• 8 Best Foods to Eat for Weight Loss

    Eating more of these foods can help you slim down.
    1-Day Diabetes Meal Plan

    While no one food is a magic bullet for weight loss, there are certain foods that can help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Most of the foods included as part of a weight-loss diet have a few things in common: they’re high in fiber (which helps keep you feeling fuller longer) and have a low energy density—meaning that you can eat a decent-sized portion without overdoing it on calories. Include the following weight-loss foods as part of a healthy overall diet, and you may find it’s easier to achieve your weight-loss goals.

    Don’t Miss: 1,500-Calorie Meal Plan for Weight Loss

    1. Avocados
    Hasselback Tex-Mex Avocados

    Recipe to Try: Hasselback Tex-Mex Avocados

    Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, potassium and phytochemicals. People who eat avocados tend to have lower BMI, body weight and waist circumference than people who skip this green superfood, per a study in Nutrition Journal. While avocados are higher in calories than other fruits and vegetables, their satisfying fat and fiber combo may help you slim down. Add some to your salad, sandwich or taco night for a burst of creaminess and flavor.

    2. Eggs
    Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Cheddar & Potato

    Recipe to Try: Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Cheddar & Potato

    Eggs are rich in high-quality protein, fats and essential nutrients, like vitamin D and choline. It’s the protein, and the time of day we tend to eat them, that especially makes them a powerhouse for weight loss. Eating a high-protein breakfast promotes weight loss, because protein increases satiety while regulating hunger and appetite hormones, helping fend off your hunger until lunchtime. One study found that eating eggs for breakfast left people feeling more satisfied than those who had bagels—which helped them eat less throughout the day.

    3. Beans
    Better Three-Bean Salad

    Recipe to Try: Better Three-Bean Salad

    All beans are high in fiber, which is your friend when you’re trying to lose weight because it helps you feel fuller longer, thus controlling hunger. Eating beans and legumes has also been linked with various other health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing LDL cholesterol and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease. Beans are fairly low in calories and deliver protein as well. Try them in homemade veggie burgers, soups and salads.

    4. Yogurt
    Raspberry Yogurt Cereal Bowl

    Recipe to Try: Raspberry Yogurt Cereal Bowl

    Yogurt is protein-packed and full of probiotics, which are good for gut health and may help your weight-loss efforts. Your gut health can impact your weight, and eating more fiber and probiotics helps keep your gut bacteria happy, which can be good for your metabolism (read more about your gut-weight connection). Go Greek for more protein; plus, research from Appetite found that consumption of Greek yogurt was associated with reduced appetite and increased satiety. Just keep an eye on added sugars in flavored yogurts, which only add calories. Instead, use fresh fruit to sweeten plain yogurt.

    5. Salmon
    Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts

    Recipe to Try: Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts

    Salmon is a rich source of high-quality protein and provides plenty of “good” fats: omega-3 fatty acids. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helped people feel more satisfied when they were watching their calories, per a study in Appetite. Eating salmon can be a delicious and versatile way to get your recommended two weekly servings of heart-healthy fish.

    6. Fruit
    Fresh Fruit Salad

    Recipe to Try: Fresh Fruit Salad

    Fruit gets a bad rap sometimes because it naturally contains sugar. But eating fruit can help you lose weight, especially when you swap in fresh fruit for processed foods or other unhealthy snacks. You’ll get a naturally sweet treat, plus reap the benefits of fiber and antioxidants. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that higher fruit consumption was associated with lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, independent of vegetable or fiber intake—though including fruit as part of a healthy diet overall is always the best strategy.

    7. Popcorn
    Lemon-Parm Popcorn

    Recipe to Try: Lemon-Parm Popcorn

    As long as this popular crunchy treat isn’t doused in movie-theater butter, it makes an excellent weight-loss snack. Not only is popcorn high in fiber, it even delivers some protein. A 1-ounce serving of air-popped corn (about 3½ cups) has 4 grams of fiber, almost 4 grams of protein and clocks in at 110 calories. This combination makes it a snack with staying power. Popcorn is filled with air, so you get a pretty large portion without a lot of calories. You can eat 3 whole cups of popcorn for only 100 calories.

    8. Almonds
    Mango-Almond Smoothie Bowl

    Recipe to Try: Mango-Almond Smoothie Bowl

    Almonds are an excellent source of fiber, and they’re high in protein. Eating foods with the one-two punch of fiber and protein can help you feel fuller longer—which makes it less tempting to reach for an unhealthy snack between meals.

