hema’s sphere

halal meat

Posted by hema on January 27, 2008

i’ve had a number of enquires recently regarding what halal meat is exactly, and was wondering what all the fuss was suddenly about. a quick internet search revealed an alarming number of articles protesting against halal meat. it didn’t make sense to me at first. surely halal meat doesn’t concern anyone but Muslims ie the people who are eating it?

but with increasing subway chains opting for the halal option, and univeristies and suprmarkets considering  doing the same thing, more and more people are eating halal food without actually knowing what it is.

in these situations, i always try and look at  from the “other” side. i can understand the fear that this would cause if the meat you’re used to eating everyday suddenly has a foreign sounding word in front of it. Plus,  it’s associated with the Muslims, which is always worrying these days (slaughtering animals, slaughtering people..)  slaughter does sound more  horrific then simply stunning them. all that blood everywhere…

so, the reason people don’t want to eat halal meat is based on ethics? ie the halal method is inhumane. i think such fears can be quashed by people willing to listen and who are genuinely worried about animal welfare. if not, it just seems the problem goes beyond the halal meat debate and is just fear of anything Muslim.

slaughtering the animal, as i understand it,  is done by one sharp clean cut. if done correctly, the animal does not suffer as one clean cut leads to blood loss from the head. the blood is then free to flow from the body, making it more hygienic to eat. although it might look horrific, letting the blood drain isn’t painful, just like donating blood isn’t.

opponents of this argument believe that stunning the animal is more humane and more modern. the technology wasn’t available in the old days, and this is yet another example of how religion is failing to keep up with the times.

i don’t know much about stunning, maybe it doesn’t lead to the animal suffering more than necessary (IF it’s done correctly – what if the voltage is too high or not high enough), but the main concern seems to be to produce a lot of meat quickly, rather than the animal’s welfare.

if halal butchering is done correctly, there should be no other animals present to witness the suffering, and the animal should be given something to eat just before the event takes place. care should be taken to ensure the animal is comfortable at all times, and a prayer is said just before the act is carried out.

at the end of the day, Muslims are obligated to follow laws for making food halal.  and that’s why we do it, simple as. i just have trust and faith that as a humane religion, suffering to the animal will be kept to a minimum and my research has only confirmed this.

like i said, i can understand where the fear of something unknown would come from. i can definitely understand why vegetarians and animal right activists would be concerned, and i think we just need to be patient and encourage people to do their own research instead of following the hype.  it’s just amusing that the same people who went to the effort to protest against this  probably went home on the same day for a kebab or a curry at their local takeout…

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32 Responses to “halal meat”

  1. Maryam said

    People are always gonna talk, Now its about Halal meat, and soon when this topic will loose its charm, when people will be bored to talk about it, the will find an another thinkg to talk about ……….. 😦
    Anyways ……… Yes, Halal meat means when an animal is slaughtered by a single sharp cut and the blood is allowed to flow from his entire body and then taken for further chopping.

  2. hema said

    hey maryam. I keep meaning to say, that’s a cute cat:-). I know people are always going to talk but at least this way people who are genuinely worried about what they put into their bodies can be informed about the facts.

  3. Hhmmmmm interesting you should write about this Hema, i don’t know if you watch the series on BBC called kill it cook it eat it?? Well my my wasn’t that an eye opener i think more people should have watched that. Basically they filmed in an abatoir, showed every single process involved in getting the animal from the field to to the plate. What was particularly horrific about it was that they were using baby animals some only a few weeks old taken from their mother whilst they were still being weaned. Ok i undertsand that this is a delicacy so to speak and that not everyone eats it, but for an animal to be truly halal in islam it has to be a certain wheight, and certainly still being fed by it’s mother in fact one of the other requirments of an halal animal is that it should be treated right prior to its slaughter surely taking an animal away from it’s mother isn’t ethical??. Second point: one of the lambs wasn’t stunned properly after REPEATED attempts , what do they do?? shoot a bolt through it’s head(inhumane..i think so…. Third point: the lambs saw the previous lamb hanging right in front of their eyes!! as they were bringing a lamb to be stunned what is the first thing it sees?? its fellow herd member hanging from a hook….( in islam the animals cannot see what happens to the other animals, in fact it’s even allowed to see the knife never mind the blood and the dead body!!. Fourth issue: They slaughtered the animal in exacly the same way as the halal method yep thats right one stroke to the neck and let it bleed out.

