Is Kosher Halaal?

Published: 2004-03-16

I am the Food Service Supervisor for the King County Jail located in Seattle Washington. We currently have 4 Muslim inmates in our jail who are requesting Kosher meals. We have served Kosher meals to our Jewish inmates in the past. This is the first time we have had Muslim inmates requesting Kosher meals. Could you please enlighten me on the reason they require Kosher meals?

Thank you for your help in this matter.

Views: 4,187,209
Updated: 2004-03-16
25 Muharram 1425 - 16 March 2004
Thank you for your query.  We do appreciate questions - especially from non-Muslims.  In order to answer your question, I have compiled this treatise.  The purpose being to provide a comprehensive understanding to the issues concerned.  I hope that in all fairness that it is useful to you and your staff.
Why Do Muslims eat Halal food?
Firstly and foremost, Muslims eat Halal food because Allah (God) has instructed Muslims to do so. Allah has told us in the Holy Quran
“And eat of the things which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and fear Allah in Whom you believe."  (The Qur'aan 5: 88) 
Animals are only Halal for Muslims if the animal is slaughtered according to Islamic rites.
Animals which are permissible for Muslims are the following: cattle, calves, sheep, goat, camel, deer, poultry, rabbit, game-birds, fish, etc).  With the exception of fish, all animals must be slaughtered according to the Islamic system slaughter called thabah in Arabic.  The flesh of pig and anything derived from it is expressly forbidden for Muslims. Animals such as: dogs, cats and wild animals are prohibited.

Humane treatment of animals to be slaughtered Islamically

• The animal should not be cruelly transported, handled and dragged to the place of slaughter.

• The animal should preferably be fed before slaughter.

• The animal should be laid down as calmly as possible and not be blindfolded during slaughter nor slaughtered in the presence of another animal.

• When bringing the second animal for slaughtering the blood of the first animal should be washed away from the spot.

• The knife should not be sharpened in the presence of the animal while it has been laid down ready for slaughter.

• The animal should not be stunned before slaughter.

• The animal should be slaughtered as quickly and professionally as possible.

• The animal should not be skinned or dismembered while there is some movement in the body.


Method of Islamic slaughter is as follows:

The animal is slaughtered with a sharp, prepared knife.  The name of Allah is invoked (GOD) i.e. in the name of Allah verbally before each slaughter and with each uninterrupted movement cuts the trachea (windpipe) and oesophagus (gullet)] and both the jugular veins, immediately causing death to the animal.  The combined circumference of the jugulars, the two major blood vessels make the neck the ideal place to cut and bleed the animal, which is thereafter skinned and dressed. 


In order for the animal slaughtered to be Halaal, (permissible for Muslims) 3 conditions must be present:

a) Most of the four veins (including the Jugular vein, according to some) must be cut with a knife, blade or any tool that is sharp and has a cutting edge;

b) The name of Allah (God) pronounced at the time of slaughtering.  c) The slaughterer must be either a Muslim or from the People of the Book (In Arabic, Ahl al-Kitab).  People of  the book denotes the Christians or Jews. 


Who would be termed People of the Book (Christians or Jews)

They must firmly believe in: God, a revealed book e.g. Psalms, Torah or the Bible, and a Prophet.  If a person regards himself as a Christian or a Jew only by name and does not actually believe in any religion then, they cannot be termed People of the Book.  They are atheists and it is not permissible to consume the animal slaughtered by them, by the consensus of Muslim Scholars. 


Is Kosher Halaal for Muslims?

Allah Says: “Today are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them”  (The Quraan, al-An’am, V. 5).

The word “food” referred to in this verse, are the animals slaughtered by the People of the book (Christians and Jews). However , this verse is interwoven with another Qur'aanic verse : “Eat not of (meats) on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced” (al-An’am, 121). 

Forbidden to you are: dead meat, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which has been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been partly eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it” (Qur’an, 5.3).

Concluding this discussion,  it is understood that the slaughtered animal of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) is only permissible when the name of Allah (God) was taken at the time of slaughtering the animal (or any other word which is used in their language to denote Allah SWT)an d the slaughtering itself done in the proper manner. Reciting the name of Allah at the time of slaughter.  Nowadays, Christians no longer recite the name of God at the time of slaughter and various methods of slaughter are adopted (see verse above) which do not comply with Islamic rites hence supermarket meats, fast-food takeaway meats of Christians would not be permissible.  However, if Kosher meat is slaughtered correctly and is according to the system of Islamic Slaughter rites then this meat would in itself be permissible for Muslims.

I hope that this has answered your question and to understand why the Muslim inmates asked for Kosher.  Kosher is itself permissible but due to the abundant ability of Halaal meats, Muslims usually eat Halaal not Kosher.   We would respectfully request that the inmates may be provided meat from a Halaal supplier.

If you so wish, you may contact the Foodguide again for clarification or otherwise.


Differences and similarities between Kosher and Halaal.
Kosher Labelling and how it works
Is Kosher Halaal?  (explains the varying points of jurisprudence between Muslim and Jews)