    Rich in vitamin E and a good source of heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, almonds are a great choice to sprinkle over a salad or side dish. You can also use them in pesto in place of walnuts or pine nuts, top your morning granola with them, or simply keep a small bag in your purse as an emergency snack.

  • A Short Biography of Prophet Muhammad

    This article is from the second edition of Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source. The book is now in its third edition.

    Prophet Muhammad was born in 570 CE (Common Era) in the city of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula, part of modern day Saudi Arabia. As his father had died shortly after marriage, his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib became his guardian. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was the respected head of the clan of Hashim and the tribe of Quraysh, to which his clan belonged. With the Quraysh being the biggest and most influential tribe in Mecca, ‘Abd al-Muttalib was seen as the master of all of Mecca. The Quraysh had a special status in Mecca because they used to be in charge of the sacred Ka’ba. The Qur’an tells us that this holy edifice was built by Prophets Abraham and his son Ishmael:

    And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House [Abraham prayed]: “Our Lord! Accept from us; surely You are the Hearing, the Knowing (2.127). Our Lord! Make us Muslims and raise from our offspring a nation of Muslims. Show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Surely, Your are the Relenting, the Merciful” (2.128).

    This means that the Ka’ba was built around 1900 BCE, which is when Abraham is thought to have lived. The Ka’ba maintained its venerable status as the destination of pilgrimage in the eyes of the pilgrims and the Arab population of the Arabian Peninsula down the centuries. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was personally in charge of the Ka’ba.

    The Prophet was only about five to six years old when he lost his mother. Orphan Muhammad then lost his grandfather and custodian ‘Abd al-Muttalib at the age of eight. Now one of ‘Abd al-Muttalib’s sons, Abu Talib, became the guardian of his orphan nephew. Though respected by the clan of Hashim and the people of Mecca in general, Abu Talib did not possess the high status and influence of his father. Had he been more fortunate financially, he might have aspired to acquire that special leadership status.

    When Muhammad was twenty five years old, he was hired by a woman called Khadija to take her merchandize to Syria. Khadija, a widow fifteen years Muhammad’s senior, later proposed marriage to him, which he agreed to. They lived together for almost a quarter of a century, until the death of Khadija about 8-9 years after the revelation of the Qur’an.

    It is interesting to note that Muhammad did not get married to any other woman during Khadija’s life, despite the fact that polygamy was common practice in that society. Living out his youth with only one woman in that highly polygamous environment contradicts Muhammad’s lecherous image in the Western mind.

    Muhammad was deeply interested in matters beyond this mundane life. He used to frequent a cave that became known as “Hira‘” on the Mountain of “Nur” (light) for contemplation. The cave itself, which survived the times, gives a very vivid image of Muhammad’s spiritual inclinations. Resting on the top of one of the mountains north of Mecca, the cave is completely isolated from the rest of the world. In fact, it is not easy to find at all even if one knew it existed. After visiting the cave, I found myself concluding that Muhammad must have been divinely guided to that hideaway, even if he had chosen it consciously. Once inside the cave, it is a total isolation. Nothing can be seen other than the clear, beautiful sky above and the many surrounding mountains. Very little of this world can be seen or heard from inside the cave. The inhabitant of that cave was obviously interested in things beyond this world and its material riches.

    It was in that cave in 610 CE, i.e. at the age of forty, that Prophet Muhammad received from Allah the first verses of the Qur’an. Then and there, history changed.

    The Qur’an continued to be revealed in fragments to Prophet Muhammad over the following twenty two years. The last words of the Book were revealed to the Prophet shortly before his death in 632 CE. We will read more about the Qur’an in section 2.2.

    In the first two to three years after the revelation, the Prophet preached Islam secretly to individuals whom he trusted. When he started calling people to Islam publicly, the new religion gradually attracted more people but, not surprisingly, also increasing hostility from the idol worshipping population of Mecca. The Prophet was subjected to harassment and abuse. However, armed with patience, resilience, and determination, and protected by his uncle Abu Talib and the clan of Hashim, the Prophet was able to carry on preaching the new faith to people.

