Every American Muslims' Haram Vs. Halal Food Guide, In 4 Bite-Sized Steps

Every American Muslims' Haram Vs. Halal Food Guide, In 4 Bite-Sized Steps

Since the debut of apps in 2008, eating halal has never been easier!

To Muslims, eating halal is a religious dietary requirement, much like Kosher is to Jews — except stricter and rarely catered to in the Western world. Whereas Jews can be assured a product is Kosher by the symbol on the package and toss into the cart, a Muslim's trip to the grocery store means donning your undercover CIA foodie hijab and printing yourself a nutritionist certification. Back in the day, to make sure all the food we're purchasing is halal, each product underwent a preliminary, scrutinizing scan, a thorough background check supported by online research and was followed by a phone call to the parent company to correlate our findings with their database listings of the ingredients' sources. Now, since 2008 and the introduction of apps, eating halal has become so much easier. Although it's still the same extensive process, verifying the haram/halal status of your food has become simple enough that it can be boiled down to four easy steps!

1. Download the Scan Halal app or any other that fits your needs best.

There's a whole slew of halal scan apps available, including the E-Numbers scanner for Muslims living in the European Union as well as the Halal Food app by the creator and owner of Muslim Consumer, Rasheed Ahmed, but from the ones I have tried, Scan Halal has proven to be the most effective due its comprehensive database. It lists various products, especially those most commonly purchased, and it even lists where in the U.S. each product is being scanned!

When you first open the app, it will ask you for to select your "halal settings," which translates to, how strict do you want to be? Always choose "zabiha" — all ingredients derived from animal (unless halal certified) and alcohol will be considered not permissible — because one, that's what "halal" requires anyways, and two, because if you mistakenly do eat haram, you will lose 40 days of ibaadat (rewards for your good deeds, even your daily five prayers)! That's why it's better to be safe than sorry in this case.

You can customize your settings further as well. The Scan Halal app lists every ingredient in the product and explains exactly why that said ingredient is halal or haram. This helps me narrow down exactly what I need to ask the ingredient specialists when I call the product's company to verify the information present.

Why would I do that if the app already confirms the product's status?

Because unfortunately, like every other halal/haram app out there, most of the times that status is "unknown," so that requires a bit more digging than usual. The halal apps are all still undergoing development today, but it's a great leap in progress so far, considering how difficult it was to break down a whole ingredients list yourself less than 10 years ago!

2. If your app pulls up "unknown" for the food's status, look for dietary symbols.

On the front of every package, there will be a dietary symbol. Can you find it on the carton above?

The most common symbols are "U," "UD" and "K." All three symbols stand for Kosher, with the first two referring to the dairy present in the product. These symbols also mean that all the fat-based ingredients in the product (except diary) are from a vegetable source (as long as the ingredients list also does not contain any of the following: wine, alcohol, gelatin and L-Cysteine).

Meat, on the other hand, is held to a more rigid halal standard based on the way it's slaughtered. In Islam, if the animal in question is not halal to begin with (i.e. pig, which is not permissible for Muslims to consume in any way, shape or form), then that meat is automatically haram. Halal meat only comes from land animals with free flowing blood, like deer, rabbits, cows and chickens, to name a few. However, the animal cannot simply be slaughtered and count as halal meat; it must be sacrificed in the name of God (Allah) using a certain procedure known as qurbani.

The qurbani method not only lessens the animal's suffering and serves as a quick, efficient process, but it also promotes cage-free, natural growth of animals and caps the Muslim population's consumption of meat to healthy boundaries. This is why Muslims avoid the carcass meat of any and every animal butchered at your local factory.

So, if the symbol on the product is either of the three letter combinations above, then it passes the preliminary checks! The next thing to consider is the ingredients list.

3. Are any of the ingredients listed 100 percent haram?

It's most certainly possible, even with dietary symbols like Kosher, because unlike Muslims, Jews drink alcohol and wine.

Check for any of the haram ingredients listed below:

  • Gelatin (including Kosher version)
  • L-Cysteine — found in high-protein foods
  • Liquor, beer batter, rum flavor or wine (including wine vinegar)
  • Any grape wine by product (like powder, oil or seed extract)
  • Ethyl alcohol or ethanol
  • Cochineal or carmine — often found in food coloring
  • Naturally brewed soy sauce — uses alcohol during process
  • Brewer yeast extract
  • Vanilla extract (any natural vanilla) — uses alcohol during process
  • Confectionary glaze or resinous glaze

4. And if there are any ingredients listed that you don't recognize...

Call the company branded on the product, and ask: "Are there any animal derivatives in this product? Is there any alcohol in this product or was any alcohol used in the ingredients to create this product?"

Some common ingredients you will need to call to ask about are:

  • Torula yeast (if grown on alcohol) — found in processed foods
  • Carrageenan (if made with ethyl alcohol) — found in dairy products
  • Natural flavoring*
  • Artificial flavoring*

You may have difficulty determining the halal/haram status of the last two flavoring ingredients, because companies will claim that information is "proprietary." In simpler terms, because those ingredients are under 1 percent, they fall under the umbrella category of "natural" or "artificial" flavor, and they help to maintain the originality of the manufacturer's product so it cannot be replicated.

In this case, it's best to clarify that you are not asking for specific ingredients, you are simply concerned if there is any alcohol used or present in the natural or artificial flavoring. More often that not, the company specialist will then put you on hold and consult a manager first before answering your question truthfully, but some are quite secretive and may require a few emails to assure them you are not attempting to steal trade secrets.