    *Sigh* i’ve got a headache, i’ve been doing my essay all day it’s in for tomorrow, wait it’s in for today, i’ve got one more to do 1000 words, research and all. I need sleep. i bet people don’t even taste the difference, surely the halal turkey sub at subway tastes the same as a non halal sheesh….

  4. asqfish said

    In a neurological study with an EEG, it has been shown that the animal suffers markedly less to no pain when the four vessels are cut (halal) rather than the secular method of killing the animal.

  5. samiabahri said

    if we change the name to kosher, will people have the same problem eating it???

    “one clean cut leads to blood loss from the head. the blood is then free to flow from the body”

    uaaaagh, i am glad you are not introducing food at my dinner table LOL, just the thought of the slaughtering process…. im back to not eating meat again… (okay, im super sensitive i know…but still…)

  6. ymiss said

    I think this proverb sums it all up: One man’s meat is another man’s poison

  7. Tawhid said

    I think Harun Yahya has done a documentary on this topic, mashAllah very good, it came on Islam Channel.

  8. hema said

    jtm- i didn’t watch it. i can talk about it just fine, but idon’t think i could actually watch it happen!

    good luck with your essay:( poor you

    ashfishq- thanks ashfisq- do you ahve the reference

    samia- that’s a good point, Jewish meat is slaughtered the exact same way.
    i didn’t know you were ever vegetarian. is it just because of the way the animals are slaughtered?
    very thoghtful of you ymiss:0
    thanks tawhid-anything done by haurn yahya always convinces you beyond doubt. i just tried looking it up but can’t find it, but i’ll look on his website or Islam channels.

  9. asqfish said

    I think I read it in this book or in a separate medical paper referring to this book. Someone borrowed mine, so here is the link:
    http://www.onlineislamicstore.com/b8050.html

    the title is:
    Health Concerns for Believers : Contemporary Issues (Shahid Athar, M.D.)

    In addition the way Jews slaughter and what they say on it does not make the meat halal ( As I understand it, may Allah forgive me if I am making a mistake).

  10. 'liya said

    I typed a long comment a day or two ago but I don’t see it here 😦

  11. Rainbow in the Blue Sky said

    We slaughter our own sheep for Eid ul Adha , the whole family muck’s in , i often complain the place looks like an abitor(Slaughter house), i ensure the knife is sharp , we remove all other animals from the area, its is so quick and instant, a bit messy but at least i know its halal and fresh alhamduillah. Thanks for this post hema intresting.

  12. hema said

    thanks Ashfishq-i know kosher meat isn’t halal, i was just pointing ou it’s the same procedure.
    liya-aaw i wanted to know what you had to say:( i looked in akismet and it’s not there, so i don’t know what happened to it:(
    salaam rainbow in the blue sky- i guess slautering your own animals is the only way to guarantee it’s fresh these days. i just got halal meat in a tin. it looks a bit dubious..

  13. Shahrzad said

    It is interesting. They are not just muslims who have esp way to have halal meat. That’s what jews also do and they call it kosher. Iranian jews have an esp restaurant and supermarkets to sell theri kosher meat and stuff.
    So this making mass against muslim halal meat is very funny. As you said many of those who protest, sure had good kebab for their meals.

    I just wonder why those who protest against halal meat, dont protest against what Israel is doing in Gaza and how Israelis kill innocent Gazans and has made a Slaughter house there. Is human’s blood lower than animal’s one?

    P.S: I too made a comment before and i think it went to your akismat box. You ever checked it? I think Akismat has stolen many comments..

  14. Lynn said

    What is the meaning of Al-Maeda verse 5?

    ‘This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).’

    Shahrzad: How do you know what other things those protesters protest about? Should I ask you why you do not complain about the treatment of maids in Saudi Arabia rather than complain about these people and their protests? Why aren’t you out protesting against the atrocities in Sudan?

  15. hema said

    i have tried shahrzad, but there are over 2000 comments in there. i’m a bit scared to look at them! maybe i need to play around with my settings.

    i’m not quite sure what you’re asking me lynn

  16. Lynn said

    I was just asking you how you interpret that verse.