    Converts to Islam, some of whom were slaves, had to suffer all kinds of persecution, including brutal torture and murder, at the hands of the enemies of the new religion in Mecca. In 614 CE, the Prophet had to instruct a group of Muslims to escape the persecution to Abyssinia and seek the protection of its just Christian king. The Quraysh then sent a delegation to the king, carrying precious gifts, to secure the extradition of the Muslim refugees. The king, however, rejected the bribe and let the Muslims stay in Abyssinia.

    One year later, the Quraysh imposed economic and social sanctions on the Prophet, his followers, and his clan. As a result, the Muslims withdrew to a mountain in Mecca. The sanctions lasted about three years before collapsing in 618/619 CE without achieving their goals.

    Soon afterward, the Prophet lost his wife Khadija. Matters got worse quickly with the death of his uncle and protector. Prophet Muhammad started to suffer more from the disbelievers’ relentless attempts to uproot Islam and destroy its followers. During the pilgrimage season in 622 CE, Muhammad met in Mecca with a number of chiefs from the city of Yathrib, where he had previously sent some Muslims to settle in. Having converted to Islam, the chiefs made a secret pledge to protect the Prophet should the Quraysh try to kill him.

    However, the Quraysh learned about the agreement, so the people from Yathrib had to return quickly to their city. Sensing that the danger to Muslims has increased, Muhammad instructed them to immigrate individually or in small groups to Yathrib. The Qurayshites tried to prevent Muslims from fleeing Mecca to Yathrib, but the converts continued to sneak out gradually.

    The continuing immigration of Muslims to Yathrib where they had allies was already very bad news for the Qurayshites. This could yet get much worse if Muhammad also would move to that city. They decided that they had no other option but to kill him.

    The various clans of the tribe of Quraysh agreed to act as one and assassinate the Prophet while asleep. The idea behind acting collectively was that no one party could be blamed for the killing and become embroiled in a war of vengeance with the clan of Hashim.

    The assassination plan, however, was sabotaged by divine intervention. The night the murder was planned to take place, Allah informed His Prophet of the danger and ordered him to secretly leave Mecca and head to the city of Yathrib. The latter became known as “al-Madina al-Munawwara” (the illuminated city), or “al-Madina” for brief, after the arrival of the Prophet.

    This famous event, known as the “Hijra ” (immigration), occurred in 622 CE, about twelve years after the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an. This flight was destined to have far-reaching consequences in establishing the Islamic community, strengthening the position of Islam, and spreading its message.

    The Prophet lived in al-Madina for about ten years. By the time of his departure from this world in 632 CE, Islam had become well established as the religion of the Arabian Peninsula and had made inroads in neighboring regions; Muslims had become a major force to be reckoned with in the area.

    There are a number of good, detailed English biographies of Prophet Muhammad. One biography written by a non-Muslim is Karen Armstrong’s Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (London: Phoenix Press, 2001). Another one written by a Muslim is Martin Lings’ Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Inner Traditions Intl Ltd, 1987).

    For easy reference, this is a short chronology of major events in the life of Prophet Muhammad:

    Date (CE)



    Birth of the Prophet in Mecca. His father was already dead when he was born.


    The death of the Prophet’s mother.


    The death of the Prophet’s grandfather and custodian ‘Abd al-Muttalib. The Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib became his guardian.


    The first revelation of the Qur’an.


    The Prophet started calling people to Islam publicly.


    The first immigration of Muslims to Abyssinia escaping the persecution of the idol-worshipping Meccans. They stayed there for three months. A second immigration to Abyssinia, involving more Muslims, took place later on. This time, the immigrants stayed in Abyssinia until 628 CE when they rejoined the Prophet in al-Madina.


    The tribe of Quraysh imposed economic and social sanctions on Muslims and the clan of Prophet Muhammad, Hashim.


    The collapse of the sanctions.


    The death of Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle, triggering increased hostility from the Meccans toward the Prophet.


    The emigration of the Prophet from Mecca to al-Madina.


    The first major battle of the Muslims against the disbelievers, known as the battle of Badr.


    The Muslims conquered Mecca without fighting.


    The last revelation of the Qur’an.


    The departure of the Prophet from this world in al-Madina.

  • S. Korea’s top kids beverage earns halal certificate

    SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) — Paldo Co., a local food company, said Thursday it has earned a halal certificate for its kids drinks as it moves to bolster overseas sales.

    Pororo Drinks recently gained certification from the Indonesian Council of Ulama, or MUI, marking the first such case for beverage products targeting children, the company said.

