For over a decade Zabihah.com has established itself as the official guide to the Muslim world’s halal restaurants and products.
Zabihah? Don’t we mean the ZAGAT guide which has become the go to source for Muslims and food? No. ZAGAT focuses on restaurants in North America and its global reviews are limited. For instance, a quick international search for restaurant reviews in England, UK, loads only ten cities from the country. Zabiha’s search equivalent shows every county and town, which means I can check out exactly what’s hot and what’s not in my hometown.
Plus, these reviews have an additional win: the halal factor.
What is Halal?
For Muslims, virtually everything available from nature is Halal (Islamically permissible) according to the Islamic moral and legal rules called the Shariah, with the exceptions of alcohol, swine/pork and carnivorous animals.
Zabihah (zha-bee-ha) the website takes its name from the Islamic prescribed method of slaughtering animals. Luckily for the Muslim foodie lover, Zabihah translates to a more virtual slating and rating of local restaurants.
Since 1998 and branching out from its Californian home, Zabihah.com has provided trusted restaurant ratings and reviews for over ten thousand halal restaurants from around the world.
The zabihah.com story
“Just because a restaurant serves halal food doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. We feel that by holding Muslim restaurants to the highest standards, we can improve the dining experience of all Muslims,” says Shahed Amanullah the website founder.
Content on the site is user-generated – a member section enables users to register and review restaurants as well as suggest places for the public to check out or avoid. Members can also opt for an email notification of top eating venues within a 20 mile radius of their current location. Very helpful for the travelling Muslim, indeed.
The guide is a product of the increase in Muslim demand for halal from recognised establishments. More mainstream food outlets are now dipping into the huge global market aimed at the Muslim lifestyle. In 2009 online magazine Halal Journal asked companies: What products and services are you going to provide to help Muslims lead the lifestyle they want?
Zabihah.com has filled a niche by helping to promote the expansion of the halal restaurant industry in the West and around the planet – from Jerusalem to New Jersey. It has built a credible repertoire through accreditation by many restaurants for making the provision of halal meals economically viable.
The average second and third-generation Muslims in Western countries are bored of traditional home cooking, according to Darhim Hashim, CEO of the Malaysia-based International Halal Integrity Alliance. “They’re saying, ‘We want pizzas, we want Big Macs’.”
Such demand has had impact as Domino began sourcing halal pepperoni from a Malaysian company for the pizzas it sells from Kuala Lumpur to Birmingham (although poor sales forced Domino to ditch the menu in August 2010); KFC tested halal-only stores in Muslim areas of the UK during 2009, and the Subway sandwich chain has halal franchises across Britain and Ireland – still going strong.
“At the end of the day, people will not buy halal simply because it’s halal,” Amanullah of Zabihah.com told TIME. “They’re going to buy quality food. Ideology doesn’t make a better-tasting burger, a better car, or a better computer.” – Halal: Buying Muslim, TIME, 2009.
But good restaurant reviews do make fabulous eating experiences.
More on religious eating:
Halal Or Not, McDonald’s Food Won’t Decompose Faster Than Plastic Bags
Jews And Muslims Unite Against EU Slaughter Labeling
10 Delicious Ways to Eat Lentils
A Guide To Green Blogging For Muslims
Organic Pizza Fusion Has Hit Jeddah, Looking to Expand All Over Saudi Arabia