Halal is an Arabic word that means “lawful” and it refers actions permitted by Shariah law, and therefore, is without punishment imposed on the doer. It is usually used to describe something that a Muslim is permitted to engage in, such as eat, drink or do. The opposite of Halal is Haram, which meaning unlawful of prohibited.
What is Haram food? Here the list of prohibited food
All kinds of food are considered halal, except the following which are haram:
- Swine (pork) and its by-products
- Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before being slaughtered
- Animals not slaughtered in name of Allah
- Alcohol and all forms of intoxicating and hazardous drinks
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
- Pest such as rats, centipedes, scorpions and other similar animals
- Animals forbidden to be killed in Islam, e.g. ants, bees, spiders and woodpeckers
- Animals who live both on land and in water (amphibians) such as frogs, crocodiles and etc..
- Blood and blood by-products
- Food or drinks that contain any of the above ingredients that are considered haram or anything else that has been contaminated through the contact of any of the above products.
The Dhabihah slaughter method
While pork is the only meat that cannot be consumed by Muslims, other foods that are not pure are also considered haram. Dhabihah is the prescribed method of slaughter for all meat sources, excluding fish and other sea-life. This method consists of using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, trachea and jugular veins. Also, the name of the animal must be aligned with the qiblah, the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays in Mecca. In addition of the direction, animals should be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer Bismillah “in the name of God”. The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim and blood must be drained from the veins.
Carrion (carcasses of dead animals), animal that has been strangled, beaten, killed by a fall, gored, savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human), or sacrificed on a stone altar cannot be eaten.
The animal may be stunned prior to having its throat cut: supermarkets selling halal products report that the animals are stunned before they are slaughtered and the UK Food Standards Agency declared that from 2011 84% of cattle, 81% of sheep and 88% of chickens slaughtered for halal meat were stunned before they died.
Some exception exists: if there is no other halal food available and the Muslim is forced by necessity, then a Muslim is allowed to eat non-halal food in order to prevent death due to starvation.
Halal food certification
Halal food certification has an import role for the internationalisation of food companies. Today, many Italian food companies with halal certification have increased exportation and are starting for the first time to be a part of food export business plans. There are already some real halal food chain products and a virtuous network between certificated food companies.
For more information about Italian Halal certification, visit the Halal Italia website.