Is Kosher Halal?
Often times Muslim consumers tend to assume 'Kosher' is similar to 'Halal'. Although the slaughtering rituals of Jewish people resemble those of Muslims; kosher and halal are two different entities carrying a different meaning and spirit. Muslims, therefore, are provided with the following basic information about Kosher so they can exercise care in distinguishing halal from kosher.
Kashrut (in Hebrew) is the system of Jewish dietary laws. Kosher (kashur in Hebrew) means 'fit, or proper for use' according to Jewish law. Examples of kosher are: the meat of the 'fore quarter*' of the cattle slaughtered ritually, fruits, vegetables, all fish that have fins*, all wines*, all cheeses*, gelatine*.
The opposite of Kosher, as applied to food in Treif (in Yiddish), or trefah (in Hebrew) meaning 'not suitable for use', or 'forbidden'. Trefah literally means 'torn by a wild beast' (Exodus 22:30). Examples of Trefah are: blood, swine, rabbit*, all shell fish*, wild birds such as wild hen*, wild duck*, and the birds of prey.
(*) these food items exhibit a marked difference between kosher and Halal as well as trefah and haraam.
Caution to Muslim Consumers:
Halal is a comprehensive Islamic term encompassing not only the matters of food and drink, but all other matters of daily life. Islam being the final and perfect Deen (religion) for mankind, it supersedes all the previously revealed religions including Christianity and Judaism. The rituals in all matters were perfected by Islam (al-Qur'an 5:3)
According to Islamic Jurisprudence, no one except Allah can change forbidden (Haraam) things into lawful (halal) for vice-versa. It is forbidden for people to change the lawful (Halal) things into unlawful (Haraam), or vice-versa.
Halal is a unique Islamic concept and eating dhabiha (Islamically slaughtered) meat is a distinguishing part of a Muslim's identity as expressed by Prophet Muhammad (S)
Salient differences between kosher and halal are:
Islam prohibits all intoxicating alcohols, liquors, wines and drugs. kashrut regards all wines kosher. Hence food items and drinks showing the kosher symbol containing alcohol are not halal.
Gelatine is considered kosher regardless of its source of origin. If the gelatine is prepared from swine, Muslims consider it haraam (prohibited). Hence foods items such as marshmallows, yoghurt, etc., showing kosher symbols are not halal.
Enzymes (irrespective of their sources even from non-kosher animals) in cheese making are considered mere secretion (pirsah b'almah) according to some kashrut organizations, hence all cheeses are considered kosher. Muslims look for the source of the enzyme in cheese making. If it is coming from the swine, it is considered haraam (forbidden). Hence cheeses showing kosher symbols may not be halal.
Jews do not pronounce the name of God on each animal while slaughtering. They feel that uttering the name of God, out of context, is wasteful. Muslims on the other hand pronounce the name of Allah on all animals while slaughtering.
The salient differences between kosher and halal have been illustrated so that Muslim consumers can distinguish halal from kosher.
Islam is a complete way of life providing infallible guidance to all its followers in all walks of life. Halal brings immense satisfaction to the Muslim life both now and in the hereafter. Muslims therefore, do not have to depend on any other set of laws for want of convenience.
The final, divine laws of Islam are indeed perfect and the best for all its followers for all time to come.
Muslims in non-Muslim countries should strive to follow the Islamic injunctions in their diet (as well as in every walk of life) and establish their own businesses and institutions to cater to the needs of the Muslim Ummah. By doing so, not only the identity of the Muslims will be preserved, but they will be recognized and respected for their beliefs and practices. What a subtle means of Da'wah!
by M.M. Hussaini