    Halal food refers to products that are prepared in a specific way according to Islamic Sharia law, which covers not only meat but also fruits and vegetables.

    Launched in 2007, the kids beverage brand is currently exported to some 40 countries with an annual revenue of 50 billion won (US$47 million) as of last year, according to the company.

    Paldo said Pororo Drinks is the No. 1 product in South Korea’s kids beverage market, with half of the earnings coming from overseas. The company aims to raise the proportion to 60 percent in the near future.

    The company said the size of Indonesia’s beverage market is estimated at $5 billion as of 2016, up 60 percent from 2012.

    Sales of Pororo Drinks in the Southeast Asian country came to 5 billion won in 2017, accounting for 20 percent of total overseas sales, Paldo said.

  • Thriving Utah Goat Farm Provides Halal Meat for Refugees

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A goat farm started several years ago by three African refugee communities to create a source of affordable goat meat is thriving with more than 100 births and a slew of volunteers.

    Refugee Ismael Mohamed said the ranch provides a source of affordable, high-quality meat for the more than 7,000 refugees from Somali Bajuni, Burundi and Somali Bantu who live along the Wasatch Front, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.

    Mohamed said the protein that the refugees were accustomed to eating in their homeland was difficult or expensive to find in Utah, mainly because it must be processed in the proper halal manner, required by those of the Muslim faith.

    “By ourselves, we couldn’t do this,” Mohamed said. “Where we are is because of the volunteers.”

    Each new member of the herd is welcomed into the world by a volunteer “kid sitter” who — just like a maternity ward nurse — keeps watch over the pregnant does as they prepare to deliver.

    The farm started in 2013 with 40 goats. By 2017, the herd had grown to about 250. Once the kidding season ends in 2018, it will be nearing 500.

    The refugees pay an employee — a fellow refugee with animal husbandry experience — to maintain the herd during the week, while refugee families pitch in on the weekends to ensure the animals have food and water, Mohamad said.

    Processing the meat and selling it to other refugees bring in income, as do grazing fees, Mohamed said. Large landowners rent portions of the herd to clear overgrowth and noxious weeds and, in the process, prevent field fires. Profits go into a scholarship fund.


    Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,

  • The global halal food market is expected to reach USD 739.59 billion by 2025

    The global halal food market is expected to reach USD 739.59 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. The global halal food industry is expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period owing to increasing Muslim population and their substantially increasing expenditure on food & non-beverages, which is considered as the main driving force of this market. The total Islamic population is expected to increase from 23% in the present situation to around 30% of the total world population by 2030.

    World over initiatives has been seen escalating since the last few years with the advent of few events in Asia Pacific and the Middle East & African region, which are the top two regions contributing to the growth of the global market. A major bilateral initiative to mention would be the cooperation between Abu Dhabi and South Korea, which allowed South Korea to gain further access to the global halal food market.

    Governments of the Islamic as well as the non-Islamic nations and the manufacturers of halal-certified food products have been taking various initiatives in terms of marketing & educating consumers about these products. The confidence of consumers in halal brands has been the most influential factor in the actual purchase of these products.

    Meat and alternatives were the largest product segment in 2016 with a net market worth of over USD 590 billion globally.Halal meat has always been a remarkable business segment.

    The formation of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been well placed to take the initiative of setting an international standard for these food items. Owing to the formation of these types of organizational figures the industry participants have been successful to a great extent in building consumer trust and pushing penetration of the product category to even higher levels.

    Further key findings from the report suggest:
    • The global halal foods industry was valued at USD 436.8 billion in 2016 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% over the next eight years
    • Milk & milk products such as processed milk, cheese, and yogurt are expected to be one of the another primary product segment driving growth for the global industry
    • Beverages such as carbonated drinks, packaged juice, and sweeteners with halal certification are expected to witness substantial demand over the forecast period. The segment is estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 4.9% in Turkey.
    • Asia Pacific was the leading consumer in 2016. Around 63% of the global Muslim population resides in this region, which is the main driving factor in the region. Indonesia and Malaysia together accounted for over 55% of the regional demand in 2016.
    • Major companies actively operating in the global halal food industry include Nestlé, Glanbia Cheese Ltd, Guenther Bakeries UK Ltd, Kellogg’s
    • Companies have been trying to strengthen consumer trust with several marketing campaigns trying to be transparent about their production process of packed halal foods

    Download the full report:

  • Halal Meat Market Survey by Experts 2018

    Halal Meat Market Survey by Experts 2018
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  • Muslim woman who refused handshake denied French citizenship

    PARIS – France’s highest administrative court has upheld a decision to deny a French passport to an Algerian Muslim who refused to shake hands with officials during her citizenship ceremony, according to a ruling seen by AFP on Thursday (April 19).

