What Is the Difference Between Halal and Haram?

"Halal" is an Arabic word in Islamic Law meaning "permitted." "Haram" is the opposite of "halal," meaning "forbidden." The Quran classifies certain actions and foods as either halal or haram. For example, pork is haram, while vegetables are halal.

Human actions such as drinking alcohol, bribery and illegal sex are haram. According to Islamic teachings, premarital sex is one of the biggest sins, and its punishment is very severe. A man who divorces a woman three times cannot remarry her without doing halala. Halala involves setting the woman free to marry a different person. If the woman later divorces the other man, then the previous husband may remarry her. He, however, cannot compel the woman to get divorced or make an agreement that she will get divorced. Killing an innocent person is forbidden, and its penalty is death.

Islamic teachings classify foods into two categories. The first category is vegetables, plants, fruits and grains. All foods in the first category are halal except those that are harmful to human health. The second category has three sub-categories: sea creatures, land creatures and birds. Most kinds of fish are halal, but other creatures such as whales, turtles and sharks are forbidden. Birds that feed on meat are also haram, but those that feed on grains or plants are halal. As for land creatures, animals with canine teeth are haram, as well as horses and donkeys. Haram animals include cows, goats and camels.