Halal App for your Android Phone

The discussions occurred after my sister-in-law bought in sweets for my son, namely a pack of Smarties and Skittles. Unfortunately she is clueless about what defines something to be halal or not, and thought it was sufficient that gelatin was not in the ingredient mix!

If your wondering What is Gelatin, here’s the definition from Peta.org

“Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (such as Jell-O); in candies, marshmallows…”

Now as far as my knowledge goes in these matters I must be frank and honest, I usually tend to go with the suitable for vegetarian’ sign and at time get confused in the vast amount of information and resources that are available pertaining to food. Even a close friend is a microbiologist and very clued up on these matters, but regardless it is easy to slip and get confused on the matters.

Beware of Labeling!

I guess a general rule of thumb would be to look out for the “suitable for vegetarian” signs but this little tool maybe able to assist whilst on the move.

The cool things about the app is that in essence it is very simple, you get a list of ingredients from A-Z that can be searchable; Halal is highlighted in Green, Haram in Red and dependable ingredients in a lighter color.

Secondly a list of ‘e’ numbers a given with search function and again with their highlighted colors, that it! Hopefully a simple and effective app.

Scan Halal Android App | Overview

So a new android app has surfaced for our phones called “Scan Halal”. It can be found here on the Google Play Store.

This app is great for checking products on-the-fly while shopping if you’re able to access the internet on your phone. It’s free to install and contains some ads that show up at the bottom of the screen.

Please do let me know in the comments of your experience with these types of apps and how accurate they are.


What is Halal? Your Guide to Everything Halal

You may be new to Islam and wondering what is Halal? Islam is a vast religion and has many regulations to adhere to. Learning about what is Halal and what isn’t, is something all Muslims confront on a day-by-day basis, especially in the Western.

What is Halal? | The meaning of the word Halal

The word Halal, is an Arabic word that has more than one meaning. Halal is what is allowed or permissible for Muslims. Halal applies to what food Muslims can eat, clothes they can wear and actions they can perform.

The basic ruling in Islam for what is considered Halal has been revealed in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh). With so many innovations and advances in technology, Muslim scholars have to step-in to determine the ruling for some situations.

The opposite of Halal is “Haram”. Haram typically means the foods, actions and clothes Muslims should avoid.

Here are some common examples for what Halal means:  Permissible or Allowed

  • Halal can apply to what we eat, for example:
    • “Is this food Halal?”
    • “Is it Halal to eat shark?”
  • Halal can also apply to what we wear:
    • “Is wearing silk Halal for men?”
    • “Is it Halal to wear high heels?”
  • Another application of the word Halal can refer to an action:
    • “Is working in a bank Halal?”
    • “Is it Halal to keep a dog?”

What are Halal foods?

There are many types of halal foods Muslims can eat and consume. Generally, foods that are not mentioned as Haram in the Quran or saying of the Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh) are allowed (Halal). The halal foods we consume should not knowingly harm us in any way or cause us to become intoxicated.

Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether the food you eat is Halal (allowed) or Haram (forbidden).

What is Halal Meat?

When it comes to meat Muslims can consume, there are some additional regulations to qualify it as halal meat.

  • First, the animal must be “slaughtered” in accordance to Islamic tradition.
  • Second, the meat isn’t considered to be halal if the animal died of natural causes, strangled, drowned or slaughtered in any other name besides “Allah”.
  • Third, eating pig or Pork is not allowed and clearly stated as Haram in the Quran.

Which plants are halal to eat?

As far as which plants are halal to eat, the General Rule above applies. The plants we consume should not knowingly cause harm to us or cause us to become intoxicated.

An obvious example of plants Muslims should avoid consuming would be Marijuana or tobacco.

Sometimes a doctor can restrict patients from eating certain halal foods. For example, a doctor might forbid his patient from consuming Grapefruit if they are taking blood thinners.

What is halal to drink?

It’s Halal for Muslims to consume all types of drinks as long it doesn’t cause any direct harm to the body or cause intoxication. Any drink that contains wine, alcohol or liquor is not considered to be halal, even in the smallest amounts.