    The woman argued that her “religious beliefs” prevented her from shaking hands with a senior official presiding over the citizenship ceremony in the southeastern Isere region in June 2016, as well as with a local politician.

    The government said her behaviour showed she was “not assimiliated into the French community” – one of the reasons it can invoke under the civil code to oppose citizenship for the spouse of a French national.

    The woman, who has been married to a Frenchman since 2010, appealed the April 2017 decision, calling it an “abuse of power”.

    But the Council of State, the court of last appeal in such matters, ruled the government “had not improperly applied” the law.

  • Fashion in Saudi Arabia

    As the Kingdom opens its gates to Arab Fashion Week next week, it is in the throes of a fashion revolution, experts and local Saudi women say.

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    In the last year women have gone from wearing black robe-like dresses, or abayas, with full-face coverings, to more colourful versions of the cloak, with many women even starting to ditch the veil, Hanadi al Hindi, Saudi Arabia’s first ever female pilot told Verdict.

    Wearing the hijab has become optional, nobody does. In the last year you can see a lot of women outside in the restaurants, for example, they are not covering their face or their hair.

    Since Mohammed bin Salman’s ascent to next in line to the Saudi throne, in June 2017, he has passed a fleet of new laws, to empower women, and open up society to entertainment.

    “Every day we hear something new. We are waiting every day for new changes,” Hanadi said.

    But the big shift for fashion came in October 2017, when the crown prince curbed the power of the feared religious police who patrolled streets and malls, enforcing strict Shariah-compliant dress-codes.

    “Now the Crown Prince Mohammed [pictured below] , God bless him, he put limitations on them [the religious police] that they don’t have the authority they used to have. It’s become much different,” she told Verdict.

    They cannot chase people, they cannot ask you to cover. Nothing!

    We don’t see them any more at all, at all. We can’t believe it,” she said, speaking from Mecca city in western Saudi Arabia, home of the most sacred mosque in Islam, the Kaaba.

    I have been living in this country for the whole of my life. I have never seen Saudi Arabia the same as it is now. We walk in the streets, we go everywhere, we feel like we have rights, it’s different.

    The whole idea is before Saudi women were wearing black robes, this was our image around the world, now our robes are changing.
    According to Hanadi, fashion trends in the Kingdom started to shift around four years ago, when the full black dress and full-face covering (niqab) that Saudi women “wore everywhere” started becoming less common.

    “Now we have our make-up on, we have our lashes, everything! I am describing myself right now,” said Hanadi – who flew jets in billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s private fleet for ten years.

    In a recent interview with CBS news network the Saudi Crown Prince said that women wearing full black head covering and abaya was not enshrined in law.

    “The laws are very clear and stipulated in the laws of Sharia: that women wear decent, respectful clothing, like men.

    “This, however, does not particularly specify a black abaya or black head cover. The decision is entirely left for women to decide what type of decent and respectful attire she chooses to wear.”

    Arab Fashion week
    Hanadi al Hindi, Saudi Arabia’s first ever female pilot

    “A great platform for local and regional designers”
    ‘Halal fashion’ that is compliant with Islamic law, hits the catwalk for the opening of Saudi Arabia’s first ever fashion week on 26 March in the capital Riyadh.

    Usually held in Dubai, Arab Fashion Week is poised to be a platform for local and regional designers to showcase their latest fashions, senior analyst at Euromonitor International, Amna Abbas said.

    It will also draw designers from the west, whose wildly marketable Halal fashion ranges, have been flying off the shelves at Nike stores and Marks and Spencer since as early as 2016, Abbas said.

    “In the western world modest wear is already increasing its presence with brands such as Debenhams selling hijabs and Marks and Spencer selling Burkinis. Marks and Spencer also has a modest section in its store in the United Arab Emirates too now,” she told Verdict from Dubai.

    Abbas marvelled at a new dawn where east and west fashion worlds have converged, with models donning modest, Islamic-inspired collections strutting down western runways from London to New York.

