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Submitted by: Robert Corter
Every religion has its own rules based on its faith. And for the devout, to follow these rules is of supreme importance. One of the more sensitive matters revolves around diet, the food that is allowed to be eaten. Islam is one of those religions that have very specific guidelines to what they are allowed to eat. As to what these foods are, it is specified in the Halal food guide. Halal, which in Arabic literally means “acceptable”, is the dietary guidebook for Muslims. The principles written in this book traces its roots on the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. Hence, it is essentially a guide to what Muslims can and cannot eat, and how they can eat it. This is something that is very important to them as they follow its rules by heart.
The Halal food guide is composed of some relatively simple terminology, but its application can be relatively complicated for some. There are 3 classifications of food in the Halal system. First, halal, as explained earlier, literally means acceptable or permissible. Food that is considered halal is allowed to be fed on by Muslims. Foods that are considered halal include fruits, vegetables, fish, and properly slaughtered meat. The second term is haraam. Literally meaning forbidden, food that is considered haraam are forbidden for consumption by the Qur’an as they deem them harmful. Examples of haraam are pork, blood, intoxicants (such as alcohol), carrion (meat from dead animals), an animal that is brutally killed, and animals that are not slaughtered in the name of Allah. The third term is called mashbooh. Literally meaning questionable, this is where all food that is neither classified as halal or haraam are placed. The partaking of mashbooh all depends on the decision of the person.
The system of properly slaughtering animals for meat is called the dhabihah. This method is most commonly known for its stringent rules with regards to handling of the animal. For meat to be considered halal, the dhabihah method must be followed. There are a few guidelines regarding this process. The slaughtering of the animal must be done with utmost respect and compassion, and therefore must prevent the animal from experiencing excessive pain or discomfort. The killing process is actually relatively quick and simple, and yet it must be precisely done. With a quick, deep stab of a knife on the neck area, the jugular veins and carotid arteries must be severed (inducing death), but the spinal cord must remain intact. If dhabihah is followed properly, then the meat from the fallen animal is considered halal, and therefore considered safe for consumption.
The halal food guide has been under institution for years, and yet even until now, the enforcement of it has proven to be a difficult one. It has actually been a source of controversy, especially in countries where Islam is not the primary religion. Food products are given a halal stamp if they comply with the rules. However, a new controversy arises when an establishment actually mislabels their products to be halal when they are not.
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