Why do Muslims Eat Only Halal Food?

The guidance found in the Qur’an and Sunnah enjoins humankind to maintain balance in their lives. A balanced, healthy, diet should incorporate the foods Allah (the Arabic word for "The One God") has permitted thereby satisfying the body’s needs for carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, and amino acids.

Commandment from the Quran: 

"O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth (that is) lawful and tayyib (good, pure) and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed he is to you a clear enemy." (Surat al-Baqarah, 2:168)

Commandment from the Sunnah:

"Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "O people! Allah is Tayyib (Good) and, therefore, accepts only that which is tayyib (good). Allah has commanded the believers as He has commanded His Messengers by saying: 'O Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good deeds.' (23:51)
And He said: 'O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you..."' (2:172)." (Muslim, 1015)

Numerous verses of the Qur’an mention foods Allah has provided for our sustenance. These are not exhaustive lists of dietary requirements, but rather a general idea of the types of foods that maintain a healthy body and prevent illness:

In the Quran you will find mention of Meat, Seafood, Olives, Grapes, Fruits, Fruits, Milk, Grain among many others.  

Treatment of Animals

A Muslim is commanded to be kind to all those around him: 

"Verily, Allah has prescribed excellence in all things .. if you slaughter, do so in a good manner. "(Muslim, 1955)

Gentleness and kindness are encouraged in Islam; so much so that the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) guidance encompassed how one is to treat animals: 

"Fear Allah in the manner with which you treat these mute animals; ride them while they are healthy and feed them in an appropriate way." (Abu Dawud, 2548) 
"If you are merciful towards a sheep, Allah will have mercy upon you." (Sahih al-Jami, 7055)

What is Halal (Lawful) to Eat?

  1. By default, all foods are lawful and permissible, save those that are prohibited within the Quran and Sunnah.
  2. Food items should not be harmful to one’s health
  3. Food items must be pure
  4. When halal and haram traits coexist within a substance, the haram is given priority.
  5. When a substance transforms chemically, it acquires the description of purity.

What is Haram (Prohibited) to Eat?

"Prohibited to you are (1)dead animals, (2)blood, (3)the flesh of swine, and (4)that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , (5)and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a (6)violent blow or by a (7)head-long fall or by the (8)goring of horns, and (9)those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and (10)those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (Surat Al-Maidah, 5:3)

  1. Maytah,  the ‘Dead Animal’ – It is unlawful to consume the flesh of an animal that has died a natural death, without being slaughtered.
  2. Al-damm, Blood – It is unlawful to consume blood that exits from the slaughtered animal. As for residual blood that remains in the flesh after the animal has been slaughtered, then this is not ‘damm’  and is permissible.
  3. Swine (Pork) – Every portion of the pig: its bones, flesh, skin, and hair.
  4. That which is dedicated to other than Allah – It is unlawful to consume foods that are prepared or slaughtered and then offered to false gods.
  5. Animals killed by asphyxiation
  6. Animals killed by a violent strike/blow
  7. Animals killed by a headlong fall
  8. Animals gorged by other animals
  9. What was eaten by other animals – This refers to the remains of a kill by another carnivorous animal. 
  10. What is offered at stone altars - Animals slaughtered for idols or demi-gods, etc.

Domesticated donkeys, carnivores, and birds of prey are also forbidden to eat.

Food of Ahl al-Kitab (People of the Scripture)
"This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture (Ahl al-Kitab) is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them."  (Surat Al-Ma'idah 5:5)

Definition: In general, Ahl al-Kitab refers to a people who received a Divine Scripture from Allah, i.e. the followers of Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them), the Jews and Christians.

Who is "Ahl-Al Kitab"?

Can we assume that "The West" is the People of the Scripture?

The West is not a religious society; it may be run on a few guidelines that are ultimately taken from the Holy Scripture, but in general, the majority of its laws are man-made or secular-based laws. 

Defining The People of the Scripture

The scholars differ in relation to how to define one who is practicing Christianity. The issue here is, what determines a Christian? Is it a name, a family tie, or a way of life from Jesus (peace be upon him)'s time?

Ruling: This difference in opinion goes back to the time of the Companions (of Muhammad, peace be upon him). When Bani Taghlib, an Arab tribe, accepted Christianity. 

Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) prohibited the consumption of animals slaughtered by them. He (may Allah be pleased with him) said: 
'They (the tribe) took nothing from Christianity except drinking intoxicants.'
Ibn Uthaymeen said: 'What this means is that Banu Taghlib were not actually on the religion of the Christians, and thus the rulings of ahl al-kitab would not be applicable to them.' 

Foods of the Ahl al-Kitab that are lawful

All fruits, vegetables, and grains are lawful, in addition to this their slaughtered meat.

Slaughtering by ahl al-kitab:

During the Prophet (peace be upon him)'s time, the Ahl al-Kitab slaughtered animals like the Muslims slaughtered them. Today, their method differs greatly and it is secular, non-religious law, that dictates the method of slaughtering etc. 

Note: Their procedure today consists of rendering the animal unconscious by carbon dioxide asphyxiation, captive bolt, gunshot, or electrical shock, and then slaughtering them. Some of these methods are haram, and others cannot guarantee that the animal was still alive after this process before slaughtering (such as a chicken being killed by electric shock before being slaughtered) which renders the meat haram, as it is considered maytah (dead meat). As well, the name of Allah is not mentioned at the time of slaughter.

The Islamic way

Muslims, Christians, and Jews of Arabia were all slaughtering their animals the same way during the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)'s time. If today, a Muslim is slaughtering an animal in an illegal method and it dies through a captive bolt strike the meat becomes unlawful, even though the slaughtering was done by a Muslim.


Definition of Kosher

Food that conforms to strict Jewish Biblical laws pertaining not only to the type of food that may be eaten, but to the kinds of foods that can be combined in one meal. (reference)


Kashruth (Jewish religious law) allows the consumption of any sort of alcohol, as long as it has kosher ingredients (excluding any unsupervised grape extracts).


Kosher meat is lawful to consume, however many processed Kosher meat products contain alcohol, white or red wine, and one must be cautious when consuming them.

Ruling on Seafood

"Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travellers." (Quran: Surat Al-Ma'idah 5:96)
Seafood is permissible to eat.

Compiled from “The Fiqh of Food and Clothing” – Sheikh Abdurrahmann Murad, Al Kauthar Instititute, 2014.