Muslims have some dietary restrictions that are similar to kosher laws, but there are also key differences. In general, Muslims can eat kosher food that does not contain pork or alcohol. However, kosher on its own does not make food halal, or permissible under Islamic law. There are additional considerations for meat to be halal, such as the requirement that the animal be slaughtered in the name of Allah. Many observant Muslims would not consider kosher meat to be halal because of different slaughter practices. But kosher dairy products, fruits, vegetables and pareve foods are acceptable for Muslims to eat.
Kosher and Halal Overview
Both kosher and halal have dietary restrictions rooted in religious law. Kashrut and halal have similarities, but halal has additional requirements.
Kosher dietary laws come from the Torah, the sacred text in Judaism. Food that complies with Jewish law is called kosher, meaning fit or proper.
The main kosher laws are:
- Certain animals are forbidden, including pork, shellfish, reptiles, insects and birds of prey
- Meat and dairy cannot be mixed or served together
- Grape products made by non-Jews cannot be consumed
- Animals must be slaughtered according to kosher ritual and properly drained of blood
- Only certain parts of permitted animals can be eaten
- Fruits and vegetables are kosher, but must be inspected for bugs
- Utensils, pots and pans used for non-kosher food become non-kosher
Food that does not contain meat or dairy ingredients is called pareve in kosher terminology. Pareve foods like fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit are neutral and can be eaten with either meat or dairy.
Halal is the set of dietary laws that dictate what Muslims can and cannot eat or drink. Halal guidelines come from the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as well as the hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.
The major halal laws are:
- Pork and pork products are forbidden
- Animals must be slaughtered by a Muslim who invokes Allah’s name
- All intoxicants are forbidden, including alcohol
- Blood must be properly drained from meat
- Only fish with scales can be eaten
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears are prohibited
In addition to halal dietary restrictions, Muslims who follow Sharia law also avoid tobacco, gelatin made from pork, vanillin (vanilla extract) and whey containing non-halal enzymes.
Comparison of Kosher and Halal Laws
|Pork is forbidden||Pork is forbidden|
|Only fish with fins and scales can be eaten||Only fish with scales can be eaten|
|Birds of prey are forbidden||Carnivorous mammals and birds of prey are forbidden|
|Blood must be drained from meat||Blood must be drained from meat|
|Slaughter involves cutting the throat||Slaughter must be done by a Muslim invoking Allah’s name|
|Alcohol is prohibited||Alcohol is prohibited|
While kosher and halal share some prohibited foods like pork, there are many differences in what is allowed. Kosher permits all ruminant mammals with cloven hooves, like cows and sheep. Halal only allows herbivores that were specifically permitted in the Quran. Kosher restricts shellfish and fowl, while halal only prohibits carnivorous mammals and birds. The spiritual intention and ritual slaughter also differ between kosher and halal practice.
Can Muslims Consume Kosher Foods?
Whether Muslims can eat kosher depends on the type of food in question. According to the principles of halal, observant Muslims can eat kosher foods that are vegetarian, dairy or vegan, like fruits, vegetables and kosher dairy products.
However, Muslims cannot eat kosher meat unless kosher slaughter practices are also halal. Jewish kosher law requires animals to be killed swiftly by slicing the throat and draining blood. But the person slaughtering must be a trained Jewish shohet. Halal slaughter mandates that animals have their throats cut while conscious by a Muslim invoking the name of Allah.
Since kosher laws do not require invoking Allah’s name at slaughter, kosher meat is not considered halal. Muslims cannot eat kosher meat unless it was slaughtered by a Muslim in the halal manner.
Here are guidelines for whether Muslims can eat different kosher foods:
Kosher Pareve Foods
Pareve foods that are neutral, without meat or dairy ingredients, are acceptable for Muslims to eat. This includes:
- Fruits, vegetables and nuts
- Grains like rice, oats and quinoa
- Fish with scales
As long as these pareve foods do not contain haram ingredients like pork-derived gelatin, they can be part of a halal diet.
Dairy products that do not contain non-kosher ingredients are halal. Muslims can consume kosher milk, cheese, yogurt and butter. Kosher gelatin made from cattle or fish is also halal.
Muslims cannot eat kosher meats like beef, poultry or lamb since kosher slaughter requirements differ from halal procedure. The exception is if the kosher meat was slaughtered by a Muslim in the name of Allah.
Since alcohol is prohibited under Islamic law, observant Muslims refrain from drinking kosher wine or grape juice made with kosher methods.
Certification for Kosher and Halal Foods
Both kosher and halal have certification processes to label approved foods. Kosher certification, called kashrut, is carried out by rabbis and kosher agencies. Food manufacturers must comply with Jewish dietary laws, and their facilities are inspected before receiving kosher certification.
Halal certification is done by Islamic organizations and mosques. It involves inspecting facilities for compliance with halal slaughter and preparation standards. Foods considered halal must be free of haram ingredients.
Kosher meat is not considered halal just because it is certified kosher. The slaughter requirements differ between Jewish and Islamic law. However, kosher pareve foods like fruits and vegetables can be halal with proper certification.
Some foods are certified as both kosher and halal. This dual certification allows the food to be acceptable to both Muslim and Jewish consumers.
The kosher and halal diets have some overlapping rules, like the prohibition of pork and alcohol. But there are many differences that make it so that kosher does not equal halal. Muslims can eat some kosher foods like dairy products, fruits and vegetables as long as they don’t contain haram ingredients. But kosher meat is generally not considered halal because the slaughter requirements differ. While some kosher foods are halal, kosher certification alone does not make something permitted under Islamic law. Muslims who follow halal dietary restrictions cannot rely on kosher certification to determine if a food is halal.