  17. samia said

    i never ate meat till a few years ago, cant explain why… even now, i can only get my self to eat chicken, turkey and minced meat (whatever looks LESS like an animal) its nothing to do with the way its slaughtered… you know i have a wierd relationship to food dont you lol. if someone mentions any animal while im eating, i just loose my appetite 😦

    so according to Al-Maeda verse 5, should kosher be halal to us? i know they slaughter animals in the same way as we do, and say a prayer first…!! i know that islamic halal slaughering in denmark is only dueable because of the jewish kosher (i.e the jews were already permitted to slaughter this way)

  18. hema said

    i know there is some difference of opinion regarding whether kosher meat is halal, but as far as i’ve looked into it, i don’t think it is. but i’ve never really had to think about it, seeing as halal meat is so readily available in the UK.
    are you from the UK Lynn?

  19. Lynn said

    ‘This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them.’

    I don’t understand where the difference of opinion can even come into play. That seems like a very simple and direct statement. I know that there is also at least one hadith that says that he said to just bless it yourself if you don’t know where it came from. So that, I think, makes it even clearer.

    I’m in the U.S. and halal meat is very available where I live. But, how about when you are invited over to a non-muslim’s house for dinner? You tell them that you can’t eat their food? Or is making nice with people more important?

    No matter what you are told,unless you physically do it yourself, do you really know know how the slaughter occured? So, if you are truly that concerned, wouldn’t you be safer if you just blessed it yourself anyway?

  20. samiabahri said

    lynn im not sure if its dueable, but i really like the idea. my mother is danish and non-muslim and so she dosen’t care if the meat is halal or not… in situations like these, being able to bless it yourself would make it alot easier to many people.

    somehow i find it more important to eat the meat that is non-halal, if it means the people offering me a meal wont feel unplesant in any way… i just think that non-muslims on many occassions cannot really relate to not wanting to eat non-halal food and so if it will cause any kind of unplesant feelings or thoughts, i think it should be avoided to the extend of eating non-halal meat and just bless it yourself. i think that should be correct to do, as it will avoid any bad thoughts on islam or islamic ways. – just my opinion.

  21. hema said

    That seems like a very simple and direct statement

    it might seem that way, but i’m sure you’ll agree that you can’t just take statements out of context like that. you have to take into account the context in which it was revealed etc

    as i said, i know there are Muslims who believe it is ok to eat kosher meat (but only because it is slaughtered in the same way, i don’t think it applies to any other religion)

    But, how about when you are invited over to a non-muslim’s house for dinner? You tell them that you can’t eat their food?

    no, you do what i did just last week and let them know in advance that you will be eating vegetarian or halal. you’ll find that most Muslims won’t mind eating vegetarian in non Muslim places, we’re used to it. you woudln’t expect a vegetarian to compromise their principles for the sake of pleasing other people, would you? why should following your religious beliefs be any different?

    unless you physically do it yourself, do you really know know how the slaughter occured?

    that debate is going on, but it’s not always physically possible to do that (it’s not just about the blessings, as i explained in the post, the animal has to be slaughtered in a certain way)
    but i think there has to be a certain amount of trust involved. i.e, if someone tells me something is halal, i trust that is is, if i have no reasonable grounds to doubt them.

    samia- i know the situation must be slightly different in Denmark, where halal meat is not as readily available. and also if some of your family isn’t Muslim, it makes it harder.
    but i’d disagree with the view that you should do something a cerain way just so people don’t have bad thoughts on Islam. People who have a problem with what YOU put inside YOUR OWN body are probably going to have those thoughts about Islam regardless of what you do.
    just my opinion:)

  22. Lynn said

    ‘it might seem that way, but i’m sure you’ll agree that you can’t just take statements out of context like that. you have to take into account the context in which it was revealed etc’

    Why would you assume that it was taken out of context? It’s from Al-Maeda vs 5. Did you read it in a different context than I did? If so, please explain. My first comment was simply asking you just that. To please explain your understanding of that verse. Can you do that?

  23. jiji said

    I agree LYNN kosher food is HALAL on account that it is done according to the people of the book. It is mentioned very clearly in the QURAN.Kosher is very similar to HALAL but is more stricter (ie no dairy with meat). But where the disagreement comes from is from regular stores that may be runnned by christians or jews who don’t do slaughter according to their religion or any religion or book for that matter.

    HEMA nice job on this webpage may ALLAH bless you! I was running into the same thing about HALAL meat process suffering animals. But ALHAMDULILLAAH I know is ISLAM is a perfect system and has no faults( but muslims do).Islam provides the best procedure to everything.

