Halal is an Arabic term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in according to the Islamic law. The term is widely used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law.
In contrast to Halal, Haram means forbidden. Haram designates prohibited objects such as actions and food products.
The following food products or nutritional elements qualify Haram or Najis (ritually unclean):
- Animals that have been clearly and explicitly prohibited in the Qur’an or Sunnah are without doubt Haram. Swine, dogs, donkeys, etc.
- Blood and blood by-products, faeces and urine, and placental tissue.
- Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering.
- Carrion or dead animals.
- Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (God), and lawful animals not slaughtered according to Islamic law.
- All terrestrial predatory animals and beasts, i.e. animals that hunt with their teeth, are Haram. Lions, cheetahs, tigers, leopards, wolves, foxes, dogs, cats, etc.
- Those that have no blood in them are Haram, such as a hornet, fly, spider, beetle, scorpion, ant, etc.
- Animals who have blood in them but the blood does not flow, in other words, animals that do not have flowing blood are also Haram. Such as a snake, lizard, chameleon, etc.
- All types of pests (hasharat al-Ardh) are also considered Haram, such as a mouse, hedgehog, jerboa, etc.
- Animals with fangs and claws such as predators or raptors.
- If they are poisonous, toxic and harmful to human health.
The following animals' meat becomes Halal meat through the process of Halal slaughtering:
- Animals having flowing blood, surviving on grass and leaves, and not preying on other animals are all considered halal. such as a camel, cow, goat, buffalo, sheep, deer. Although there is a slight difference of opinion within the Hanafi School on to the consumption of horse-meat. Also, donkeys are exempt from this general ruling, in that its meat is Haram for consumption.
- If one parent of an animal is Halal and the other Haram, consideration focuses on the mother. Thus, if the mother is a Halal animal, the offspring would also be Halal, such as a mule whose mother is a horse. If, however, the mother is a Haram animal, the offspring would also be Haram, such as a mule whose mother is a donkey.
- Sea animals are already considered as pure and Halal. Thus, the ritual slaughtering of these animals is not necessary.
Examples of Quran verses concerning nutrition:
"Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah, and those animals killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you are able to slaughter before its death, and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and prohibited is that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience.” (5:3)
"He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah.” (2:173)
“O you who have believed, fulfil all contracts. Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you - hunting not being permitted while you are in the state of ihram. Indeed, Allah ordains what He intends.” (5:1)
"Satan only wants to cause between your animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So, will you not desist?” (5:91)
There are certain things and actions which tend to be Haram but are not explicitly forbidden. These things go by the designation of 'Makruh', which literally means undesirable. Smoking is one example.
The grey area between Halal and Haram represents things which are neither acceptable nor forbidden. Thus, their status is unclear. As a precaution, is advisable to avoid things which are questionable. Said things go by the designation of 'Mashbooh'. Whey Powder, for example, can come from animal rennet as well as from non-animal rennet. If its source is unclear, it is Mashbooh and, thus, advised to avoid.