Post Graduate Islamic Studies
Themes Of The Quran
“The Table Spread”
Halaal And Tayyib

Karimah Bint Dawoud

halal and tayyib small text


The Quran is a divinely dynamic book; it contains historical adventure stories, facts and figures, auspices for morals and manners and universal themes for living running through its pages. It is the ultimate timeless book of holistic guidance because it is God’s word over man. For Muslims it is the measuring stick by which laws are made and decided. Revealed via the Angel Gibreel (Gabriel) to the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam / saws / may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in the Arabic month of Ramadhan, on 22 December 609 C.E. It was revealed in stages, over a period of 23 years, slowly, gradually to strengthen the Prophet’s (saws) resolve and address social problems as they arose. Some chapters were revealed in Makkah and some in Madina. As it was revealed, it was narrated word for word by the Prophet (saws) to his companions who wrote it down on anything they could find. It was ordered, chronologically, also by him, as directed by the Angel Gibreel. Zayd Ibn Thabi, (may Allah be pleased with him) the most important scribe of the prophet and Hafsa, (may Allah be please with her), wife of the Prophet and daughter of the second caliph, Umar ibn al Kitab (may Allah be pleased with him) were involved in the commission authourised by the third caliph Uthman Ibn Affan, (may Allah be please with him) who reigned from 644-654 AH/1246-1258 CE), that was critical in determining the eventual canon of the quran.” It is said that previous copies were burnt but the original from which the standardised Quran was copied, was returned to its owner, Hafsah.
From this divine book all the laws of what is permissible/halaal and not permissible/haram are taken.

The Quran is unusually divided. Unlike other books it is not divided into chapters of equal length but consists of 114 chapters “surats” that decrease in size. It has 6236 verses. It is divided into 30 “juz” reading sections of equal length, that overlay the actual chapter lengths. There are themes running through the book. Scholars differ on the numbers of themes.

Fazul Rahman cites 11 themes ; God, Man As An Individual, Man In Society, Nature, Prophet And Revelation, Eschatology, Satan And Evil, Emergence Of Muslim Community, Religious Situation Of The Muslims In Makkah, The People Of The Book And Diverse Religions.”
There are also word pairings and grouping like “eyes, ears and hearts”, a theme that appears many times in the Quran. Halaal “lawful” and tayyib “good” are also a word pairing that occurs united as theme in a number of surats.

In Surat Al Baqara, The Cow, Chapter 2, Verse 168:

“O ye people, eat what is on the earth, lawful and good, and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one,”

In Surat Al Ma’ida, The Table Spread, Chapter 5, Verses 4, 5, 86 and 87:

“They ask thee what lawful (halaal) is for them (as food). Say lawful unto you are all things good and pure.”

“This day are (all) the good and pure (tayyib) made lawful unto you,”

“O ye who believe, make not unlawful the good things that Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no excess, for Allah loved not those who commit excess.”

“Eat of the things that Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, but fear Allah, in whom you believe.”

There are many explanations of why the Quran repeats phrases or themes, one of them is emphasis. Repetition lays emphasis on the human mind.
Halaal and tayyib, lawful and good are also mentioned in,
Chapter 7, Al A’raf, The Heights, Verse 157:

“He (Allah) makes lawful for them the good things and forbids them from the evil things”

The explanation ‘tafsir’ of the renowned scholar, Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) makes the reference to this last Quranic surat,

He cites “meaning , He makes lawful bahirah, sa’ibah, wasilah and hami. They were prohibitions that they invented which were only hard for themselves. He also forbids them from usury / ribr and food that was treated as lawful, although Allah The Exalted has forbidden them.”
Bahirah, sa’ibah are to do with animals that were released in the name of an idol of their milk was used only in idol sacrifice, the people deprived themselves of these good things but the Quran made them lawful.

It is clear that from the Quranic references that halal means lawful, permissible and tayyib means good and pure. Halal refers to many things including food but can also refer to marriage, source of income or contracts. Within in Islamic jurisprudence “ fiqq” there are “usul” the plural of “asal”principles of halaal. According to the Egyptian Scholar, Yusef Al-Qaradawi, there are 11 principles pertaining to what is halaal.

The first three of them are:-

“Nothing is haram except what is prohibited by a sound and explicit nass.”
“Nass”, meaning clear and explicit reference in the Quran and Sunnah. In this day and age, nass could also mean a clear and sound body of scientific proof, as in the case of cigarettes which some scholars have now deemed to be haram, even though they are not specifically mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah. In spite of this, some scholars still say smoking cigarettes is permissible but not encouraged, “makhroub tanzih”. This leads us to the next principle and reasoning why some scholars are not quick to say something is a haram or halaal when there is not a clear nass.

Categorizing what is lawful and unlawful is for Allah alone to state, via the Quran or the messenger Muhammad (saws) regardless of the authority or position of that person. It is a grave sin to say something is halaal when it is in fact haram and vice versa.

Quran says in Chapter 16, Verse 116:

“And do not say concerning the falsehood with your tongues “this is halaal and that is haram” in order to fabricate a lie against Allah: assuredly those who fabricate a lie against Allah will not prosper.”
Great jurists, in spite of their scholarship and ability of ijtihad ”deduction from analogy”, shy away from pronouncing judgment of halaal and haram, passing the problem from one to another out of the fear of committing error of declaring halaal what is actually haram and vice versa.”

