What Is a Halal Market?
A halal market is a store that follows all of the rules of what is permitted in Islam according to the Quran. This can mean providing halal products to customers and avoiding forbidden, or haram, products. It also means following all halal business practices. A market that is halal also can be a center of the community and can help to bring items from foreign countries within reach of the local populace. A halal market's goal is to provide what is needed by those practicing a halal lifestyle.
One of the primary functions of many halal markets is carrying meats and other foods that are halal for their Muslim patrons. In the case of meats, this is not always easy in non-Muslim countries. The meat must be obtained from a certified halal butcher or slaughterhouse. It also must only be transported to the halal market by Muslims.
A difficult aspect for a halal market that also caters to non-Muslims is that all non-halal food items must be kept completely separate from halal items. Under halal rules, food that comes into contact with non-halal food becomes haram itself. This means meats that might have been procured from non-halal sources need to be taken into the market through a different entrance, stored in a different area and displayed in a different place than the halal meats.
In addition to handling halal foods in the proper way and finding consistent suppliers for those foods, the owner of the halal market also must follow halal business practices. This means not making a profit off items that are haram. Specifically, the market is unable to sell alcohol or lottery tickets, because gambling and liquor are both forbidden.
Other halal business practices might seem more obvious. These are things such as not stealing and not treating customers unfairly. It also means not participating in some things that other markets do, such as investing or having insurance. Dealing with non-Muslim vendors for supplies can sometimes be a hindrance, because the market is not permitted to have an interest-bearing credit card for purchases.
In some communities, a halal market also can be a resource for the Muslim population. This can be seen when a store goes out of its way to provide specific and traditional items that are hard to get. It also can be seen during holidays, when the market might sell decorations for Ramadan or give out free meat or meals for Ashura.
There is only one Middle Eastern grocery in my area and they practically sell everything because they are the main source of imported food for many foreigners in our area. So they have halal foods and non-halal foods together. I've never bought meat from them so I don't know if they take special precautions about that. But for other goods, it doesn't seem to be an issue because everything is pre-packaged. So contamination doesn't really occur.
I usually go there to buy mango juice, chai and Indian sweets.
@burcinc-- No. Muslims do shop from regular groceries but when a halal version of a food is only available at the halal market, then that food needs to be purchased from there. It also depends on whether the individual follows a halal diet strictly.
Some foods in the US are actually already halal, like milk for example. All milk in the US is halal since it doesn't contain any ingredients or additives forbidden in Islam. But other foods at regular groceries, like beef, are not halal.
Halal markets usually specialize in halal products that are most difficult to find at regular groceries like halal meat, halal cheese and even halal gelatin.
Should Muslims only shop from halal markets? I have a Muslim friend and I think she shops from regular groceries all the time.
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