It’s Halal!

Paris (France) – August 1978; it was a hot August day and we jumped the turnstiles at the Place D’italie Metro heading towards Montmartre to look for some Arab food. English was not a widely used language then although I believe it was a mandatory subject taught in French schools then; so getting around in Paris knowing very minimal French then was quite tricky. The most common response to our queries was “No Anglais.” Montmartre is where you can find Parisian residents of Middle East descent and what we were looking for, food prepared by Muslims. Europe in the 70s was not a place where you could easily find Muslim or Halal food. Now, all that has drastically changed.

Muslims across the world now number approximately 1.8 billion and their numbers are expected to grow at twice the rate by 2030, representing 27% of the global population. The global market value for trade in halal food and non-food products is about US$2.1 trillion annually, and GDP per capita of Muslims worldwide has grown at a cumulative annual growth rate of 6.8%. Expanding interest shown in the halal market has led to the growth in the development of halal global standards. Halal food is not only consumed by Muslims around the world but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims.

Islam is a way of life, setting comprehensive standards and guidelines to be followed by Muslims. One of these is the concept of halal and haram. Very simply, halal means what is permitted or allowed. The most well-known meaning of halal relates to what a Muslim can eat. Haram is actions including food that are forbidden or unlawful. Muslims are not allowed to eat pork as stated in Surah Baqarah, verse 173 of the Holy Quran; “He hath only forbidden you Dead meat, and blood, And the flesh of swine, And that on which Any other name hath been invoked Besides that of Allah… ” Christians are also not allowed to indulge in pork. In Leviticus 11: 7-8 of the Bible (RSV), “And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.” Deuteronomy 14:8 states “And the swine, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.”