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What is Halal Meat: Benefits, Ethics, and Guidelines - A Complete Guide

Dec 2019

Halal meat plays a crucial role in the dietary habits of Muslims worldwide. It's not just a type of food but a reflection of a deep-seated religious belief system and adherence to Islamic law. This article aims to demystify Halal meat, discussing its definition, ethical aspects, health benefits, and consumer guidance.

What is Halal Meat?

Halal meat is the meat of animals permissible for consumption and slaughtered according to Islamic rules, known as Zabihah. There are minor differences of opinion within the Islamic law on which animals are considered Halal, but the consensus is that all seafood is Halal, and those herbivorous land animals are Halal provided they have been slaughtered according to Islamic rulings of Zabihah. 

When it comes to choosing Halal food, Muslims are primarily concerned about the Halal assurance of meat and alcohol use in the food preparation. From an Islamic perspective, Meat can be broadly categorized into three types:

  • Meat from animals forbidden in Islam, like pigs and carnivorous animals.
  • Meat from permissible animals is not slaughtered according to Islamic law.
  • Meat from permissible animals slaughtered according to Shariah law.

The Meat from animals that are forbidden to be eaten.

Under Islamic rules, several animals cannot be consumed as food. These include:

  • Pigs/wild boar
  • All carnivores with long teeth such as lions, tigers, bears, elephants, cats, and monkeys.
  • Dogs
  • All winged creatures having claws, such as birds of prey, hawks, vultures, and falcons. 
  • Domesticated donkeys, 
  • Rodents and reptiles such as mice, scorpions, centipedes, and snakes
  • Amphibians such as frogs, salamanders, and turtles.
  • Ants, bees, and woodpeckers.

The Meat from animals other than the forbidden animals that are not slaughtered according to Islamic law.

Animals who do not fall into the category of forbidden animals but

  • are not slaughtered according to Islamic law.
  • has died before being slaughtered.
  • or were slaughtered in the name of other deities other than The One God (Allah)

are also not permissible (not-Halal) for Muslims to consume

The Meat from animals other than the forbidden animals slaughtered according to Shariah law (Islamic law).

Animals that do not fall into the first category and are slaughtered according to Islamic law are the Meat that is Halal for Muslims to consume.

Parts of animals that are not permissible for Muslims to eat

Muslims cannot consume the blood of animals.

Some Muslims also consider the following animal parts to be highly disliked to be consumed:

  • Penis
  • Testicles
  • Vulva
  • Glands
  • Urinary bladder
  • Gall-bladder

Zabihah - The Islamic method of slaughtering animals

Islamic law requires that animals intended for human consumption be slain in a prescribed manner. This is known as Zibah or Zabihah.  Muslims consider this method of slaughter as the most humane method to take the life of an animal for human consumption.  

Some of the conditions of Zabihah :

  • Animals to be slaughtered must be from the categories/species that are permitted for Muslims to eat.
  • Must be alive at the time of slaughter.
  • Slaughtered only by the use of a sharp knife and by a Muslim.

Health Benefits of Halal Meat

Halal meat is often praised for its health benefits, attributed to the strict guidelines governing its preparation. These include the thorough draining of blood, which can reduce the risk of contamination and bacterial growth. Also, the stress-free slaughter process can impact the meat's quality and texture, potentially making it healthier than non-Halal alternatives.

Ethical Aspects of Halal Meat - Humane Treatment of Animals

The ethical aspect of Halal meat revolves around animal welfare and the slaughtering process. Islamic law mandates that animals must be treated humanely, from rearing to slaughter. Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) teachings emphasize kindness and efficiency in slaughter, reducing the animal's suffering.

On the authority of Abu Ya'la Shahddad ibn Aus, the Prophet Muhammed (May peace and blessing upon him) said: “Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well, and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” 

Narrated Ibn Umar: “The Prophet (pbuh) cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i.e. cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive.“)

Animal Welfare in Halal Meat Production

In Halal meat production, animal welfare is a significant concern. The animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, and the process must be performed swiftly and humanely with a sharp knife. Muslims consider this method as the most humane way of slaughtering animals for consumption.

Where to Buy Halal Meat

Halal meat is increasingly available worldwide. It can be found in specialized Halal butcheries, certain supermarkets, and online platforms. Consumers should look for Halal certification or consult knowledgeable sources to ensure the meat's authenticity when purchasing Halal meat.


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