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What Does the Qur'an Say About Halal Food?


In the Qur'an, God permits all food which is generally good and healthy and has made only a few exceptions to this general rule. The following verses show that it is permissible to eat any food which is good and healthy:

Oh mankind, eat that which is lawful and good on earth and do not walk in Satan's footsteps; he is for you 
a clear enemy. (2:168)

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ
Eat the lawful and good things which God has provided for you. Be conscious of God in whom you believe. (5:88)

وَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي أَنْتُمْ بِهِ مُؤْمِنُونَ
Eat the lawful and good things which God has provided for you and be grateful for the blessings of God, if it
is Him you worship. (16:114)

كُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَاشْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

The verse below states that all good food, including the food of Christians and Jews, is permissible for Muslims:

All good things have been made lawful to you this day; the food of those to whom the Book was given has been
made lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. (5:5)

الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ

Regarding prohibited items for food, the Qur'an provides a short list. These are: animals which have died inhumanely, blood, the meat of pigs and anything dedicated to idols other than God:

Oh believers, eat from the good things We have provided you and be grateful to God, if it is Him you truly
worship. He has forbidden for you the following: that which has died inhumanely, blood, the meat of pigs, and that
which has been dedicated to idols other than God. However, if anyone is forced to eat any of these without 
intending to sin or transgress, they will not incur blame. God is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful. (2:173)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ
رَحِيمٌ
You are forbidden to eat the following: animals which have died inhumanely, blood, the meat of pigs, and 
that which has been dedicated to idols other than God. However, if anyone is forced to eat any of these - not
intending to sin or transgress - will not incur blame. God is Forgiving and Most Merciful. (16:115)

إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Say: 'I find nothing in what has been revealed to me which forbids a person from eating anything except:
animals which have died inhumanely, blood which has flowed, the meat of pigs - as this is impure - and that which
has been dedicated to idols other than God. However, if anyone is forced to eat of any of these - not intending to
sin or transgress - then your Lord is Forgiving, Most Merciful. (6:145)

قُلْ لَا أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَى طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنْزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا 
أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

To clarify the prohibition of eating animals which have died inhumanely, the following verse adds that this includes those which have gone through a difficult death, like being strangled to death, or stunned/beaten to death, or those which have been killed by other predatory animals:

You are forbidden to eat the following: animals which have died inhumanely, blood, the meat of pigs, and 
that which has been dedicated to idols other than God; the meat of animals which have been strangled or 
stunned/beaten to death, those which have died by falling, and those which are gored to death, or killed by other 
predatory animals - unless you can find it alive and slaughter it, and animals which are sacrificed on alters
dedicated to idols. (5:3)

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ وَلَحْمُ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ بِهِ وَالْمُنْخَنِقَةُ وَالْمَوْقُوذَةُ وَالْمُتَرَدِّيَةُ وَالنَّطِيحَةُ وَمَا أَكَلَ
السَّبُعُ إِلَّا مَا ذَكَّيْتُمْ وَمَا ذُبِحَ عَلَى النُّصُبِ

Since the Qur'an allows good food in general for consumption except the items listed above, it follows that unless they fall into this prohibited list, there exists no 'Halal meat' or 'Halal food' at the point of purchase. This is because all meat, except pig meat, is considered Halal and permissible.

Instead of prescribing specific rules for specific types of food, the Qur'an states that those who believe in God should mention God's name over whatever they eat:

Eat that over which God's name has been mentioned, if you are a believer. (6:118)

فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ

Important to note is according to this verse, mentioning God's name should be done at the time of eating, not at the time of slaughtering. The Arabic word for eating, 'Kul', is based on the trilateral root letters A-Ka-La أ ك ل, and is very different to the Arabic word for slaughtering, 'Zubih', which is based on the trilateral root letters Za-Ba-Ha ذ ب ح . Therefore, mentioning God's name should be done at the time of eating and is not required at the time of slaughter. Those who insist that God's name must be mentioned at the time of slaughter in order to certify Halal meat should note the following verse, which questions why they would refrain from permissible food even when God's name can be mentioned at the time of eating:

Why should you not eat food over which God's name has been mentioned, and when He has already made
clear to you what has been forbidden unless forced to eat. There are many people who mislead others through
ignorance due to their own desires, but your Lord knows best who are the transgressors. (6:119)

مَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُمْ مَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِمْ
بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ

As food is a continuous blessing in people's daily lives, the Qur'an encourages to remember God regularly and be grateful for this. This was more important at polytheistic times when food was being dedicated to idols other than God. The following verse highlights this point:

Do not eat that over which God's name has not been mentioned; it is a sin. The Satans will inspire their
followers to argue with you, but if you follow them, you will become one of the idolaters. (6:121)

