Islamic dietary laws
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Islamic jurisprudence specifies which foods are halāl (حَلَال "lawful") and which are harām (حَرَامْ "unlawful"). This is derived from commandments found in the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, as well as the Hadith and Sunnah, libraries cataloging things the Islamic prophet Muhammad is reported to have said and done. Extensions of these rulings are issued, as fatwas, by mujtahids, with varying degrees of strictness, but they are not always widely held to be authoritative.
According to the Quran, the only foods explicitly forbidden are meat from animals that die of themselves, blood, the meat of pigs, and any food dedicated to other than God.
However, a person would not be guilty of sin in a situation where the lack of any alternative creates an undesired necessity to consume that which is otherwise unlawful. (Quran 2:173) This is the "law of necessity" in Islamic jurisprudence: "That which is necessary makes the forbidden permissible."
Dhabīḥah (ذَبِيْحَة) is a prescribed method of ritual animal slaughter; it does not apply to most aquatic animals. The animal must be slaughtered while mentioning the name of God (Allah in Arabic). According to some fatwas, the animal must be slaughtered specifically by a Muslim; however, other fatwas dispute this, ruling that, according to verse 5:5 of the Qurʼan, an animal properly slaughtered by People of the Book is halal. The animal slaughtered must be killed quickly with a sharpened blade.
It must not suffer. It must not see the blade. It must not see or smell the blood from a previous slaughter. The main logic given by Islamic clerics is the significance of life. Many clerics argue that the life, given by God, is not an insignificant gift therefore no entity except God has the right to take this valuable gift away and by mentioning the God's name you imply that command of God.
Animals for food may not be killed by being boiled or electrocuted, and the carcass should be hung upside down for long enough to be free of blood. All water game is considered halal (although the Hanafi madhhab differs on this): "Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you [who are settled] as well as for travellers, although you are forbidden to hunt on land while you are in the state of pilgrimage. And be conscious of God, unto whom you shall be gathered." (Qurʼan 5:96.)
A variety of substances are considered as unlawful (haraam) for humans to consume and, therefore, forbidden as per various Qurʼanic verses:
- Any food blasphemously dedicated to other than God
- Carrion (carcasses of dead animals which weren't killed by men or pets trained for purpose, like dogs or falcons)
- An animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), or savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human)
- Intoxicants and alcoholic beverages
Quranic verses which have information regarding halal foods include: 2:173, 5:5, and 6:118–119, 121.
In Islam, consumption of any intoxicants (khamr, specifically, alcoholic beverages) is generally forbidden in the Qur'an through several separate verses revealed at different times over a period of years. At first, it was forbidden for Muslims to attend prayers while intoxicated.
In addition to this, most observant Muslims refrain from consuming food products that contain pure vanilla extract or soy sauce if these food products contain alcohol; there is some debate about whether the prohibition extends to dishes in which the alcohol would be cooked off or if it would be practically impossible to consume enough of the food to become intoxicated.
The Alevi Muslims of Turkey permit alcohol, unlike many other denominations. Ismaili Muslims are also noted for discouraging, rather than prohibiting, alcohol. The Zaidi and Mutazili sects believe that the use of alcohol has always been forbidden and refer to the Qur'an Ayah (4:43) as feeling of sleepiness and not to be awake.
Blood and its by-products are forbidden in Islam, in the Qurʼan, surah 5, al-Maʼidah, 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.— Qurʼan, Surah 5 (al-Maʼidah), ayah 3
Consumption of pork and products made from pork is strictly forbidden in Islam. The origin of this prohibition is in Surat al-Baqarah:
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, no sin shall be upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.— Qurʼan, Sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayat 173
Since the turn of the 21st century, there have been efforts to create organizations that certify food products as halal for Muslim consumers in the USA. Since 1991, some mainstream manufacturers of soups, grains, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, prepared foods, and other products, as well as hotels, restaurants, airlines, hospitals, and other service providers have pursued the halal market. These companies purchase halal-certified products. This can allow companies to export products to most Middle Eastern countries and South East Asian Countries. The oldest and most well-known halal certifier in the United States is called the Islamic Services of America.
In 2011, the Halal Products Certification Institute was established in California and became the first worldwide corporation that certified halal consumer products such as cosmetics, personal care products, and perfumes and fragrances. The institute was established by Islamic intellectual scholars and Muslim scientists to assure the dissemination of halal consumer products.
In Europe, several organizations have been created over the past twenty years in order to certify the halal products. A survey recently published by a French association of Muslim Consumers (ASIDCOM) shows that the market of halal products has been developed in a chaotic way in Europe. The European certification organizations do not have a common definition of "halal" nor agreed upon control procedures and traceability. The controls implemented by individual agencies are all very different: they can go from an annual audit of the slaughterhouse, to checking each production with permanent controls in place and on-going independent monitoring.
Some animals and manners of death or preparation can make certain things haram to eat, that is, taboo food and drink. These include what are regarded as unclean animals such as swine, or animals that are sick.
In South Africa, most chicken products have a halal stamp. The South African National Halal Authority (SANHA) issues certificates and products bearing this logo range from water, snacks, and even meat-free products (which may contain non-halal ingredients). The South African National Halal Authority also licenses the usage of the Halal logo in restaurants where the food is halal in addition to no alcohol or pork products being served.
Availability of halal food in non-Islamic regionsEdit
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Many apparently meat-free dishes, and even some desserts, contain pork, such as most kinds of gelatin, or other non-conforming substances. There is some disagreement about food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) that may use enzymes derived from pig fat in the production process. It is difficult to avoid such additives when eating out since they are usually not listed on restaurant menus. Some Muslim organizations compile tables of such additives.[promotional language]
The halal market is now estimated to be 20% of world trade and is growing. Companies from Europe and North America that would like to access the growing Halal market must get their consumable products Halal certified. The Global Halal Institute has a list of Halal certifiers that are approved by most Muslim countries with dietary import restrictions. The list can be found on http://globalhalalinstitute.com/?p=66
The first USDA approved Halal Food Company in the USA is Midamar Corporation. The company began producing halal beef, chicken, lamb and turkey products for domestic and international consumption in 1974 and is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which is home to the one of the oldest Muslim communities in America and the longest standing mosque in America. In Dearborn, Michigan, the home of one of the largest Muslim and Arab populations in the United States, some fast-food restaurant chains such as the McDonald's Corporation have introduced halal chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches.
Popeye's Chicken in Ontario is mostly not halal-certified (depending on location); however, in 2012 a legal dispute broke out between a group of 14 Muslim franchisees and the chain over the company's decision to use machine-slaughtered birds. The fourteen Toronto area outlets are instead using hand-slaughtered halal birds, and are suing the company so that they can continue to do so.
In the United Kingdom, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore, halal fried chicken restaurants having thousands of outlets serve halal foods, such as the ChicKing Fried Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Nando's, Brown's Chicken, and Crown Fried Chicken companies. As of February 2009, Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in the U.K. began to sell halal meals in several restaurants.
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