“Prohibiting the halaal and permitting the haram is similar to committing shirk”
It’s unacceptable for any person, including recognised scholars, to give a ” fatawaa” legal ruling, of what is halaal and haram, based only personal explanation of the Quran “tafsir bi ra’yi”.
These are the basic principles of halaal.
As the Islamic community is increasing globally, there is an expanding market for halaal products. Much is written and publicised about halaal. We are starting to see national exhibition centres like the Excel Exhibition Centre, in London’s Docklands, play host to the first Halaal Fest, UK, 2013, where international food companies exhibited their wares. These national exhibitions are taking place all over the world, Europe, Middle East, African, Australia and USA. However “tayyib” the Quranic theme mate of “halaal”, is the often forgotten but once again emerging, complement of halaal.


“Tayyib” is an Arabic word that means good. Like other words in the Arabic language it has rich and deep meaning, it also means,
”clean, wholesome, excellent, fair and gentle.”
The definition of “tayyib” according to respected scholars of various Islamic schools of thought / madhabs, are as follows.
According to the Malaki madhabs, their definition of tayyibat, the plural of tayyib, “is anything which they desire to eat, e.g. hedgehogs or eagles.
According to the Shafi and Hanabalis, who both agree on this point, tayyibat is anything the Arabs would enjoy and find delicious. They say things that Allah has made haram they do not need to consider and things that are not specifically mentioned and the Arabs would eat are fine. They considered that the Arabs are a good standard to measure things by as the Quran was revealed in Arabic to the Arabs. They differ slightly who they consider Arab.
The Hanabali say the Arabs are the people of Hejaz and the Shafi say Arabs in villages and countryside but not Bedouins because of their nomadic lifestyle, out of necessity are forced to eat exceptional things.
Hanafi Mufti Ebrahim Desai says “Tayyib foods refers to food that is halaal beyond doubt.”

Now, in the 21st century, the issue of tayyib as well and halaal is more important than ever.
In the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) and the 4 Caliphate Rachidun, everything was organic and ethically reared because that was the norm and the demand was not there to over consume animal products every day. Even in Europe up until the Industrial Revolution, the majority of people were self-sufficient, not commercially farming. Before the twentieth century, meat was a luxury. In Caucasian societies in Europe and North America, it was only eaten on a daily basis by the very wealthy.
As a qualified clinical nutritionist, I am informed that halaal is not always tayyib.
E.g. processed meats are carcinogenic; promote cancerous growth in the body. It is halaal meat, in that it is Islamic lawful  but the processing, rearing  changes the structure the meat making it carcinogenic.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the misuse of antibiotics is leading to super bugs that are anti-biotic resistant. In factory farming, animals are fed antibiotics to prevent diseases incurred by overcrowded, unclean living conditions. Humans absorb the antibiotic via meat consumption, the fear/stress hormones due to the uncompassionate way of slaughter and any other dis-ease due to the hard hearted  way of rearing. Alhmdulilah the blood is drained from the body , as blood too carries dis-ease.
This causes hormone imbalances, weight gain, menstrual cycle problems and depression.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not eat meat every day. Some would argue that poverty was the cause for this. However current scientific evidence shows over consumption of meat leads to health problems even if it is halaal and tayyib.
55 grams of protein daily is necessary for human health.
So how do we take things forward?


We are all at different levels of nutritional consciousness; some of us do not care, some eat halaal when we can and some eat halaal all the time. Those who are astute in spirit strive to eat tayyib as well. However what we eat definitely has an effect on our health; mental, physical and emotional health.
“You are what you eat,” cites the Ancient Greek scholar, Hippocrates.

At a meeting with Sheikh Wasim Kempson at Al-Muntada Islamia, Fulham, London in December 2013 he told me,
“The Creator has now provided us with the scientific technology to be able to ascertain that cigarette smoking and other things are toxic and harmful to health.”
Some Scholars are saying after much deliberation, that smoking must now be considered haram.
I feel over the next few years the Shuyukh will be overwhelmed with undeniable scientific evidence against so-called “halaal” products. As more Islamic nutritionists and dieticians, promote and campaign for tayyib as well as halaal, tayyib also referring to moderation in eating, we will address world health issues. There is a growing number of Muslims with food related diseases including diabetes and obesity, God willing, more fatawaa will be issued on junk consumables, to get us back to a diet more akin to the way of the Prophet (saws).

It is fitting  that Allah tells us in the Quran to enjoy what is good and pure, meaning halal and tayyib, in the chapter called Al- Mumeen, The Believers.

“O ye apostles! Enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness:
for I am well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.” 

But what can we do?

Eat less meat but make sure its free range not organic, unless you are in a country where the animals is reared naturally and slaughtered in front of you. Insha’allah i am going to write a separate post  very soon about the difference between organic and free range in UK.

Eat alot more fruit vegetable and pulses, lentils, peas and beans.

Until next time insha’allah may Allah guide , bless and protect all us ameen


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