Therefore it is a business decision made by the manufacturer.

Alcohol: Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol. Buying alcohol falls into the category of consumption so this should be avoided too.

Halal Cosmetics: Many skin care products and makeup contain animal derivatives and alcohol. This is a grey area as we are not ingesting cosmetics but there is a whole section of the beauty industry that is striving to make cosmetics more ‘Muslim-friendly’.

Halalness Level: Now this is where it gets a bit tricky. Whilst I don’t mind eating in a restaurant which serves alcohol or pork, many Muslims do, and that is their choice. Some Muslims don’t mind alcohol being served but won’t eat if pork is used in the same kitchen, and vice versa. You see the thing about us Muslims is that we are all different. Some Muslims drink alcohol and don’t eat halal at all — and that’s up to them.

I hope this explains halal living. I’m not a scholar but if you have any other questions about halal living then please drop me an email.