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Halal -(Arabic: حلال-) Lawful according to Islamic deen (law), especially food that may be eaten by Muslims. There are different interpretations of what food is Halal and what is not, and the laws and customs pertaining to Halal food are remarkably similar to those pertaining to Kashruth (Jewish kosher food). Food that is not Halal is Haram.

According to less strict interpretations, pork, carrion, food not slaughtered in the name of god, carnivorous animals, alcohol and drugs are absolutely Haram (forbidden), but Muslims can eat food that has been approved as kosher under Jewish law.

Most of the Islamic food prohibitions are stated or inferred from verses in the Quran, but some are also derived from Hadith and Sunnah.

According to the strictest interpretations, (Dhabiĥa Halal) the animal must be slaughtered so as to assure proper blood drainage, without prior stunning. This method, called Zibah,   is consistent with the laws of Kashruth. However, authorities differ on whether or not meat slaughtered under Jewish Kashruth laws is Halal (see Kosher). Moreover, authorities differ on whether fish without scales are kosher. The Hanafi school generally holds that  shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, etc.) are prohibited. Most authorities agree that frogs are prohibited. In some Muslim communities, all amphibians are considered Haram.

Halal in the literal and broadest sense, used in Muslim societies, means "permitted." A prayer, for example or an act, may be deemed to be Halal or Haram.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Halaal

Further Information: http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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