Muslims are the most sober “Dry” culture in the world. Any, and all forms of alcohol is forbidden “Haram” to consume, handle, serve or even produce.

When buying products, we normally check the list of ingredients to make sure it doesn’t contain anything Not Halal. Many non-halal ingredients are easy to spot, while others are disguised in complicated sounding terms.

So how can you tell what is Halal and what isn’t?

Journey of Learning Tajweed

It all started with an adult student wanting to learn to read the Quran with tajweed, but why settle for one person to learn when maybe a bunch of adults could learn to read the Quran properly; right?

Embarking on the journey of learning tajweed brought about many challenges which were personal, relevant to the group and something that I foresee as relevant to the entire ummah.

What’s Required to Memorize the Quran

First there has to be a drive, a focused determination to want to encourage others to learn the Quran.  This is a very important factor, we cannot become frustrated by peoples lack of enthusiasm or determination, this is definitely not the method to engage and captivate people; mainly because of the detrimental damage that it can have on you.

I collated some hadiths on the benefit of learning the Quran and also gathered the Fiqh of Islamic jurisprudence perspective for not learning the Quran with tajweed, for those of you who may not aware to read the Quran with tajweed is obligatory.  Therefore if a person has not learnt to read the Quran properly and prays Salaah, then their prayer will not be accepted.

This is not a farfetched or bold statement, however there is a ‘loophole’ and that loophole is to become a student of ilm al-tajweed or learning to reading the Quran properly and you will be exempt and your Salaah will be accepted, however this means that you will become a devoted student and will use every spare moment to learn to read the Quran properly.  This should not then take you more than 20 weeks to be more or less on track. 

Filtering Potential Recruits

Recruitment and selection has to be looked upon very much statistically as you would in business, target a 100 people and look for a opt-in or sign up rate of 10% anything above that is a bonus.

I spoke to as many people as I could giving them the benefits and rewards for learning Quran and the loss and at times punishment for not.  I encouraged each and every person to look towards recruiting others, in the end we did get 10 people.

The venue was selected as my house on a Sunday evening for 1 hours.

Now we needed someone to teach us.  I approached a scholar and firstly emphasized that the group that has got together are ‘committed’, it was essential that this clarification was given to him.

Since so many scholars see their time used up for these purposes that they are more than happy to accommodate for, but students do not commit.

Secondly I advised the scholar that we will pay for him to teach us, I know if  I pushed it I could get the lessons for free, but it is our need and we should therefore commit our time, health and wealth to the cause.

The challenge with adult learning is that they have spent so much time out of studies that it is difficult for them to focus.  The lessons nearer the end of the sessions ended up being spent revising in the classroom setting.  You see the scholar asked us to spend 10 minutes a day on revision and practicing but adults found it difficult to do this also.

The final results were what was originally a 20 week course and 1 hour a week ended up to about 35 weeks and 1.5 – 2 hour a week and although most students went through 2/3 of the course 3 people finished to the end.

Lessons we Learned

1) Actively promote the course to as many people as you can, target a 100 people and be happy with an opt in rate of 10 people.

2) Make sure you understand the adult students personal situation and encourage then to commit to the course.  They must understand the gravity of commitment that is needed.

3) Reassure the scholar that the students are committed, however that he can expect some dropout rates.

4) Pay the scholar, this is our need and we should pay for learning.  Also try to find an exceptional scholar who has good skills in learning.  I believe we had this and his teaching method was as important as the knowledge that we gained, he was extremely patient with the students and had good communication skills.

5) Understand how adults learn knowledge, it takes time for them to embrace it again, especially another language.

6) Stay with them.  I had to send regular text messages to the students to make sure that they were learning or giving the daily ’10 minutes’ and update them beforehand about the classes and that they needed to attend.

7) Most important is to ask Allah for the strength to keep you guided and going.


Gateway to Learning Quranic Arabic

On the conclusion of the tajweed lessons I had a strong desire to want to learn Arabic language.  When we made consultation with the scholar he had concerns about us committing to the course, we reassured him that we would commit.

After some active recruitment 8 students put themselves forward for the course, which was excellent news; however I was strongly concerned that this would be much tougher than the tajweed and require a much more level of concentration and commitment and consequently would have a higher drop off rate.  Nevertheless we continued.

