Myth #1: Halal Means ‘Hocus Pocus’

This myth surprised me the most because it couldn’t be further from the truth. When I heard that some people actually believe that eating halal involves Muslims putting magic spells over food, I thought it was absurd for anyone to think it could be true–and then realized they weren’t kidding.

delicious spices on halal meat– not magic dust…

The first thing one learns as a Muslim is the shahadah (there is no god but Allah, the One God). Meats that are permissible to eat and then sacrificed as food for human consumption must never be dedicated to or sacrificed in the name of anyone other than God.

Magic spells and idol worship are prohibited in Islam and food that is dedicated in a name other than God’s name is also prohibited. And no, we don’t worship Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), nor do we dedicate our food to him. We simply revere him as the last prophet given to mankind and try to follow his example in the way he lived his life according to God’s commands.

{this is one in a series of posts about the myths of halal food that I plan to post}

Is this a myth you’ve heard before? What proof would you use to debunk it?

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  1. I haven’t heard this one personally (though I have seen some craaaazy stuff people think about halal food online especially after Whole Foods started advertising their halal line). One thing though, I think a lot of non-muslims really don’t get the part about saying bismillah when slaughtering. I remember I was explaining what halal slaughtering means to a non-muslim friend, and how we say bismillah (in the name of Allah) and she found this really offputting. She said the idea of killing anything “in the name of God” was very disturbing (she’s not a vegetarian). Honestly I was a loss at how to explain this better, though I did mention that we say bismillah for everything… Islam permeates our lives, all actions should be in remembrance of Allah and in the name of Allah, not just slaughtering, and it’s a way to honor the animal even and remind ourselves that each step we take must be with awareness and for the right reasons. But, I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining this, since somehow this is more disturbing to someone than killing something with out being mindful that it’s God’s creation! If you have ideas on how to better present this, since I know you’re doing a series on myths about halal food, I’d be very interested to hear it!

  2. This is really interesting and I am looking forward to reading all of your posts about Halal food!! Halal food was how I found you, remember? 🙂

    Not being Muslim it is all unknown territory. The closest reference, for me, would be Kosher food and I know little about that!! When I heard of Halal food I assumed it meant something like Kosher where a Rabbi blesses and thanks God for the food…but not in dedication or anything like that.

    One question I would have is is raising the meat also within any guidelines? As we all become educated on how meat producers treat the animals I think we appreciate organic/small farm food more. Does Halal carry over to the raising of the animals, too?

    Thank you!!! 🙂

  3. That’s quite interesting to know. Nowadays even a non believers find halal = quality brand of some sort. Maybe it’s best to explain slaughtering to them in historic or scientific reason behind why we do it that way.

    Like the slaughtering is the most humane act you can do upon living being. Animals are unlikely to feel pain just like when you prick your finger with needle i guess. Compare to how they normally done by electrocute animals with low level voltage or boiling alive. Plus when the blood gushed out, it carried also the impurity or toxins from the animal. Leaving a clean meat to be consume. Hope it give you some idea on how better to approach them next time.

  4. Some Native American tribes have a philosophy where they honor the animal they killed because it needed to die in order to provide them with life-giving sustenance. We could adopt this philosophy as an explanation for why we say “Bismillah/In the Name of God”, because we are honoring God who provided us with this vital sustenance. YMMV…

  5. I have never believed this myth, but unfortunately, I have encountered some people who do. I also know some who do mistakenly think that Muslims worship Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Thank you very much for sharing this information, and for spreading truth about halal food and Islam. Thanks to Muslim friends, I am familiar with the meaning of halal, but this myth debunking helped me to understand it even better. 🙂

  6. It is so unfortunate that people think like this, but it’s also more opportunity to educate ourselves first and then others on the appropriate way to explain such an important aspect of halal. Thanks for all of your comments!

  7. It’s good to be having this conversation!! I’m learning a lot here in the comments!! I kind of just assumed that Muslims worshiped Mohammad….it’s just me taking what I know, Christianity, and applying it elsewhere! 🙂 And all things being equal, I hear many misconceptions about Christianity, too!! It’s not as Christian a country as it seems…at least in southern California! 🙂

    I truly believe in getting to know people for myself and not buy into propaganda and one of the ways is through what people do daily – eat!! Thank you, Yvonne, for always being so willing to share what you know!! 🙂

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