Halal and kosher refer to "fit and proper" conduct in Islam and Judaism, respectively. Halal rules are based on passages from the Islamic holy text, the Koran, while kosher guidelines are drawn from the Judaism's sacred scripture, the Torah. Both practices encompass dietary guidelines. Though there are similarities between the two when it comes to food, there are also important distinctions that make them noninterchangeable.
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In order for meat to meet halal standards, prior to slaughtering, the slaughterer -- a Muslim -- must pronounce Allah, or God's, name and say a prayer thanking him for providing sustenance. This must be repeated with each animal, all while facing Mecca, the holiest site in Islam. According to kosher rules, however, the slaughterer, known as a shochet, need only say a general blessing before entering the slaughtering area.
In both halal and kosher practice, a sharp knife is used to cut the animal's throat. This is considered the quickest and most humane way to slaughter because it is believed to minimise the animal's suffering.
The Koran and the Torah forbid the eating of blood. Therefore, in both slaughter rituals, the carcases must be entirely drained of blood before the meat can be eaten. Kosher guidelines also call for soaking meat in salt and water for three days to remove any residual blood.
According to kosher guidelines, only the front quarters of cattle can be consumed, whereas halal rules allow Muslims to eat the hind quarters as well.
Kosher practice interprets several passages from the Torah, specifically Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21, to mean that meat and dairy products cannot be prepared, cooked or eaten together. No such restriction exists in halal dietary rules.
In order for an animal to be considered kosher, it must have cloven hooves and chew its cud. Pigs do not meet the latter criterion, therefore pork is not regarded as a kosher meat. Pork and pork by-products are also prohibited -- haram -- in Islam. This objection stems in part from the notion that swine are unclean.
Kosher practice, however, allows the consumption of gelatin from any source, including pig bones, whereas in halal cooking, gelatin derived from swine is not a permissible ingredient. Muslims may, however, cook with gelatin extracted from halal animals and bones.
Consumption of some wines and other alcoholic beverages are permissible in kosher practice, whereas halal dietary rules prohibit these and all other intoxicating substances.
Halal guidelines allow Muslims to eat any kind of seafood, whereas in kosher practice, only fish that have both scales and fins can be consumed. Kosher guidelines forbid Jews to eat shellfish, crustaceans and mollusks.
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