Simply, halal refers to anything that is permissible for Muslims to partake in while Halal food generally refers to meat that is permissible for Muslims to eat. The Quran provides specific instructions for what types of animals are clean and how those animals should be treated humanely before and during slaughter.
Halal restrictions are similar to kosher rules which guide food consumption for Jews. All pork products including ham, pepperoni, pork meatballs, sausage and sometimes even gummy products should be avoided. However, unlike kosher laws, halal rules do not restrict the consumption of shellfish and seafood is generally a safe option.
Alcohol is also generally avoided by Muslims (especially religious leaders) who prefer regular sodas, fresh juices, bottled water and an after dinner tea. However, it is typically not considered impolite to have beer or liquor available for your other guests as long as there are plenty of nonalcoholic options.
When preparing to host a Muslim visitor for a meal, the easiest thing to do is visit the nearest halal grocery store where you can purchase fresh beef, chicken, lamb and sometimes even goat (see our list of Halal in Jacksonville). If that’s not an option, you can always serve fish and vegetarian plates including rice and garbanzo beans a well.
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