Halal: The Arabic Inscription and its meaning.
Each time I pick up a tin of milk, corned beef and other food related packaged items, I usually see this Arabic Inscription with the word “Halal” on the information panel of the product. Over time, I’ve ignored that. There are so many inscriptions one doesn’t strain one’s imagination trying to understand.
A friend just came back from India and got me a biscuit. I got enthralled by the beauty of the exotic packaging so I didn’t rush to have a taste of the content immediately. As I skimmed through the information on the packet, the “Halal” inscription hit my eyes immediately. This time I didn’t ignore it. I’ve got to know what this inscription means.
What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word that means “Lawful” or “permissible.” In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. For a meat to be certified “halal,” it cannot be a forbidden cut (such as meat from hindquarters) or animal (such as pork.) or contain alcohol and certain other ingredients.
By official definition, Halal foods are those that are:
- Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.
- Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
All foods are considered Halal except the following:
- Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
- Non-Halal animal fat
- Enzymes (microbial enzymes are permissible)
- Gelatine from non-Halal source (fish gelatine is Halal)
- L-cysteine (if from human hair)
- Lipase (only animal lipase need be avoided)
- Non-Halal animal shortening
- Pork products
- Unspecified meat broth
- Rennet (All forms should be avoided except for plant, microbial and synthetic rennet, as well as rennet obtained from Halal slaughtered animals)
- Stock (mixed species broth or meat stock)
- Tallow (non-Halal species)
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
- Foods contaminated with any of the above products
The slaughter of a halal animal is called “zabihah” and there are certain guidelines to follow:
- Allah’s (God’s) name must be pronounced during slaughter.
- The instrument must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter. The animal must be slit at the throat.
- The animal must not be unconscious
- The animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry. Eating blood is not halal.
- These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim or the People of the Book (Christian or Jew.) Many observant Muslims find kosher meat acceptable.
- The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.
An authority can join in the conversation through the comment below or through the below social media handles for further clarifications.