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When are foods halal?

When are foods halal?

Allah says in the Koran:

"O you humans, eat of what there is on earth, as far as it is permitted and edible! Do not follow the temptation of the devil! He is your sworn enemy. (Al-Baqarah/The Cow. Sura 2, verse 168).

This verse from the Holy Qur'an makes it clear that in Islam certain foods are allowed for consumption (halal; What does halal mean?) and are not allowed (haram). What to pay attention to in a diet that conforms to Islamic diet will now be described in the following. 

Is a food product halal or haram?

To give a precise list of which foods are allowed (halal) and which are forbidden (haram) would lead to a huge halal database on the one hand, and on the other hand it 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 when consuming, distributing or producing a food product as a practicing Muslim, restaurant owner or food manufacturer. At this point, it is important to note that the consideration of allowed and forbidden food is only possible by including the Sunnah1 of the Prophet Muhammad (s), in addition to the Qur'an as the primary source. The information from the Koran is supplemented by the Prophet's traditions.

But first of all: What does the Koran say?

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


  1. "He has forbidden you only the enjoyment of things that perish naturally, blood, pork, and that on which there is a call other than Allah. But if a man is compelled to desire without desire, and without exceeding the limit, he is not to blame: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


  1. "He forbade you to eat dead animals, as well as blood, pork and animals consecrated to other deities besides God. But whoever eats of it in need without exaggeration or evil intent does not burden himself with guilt. God is full of forgiveness and mercy.


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

  • Pork
  • Blood
  • animals which have died naturally or were stillborn

is expressly prohibited. Furthermore, it is not allowed to consume meat from animals whose slaughter was not carried out in the name of Allah, but was dedicated to idols or slaughtered arbitrarily without prayer or dedication. These parts of the verse are due to a pre-Islamic practice at the time of idolatry, in which animals were slaughtered and dedicated to idols. These grievances were removed with the downgrading of the mentioned Koran verse by categorizing it as "haram". Finally, this verse contains an important lesson. This is that under certain conditions food of the category "haram" may temporarily be classified as "halal". Here is an important note. Ravenous appetite, appetite, interest in taste or basically hunger are not situations that would meet these conditions. Legal scholars explain this connection analogously as follows: If one is faced with death by starvation, then if there is absolutely nothing else to eat, so much pork may be consumed that the danger of death can be overcome. No more! 

What is the next step in our series of articles on the subject of "halal"?

With the previous remarks not everything has been said about what is allowed (halal) and forbidden (haram) in the diet of Muslims. The next step is to look at the traditions with various Koranic verses and geographical conditions, the combination of which has led to Islamic jurisprudence being able to make statements about other permitted and prohibited foods. 



1In the previous article we have already spoken of the Sunnah. What is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s)? Simply put, the Sunnah can be summarized as all that the Prophet explicitly said, did, allowed and prohibited, but also all that he tacitly accepted or tolerated. From the sum of these traditions a picture of his life and work can be drawn, which, as an additional source to the Qur'an, is used to find fundamental answers to Islamic questions, such as, in this case, nutrition.

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