The Clear Islam

Are You Eating Right? A Simple Guide to Halal Vs. Haram Food

Everyone loves to travel, everyone loves to explore new places, and above all else, everyone loves to try new food! When we explore the variety of global food items, Islamic dietary rules are especially unique because of the religious importance Islam has placed on foods that are allowed to be consumed, versus those that are prohibited. Many non-Muslims hear the terms “halal” and “haram” but might not know exactly what they mean. This article has been written to explain these concepts clearly and in-depth with examples. We’ll look at what makes food halal (allowed) or haram (not allowed) according to Islam, using easy-to-understand language, and evidence from the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)! This article will help anyone, especially those not familiar with Muslim dietary practices, understand these dietary laws better.

**In this article, the abbreviation PBUH means “Peace Be Upon Him.” It is used by the Muslims to show respect to the Holy Prophet by either reciting it/writing it after his name is mentioned.

So, What is Halal and Haram?

“Halal” is an Arabic word that means lawful or permitted. When it comes to food, it refers to what Muslims are allowed to eat based on Islamic law. “Haram” on the other hand, means unlawful or prohibited, and it refers to what Muslims cannot eat. However, just like many things in Islam, the concept of halal and haram are not just confined to food, but also branch out to lifestyle choices as well! According to an article by the American Halal Foundation, “for Muslims, eating halal simply isn’t about health benefits or even following rules but eating food that will nourish their bodies. Halal is a way of life that encompasses all aspects of behavior and choices.”

Here are some verses from the Quran that speak on the importance of halal foods:

When beginning to purchase or consume halal foods, one must always make sure that the food follows the proper Islamic guidelines. Here are some points below that one can use as a checklist for halal foods:

  1. Intention and Prayer: For meat to be considered halal, the individual performing the slaughter must be a sane adult Muslim, Jew, or Christian (the “People of the Book”) and must invoke the name of God before making the cut. This act of mentioning God’s name is meant to show gratitude to God’s blessings and serves as a reminder that life should only be taken for a justifiable reason.
  2. Humane Treatment: The Islamic method of slaughtering animals involves using a sharp knife to ensure that the cut is clean and not painful. The animal must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and should not see another animal being slaughtered or the blade being sharpened. The aim is to respect the creature and minimize its suffering, reflecting the Quranic principle that all creatures are like communities, just as how we humans have communities, and they are deserving of their happiness and our kindness.
  3. Blood Drainage: After the cut, the blood must be completely drained from the animal. Blood in meat can be a medium for bacteria and toxins, and its removal is considered essential for the meat to be pure or clean.
  4. No Contamination: Halal food must not be contaminated with haram substances during preparation, processing, or storage. This includes ensuring that utensils,equipment and preparation areas have not been used to handle non-halal items without thorough cleansing. This segregation helps maintain the purity of halal food, in line with Islamic dietary laws.
  5. Halal Ingredients: All ingredients used in the preparation of food must be halal. For example, gelatin used in desserts and candies must be derived from halal sources. Many global manufacturers and restaurants are now using halal-certified ingredients to cater to Muslim customers.

To defend point #5, a recent literature review by Imran Ahmed Khan for the Journal of Clinical and Basic Research, The advantages of halal food for health and well-being, discovered that, “halal meat, obtained from animals raised following halal standards, yielded higher levels of certain essential amino acids compared to non-halal meat. This shows that halal meat has greater nutritional value.”

Further, several studies have been conducted to highlight the advantage and importance of introducing more halal food items in the global food market because more and more non-Muslims are now becoming accepting, and even prefer, foods with halal ingredients. This market has been studied for years as a 2012 study for the International Halal Conference, Acceptance on Halal Food among Non-Muslim Consumers, emphasized that “with the raising concern on health, a halal food business today has huge potential in capturing non-Muslim as target market. The halal concept on food today is beyond the understanding of religious values alone. It represents hygiene, cleanliness and the quality of the food consumed.”

This study was conducted in Malaysia and the researchers explain that food is something we all enjoy and there is much success when we enter a market where “people from different cultural backgrounds and religion have different perceptions and experiences to food.” With more and more people becoming concerned with healthy eating, they tend to accept halal food more because it is clean consumption and hygienic food. Nowadays, halal isn’t just a religious preference/concern anymore because “the concept of being healthy means being watchful over what is taken into the body, on the cleanliness of the food, the source of the food and also the method of handling and preparing the food.”

