The Arabic word Halal (حلال) means lawful. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah commands Muslims and all of mankind to eat of the Halal things. Among the many verses of the Qur’an that convey this message, here are a few:
Halal and Haram Foods according to Quran
In Quran, in the following verses, it has been described what foods are known as halal (lawful) and also haram (unlawful) foods:
- Chapter: 6 , Verse: 145, say: i do not find in that which has been revealed to me anything forbidden for an eater to eat of except that it be what has died of itself, or blood poured forth, or flesh of swine– for that surely is unclean– or that which is a transgression, other than (the name of) allah having been invoked on it; but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring nor exceeding the limit, then surely your lord is forgiving, merciful
- Chapter: 16 , Verse: 114 therefore eat of what Allah has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for allah’s favor if him do you serve
- Chapter: 16 , Verse: 115 he has only forbidden you what dies of itself and blood and flesh of swine and that over which any other name than that of allah has been invoked, but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring nor exceeding the limit, then surely allah is forgiving, merciful
- Chapter: 16 , Verse: 116 and, for what your tongues describe, do not utter the lie, (saying) this is lawful and this is unlawful, in order to forge a lie against allah; surely those who forge the lie against allah shall not prosper
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 3 forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of allah has been invoked, and the strangled (animal) and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall and that killed by being smitten with the horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten, except what you slaughter, and what is sacrificed on stones set up (for idols) and that you divide by the arrows; that is a transgression. this day have those who disbelieve despaired of your religion, so fear them not, and fear me. this day have i perfected for you your religion and completed my favor on you and chosen for you islam as a religion; but whoever is compelled by hunger, not inclining willfully to sin, then surely allah is forgiving, merciful
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 4 they ask you as to what is allowed to them. say: the good things are allowed to you, and what you have taught the beasts and birds of prey, training them to hunt– you teach them of what allah has taught you– so eat of that which they catch for you and mention the name of allah over it; and be careful of (your duty to) allah; surely allah is swift in reckoning
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 5 this day (all) the good things are allowed to you; and the food of those who have been given the book is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them; and the chaste from among the believing women and the chaste from among those who have been given the book before you (are lawful for you); when you have given them their dowries, taking (them) in marriage, not fornicating nor taking them for paramours in secret; and whoever denies faith, his work indeed is of no account, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers
- Chapter: 6 , Verse: 118 therefore eat of that on which allah’s name has been mentioned if you are believers in his communications
- Chapter: 6 , Verse: 119 and what reason have you that you should not eat of that on which allah’s name has been mentioned, and he has already made plain to you what he has forbidden to you– excepting what you are compelled to; and most surely many would lead (people) astray by their low desires out of ignorance; surely your lord– he best knows those who exceed the limits
- Chapter: 6 , Verse: 121 and do not eat of that on which allah’s name has not been mentioned, and that is most surely a transgression; and most surely the shaitans suggest to their friends that they should contend with you; and if you obey them, you shall most surely be polytheists
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 87 you who believe! do not forbid (yourselves) the good things which allah has made lawful for you and do not exceed the limits; surely allah does not love those who exceed the limits
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 88 and eat of the lawful and good (things) that allah has given you, and be careful of (your duty to) allah, in whom you believe
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 90 to you who believe! intoxicants and games of chance and (sacrificing to) stones set up and (dividing by) arrows are only an uncleanness, the shaitan’s work; shun it therefore that you may be successful
- Chapter: 5 , Verse: 96 lawful to you is the game of the sea and its food, a provision for you and for the travellers, and the game of the land is forbidden to you so long as you are on pilgrimage, and be careful of (your duty to) allah, to whom you shall be gathered
- Chapter: 10 , Verse: 59 say: tell me what allah has sent down for you of sustenance, then you make (a part) of it unlawful and (a part) lawful. say: has allah commanded you, or do you forge a lie against allah?
and he it is who has made the sea subservient that you may eat fresh flesh from it and bring forth from it ornaments which you wear, and you see the ships cleaving through it, and that you might seek of his bounty and that you may give thanks
o children of adam! attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer, and eat and drink and be not extravagant; surely he does not love the extravagant
o messengers! eat of the good things and do good; surely i know what you do
o men! eat the lawful and good things out of what is in the earth, and do not follow the footsteps of the shaitan; surely he is your open enemy
allah is he who made the cattle for you that you may ride on some of them, and some of them you eat
From the Hadith
-On the authority of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The Messenger of Allah said: “Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. Allah has commanded the Faithful to do that which He commanded the Messengers, and the Almighty has said: “O ye Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do right..” (Quran 23:51). And Allah the Almighty has said: “O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you..” (2:172). Then he mentioned [the case of] a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who spreads out his hands to the sky [saying]: O Lord! O Lord!-while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully, so how can he be answered!” (Muslim).
-On the authority of Abu Ya’la Shahddad ibn Aus, the Messenger of Allah said: “Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters” (Muslim).
-In an incident narrated by Rafi’ bin Khadij, the Prophet told Muslims who wanted to slaughter some animals using reeds, “Use whatever causes blood to flow, and eat the animals if the Name of Allah has been mentioned on slaughtering them…” (Bukhari).
-Narrated Abu Thalaba: Allah’s Messenger forbade the eating of the meat of beasts having fangs (Bukhari).
-Narrated Ibn Umar: The Prophet cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i.e. cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive (Bukhari).
The following products are definitely Halal:
- Milk (from cows, sheep, camels, and goats)
- Plants which are not intoxicant
- Fresh or naturally frozen vegetables
- Fresh or dried fruits
Legumes and nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc.
Grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc.
Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game birds, etc., are also Halal, but they must be Zabihah (slaughtered according to Islamic Rites) in order to be suitable for consumption.
The procedure is as follows: the animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim (or by a – Jew or Christian ). The animal should be put down on the ground (or held it if it is small) and its throat should be slit with a very sharp knife to make sure that the 3 main blood vessels are cut. While cutting the throat of the animal (without severing it), the person must pronounce the name of Allah or recite a blessing called the Tasmiyya (تسمية) or Shahadah (الشهادة) which contains the name of Allah, such as “Bismillah Allah-u-Akbar” (بسم الله الله أكبر).
The Arabic word Haram (حرام) means not permissible/unlawful. The following items have been categorically spelled out as being Haram by jurists in light of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad :
- Carnivorous animals
- Almost all reptiles and insects
- The bodies of dead animals
- Halal animals which are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Law.
- Wine, Ethyl Alcohol, and Spirits.
The above mentioned items are Haram and should be avoided by all Muslims.
Whilst Halal and Haram are clear, in between sometimes we find things that are not clear, doubtful or questionable, the Arabic word to describe this is ‘Mashbooh’ (مشبوه). Any food or drink for which one cannot be sure if it’s Halal or Haram due to insufficient information, unreliable evidence etc. is categorised as Mashbooh
Makruh or Karaha (مكروه)
Makruh / Makrooh (مكروه) Makruh or Karaha (مكروه) also written as Makrouh/Makrūh/Makrooh is an Arabic term which means to dislike or an offensive act (literally means “detestable”) and is the opposite of liked or loved. Though it is not haram (sinful), a person who abstains from this act will be rewarded. Muslims are encouraged to avoid such actions or foods as much as possible. Technically, it refers to an act that is disliked in Shar’iah. This is one of the degrees of approvals Ahkam (أحكام) in Islamic Shar’iah law.
أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ صَيْدُ ٱلْبَحْرِ وَطَعَامُهُۥ مَتَٰعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِلسَّيَّارَةِ ۖ وَحُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ صَيْدُ ٱلْبَرِّ مَا دُمْتُمْ حُرُمًا ۗ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِىٓ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
Lawful to you is the game of the sea and its food, a provision for you and for the travellers, and the game of the land is forbidden to you so long as you are on pilgrimage, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, to Whom you shall be gathered. Al-Mā’idah [5:96]
An example of a food which is considered “makruh” for Hanafi school of though is prawns (but only for Hanafi Madh’hab Muslims). The Hanafi school look, however, that you refrain from it and instead eat something else if possible. It is permitted to eat shrimp according to the soundest position in the Hanafi school.
The basic criterion is that anything that the Arabs considered ‘fish’ (samak) at time of the revelation is permitted. Other produce of the sea is not permitted in the Hanafi school.
Anything which is harmful to the body falls under the Makruh or Haram based upon the verse in the holy Quran which directly states that we should not kill ourselves by our own hands;
وَأَنْفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ۛ وَأَحْسِنُوا ۛ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Give generously for the cause of Allah and do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands. Be charitable: Allah loves those who are charitable. Al-Baqara [2:195]
As it is well known that over-consumption and other habit such has smoking causes many kinds of ills, it falls under this verse. And Allah swt knows best!
There are two types of Makruh:
- Makruh Tanzihan
- Makruh Tahriman
Makruh Tanzihan or Karaha Tanzihiyya refers to an act that is detested in Shariah, without the promise of punishment for the one who carries it out. It is closer to the lawful (Mubah مباح) than the unlawful (Haram حرام).
Some examples are:
- Wasting water whilst performing ablution or being miserly with it
- The consumption of horse meat in normal circumstances
- Not taking a bath on Fridays
- Not reciting Tasmiya at the beginning of ablution
- Not using the Siwak whilst performing ablution
Ruling: The one who abstains from it will be rewarded, and the one who practices it will not be punished. However, to make a habit of it is considered offensive.
Makruh Tahriman or Karaha Tahrimiyya is a command for abstinence that has been established by speculative proof (dalil dhanni). It is closer to the unlawful Haram (حرام) and can also be defined as being in diametrical opposition to a wājib (واجب).
Some examples are: `
- Delaying the Asr prayer until the sun changes it’s colour
- To hasten in offering the various integrals of Salat, such as the two prostrations and sitting in between them
- Fasting on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr
- The Using of gold or silver utensils for men and women
- Buying and selling when the call for prayer Adhan (أَذَان) of Jumuah takes place
Ruling: Failure to abstain from such acts necessitates a sin and punishment in the hereafter, though the punishment will be of a lesser degree than that for committing a Haram (حرام), and abstinence will merit a reward. The one who rejects it to be unlawful will not come out of the fold of Islam, as opposed to Haram.
Note: In the Hanafi Madhab, when the word Makruh or Karaha is mentioned unrestrictedly (mutlaqan), usually it refers to Makruh Tahriman. This is a general principle for which there are exceptions.
The above has been primarily based upon the work of the great Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (Allah have mercy on him), taken from his introduction to the Hanafi treatise, Fath bab al-Inayah Sharh Kitab al-Nuqayah) and “Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, UK”.
And Allah Knows Best!
Mubah (مباح) is an Arabic term which is used to refer to an action which is considered to be neither forbidden nor recommended, and thus considered neutral religiously. This is one of the degrees of approvals Ahkam (أحكام) in Islamic Shar’iah law. The Permissible (mubah) entails neither reward nor punishment. Such acts are rewarded, however, if accompanied by a good intention.