    “Even, luxury brands, such as Dolce and Gabbana debuted its first Abaya and Sheila collection in 2016 and followed another of its range in spring of 2017. Therefore, this shows key areas of opportunities for local and western designers,.

    “The event is a great platform for local and regional designers to display their fashion taste and latest designs at the same time provide western designers the opportunity to cater to the region.”

    Dubai’s consumer cathedrals
    When it comes to fashion and malls, the Kingdom can’t hold a candle to fashion capital of region, Dubai, where sprawling mirror-walled consumer cathedrals dominate the desert skyline, and tourists flock from around the world to shop in Dubai’s ‘world’s biggest mall’.

    In Saudi Arabia the apparel and footwear market hit $17 billion in 2017, according to Euromonitor International, a figure dwarfed by the UK whose fashion, apparel and footwear market reached around $79 billion in 2017.

  • Islam and cryptocurrency, halal or not halal?

    In Dubai’s decades-old Gold Souq, customers from around the world haggle over bangles and necklaces. Elsewhere in the emirate, the region’s top centre for gold trade, bullion is playing a new role in financial engineering.

    A local start-up company founded last year, OneGram, is issuing a gold-backed cryptocurrency – part of efforts to convince Muslims that investing in cryptocurrencies complies with their faith.

    The global surge of interest in bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies extends into the Gulf and Southeast Asia, the main centres of Islamic finance.

    But because they are products of financial engineering and objects of speculation, cryptocurrencies sit uneasily with Islam. Islamic law principles, in addition to banning interest payments, emphasize real economic activity based on physical assets and frown on pure monetary speculation.

    Halal or not halal
    The speculative nature of cryptocurrencies has triggered debate among Islamic scholars over whether cryptocurrencies are religiously permissible. Cryptocurrency companies are seeking to sway the debate by launching instruments based on physical assets and certified as valid by Islamic advisors.

    Each OneGram cryptocurrency unit is backed by at least a gram of physical gold stored in a vault. The idea is to limit speculation.

    “Gold was among the first forms of money in Islamic societies, so this is appropriate,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, the Briton who founded the firm with other investors last year.

    “We are trying to prove rules and regulations from sharia are fully compatible with digital blockchain technology.”

    Tens of millions of dollars worth of the currency has been issued so far. About 60 percent of the planned number of coins remains to be sold; OneGram hopes to issue them all before listing them on exchanges around the end of May.

    OneGram obtained a ruling that its cryptocurrency conforms with Islamic principles from Dubai-based Al Maali Consulting.

    It is one of dozens of advisory firms around the world that offer their opinion on whether financial instruments meet Islamic law standards.

    In Malaysia, HelloGold launched an initial offer of its gold-backed cryptocurrency in October, receiving approval from Islamic scholars at Kuala Lumpur-based Amanie Advisors.

    Manuel Ho, HelloGold’s chief marketing officer, said its coin was Islamic as transactions occurred within a defined period, making them less volatile and addressing the issue of ambiguity of pricing.

    Among other experiments, United Arab Emirates-based Halal Chain conducted an initial coin offer in December which is linked to data on Islamically permissible goods.

    Islamic law committees
    Only around 20 to 30 percent of banking in the Gulf and Southeast Asia follows Islamic principles; many Muslims use conventional finance if it offers higher returns or more convenience.

    But the issue of religious permissibility is influential and could determine whether Islamic funds and institutions, which are formally committed to the principles of Islamic law, deal in cryptocurrencies.

    “One of the biggest difficulties is that there is so much to talk about, and so little certainty in the way crypto will be playing out,” said Ziyaad Mahomed of HSBC Amanah in Malaysia. He chairs its Sharia Committee, which oversees Islamic transactions.

    National “sharia authorities” have not ruled on whether cryptocurrencies are permissible, and while several global bodies recommend standards for Islamic finance, none has the authority to impose them. Many governments seem ambivalent, worried about the potential for instability, but unwilling to lose the chance of benefiting from new technology.

    The Saudi Arabian and UAE central banks warned their citizens about the risks of trading bitcoin but have not imposed outright bans.

    That leaves Islamic investors to choose between sometimes conflicting judgments by scholars at advisory firms, financial companies and academic institutions.

    One of the earliest rulings came in 2014, when California-based academic Monzer Kahf, a prominent author of Islamic finance textbooks, deemed bitcoin a legitimate medium of exchange, though vulnerable to manipulation.

