Halal Eating and Drinking: The Islamic Dietary Law

Rules about halal eating and drinking

Plates of fruit
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Muslims are allowed to eat what is "good" (Qur'an 2:168) - that is, what is pure, clean, wholesome, nourishing, and pleasing to the taste. In general, everything is allowed (halal) except what has been specifically forbidden.


Muslims are enjoined by their religion to abstain from eating certain foods. This is in the interest of health and cleanliness, and in obedience to God. In the Qur'an (2:173, 5:3, 5:90-91, 6:145, 16:115), the following foods and drinks are strictly prohibited by God (haram):

  • dead meat (i.e. carcass of an already-dead animal)
  • blood
  • the flesh of swine (pork)
  • intoxicating drinks
  • the meat of an animal that has been sacrificed to idols
  • the meat of an animal that died from strangulation or blunt force
  • meat from which wild animals have already eaten

Islamic Slaughtering

Muslims are enjoined to slaughter their livestock by slitting the animal's throat in a swift and merciful manner, reciting God’s name with the words, "In the name of God, God is Most Great" (Qur'an 6:118-121). This is in acknowledgment that life is sacred and that one must kill only with God's permission, to meet one's lawful need for food. The animal is then bled completely before consumption. Meat prepared in this manner is called zabihah, or simply, halal meat.

Some Muslims will abstain from eating meat if they are uncertain of how it was slaughtered. They place importance on the animal having been slaughtered in a humane fashion with the remembrance of God and gratefulness for this sacrifice of the animal's life.

They also place importance on the animal having been bled properly, as otherwise it would not be considered healthy to eat.

Some Muslims living in predominantly-Christian countries hold the opinion that one may eat commercial meat (apart from pork, of course), and pronounce God’s name at the time of eating it.

This opinion is based on the Qur'anic verse (5:5) that the food of Christians and Jews is lawful for Muslims.