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Understanding Halal as H.A.L.A.L. and How Halal Tourism Contributes to SDGs

Nov 2023

The Halal tourism industry is leading a transformational journey to redefine conscious travel in the global economy. Beyond adherence to faith traditions, Halal tourism represents a lifestyle that appeals to diverse consumers. By adopting a broader definition of Halal that incorporates sustainability and universal appeal, key stakeholders can lead a growing sector and contribute to business growth and sustainable development.

What is Halal?

In today's dynamic lifestyles, 'Halal' has transcended its religious connotations and become a universal lifestyle choice. Halal, derived from the Arabic word for 'permissible' or 'lawful' in Islamic law, has expanded with the concept 'Toyyib.' This term includes goodness, quality, wholesomeness, sustainability, and ethics, reflecting a holistic approach to human well-being. Halal is still primarily sought by Muslims, but its appeal has broadened to include other demographics. The Halal industry's commitment to animal welfare, social responsibility, environmental sustainability, economic and social justice, and ethical investment supports this appeal. The multi-trillion-dollar Halal industry is crucial because it offers permissible goods and services and promotes values that support sustainable development. As consumers make more conscious choices, Halal symbolizes ethical and sustainable living. This article examines the comprehensive definition of Halal and its implications for Halal tourism towards contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Halal as H.A.L.A.L.: A Universal and Comprehensive Definition

Halal has a complex meaning beyond its literal meaning. Halal's roots include words like 'halla,' 'yahillu,' 'hillan,' and 'wahalan.' These roots represent everything permissible and lawful and follow Islam's rules. However, the term is intertwined with 'Toyyib,' which encompasses goodness, quality, purity, authenticity, sustainability, and everything that promotes human well-being. This profound association makes Halal more than a set of religious guidelines; it represents ethical, sustainable, and high-quality living.

In a study, the author of this article deducts the comprehensive definition of Halal. The following figure illustrates the definition encapsulated by the acronym H.A.L.A.L., and unravels the essence of this concept, with each letter carrying profound significance. The first letter, H, denotes Halal as Healthy and Harmless, intertwining with the broader concept of Toyyiban, ensuring not just permissibility but also promoting health and harmlessness for individuals and the environment. The subsequent letter, A, signifies Halal as Assured and Authentic, guaranteeing quality and authenticity that align with ethical and religious standards. Moving on, L, for Lawful and Legal, emphasizes the Islamic roots of Halal, stressing the need for permissibility according to Islamic principles while also acknowledging the legal frameworks of respective regions. The penultimate letter, A, conveys Halal as Able to Sustain, reflecting its commitment to sustainability through various facets, including animal welfare, social responsibility, and environmental friendliness. Lastly, L portrays Halal as Loyal and Liable, showcasing its dedication to consumers and the responsibility to deliver on the promises of quality products and services. Together, these dimensions underscore the holistic and multifaceted nature of Halal consumer choices.

UNWTO's Definition of Tourism and Its Relevance to Halal Tourism

To comprehend the depth of Halal tourism, it is essential to consider the multifaceted dimensions inherent in its definition and operation. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines tourism as a phenomenon encompassing the movement of people for various purposes, including leisure, business, or other activities. This definition extends beyond mere traveling and encapsulates the target consumer, destination, purpose, and products and services offered. In the context of Halal tourism, this definition takes on a unique significance as it aligns with the principles of Islamic traditions and addresses the distinct needs of Muslim travelers. Aligning with the definition of UNWTO, the following table shows different aspects to be considered in halal tourism.

The Halal travel ecosystem comprises interconnected components, each playing a crucial role in shaping the industry's landscape. Please read our article here to learn more about the halal tourism ecosystem and the underlying opportunities for halal entrepreneurship.

How Halal Tourism Entrepreneurs and Industry Players Contribute to SDGs

As the Halal tourism ecosystem is interconnected with many aspects, there is a huge scope for both entrepreneurs and industry players to make significant contributions towards achieving SDGs. By addressing the SDGs, halal tourism companies can play a more comprehensive role in fostering sustainability and contributing to the broader global development agenda. Let us explore how different SDGs can be addressed in Halal tourism:

Zero Hunger (2nd SDG)

Halal tourism companies can support local communities by promoting and sourcing halal food products locally, making more charity (zakat), contributing to food security, and eradicating hunger.