The course material that the scholar is teaching from is “Gateway to Arabic” by Dr. Imran Hamza Alawiye.  Apparently there are 7 booklets in the series and we intend to cover each one as we go along.  Currently we are into week 2, however the scholar is away in the Path of Allah for 2 weeks which gives us time to revise.

Best Teaching Methods for Students

The most outstanding thing for is that some of the stuff I have covered previously on my own, however it is complete enlightenment when studied with a teacher.  There were things that I had gone over before many times but could not get it, however once the scholar explains this in a sentence or paragraph I totally get; and the feeling was shared also by the rest of the students.  It goes to show that the quality of teacher-student learning methods just cannot be replaced.

There is one of the students who is getting very much exciting and spear heading before all of us, really getting his head down and learning; utilizing every spare moment for revision and studies and that is alongside the rest of his religious duties.

The first booklet will be spread over 12 weeks at about 1/1.5 hours a week, but similar to the tajweed and more intensely there have been number of breakout sessions throughout the weeks; mainly because it isand therefore the scholar has not been teaching in the evening.

Booklets and Cost of Learning

The course is not free and just the 1st booklet is costing $70, one of the brothers consequently dropped out, well that’s my feeling behind it; however if he had made it apparent we would be willing to negotiate free places if someone shows the commitment needed.

Two brothers who attending the tajweed have struggled to keep up and although have mentioned that they want to continue are struggling to keep.

In the finality there will be 3/4 brothers that complete the first booklet and 2/3 that will consequently go on to finish the entire course.  The scholar believes that if we reach the forth booklet we should be able to make good sentences and converse in Arabic and read the Quran with the basic meanings.  And that’s all that matters mainly for me, to read the Quran with meaning would be nothing short of the greatest achievement that I could attain in this lifetime InshAllah.


What is Hijab? A guide to Hijab

The current climate with the acceleration of consciousness of Islam within Muslims and non-Muslims has resorted to a better understanding of what identifies a person as a Muslim.

What is Hijab?

The meaning of the word Muslim means “one who submits [to Allah]”, therefore the identity of a Muslim is one who adorns themselves with the Commands of Allah Shown by the beloved Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be upon Him).

There is a misconception that the external attire or clothing of a Muslim is relevant in identifying a Muslim, this is an incorrect assumption. A Muslim adheres to any actions as a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah and this is magnified if this fulfillment is done according to the Sunnah (Prophetic Way) of the beloved prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon him).

Therefore if a person wears a certain attire or clothing that is a traditional Islamic practice then this is because it is a Sunnah of the beloved Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon). In a popular Islamic magazine it was stated that a ‘hijab’ is the identity of a Muslim. This would be an incorrect definition as ‘hijab’ is a command of Allah and a command that serves specific purposes.

Let us look the definition according to Wiki, in light of the Islamic history:

Hijab or ħijāb (حجاب) is the Arabic term for “cover” (noun), based on the root حجب meaning “to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter”

In Islamic scholarship, hijab is given the wider meaning of modesty, privacy, and morality. The word used in the Quran for a headscarf or veil is khimār (خمار).
The Quran instructs Muslims to dress in a “modest” fashion. The following verses are generally interpreted as applying to all Muslim men and women.

Why do Muslim Women Wear Hijab?

In the following verse, Muslim women are asked to draw their jalābib (when they go out), as a measure to distinguish themselves from others, so that they are not harassed.

As can be seen from the above, Allah makes an explicit explanation about what is the definition of ‘hijab’ and the correct attire or clothing to be worn when outside the homes and that the adherence of it is a command of Allah and it should be reserved in this light.

However the modernists have manipulated the understanding of this and resort to believing that the ‘hijab’ is the noun for the headscarf. How does this sentence fair in a conversation, ‘I have to put on my screen [hijab]’ and then someone puts on a headscarf?! The worst thing is in regards to the adornment of the body whilst having a headscarf on.

Women of all ages, and more so prevalent within in younger women and children are putting on a headscarf but yet not at all conscious about displaying other parts of their body in what is in a sexual provocative manner.