What Does “Halal” Mean?

The term “halal” comes from the Arabic and means allowed, permissible. According to Islamic law, it is a concept for cleanliness and purity that includes all things and actions that have been permitted for Muslims. “Halal” is the opposite of “haram,” which means the forbidden, not permitted. The basis of these classifications are the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad.

Islam is a holistic way of life, so the concept of “halal” and “haram” is applied not only to human behavior, but also to the consumption of food and other products such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

In summary, the Islamic dietary rules can be explained as follows: Anything that was not clearly forbidden in the Qur’an and Sunnah is generally allowed. It is expressly forbidden to consume the following foods and ingredients, considered haram:

  1. Meat from pork and its by-products, e.g. gelatine
  2. Animals not slaughtered under the Islamic rite or slaughtered in the name of any other than Allah.
  3. Carrion, blood and its by-products
  4. Most predators, birds of prey, reptiles and insects
  5. Narcotics and Intoxicating substances in any amounts, e.g. alcohol
  6. Foods contaminated with any of the above products

Whether meat products are “halal” also depends on the method of slaughter or death. Without exception, ritual Islamic slaughter should be carried out in such a way that the animal is not unnecessarily inflicted with pain, suffering, damage or severe anxiety. The animal should be treated dignified and respectful, it should be separated from other animals, knives and blood should not be visible to it. A single, rapid incision, which cuts through the cervical arteries, veins and trachea, leads to immediate death and ensures almost no-residue bleeding. According to common opinion of the Islamic scholars, the use of narcotics is allowed, provided that it does not lead to death.