Halalan Tayyiban: More Than Just Halal

Is Halal the only quality for food that the Quran calls upon? Or is there another quality for food that we tend to overlook?
by Ustazah Farzana Afiqah Binte Roslee 2023-06-06 • 6 min read
Ustazah Farzana spent 10 years in Madrasah Alsagoff Al-Arabiah before pursuing her Diploma in Islamic Studies at Pergas. She also took up Diploma in Food Science and Nutrition at Nanyang Polytechnic and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Food and Human Nutrition from Newcastle University (SIT). As a food enthusiast, she enjoys exploring new food technologies while learning about the history and culture of food in communities.
2023-06-06 • 6 min read

Halal and Tayyiban

As Muslims, it is our second nature to constantly ensure that the food and drinks we consume are halal. In Singapore, we are blessed to have various eateries from different cuisines that are halal-certified.

Read: Common Questions About Halal and Halal Certification In Singapore

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But is halal the only criteria that we should be looking at when it comes to our choices for food and drinks as Muslims?

Halalan Tayyiban: Lawful and Good

Allah s.w.t. mentions in the Quran:

فَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَـٰلًا طَيِّبًا وَٱشْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

“So eat from the halal (lawful) and tayyib (good) food which Allah has provided for you, and be grateful for Allah’s favours, if you truly worship Him alone.”

(Surah An-Nahl, 16:114)

Read: What is Halal?

We are very much familiar with the term ‘halal’ and what is considered lawful for us to consume. However, we tend to overlook that halal and tayyib (good) should go hand in hand when choosing what goes into our bodies.

Eating good food should be part of our daily lifestyle as Muslims. This helps us to ensure our bodies are equipped with the right nutrients and to maintain good health for us in performing our multiple responsibilities in the best way possible.

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Tips for Healthier Food Choices

Here are some quick tips that can help in our daily food choices:

1. Choose fresh food if possible, or the least processed

In this era of quick and fast meals, processed foods are common – but it comes with added preservatives and high amounts of sodium, which our bodies do not need. Most importantly, it can even possibly affect our health in the long term.

The food that we eat should be as natural as it is from the source. If the ingredients contain too many additives and flavourings, it is best to avoid them or have them sparingly.

2. Choose as many healthier choices as possible.

We may not have the luxury to ensure every single thing on our plate is fresh and healthy all the time, but we can try to choose healthier options whenever we can. For example, opting for fresh vegetables or a salad to go with a burger is definitely better than having it with fries or chips. 

We don’t need to make drastic changes overnight, as practising small and healthier habits is more feasible over time.

3. Bonus – Choose food from sustainable sources

With the current huge volume of food consumption worldwide, it is important to know how our food is being produced. Making sure our food producers and suppliers practice sustainable and fair trade gives us the assurance that our natural resources are being preserved while promoting social equity and economic profitability.

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In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah reminds us to always be wary of our actions and the impact they can have on our world:

كُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ مِن رِّزْقِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تَعْثَوْا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ

“Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption."

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:60)

Mindful Eating

Besides knowing how to choose tayyib (good) food, we can also practise ‘mindful eating’ habits. Essentially, as the name suggests – ‘mindful eating’ encourages us to be mindful of what and how we eat. While choosing the right type of food is important, the amount of food that we eat is also equally important.

Prophet s.a.w. said in hadith:

مَا مَلَأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَا مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ

“The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.”

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

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When we practice mindful eating, we will be able to listen to our body’s natural hunger cues and avoid eating more than we need. It also allows us to be appreciative and thankful for the food that we have and how it is prepared.

Eventually, it goes back to how we want to answer the question: do we eat to live or live to eat?

And Allah knows best.

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