وَلَا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ وَإِنَّ الشَّيَاطِينَ لَيُوحُونَ إِلَى أَوْلِيَائِهِمْ لِيُجَادِلُوكُمْ وَإِنْ أَطَعْتُمُوهُمْ إِنَّكُمْ
لَمُشْرِكُونَ

The following verse summarises that all good food is permissible for consumption and God's name should be mentioned over the food when eating:

They ask you what is lawful to them. Say: 'All good things are lawful to you, as well as what you have
taught birds and predatory animals to catch for you, teaching them what God has taught you. So eat what they 
catch for you and mention God's name over it. Be conscious of God; God is swift at reckoning.' (5:4)

سْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَمَا عَلَّمْتُمْ مِنَ الْجَوَارِحِ مُكَلِّبِينَ تُعَلِّمُونَهُنَّ مِمَّا عَلَّمَكُمُ اللَّهُ فَكُلُوا مِمَّا أَمْسَكْنَ
عَلَيْكُمْ وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

When outlining the rites of the Hajj pilgrimage, the Qur'an mentions a special case of mentioning God's name over animals, to occur during the Hajj pilgrimage only. The Qur'an describes this as a special ritual for all nations in the following verse:

In the livestock, you have benefits until an appointed time, then their place of sacrifice shall be at 
the Holy House. For every nation, We have appointed a special ritual that they mention the name of God over the
livestock which He has provided them. (22:34)

وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنْسَكًا لِيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُمْ مِنْ بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ

Even in this special case, mentioning the name of God is not prescribed during the actual act of sacrifice, but before this while the animals are still alive and lined up in rows. This is explained in the following verse:

The camels and cattle are a part of the special rituals of God; there is good in them for you. So mention the
name of God over them while they are lined up in rows. Then when they have fallen on their sides, eat from them 
and feed them to the poor and the beggar. (22:36)

وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا
الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ

The Qur'an does not explicitly prohibit the use of alcohol in all cases, however substances which may cause intoxication are to be avoided:

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: 'There is sin in them both, although there is also some 
benefit in them for people. However, their sin is greater than their benefit.' (2:219)

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِمَا
Oh believers, intoxicants and gambling, idols and divining arrows are abominations from the work of Satan.
Avoid them, in order that you prosper. Satan seeks to stir up enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants
and gambling, to keep you from the remembrance of God and prayer. Will you then not abstain? (5:90-91)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ
مُنْتَهُونَ
Oh believers, intoxicants and gambling, idols and divining arrows are abominations from the work of Satan.
Avoid them, in order that you prosper. (5:90)

ا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

Since the word 'intoxicants' is used here generally, we can understand that both alcohol and drugs become prohibited when they intoxicate the mind, however they are not necessarily forbidden for medicinal or health purposes when providing a harmless benefit.

Considering the Qur'anic principle of 'all good things permissible unless forbidden', it is relevant to remember the following warnings against making false prohibitions by attributing them to God:

Oh believers, do not forbid the good things which God has made lawful for you. Do not transgress, as God does
not like the transgressors. (5:87)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ
Say: 'Have you considered the good provisions that God provides for you, yet you made some of them forbidden
and some of them permissible?' Say: 'Has God given you permission to do this, or do you tell lies against God?'
(10:59)

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ مِنْ رِزْقٍ فَجَعَلْتُمْ مِنْهُ حَرَامًا وَحَلَالًا قُلْ آللَّهُ أَذِنَ لَكُمْ أَمْ عَلَى اللَّهِ تَفْتَرُونَ
Do not say falsely: 'This is permissible and this is forbidden', while telling lies against God. Those who
tell lies against God will never succeed. (16:116)

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَذَا حَرَامٌ لِتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا 
يُفْلِحُونَ

The general stipulation in the Qur'an about food is one of permission, where all the good and healthy foods have been made permissible, with the exception of pig meat. Other prohibitions such as consuming blood or animals which have died an inhumane death would not normally be considered food, regardless of any prohibition. Foods which may have been dedicated to idols other than God are also forbidden, however this will not normally apply in a secular modern society. There is no specific requirement to pronounce God's name at the time of sacrifice, before the point of purchase, to certify the meat as Halal. Instead of relying on other people's commemoration of God, believers are expected to mention God's name themselves when they eat. After all, the person who sacrifices an animal may be reciting God's name as a disbeliever without faith, or they may be a hypocrite. In modern abattoirs and production-lines, the fast-paced automatic machinery would also make it practically impossible to physically mention God's name over individual animals. Mentioning God's name when eating provides an opportunity throughout the day for believers to remember God and be grateful for the blessings.



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