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Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices

Al-Halal (The Lawful)

Halal is the Arabic word which, in general, means 'allowed' or 'lawful'. Most diets and foods are considered to be Halal unless they are specified in the Holy Qur'an or Hadith as otherwise. Human beings cannot change the unlawful (Haram) into Halal (lawful). It is also unlawful to make the Halal (lawful) into Haram (unlawful).

Al-Haram (The Unlawful)

Haram is the Arabic word which, in general, means 'prohibited' or 'unlawful'. In Islam, Haram foods are meant to be unlawful. They are: pork and its byproducts, alcohol, meat of dead animals, meat of the animals slaughtered in the name other than The Almighty, blood, any intoxicating drugs, etc. If a Muslim uses any of these Haram products, he would be committing a sin. In some exceptional cases, a Muslim may use the Haram foods. It is permissible if they are consumed by mistake or if he is in danger. If there is no other food available except the Haram, then it is permissible to use it to survive only.

A Partial List of Haram Ingredients:

Bacon: A side of a pig meat (pork) after removal of the spare ribs and after being cured dry or pickled.

Cholesterol: A type of fat always of animal origin. If extracted Zabiha animal, it is Halal.

Di-glyceride: Emulsifier. If of animal origin, it should be avoided till the animal source is known.

Gelatin: Usually of animal origin, mostly from pig. If the gelatin source is plant then it is Halal.

Glyceryl: It could be from an animal source, plant or synthetic Glycerol-Stearate origin. If the source is animal, it is Haram.

Hormones: Usually animal hormones are used to human beings. Find out the source before passing a judgment.

Lard: Fat from swine, particularly found in the abdominal cavity. This is totally Haram to be used!

Mono-Glycerides: If the source is animal origin, then it is Haram.

Pepsin: A digestive enzyme of the gastric juices usually extracted from pig's stomach. Absolutely Haram!

Renin (Rennet): A protein enzyme used in the preparation of cheese for curdling the milk. If the source is a Zabiha animal, then it is Halal.

Animal Shortening: Fat and oils of animal origin.

Lard Shortening: A purified internal fat from the abdomen of pig.

Vegetable Shortening: Fat and oils of plant origin. As long as the word 'pure' or '100%' is not used with vegetable shortening, there is no guarantee that the animal fats are not added to the extent of 5 - 15%.

NOTE: Labels do not usually say whether of animal or plant origin. Inquiries can be made by simply writing to the food companies.

The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

February 1991
Shahban 1411
The Virtues of Qur'an
Qur'an and Science
Sincerity (Ikhlas)
Stories of the Sahabah
Women in Islam
The Kid's Corner
The Prophet Adam
Teachings of the Prophet
Why I Embraced Islam
Islamic Dietary Laws