The world is full of lots of delicious foods and drinks. However, according to the Islamic laws, there are some types that we are not allowed to consume, because it may harm the body or the soul. In this episode we’re going to talk about what we are or not allowed to consume. 

First, we’ll start with animal produce:

For meat to be Halal, there are two conditions:

  • First, the animal should be slaughtered or hunted according to the Islamic laws. This topic will be discussed in details in a separate episode.
  • Second, the meat should be of an animal that we are allowed to eat. That’s what we are going to talk about here. 

We will divide the animals into four groups: terrestrial animals, birds, aquatic animals and insects.

The first group: Terrestrial Animals

What is permissible to eat in this group are domestic animals such as sheep, cows and camels. Although it is permissible to eat horses, mules and donkeys, it is deemed detestable.

Of the wild animals, or ones that live in nature, antelopes, deer, cows, rams, roe deer and zebras are Halal.

However it is prohibited to eat: 

  •  Animals with tusks and predators with claws such as walrus, boar, lions and foxes. 
  • Dogs, pigs and cats, although considered pets in some cultures, are not allowed too. 
  • Also prohibited are Musukh animals or literally “transformed” animals such as monkeys, elephants and bears.
  • All small animals that live underground such as mice, snakes and hedgehogs are also prohibited. 
  • Lastly, rabbits and hares are also Haram in the school of Ahlulbait (a).

The second group: Birds 

Birds are divided into two subgroups:

  • Those that have no feathers are Haram to eat. This group includes bats [the animals which fly, but are not classified as winged birds].
  • And those that have feathers. From this subgroup, it is prohibited to eat birds of prey that have claws or talons.

Well, can I identify birds of prey that have claws or talons from other kinds of birds?

There is a simple way that helps us to distinguish between the two. While the bird is flying, observe it.

  • if it flaps its wings more than it glides in the sky, it’s Halal to eat it.
  • But If the bird glides in the sky more than it flaps its wings, it’s a bird of prey and it’s Haram to eat it. 
Doves, for example, flap their wings continuously and rarely glide. However, an eagle flies up in the sky with open wings more than moving them. According to the principle doves are Halal, while eagles are not.

Question: what if flapping and gliding time were equal or the bird doesn’t fly at all?

If the previous method didn’t help, there’s another method, which is the existence of a crop, gizzard or spur in a bird. Having any of these indicates that the bird is Halal to eat.

  • A crop is a pouch in a bird’s gullet where food is temporarily stored.
  • A gizzard is a part of a bird’s stomach where grits are stored.
  • A spur is a horny spike on the back of the feet of the bird.

Note: if the results of these two methods contradict, the first method should be applied.

The third group: Aquatic Animals

All fish that have scales are Halal. 

Although some fish lose their scales due to repetitive contact with rocks, they’re still Halal because they originally had scales.
Whereas fish which originally don’t have scales are Haram. 

All non-fish sea animals except shrimps are Haram. So, octopus, shellfish, crab, etc are Haram.

Do note that only shrimps are Halal and animals that resemble shrimps such as crayfish and lobster are Haram. 

The fourth group:  Insects

All kinds of insects are Haram, whether they fly such as butterflies and wasps or other kinds such as lice and worms. 

The only exception in this group is Locusts, which are Halal to eat.

By this, we’re done with the general rules of animals.

A question, is it permissible to eat all parts of a Halal animal?

It is Halal to eat the meat, heart, liver, rumen, intestines, cartilage, skin, muscles and other parts of a Halal animal.

And the Haram parts of a Halal animal are: the urine and the excrement, reproductive organs, placenta, all glands, spinal cord, vagus nerves, gallbladder, spleen, eyeballs and blood. But the remaining blood in the Halal slaughtered animal is Halal if it becomes dissolved in the food. 

Some general notes:

  • Dairy products and eggs are Halal if their source is a Halal animal. 
  • If the source of an egg is unknown, we can check its two poles, if they’re unequal in shape, as the egg of a chicken, then it is Halal. However, if both poles are similar, the egg is Haram. 
  • Some Halal animals may become Haram in certain cases. For example, if the Halal animal suckled from a pig, ate feces of a human being or drank wine until drunk, it becomes Haram to eat. For more information, please refer to the Islamic law books.
  • The woman’s milk is only Halal for infants and it’s Haram for all others.

Concerning non-animal products, it is Haram to eat and drink the following:

  • Every Najis thing.
  • Anything that would seriously harm the eater.
  • Mud, soil and sand are Haram except the soil of the grave of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) if used for cure.
  • Boiled grape juice, if it has not been reduced by two third, beer, wine and every intoxicant. It is also Haram to eat food at the same table where others are consuming it.