Halal and Tayyab, Cooking with a Conscience

Assalaamu alaikum!

Cooking spaghetti Bolognaise for lunch today gave me a sudden attack of conscience. The pasta was boiling and I was chopping up some ingredients to add to the sauce. I was hoping to try out a bottle of store-bought Bolognaise sauce my husband insisted we try. Yes, it had a halal stamp on it, but still, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea.

I looked at the label and sure enough, it was there. The every familiar halal logo right at the bottom right corner. I read the ingredients carefully. It sounded pretty good, onions, peppers, tomatoes, beef broth, minced beef and a couple of other things. I opened the bottle and smelled the sauce. It was great, very.. um tomato-ey!

It’s halal, it must be okay

But, I was still not convinced. Where there Muslim chefs in the kitchen? Where did they get the beef broth and minced meat from? Was there any chance of contamination in these industrial kitchens? I am sure nobody would hand out halal certifications without checking all of these things right?

It was not just about the food being halal. I know a lot of friends of mine who rely completely on the halal stamp. They would eat anything with a halal stamp on it, even if it was a bacon sandwich. “The sin falls on the people who take the responsibility of putting the stamp there for the rest of us,” I was told quite matter of factly. I disagree. It’s not just about halal, and if you know something is harmful to your body, why eat it?

I was still apprehensive about dumping even a dollop of this bottled Bolognaise sauce in my family’s lunch. I looked at the date of manufacture and then the sell-by date. “Wow, it lasts two years on the shelf!” I thought to myself. I was surprised. Then I was disgusted. Why would I want to feed my family bottled minced meat that was lying on a shop shelf for almost two years? The thought of putting something like that into my freshly prepared meal was mortifying.

What about Tayyab?

Needless to say, it took me a little longer to make lunch and whip up a pasta sauce from scratch, but it was all worth it when they asked for seconds. As a mother, I feel like it is my duty to make sure that the food and the meals I prepare for my family is not just halal, but tayyab. It needs to be pure and good for them.

Halal and tayyab are not synonymous. You will find many packaged groceries with halal logos that are genuinely bad for your health. Tayyab food is about eating clean, wholesome meals. It is about making sure that the food you prepare with love and devotion is not laced with chemicals and carcinogens. It should be nourishing and natural.

Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala commands us to eat from the beautiful and bountiful food that he has made for us which is halal and tayyab. Halal and tayyab go hand in hand. They are mentioned together in the Qur’an but we often see the halal logos and forget about our food being tayyab.

SURAH BAQARAH: 2: 168
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿١٦٨﴾

[2:168] Sahih International

O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

Teach your children

It is our responsibility to teach our children about what is good for them, what is lawful and pure for them. It is not just about a label, it is about a lifestyle. They need to be able to understand the effects chemicals and processed foods have on their bodies, minds and souls.

10 Tips for being mindful of Tayyab

  1. Food is anything that was once living or came from something that was, and maintains its natural integrity. That means, you can still tell where it came from without reading it on the label.
  2. The more processed food is, the less tayyab it is bound to be.
  3. Food-like products are products that have been artificially created in labs using elaborate processes, chemicals, additives, flavourings and all sorts of things you would want nowhere near your family.
  4. Remember, if it is not directly from a living source, it is probably not considered real food.
  5. Read the ingredients when you purchase prepared food or edible goods (if you have to read the ingredients to figure out what it is, it’s probably a bad sign…)
  6. The longer the shelf-life, the more chemicals it contains to preserve it, and the more chemicals it contains, the more harmful it is.
  7. Traditional farming methods use pesticides and chemicals that are almost impossible to remove completely from the food you prepare. Organic farming practices do not use dangerous chemicals or pesticides so they are better for your family.
  8. Grow your own food if possible or try to source natural ingredients from a reliable, local, organic producer.
  9. Educate yourself and your family about the dangers of fake foods and how it affects their health.
  10. Make healthy, responsible choices where you can.

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About the author

Zahara is an entrepreneur, homeschooling mom, education specialist, UX designer and writer. She currently lives in South Africa and works with social enterprises and faith based companies around the world. You can see some of her projects at http://zaharacassim.com/

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