Islam is the world’s second largest religion and continues to have rapid growth with more than 23% of the world’s population adhering to Islam. (1) Adherents of Islam, known as Muslims, abide by the Qur’an. The Qur’an is a religious text considered to be a revelation from Allah, which is the Arabic word for “God.” Included in the Qur’an, along with teachings, revelations, and narratives, are guidelines for how to live life as a Muslim. One set of teachings found in the Qur’an relates to cleanliness; this encompasses dietary laws with respect to permissible foods for consumption and appropriate preparation. Two categories exist regarding what is lawful and unlawful: halal and haram, respectively. Halal is an Arabic term meaning “permissible or lawful,” whereas haram means “sinful” or “not permitted.” The halal diet, then, refers to foods and beverages that are permissible for Muslims to consume because they satisfy standards of cleanliness, according to the Qur’an.
Haram foods and beverages are ones that Muslims must avoid. Also important in the halal diet is the appropriate preparation of certain foods. The practices for food preparation (specifically the slaughtering of animals) exist to ensure sanitary measures are taken. The halal symbol is used as certification to show which food products meet the requirements to comply with the halal dietary laws. There are several organizations that certify halal foods and each has a different symbol.
For more information Contact the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.