Good Health and Well-being (3rd SDG)

By ensuring the provision of halal and healthy food options, promoting wellness programs, and offering Muslim-friendly healthcare services, halal tourism can contribute to the goal of ensuring good health and well-being for travelers.

Gender Equality (5th SDG)

Islam, rooted in Quranic principles, emphasizes gender equity, dignity, and empowerment. Halal travel companies, conscious of these values, initiate impactful measures. Noteworthy instances include TIME, a UAE-based halal hotel chain, introducing female-operated properties and specialized services for Muslim women in health and fitness. These initiatives resonate with Islamic values and significantly contribute to the global pursuit of gender equality.

Clean Water and Sanitation (6th SDG)

Sustainable water management practices, waste reduction, and responsible consumption in the operations of halal tourism companies can contribute to ensuring clean water and sanitation.

Affordable and Clean Energy (7th SDG)

Implementing energy-efficient practices, utilizing renewable energy sources, and promoting eco-friendly accommodations can align with affordable and clean energy goals.

Decent Work and Economic Growth (8th SDG)

This goal resonates with Islam's encouragement of ethical business and economic development. The Halal travel industry mirrors this ethos, experiencing robust global economic growth. Malaysia, a leader in the Global Islamic Economy, exemplifies the industry's impact on economic growth, generating employment and positively influencing the global economy.

Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (9th SDG)

Halal tourism companies can foster innovation in the industry, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and promote responsible tourism practices to support industry, innovation, and infrastructure development.

Responsible Consumption and Production (12th SDG)

This goal ethos, rooted in Islamic principles, emphasizes the responsible use of resources. The Halal concept extends this responsibility from farm to table, ensuring cleanliness, hygiene, and animal welfare. Recognized internationally, Halal businesses adhere to ethical standards, contributing to the development of responsible practices in the food industry and fostering a sustainable and ethical travel sector.

Climate Action (13th SDG)

Implementing eco-friendly practices, reducing carbon footprints, and actively participating in climate change mitigation efforts can contribute to the climate action goal.

Life Below Water (14th SDG) and Protect, Promote, and Restore Sustainable Use of Life on Land (15th SDG)

With its global reach and commitment to sustainability, Halal tourism holds substantial potential to contribute to these goals. By incorporating the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) guidelines, the industry can play a pivotal role in protecting and promoting sustainable ecosystems, making significant strides in fostering biodiversity conservation, and supporting the broader objectives of SDGs 14 and 15.

Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (16th SDG)

Halal tourism companies can contribute to peace and justice by promoting respectful and inclusive tourism, supporting local legal frameworks, and fostering strong institutions in tourist destinations.

Partnerships for the Goals (17th SDG)

Collaboration between halal tourism companies, local communities, governments, and NGOs can enhance partnerships for sustainable development, ensuring that the benefits of tourism are shared and distributed equitably.


In delving into the world of Halal and its profound intersection with the burgeoning realm of tourism, a comprehensive definition has unfolded. This definition, encapsulated by the acronym H.A.L.A.L, extends beyond religious permissibility, embodying a holistic framework emphasizing health, authenticity, sustainability, loyalty, and assurance. As a result, Halal emerges not just as a religious tenet but as a universal lifestyle choice, transcending religious boundaries to appeal to a diverse global audience.

The dynamic realm of Halal tourism, positioned at the nexus of culture, faith, and sustainability, holds significant implications for attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By addressing these SDGs, halal tourism companies can play a more comprehensive role in fostering sustainability and contributing to the broader global development agenda.

The call to action echoes loudly as we envision a future where travel transcends mere journeying. Key players in the Halal travel industry are urged to embrace a broader definition of Halal that traverses religious and cultural boundaries, championing sustainability principles. In doing so, the industry enhances its universal appeal and actively contributes to the well-being of travelers while fostering an inclusive and sustainable global tourism landscape.

For a broader insight into the Halal Travel Market, please check out the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2023 on this link here!

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