    Since then, Islamic jurists in South Africa have ruled in favour of cryptocurrencies, arguing they have become socially acceptable and commonly used, said Mahomed.

    In October, however, the Durban-based Darul Ihsan Centre refrained from endorsing them, citing concern over potential pyramid schemes. Some scholars in Turkey, India and Britain have labelled them impermissible; Egypt’s Grand Mufti declared in January they should not be traded.

    Complicating the debate is the fact that there are hundreds of digital coins or tokens, each with unique features related to distribution, mining and trading, said Farrukh Habib, research officer at Malaysia-based International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance.

    “They are also very different in terms of their underlying commodities, projects or businesses, so it’s not appropriate to have a blanket sharia ruling for all,” said Habib. He is involved in a project to categorise cryptocurrencies based on sharia-compliance criteria.

    “Most of the existing sharia rulings either deal with only bitcoin or include all types of cryptocurrencies, disregarding their peculiarities.”

    Another problem is that many Islamic law scholars have trouble understanding the complexities of digital currencies, said Harris Irfan, managing director at Cordoba Capital in London.

    “I would caution against accepting any fatwas from community scholars on the subject of fiqh al-mu’amalat, the jurisprudence of transactions, which is a highly complex area of sharia.”

    Irfan chairs the UK Islamic Fintech Panel, a think-tank that is drafting guidelines for accreditation of sharia-compliant fintech products, including cryptocurrencies.

    Mahomed said some degree of consensus had emerged globally that cryptocurrencies were a form of wealth, or maal – one step towards acceptance.

    But scholars have yet to rule conclusively on whether cryptocurrencies are in fact currencies. This is important for Islamic tax payments called zakat, and for inheritances.

    “Overall, more evidence is needed to reach a consensus, at least until higher bodies pronounce themselves on the issue, such as the Islamic Fiqh Academy,” Mahomed said, referring to an influential Jeddah-based institution.

    Abdulqahir Qamar, director of the Fatwa Department at the Fiqh Academy, told Reuters that the academy had not issued any resolutions on cryptocurrencies but was planning to discuss the subject during one of its official sessions this year.

    While there is no firm timeframe, the academy will also seek to organise seminars with scholars on the matter, he said.

  • Medicines advice for patients observing a halal diet

    The UK prides itself on its rich and diverse population, within which many religious and personal beliefs are observed. Many of these beliefs may be associated with dietary restrictions, so it is important to consider religious or personal beliefs when prescribing and dispensing medicines for patients.

    Islam: eating and drinking
    Islam is the second most-practised religion in the UK, and makes up 4.4% of the total population1. In Islam, prohibitions are specified either by a verse of the Qur’an (holy scriptures) or authentic and explicit Sunnah (teachings) of the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which form the Islamic Law (Shariah).

    “Therefore eat of that on which Allah’s name has been mentioned if you are believers in His verses.” (Qur’an 6:118).

    These laws give Muslims the freedom to eat and drink all food and drinks that are not prohibited (haram)2; however, it should never be assumed that every individual is compliant with all the practices within Islam, so healthcare professionals are advised to consult with each patient as an individual and ascertain their views and beliefs before a treatment plan is put in place.

    The meaning of halal, haram, mushbooh and tayyib
    Halal means lawful or legal. Halal ingredients are vegetables, plants, fish, meat, fat or gelatin from a halal animal (which was slaughtered according to Shariah rules).

    Haram is the opposite of halal. Examples include foods, constituents and pharmaceuticals that contain pork, alcohol, and animals not slaughtered in the Shariah way3.

    In Arabic, mushbooh means ‘doubtful things’. Constituents, food and pharmaceuticals that are mushbooh have been classed as neither halal nor haram, but Muslims are advised to stay away from them. Individuals should seek advice from their religious scholars if there no other options are available; personal situations and circumstances may vary.

    Tayyib refers to a particular good or product that is clean, pure and produced using standard processes and procedures. A pharmaceutical product should not only be Halal, but also deemed clean and quality assured according to Shariah law. This is also expected for pharmaceuticals under the UK licensing law.

