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When is food halal?

When is food halal?

Allah says in the Quran:

"O you people, eat of that which exists on earth, provided it is permitted and edible! Do not follow the seduction of the devil! He is your manifest archenemy." (Al-Baqarah/The Cow. Sura 2, verse 168).

This verse from the Holy Quran shows that in Islam, certain foods are permitted (halal; What does halal mean?) and non-permitted (haram) for consumption. What to look for in an Islamically compliant diet is now described below. 

Is a food halal or haram?

To list exactly which foods are permitted (halal) and which are prohibited (haram) would lead to a huge halal database on the one hand, and on the other hand would even be misleading and wrong over time, as food products, their ingredients and production methods are constantly changing. It is much more important to understand the concepts behind what is allowed (halal) and what is forbidden (haram) and to take them into account as a practicing Muslim, restaurant owner or food manufacturer when consuming, distributing or producing a food product. At this point, it is important to note that the consideration of permissible and prohibited foods is only possible with the inclusion of the Sunnah1 of Prophet Muhammad (s), in addition to the Quran as a primary source. The information from the Qur'an is supplemented by traditions of the Prophet.

But first of all, what does the Koran say?

Individual translation attempts of the necessary verses, into German, are not sufficiently understandably formulated. Therefore, we want to list here two versions of the Sura Al-Baqarah/The Cow, verse 173, which complement each other well:


  1. "Forbidding you only (the consumption of) natural dead, blood, swine's flesh, and that about which something other than Allah has been invoked. But if a man is compelled (to do so) without desiring (it) and without exceeding the measure, he is not to blame; verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."


  1. "He has forbidden you to eat dead animals, blood, pork, and animals dedicated to deities other than God. But whoever eats of it in distress, without exaggeration or evil intention, does not burden himself with guilt. God is full of forgiveness and mercy."


This statement is found again and again in the Quran in various places in a similar form. The information we receive can be broken down as follows: The consumption of

  • Pork
  • Blood
  • naturally deceased or stillborn animals

is expressly forbidden. Furthermore, it is not permitted to consume meat from animals whose slaughter has not been carried out in the name of Allah but, for example, dedicated to idols or arbitrarily slaughtered without prayer or dedication. These parts of the verse can be traced back to a pre-Islamic practice at the time of idolatry in which animals were slaughtered and dedicated to idols. These abuses were abolished with the descent of the aforementioned Quranic verse by categorizing it as "haram." Finally, this verse contains another important lesson. This is that under certain conditions foodstuffs in the "haram" category may be temporarily classified as "halal". An important note on this. Craving, appetite, interest in taste, or basically hunger are not situations that would meet these conditions. Legal scholars explain this connection, mutatis mutandis, as follows: If one is faced with death by starvation, then if there is absolutely nothing else to eat, enough pork may be consumed to overcome the danger of death. No more! 

What's next in our series of articles on the subject of "halal"?

With the previous explanations, not everything has been said about what is permitted (halal) and forbidden (haram) in the diet of Muslims. Next, we will look at the traditions with different Quranic verses and geographical conditions, the combination of which has led to Islamic jurisprudence being able to make statements about other permitted and prohibited foods. 



1We have already talked about the Sunnah in the previous article. What is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s)? Simply put, the Sunnah can be summarized as everything the Prophet explicitly said, did, permitted and forbade, but also everything he tacitly accepted or tolerated. From the sum of these traditions, a picture of his life and work can be drawn, which is used as a source in addition to the Quran to find fundamental answers to Islamic questions, such as diet in this case.

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