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HALAL, The Qur’anic term halal denotes that which is lawful or allowed. The word can refer generally in Muslim practice to that which is proper and therefore permitted for use; more specifically, in Muslim legal discourse it has come to be applied to rules pertaining to the consumption of food and drink, and related issues, where it is contrasted with the notion of hardm, the forbidden.

The Qur’an addresses haldl in a larger context in which developing Muslim practice and conduct are defined and elaborated in relation to existing pre-Islamic practices. It permits Muslims to eat the food of the “people of the book” (ahl al-kitab), and to marry women from among them. It also emphasizes that the good things of the world are part of God’s bounty to humanity, made available for their sustenance and daily use, and that this part of existence is no longer subject to arbitrary custom and interpretation along various religious, social, or ethnic lines.

Halal food includes the meat of permitted animals that have been ritually slaughtered, hunted game over which the name and praise of God have been pronounced, and fish and marine life. In cases of extreme necessity in which survival is at stake, consumption of prohibited categories of food and drink-such as pork, blood, alcoholic drinks, scavenger animals, carrion, and improperly sacrificed meat-is permitted.

With the development of jurisprudence among Muslims, issues pertaining to proper action were classified within a fivefold regulatory scheme of actions (al-ahkam al-khamsah): wajib/fard, obligatory or required acts; mandub, recommended acts; mubah, indifferent acts, whose performance merited neither reward nor punishment; makruh, reprehensible acts; and haram, totally prohibited acts. The rules of halal and hardm were thus integrated into a larger moral framework that lent itself to legal as well as ethical definition and elaboration.

Historical developments and influences affecting the Muslim world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have led to discussions of the relevance of such traditional codes of conduct and purity to the modern technologies of production, distribution, and consumption of food resources. The impact of these global changes has been felt both in Muslim societies and in those in which Muslims live as minorities. Muslim scholars and jurists have by no means been of one opinion in these matters, but they have sought guidance based on established Muslim ethical and legal principles. They have emphasized the rational basis of the Qur’anic prescriptions and suggested their importance for hygienic and environmental reasons.

The concept of halal in Islam today, as is the case with comparable ideas in other religious traditions such as Judaism, may also be regarded as part of an integral code of ethics and purity. Its perspectives on rules of permissibility, cleanliness, and purification relating to food and drink, the body and its functions, rites of passage, rituals of pilgrimage and prayer, and sacred space and times enable Muslims to frame their behavior in ethical terms that are in accord with their understanding of Islam as a complete moral code displaying reverence for life in all its forms.

[See also Dietary Rules; Haram; Purification.]


Faruki, Kemal A. “Legal Implications for Today of Al-Ahkam alKhamsa (The Five Values).” In Ethics in Islam, edited by Richard G. Hovannisian, pp. 65-72. Malibu, 1985. Modern Muslim scholar of Islamic jurisprudence argues for integrating the legal and ethical foundations of these established values into contemporary Muslim life.

Firmage, Edwin B., et al., eds. Religion and Law: Biblical Judaic and Islamic Perspectives. Winona Lake, Ind., 1990. Useful collection of papers on the relationship of religion and law in Islam and Judaism, incorporating discussion of ritual.

Qaradawi, Yusuf al-. The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. Indianapolis, 1980. This English-language version presents a useful survey by a scholar of al-Azhar University, combining traditional sources and relating them to a wide spectrum of contemporary issues.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/halal/

  • writerPosted On: June 10, 2013
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