What is HALAL (Lawful) and HARAM (Prohibited)?

Muslims commonly use two terms to describe every subject as Halal or Haram. Halal is a Arabic word which means permitted, lawful with respect to which no restriction exists, and the doing and consuming of which the Law-giver, Allah has allowed.
Haram means the opposite-unlawful or forbidden that which the Lawgiver absolutely prohibited; anyone who engages in it is liable to incur the punishment of Allah in the Hereafter as well as a legal punishment in this world.
Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. However, we use these terms only in relation to food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, food ingredients, and food contact materials. There are some things which are not clear are considered questionable or suspect and more information is needed to categorize them as Halal or Haram. If a muslim consumes Haram foods and materials, he would be sinful.

Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, etc. are often referred to as Mashbooh, (which means doubtful or questionable) because the origin of these ingredients are not known. Many of the foods are considered Halal except the following, which are Haram with out doubt.

  • Swine/pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God)
  • Alcohol and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
  • Blood and blood by-products
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products are Haram.

Why does a Food Company need Halal Certification?

There are millions of muslim consumers worldwide invariably wants to know before they buy food items whether they are manufactured according to Islamic shariah law and the ingredients are pure, the product is permissible and does not contain or composed any of impure substances as guided by islam.
Halal certified food products & ingredients help many food companies to increase their annual sales. Many muslim countries require that all food products & ingredients exporting to their countries have to be 'Halal Certified'.

Why Halal certification for Vegetarian foods?

The word Halal means "proper and permitted." Halal food is permitted by Allah (God) for Muslim consumption and includes all fruits, vegetables and grains. This was all the definition required for followers of Islam before the growth of processed foods.
The processing of foods makes many formerly "vegetarian" meals, breads, yogurts or cereals no longer considered halal Ingredients used in processed foods may contain hidden haram (Forbidden) components for example, these may be in colors, flavors or processing aids, as well as in sub-ingredients used. Many vegetarian-type items do not meet halal standards for example, cheese, marshmallows, candies, baked goods and yogurt may have enzyme and gelatin ingredients from animals which are not halal.