Halal vs. Kosher
The practice of the religion of Islam includes following dietary laws which come from Islamic teachings. Based on Islamic teachings, Halal means “lawful or permitted to eat,” while Haram means “not permitted.” Food that is generally considered haram includes grain products prepared with alcohol, animal shortening, lard, or both pure and artificial vanilla extract. Halal food includes healthy meat, fish, milk, olive oil, and honey. This dietary practice comes from the Islamic holy book known as the Quran. The health benefits that come along with following Muslim dietary law are an added bonus. Eating halal certified meat is especially stressed because meat is recognized as the master of all by the Prophet Muhammad.
Even though most people categorize halal and kosher as one, they are actually two different entities. The difference is simple: Kosher products are under the Jewish dietary guidelines, while halal products are under the Islamic dietary guidelines. A product can be kosher certified, but not halal.
1) Halal and kosher have different slaughter processes. While Muslims have to thank God by reciting a prayer before each slaughter, Jews don’t have to invoke God before every slaughter. Halal slaughtering requires a bismillah, which is an act of worship that involves pronouncing Allah’s name over each animal before it is slaughtered.
2) While any adult Muslim can perform a slaughter, only one kind of rabbi called the Sachet is allowed to do so in the Jewish religion. Only a Sachet knows the specific rules for slaughtering.
3) Another difference between halal and kosher is utilization. For kosher meat, only the forefront quarter is utilized. For halal meat, the entire carcass is utilized.
4) In kosher slaughter, the rabbis examine the animals to check for discoloration and scars in their organs. However, in halal slaughter these examinations are left to government officials. Only animals that have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal byproducts are considered to be halal certified.
6) Kosher processing is also considered more humane. The spinal cords in kosher animals are sectioned in order to cut off pain to the brain. However, Muslims leave the spinal cord intact.
6) Kosher meat is soaked in salt for about two hours then rinsed with water to remove traces of blood from the meat. However, halal meat is not soaked in salt because Muslims only prohibit flowing blood. The animals are hung upside down until they are bled dry.
7) Halal law prohibits intoxicating drinks, wines and drugs, while kosher law allows all wines.
Though it is clear that kosher and halal products are completely different, many consumers treat them as supplements.
However, there are a few overlaps between halal and kosher requirements. Both Muslims and Jews:
1) Use a sharp knife to cut through the neck of the animal in a more humane manner than regular industrial practices
2) Have rituals concerned with the health and safety of the food
3) Do not eat the meat of predators or birds of prey.
Because of these similarities, many American Muslims turn to kosher foods. Based on a market research company known as Mintel, about 6 percent of sales of kosher food in America come from halal-consuming Muslims. However, some halal consumers are against this because they believe kosher and halal are as different as the distinction between vegetarian or vegan. Other Muslim religious leaders, however, do not view the standard halal bismillah as mandatory; the blessings given during a kosher slaughtering are sufficient enough to make the meat certified.
Whether or not Muslims view kosher certified food as a substitute for halal depends on the person. A guy selling halal food from a cart on 3rd Avenue and 96th Street said his family is not against purchasing kosher meat, but prefers halal. His reasoning was not because the slaughtering process differs, but because in order for meat to be halal certified it requires a prayer before each slaughter.