To eat or not to eat? The question of Halaal and Tayyib

Maryam Rumaney shares her journey of choosing more than just halaal.

The word tayyib means to be good, pleasant, agreeable, lawful and pure.

The word halaal is often associated with this concept of tayyib regarding the consumption of animals and their by-products. However, I beg to differ! Halaal is so much more than only omitting pork and alcohol, and only eating animals that are slaughtered according to Islamic rights. Halaal is really about the quality of food being ingested.

As Muslims living in the West, we look to the little “halaal certified” logo as the permission stamp for consumption. However, this is a false sense of security. We need to alter our mindsets towards consuming foods that are wholesome, in their purest form and are the least processed. When I share this belief with my family I am labelled as a modern-day “Bohemian”, which is rather far from the truth. I have chosen to make more conscious choices about what I put into my precious body, which is something that Allah has entrusted to me. I am ultimately answerable for what I consume.

I find it absolutely mind-boggling as to how society at large celebrates the consumption of sugar and “mainstream” foods yet discriminates against someone who wishes to live in a more conscious manner. Seven years ago, we saw the birth of my firstborn. This life-altering event ushered in a new era for us as parents and consequently brought about many changes starting with tackling the “sugar epidemic”. We were hell-bent on having a child who will taste real food. By real food I mean tasting sweetness from fruit and not becoming addicted to the refined forms of sugar. I baked with raw honey, switched to coconut sugar, and sought organic maple syrup. This different sugar life is not for the feint hearted, but the positive effects on the body are amazing. If you want to get rid of sugar cravings, try switching to cleaner options.

I need to just insert my disclaimer here: I am sharing my journey. I am not a nutritionist or dietician, and this article is more of an opinion-piece aimed at enlightening your mind and hopefully sending you on your own journey of culinary self-discovery. No medical advice is intended in any form, so please consult with the relevant healthcare professionals for guidance.

As this journey of tayyib progressed I found so many alternatives that were chemical free. This became my next mission. To do this, I needed to become an avid label reader. Hence, phase two of this mission began. From reading the list of ingredients I have concluded that “less is more”. Eat packaged foods with fewer ingredients. Eliminate the Es from your diet. If you cannot pronounce the ingredient or need to Google it, you should probably give the food item a pass. Allah created us to eat what is wholesome, and that comes from the earth in one ingredient – fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat, fish, and chicken.

My husband calls this the “rabbit hole” because the more you research the deeper into this you go, and the more lifestyle changes happen. To the degree of aspiring to live the homestead life. I currently would love some hens, but my neighbours may end up hating me. For many years, my husband was gluten-free. He suspects that he has a sensitivity, and not an allergy. Nonetheless, I too prefer life without wheat and my gut loves me for that choice! Thus, I have avoided wheat for many years, although I can still tolerate wheat in small amounts. Here is my claim to fame: Not all gluten-free products are equal in nutrition or are healthy. Those gluten-free flour mixes are filled with gums and fillers. My one-ingredient rule applies here too. I tried almond flour, coconut flour, macadamia nut flour and green banana flour. Texture is everything and almond flour wins this competition hands down! The coconut and green banana flours make all baked goods so dense. I do not recommend them.

Enter lockdown life and a diagnosis of cholesterol for my husband (it is in his genes unfortunately). We then decide to go dairy-free. With the initial diagnosis we tried to bring it down with diet. We eliminated all diary and switched to plant-based options. I made milk from nuts and then discovered that nut butters make life easier! A dessert spoon of one-ingredient nut butter (almond, cashew, or macadamia) into one cup of water, and blend, gives you easy-peasy “milk”. I made mayo from cashews and baked bread using nut butters. We baked with avocado oil and replaced red meat with ostrich. Did it work? Yes! After three months my husband’s cholesterol reading went from 7 to 5. However, we cannot change our genetic pre-disposition and he eventually had to be on meds. Despite this, we still stick to the dairy-free life mostly.

Related: Allergies, Dairy and the Sunnah

So how strict are we? Of course, we do “break the rules” at times! Because life happens such as family functions, travel and at nani’s house (because nani is definitely not on board and thinks that this is a load of new age nonsense). We learn to adapt by having the fruit on offer for example and omitting the bread on offer. Choosing water because water is life. As we continue to venture down this gluten, diary, and refined-sugar-free path you are welcome to join us and share your recipes. Here is one of mine! Bon appetite!

Dairy- free butter chicken


  • 500g of filleted (organic) free-range chicken
  • 1 tin of tomato paste (the two-ingredient type -tomato and salt)
  • 1 tsp of ground fresh garlic
  • 1tsp of ground fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 dessert spoon of organic coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp of mix masala or medium curry powder (I alternate, but either gives good flavour)
  • 400ml of cashew milk
  • 1 tsp of cilantro


  1. Cut the filleted chicken into blocks and add to a pot.
  2. On medium heat cook the chicken, add in the garlic, ginger, salt, and the mix masala/curry powder.
  3. Once the chicken has cooked halfway add the tomato paste and sugar.
  4. In the meantime, in a blender mix 400ml of filtered water and one tablespoon of pure cashew nut butter (one ingredient type). You get cashew milk.
  5. Add the cashew milk to the pot.
  6. Cook until a thickened gravy forms, and garnish with cilantro.
  7. Serve with brown basmati rice.

By Maryam Bibi Rumaney
Maryam is a molecular scientist by profession with a passion for writing. She currently works as a freelance consultant offering laboratory advisory, scientific editing, and English language services. She loves to travel and is always looking for the next adventure. Connect with her at http://www.mbrumaney.co/


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