Halal is an Arabic word translated as “permissible” and a term referring to things that have been made permissible by Islamic law (Shari’ah) that relates to food, dress, finances, actions, etc. Muslims, followers of the Islamic faith, believe these laws are of Divine origin laid out by Allah (God) in the Holy Qur’an and in the authenticated Ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ). The opposite of halal is haram.
In regards to food, halal refers to things that have been made permissible to eat and drink and cooking halal simply means to cook with ingredients that are permissible and avoid anything that is not, even those by-products that may be included to create a particular food product (i.e. gelatin of pork origin).
Islamic dietary laws expressly forbid the consumption of alcohol, blood, pork, and carrion, animals of prey such as those with fangs (i.e. snakes), anything of human origin, and a few other creatures that aren’t so common in the West. As such, Muslims who follow this are required to abstain from eating these substances, as well as those by-products made from them. Halal cooking, in a broad sense, is food preparation that incorporates these dietary guidelines.
Other Commonly Asked Questions About Halal Food
Are all fresh fruits and vegetables acceptable to eat?
So long as the fruit or vegetable has not be injected with or mixed with a non-halal product, ingredient or by-product of any sort (i.e .GM ingredients derived from porcine byproducts), all fruits and vegetables are halal, or permissible to eat.
Are all grains acceptable as halal?
Just like all fruits and vegetables, there is no issue with grains being permissible so long as they are not mixed with non-halal ingredients. In addition, grains fermented to produce alcohol (i.e. beer) are not considered halal.
Besides Ramadan, are there Muslim holidays on which certain foods may not be eaten? If so, what holiday(s) and what foods are prohibited?
There are no particular holidays or occasions in which any or certain foods are prohibited to be eaten. Only on days when fasting is prescribed as obligatory (only for those who are able to fast), such as in Ramadan or on days in which people choose to fast, is all food and drink prohibited from just before sunrise to sunset.
Wa Allahu’Alim (and God knows best).