Maintaining an Islamic, halal way of life whilst on holiday can seem to limit our holidays or mess up the routine. Therefore, here is a guide on Muslim-friendly European holidays. If you're interested in travelling elsewhere, check out our articles about African and Asian holidays.
What to Look for in a Hotel:
Whilst these criteria are subject to personal practise, these are the following categories of a purely Halal hotel:
1. A halal menu
What this means is that the food being served in the hotel is halal, and does not serve any non-halal or haram meat, or pork. This will be flagged on HalalGuide’s database as a green flag – see below for how HalalGuide App can help this search.
It also means that the food is prepared and sourced in a certified halal way; the butchers slaughter the animals in accordance to Islam, and then in the cooking process the meat is not contaminated with non-halal products such as alcohol, haram/non-halal animal fat, oil, lard, for example.
2. No bar – or alcohol serving bar
Similar to the menu, if there is a bar present in the hotel, it shouldn’t be serving alcohol. Not just because alcohol is haram, but because the glasses, spoons, mixers and utensils used in preparing alcoholic drinks will be the same as those in dining, and can be contaminated.
The presence of a bar does not necessarily mean that the hotel is not Muslim friendly because some bars serve non-alcoholic beverages, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying a Mojito Mocktail!
3. Prayer Mat
In each hotel room, there should be the presence of a prayer mat, because even though you are on holiday, the Fard of Salaah is still applicable.
4. Prayer Room
If the hotel you are staying is not within an Islamic country, mosques may not be easily found or difficult to travel to. Therefore, Muslim friendly hotels will provide a prayer room, sometimes only for Jummah, but there will be a presence of a Prayer Room to perform your prayers.
5. Compass to find Qibla
Finding the direction of the Qibla can be difficult, although now the HalalGuide App, amongst others, can help you locate this direction on a mobile phone. Halal hotels will provide the direction of the Qibla, although sometimes not on a compass; for example there are some hotels that have an arrow on the ceiling pointing the direction instead.
6. Segregated Pools/Beaches
Part of Islam is the natural modesty and segregation on pools and beaches between men and women. Nowadays, even travelling to Islamic countries does not guarantee that the beaches and pools will be separated meaning that enjoying a beach becomes difficult.
However, there are some hotels and resorts (that will be mentioned below) which provide for this, and so if this is a criteria you are looking for then it can be achieved.
7. Qur’an in the room
Finally, a classic item in most hotels around the world is having a Bible in the room. However, for Muslim friendly hotels there should be a Qur’an instead.
Now, Islam is a journey, and there are people on different parts of this journey; some follow more strictly than others and this can depend on culture, family history or simply because they are learning. So, it is important not to judge another fellow Muslim brother or sister for their choices, but simply look to improve oneself and follow Islam’s journey independently. Therefore, these above criteria are not essential for a Muslim friendly holiday.
What this means is:
If your hotel does not serve halal food, you stay there but you eat elsewhere – a lot of people prefer waking early and exploring a country, and eating out and about instead.
If you normally eat from mixed halal and non-halal restaurants then you can choose the halal options, fish or vegetarian foods instead.
If the hotel has an alcoholic bar – you don’t need to go to it.
If there is no Qibla direction, Prayer Mat or Prayer room – pack these yourself. The Qibla and prayer times can easily be found within the HalalGuide App, and travel friendly Prayer Mats are easily bought.
If the beach is not segregated – you do not have to go, or you can go and maintain your own modesty.
Where to go:
Some of the best Muslim friendly holiday destinations within Europe include the following:
Surprising for some but Spain is a great Muslim friendly place to visit in Europe. This is because it was once ruled by the Arabs, and holds Islamic elements in their culture. There are beautiful mosques, Halal cuisine and Islamic Art to be seen here. An example is Andalusia.
Malta is a tiny island in Western Europe simply because it is extremely close to the North of Africa where there are Muslim counties. It has amazing halal tourism, private villas with private beaches and resorts too. More so as it is an island, it is big on seafood which is halal for Muslims.
Within Austria, the city of Vienna is a beautiful and Muslim friendly spot for people to visit. There are several gorgeous mosques including the magnificent Islamic centre, and Muslim cuisine too.
Turkey is an interesting destination because it straddles Europe and Asia, but it is an Islamic country and is absolutely stunning. From Istanbul to Antalya the halal tourism industry is booming and as it is an Islamic country the food is halal, there are mosques that will call you to prayer at every corner, alcohol is easily avoided and depending where you stay you can find villas with private beaches too.
Like Turkey, Bosnia is a mix between East and West and has high elements of Christianity and Islam in its culture, existing in harmony. Bosnia has halal cuisine, Islamic heritage sites to see, mosques and hotels for you to choose from.
How HalalGuide Can Help:
When you have decided the next place you want to take your holiday, HalalGuide App can help you research hotels, restaurants and Islamic businesses in that area with the red, orange and green flags. This means that depending on what level of certification you want, you can find it.
Overall, travelling has never been easier, and maintaining your halal routine is becoming easier as time goes on and awareness rises. Wherever you do end up going, know that you can plan ahead for your Salaah, and find multiple halal businesses and dining in that location with the HalalGuide App.
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