For context, in 2012, 61.3% of the Malaysian population are made up of Muslims, and 38.7% of the population are made up of non-Muslims. So, when this study was conducted amongst non-Muslims between the ages of 21-30 years, “food safety” was the most selected reason as to why they accepted halal food. In the end, researchers advised at this conference for food businesses to tap into this market, and concluded by saying, “non-Muslim consumers on the other hand, value halal because of health benefits it provides which is purely voluntary on an individual decision rather than because to obey religion requirement.”

The Sources of These Rules

The rules about what is halal and haram come from the Quran, which is the holy book of Islam, and from the ahadith and Sunnah, which are records of the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

In one hadith narrated from Abu Huraira, a companion of the Prophet (PBUH), the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said, “A time will come upon the people wherein a man will not bother with what he consumes; whether from halal source or haram.” – Sahih Bukhari

In another hadith reported on the authority of Abu Bakr, a companion of the Prophet (PBUH), the Messenger of God has said, “That body will not enter Paradise which has been nourished with haram.” – Bayhaqi

Another companion, Jabir, reported that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said, “That flesh will not enter Paradise which has grown from haram, and all that flesh which has grown from haram, the fire (of hell) is more worthy of it.” – Sahih Tirmidhi

Examples of Halal Foods

Meat and Poultry

Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Duck, and Goat.

Dairy Products

Milk (from cows, goats, sheep), Cheese (should be from halal animals, or plant-based), Butter, and Yogurt.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Leafy greens
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Garlic


  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Corns
  • Rye

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds.


  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil.

Examples of Haram Foods

Meat From Forbidden Animals

  • Pork (including bacon, ham, and any pork by-products): This is one of the most strictly forbidden foods in Islam.
  • Carnivorous animals and birds of prey: Animals that primarily pray consume meat and birds that hunt and eat other animals, such as lions, eagles and hawks.
  • Animals improperly slaughtered: Any animal that is not slaughtered according to Islamic laws, which includes being slaughtered by a non-Muslim or without the name of God being pronounced before the slaughter.

By-products of Forbidden Animals

  • Gelatin (from non-halal sources): Often found in gummy candies, marshmallows, and various desserts and medications.
  • Enzymes (from non-halal sources): Commonly used in cheese-making and other food processing, which may be derived from animals not slaughtered in a halal way.
  • Rennet (from non-halal slaughtered animals): A set of enzymes commonly used to make cheese.

Alcoholic Beverages and Substances

  • Alcohol: Any drink containing ethanol, including beers, wines, spirits, and liquors.
  • Foods cooked with or containing alcohol: Dishes that include alcohol in their preparation or cooking process.

In The Clear Signs, an exegesis of the Quran written using evidence from modern science, the author Hameed Siddiqui, highlights that pork makes up approximately 38% of global meat production. Within the Quran, the holy book of Islam, God says, “He has only forbidden you ˹to eat˺ carrion, blood, swine, and what is slaughtered in the name of any other than God. But if someone is compelled by necessity—neither driven by desire nor exceeding immediate need—they will not be sinful. Surely God is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” The Clear Quran, 2:173.

Eating pork has significant detrimental effects to the health of the human body because of its nature. According to Siddiqui, “it often plays in and even eats its excrement. Due to this and its biological structure, the pig produces much higher antibody levels than other animals.” It also is an animal whose meat contains high levels of cholesterol and lipids. Further, it has the “trichina” worm. “This worm is frequently found in pork, and when it enters the human body, it settles directly in the heart’s muscles and represents a possibly fatal threat.” Finally, pigs also are the hosts of several parasites and microorganisms.


For non-Muslims, understanding halal and haram provides insight into Islamic culture and religious practices. It shows how deeply food and faith are intertwined in Muslim communities and how ethical considerations shape daily choices. Whether you’re dining with Muslim friends, doing business with a Muslim company, or simply exploring different cultures, knowing these dietary rules can help build bridges of understanding and respect.

This guide is just a start, and there’s much more to learn about the rich traditions of Islam. By appreciating these nuances, we can all enjoy a more informed and interconnected world!

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