    Pharmaceutical constituents that are halal or haram
    Pharmaceutical products that contain ingredients permitted under the Shariah law, and fulfil the following conditions, are considered halal (permissible)4,5:

    The product does not contain any parts or products of animals that are non-halal, or any parts or products of animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah law;
    The product is safe for consumption, non-poisonous, non-intoxicating and non-hazardous to health according to prescribed dosage.
    Emergency situations
    It is important to note that in life-threatening situations, haram products can become halal. The Shariah is very flexible, and non-halal medication can be given if there is no viable alternative and if the patient’s life depends on it, or if the patient would suffer significant morbidity by not taking the medication.

    Table: Examples of searches within SPCs to identify constituents of UK-licensed medications that may be considered haram by Muslims6
    Advanced search term Product listed eMedicines Compendium section Relevant information
    Porcine Creon 40,000 capsules 5.1 Pharmacodynamic properties Contains porcine pancreatin formulated as enteric-coated (acid-resistant) mini-microspheres within gelatin capsules
    Curosurf 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition One 1.5 ml vial contains 120mg of phospholipid fraction from porcine lung (poractant alfa)
    Defitelio 80mg/ml solution for infusion 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition Produced from porcine intestinal mucosa
    Fluenz Tetra nasal spray 6. List of excipients Gelatin (porcine, type A)
    Fragmin 5,000 IU 5.1 Pharmacodynamic properties Produced from porcine-derived heparin sodium
    Hypurin porcine Active ingredients Insulin, porcine insulin, pork insulin
    Pancrease HL 5.1 Pharmacodynamic properties Porcine-derived pancreatic enzymes (lipases, proteases, and amylases)
    Pancrex 5.1 Pharmacodynamic properties Porcine-derived pancreatic enzymes (lipases, proteases, and amylases
    Pork Hypurin Porcine 30/70 mix cartridges Active ingredients Insulin, porcine insulin, pork insulin
    Bovine Hypurin bovine isophane cartridges Active ingredients Beef insulin, bovine insulin, insulin.
    InductOs (dibotermin alfa) 6.1 List of excipients Bovine type I collagen
    NovoSeven 4.4 Special warnings and precautions for use May contain trace amounts of mouse IgG, bovine IgG and other residual culture proteins (hamster and bovine serum proteins)
    Alcohol Codeine phosphate syrup 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition Each 5ml of syrup contains 2.1 vol% of ethanol (alcohol)
    Daktarin oral gel 4.4 Special warnings and precautions for use This medicinal product contains small amounts of ethanol (alcohol), less than 100mg per dose
    Ethanol Diazepam 5mg/ml solution for injection 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition Ethanol 96% 100mg/ml
    Amitriptyline hydrochloride 25mg/5ml and 50mg/5ml oral solution 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition Approximately 10.5mg ethanol in 5mL of solution
    Co-trimoxazole for infusion 16 mg/80mg per ml 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition 13.2 vol% ethanol (alcohol) per 5 ml
    Priadel liquid 2. Qualitative and quantitative composition 211mg of ethanol 96% per 5ml solution
    Further information
    Patients who are unsure whether a particular medicinal product is halal or haram should seek advice from their local imam. Local imams can also offer advice to healthcare professionals.

    Medicines information services can be useful when investigating whether products available in the UK are suitable for Muslim patients, and the services can also suggest alternative options.

    The Muslim Council of Britain can also answer specific enquiries or concerns from patients or healthcare professionals. Find out more at:

    Office for National Statistics. 2011 Census. Available at: (accessed April 2018)
    Sarriff A & Abdul-Razzaq HA. Exploring the halal status of cardiovascular, endocrine, and respiratory group of medications. Malays J Med Sci 2013;20(1):69–75. PMID: 23785257
    Selamat Datang Ke Portal Rasmi MyHEALTH, Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Halal and haram medicines (Islamic perspective). Available at: (accessed April 2018)
    National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau. Ministry of Health, Malaysia. Halal pharmaceuticals: a regulator’s perspective. Available at: (accessed April 2018)
    Halim MAA, Salleh MMM, Kashim MIAM et al. Halal pharmaceuticals: legal, Shari’ah issues and fatwa of drug, gelatine and alcohol. Int J Asian Soc Sci 2014;4(12):1176–1190
    Specialist Pharmacy Service. What factors to consider when advising on medicines suitable for a Halal diet? Available at: (accessed April 2018)
    Nadia Bukhari is senior teaching fellow in pharmacy practice, UCL School of Pharmacy.

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