Even if it's tough to narrow down ingredients, particularly in the Western world, eating halal is not a challenge if you use the resources available to you, stay updated with nutrition facts and listings on Muslim Consumer and always call and ask to confirm!

If you do your best, Allah (swt) will make it easy for you.

...Verily, Allah does not destroy the rewards of those who do good. (Qurān 11:115)
Cover Image Credit: Anne Preble / Unsplash

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Almost 100 Percent Of What Servers Say Earning Your 20 Percent Tip Is BS

Here it is.... the truth.

So, if you don’t know, I am a waitress.

I deal with, so many different types of people and I have learned how to handle each kind of person.

I have had so many people that make my day a little brighter and then there are always those people that can easily bring me down.

No matter what, I always keep a smile on my face and give the customers the best service possible.

But I am ready to unleash all the thoughts I have built up for some of these customers.

So here it is, what servers want to actually say to you.

When I first walk up to the table and introduce myself:

What I say: Hello! My name is Maddie I am going to be taking care of you, can I start you off with anything else to drink other than water? Any appetizers?

What I want to say: Hi my dudes, let’s get this over with, c’mon what do you want to drink. Get a bottle of wine or something expensive.

When a customer asks me what exactly is on tap, or want to know every single kind of wine we have and what they all taste like:

What I say: *grabs drink list OFF THE TABLE IN FRONT OF THEM* here you are, I have a hard time remembering some of the drafts because we have newly featured ones all the time. Also, I can get you a wine recommendation if you would like.

What I want to say: Uh hello, the list is right in FREAKING FRONT OF YOU!!!!!!! Look at the list, and then ask me questions! K BYE.

When I come back with drinks and they ask me if I am going to bring out rolls:

What I say: Yeah, I can bring out some rolls! Would you like any appetizers or anything? Were we ready to order dinner?

What I want to say: *laughing* uhhhh you have been sitting here for a good three minutes please wait until I set your vodka soda down before asking about some crusty bread Tina. Thanks bye.

When a customer asks me what sides we have:

What I say: All of our sides are at the bottom of the menu, and we have mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, fries, mac and cheese, onion rings, etc.


When I bring out the rare steak the customer ordered and they complain:

What I say: I can take it back to the kitchen and we will get it fixed right away!

What I want to say: ARE YOU JOKING. If you didn’t want it mooing and running around your plate then you shouldn’t have ordered it rare!!!!!!! CMON!!!

When I bring out the bills and a customer jokes around and says "I thought you were paying!?":

What I say: *laughs and walks away*

What I want to say: HAHAHA YOU THOUGHT. ME? PAY? After making $3 an hour plus your sh*tty tip. Yeah right.

When a customer asks me if the tip is included:

What I say: No, it is not, you have to include that when you sign the slip! Thank you!

What I want to say: ……..are.you.joking? *starts screaming*

When I go the table for the last time and say goodbye:

What I say: Thank you so much for coming in, have a great night! Come see us again!

What I want to say: Alright get to moving, I want to go home. I hope you tipped me good, seeeeee yaaaa. Peace out my dudes.

So there it all is. I laid it all out there.

Those are just a few things that I want to say to servers but instead I keep a smile on my face and stay kind and nice. It takes A LOT of work to maintain a nice personality and put up with the handful of people that come through the restaurant I work at.

So there you all go, how I truly feel and what I want to say to you.

P.S. - I am really sorry if I have ever served you before. Lol. Don't take it personally. :)

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If You Want The Most Relaxing Weekend Getaway From NYC, Go To Tulum, Mexico

Escape the freezing temperatures and head to the sunny beaches.

With below freezing temperatures upon us in NYC, the white sand beaches and warm temperatures of Tulum, Mexico sound ever appealing. Tulum is located just a short two-hour drive south of the busy city of Cancun, Mexico. The numerous daily direct flights out of NYC make this trip truly seamless.

This small rustic town and laid-back vibe is the ultimate weekend getaway from the fast-paced lifestyle you’re surrounded by in New York City. Get out of the tundra and head over to your beach life get away. Grab some friends and your bathing suits and head over to Tulum for the most relaxing weekend of your life.

Tulum is special because you can interact with all the locals and experience their easy-going way of life. You truly get to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture and you get a sense of their spirituality.

This small, rustic town promotes a healthy, positive lifestyle in the sense that everything is fresh and requires physical activity.

The narrow streets, lacking room for cars, push the tourists to live like the locals and either ride bikes or walk everywhere. You have the opportunity to take long walks on the white sand beaches and stop at one of the many beachfront hotels for a quick lunch.

Most boutique hotels you stumble into offer moonlight yoga on the beach with the ability to channel all of your energy into the sound of the relaxing waves. Be sure to take advantage of the beachside massages offered by the hotels. After spending an entire day laying out its time to head over to a trendy dinner where the chefs are sure to take advantage of the local, fresh ingredients.

Must-see hotels:

  1. BeTulum
  2. Nomad
  3. Sanara
  4. Casa Malca

Must-see restaurants:

  1. Hartwood
  2. Raw Love
  3. The Real Coconut @Sanara hotel
  4. Posada Margarita

Must-see bars:

  1. Gitano
  2. Casa Jaguar
  3. Taqueria La Eufemia
  4. La Zebra

Safe travels!

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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