    Anyways you guys should really watch what THEY do to their animals in the meat factories just YOUTUBE( animal cruelty) it. If THEY were truthful they would talk about the chinese way of slaughtering meat(YOUTUBE that). Many chinese animal-slaughters believe the more the animal suffers that TASTIER the meat.

  24. hema said

    lynn- i sent you an email. let me know if you got it.

    jiji-welcome, but you can’t say anything bad about the chinese. they rock!

  25. samiabahri said

    jiji, hema has an obessesion about the chinese people (she looooves them)… chinese and blondes- her favorite people lol.

  26. hema said

    chinise, blondes and danish-algerian brunettes:)

  27. tina said

    Hema,

    Great blog! Great post! Just recently had a story in the U.S. news out of California that they recalled 143 MILLION POUNDS of ground beef during an undercover sting in a slaughter house. They were slaughtering cows that couldn’t even stand! They were picking them up with forklifts and dropping them at the slaughter spot. I’m sure if you can imagine how cruel this was as the cows would be trying to move all about to avoid the forks on the lift stabbing at them while trying to be picked up.Alhumdulillah we have 3 stores here in Indiana that get halal meat from Dearborne,Michigan and we also have a farm just over the Indiana/Michigan border where my husband can go and Islamically kill a lamb for our family. On any given weekend the man sells about 100 lambs to Muslims.I think if anyone protesting this actually knew the facts about Halal meat and how it is killed compared to these inhumane slaughter houses they would not have any issues with it. I think like you said its just because the word MUSLIM is associated with it and alot of people are not well educated with Muslims either.

    Peace & Blessings!

  28. tina said

    Hema,

    I also forgot to add that this meat mainly went to schools to be used in student lunches!

    Salaam!

  29. Arooj Sattar said

    Very very interesting debate. I want to ask a simple question to friends who are commenting against Halal Meat. If an animal is not slaughtered properly in a Halal way, what is the difference between slaughtered or a dead animal. Why don’t we eat an animal found dead on a road side ? First of all when we slaughter an animal in Halal way. We start with the name of Almighty Allah (God) that makes it Halal. Second thing, slaughtering animal in Halal way is less painful for him and third thing, it is proven by different studies that Halal meat is more hygienic and health safe.

  30. hema said

    thanks for your comments.
    tina- that’s really shocking!

  31. Noor Inaya said

    Asalaamu Alaikam! Surat al Maida also goes on to specify which foods are not halal, in verse 3:
    “forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.”

    “Violent blow” can be used to describe another common practice that is in use today in the States. The practice is quite barbaric, and involves the animal, the worker, and a HAMMER. They literally take a hammer, and hit the animal (usually cows) as hard as they possibly can, right between the eyes. As you can imagine, this hurts a great deal, and does not necessarily kill the animal. The animal is either “slaughtered” at this point, or stunned, and then “slaightered.” There are horrible horrible screams from the animals, and reports have been made of cows actually panicking, and stampeding out of the slaughter houses upon hearing other cows screaming in pain.

    And who are the people who do this method of slaughter? The so-called “People of the Book,” or, Christians. At the time that the Quran was revealed, the common slaughtering practices of the Christians was to use a sharp knife, while uttering a prayer to God, therefore, making it permissible for a Muslim to eat of the meat (unless they said, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” which would make it haram, because a name other than Allah had been invoked). In these days, their meat is simply not halal for us. You cannot go to Tesco or Sainsbury in the UK, and buy a packet of their “mainstream meat.” (that would be Jewel or Dominicks here in Chicago!)

    I am the only Muslim in my family (so far), and when I go to visit my mom, she had no problem with me eating halal. She even says that she would prefer to eat halal herself, if a market was close to her (the closet one is 65 miles away). She never expects me to eat meat that she has, nor does she take me to places where I cannot eat anything from the menu (bar-b-que, for example, which is big in Texas, where I am originally from, but does not offer veg alternatives!).

    We are not to offend people, that is true. So, find a way to gently explain that you cannot eat the meat, but you will be happy to eat anything that has not touched the meat. Being Muslim does not mean that we have to be offensive.

    Allah knows best!

    Wasalaamz……

  32. Arooj Sattar said

    Very well explained. God bless you.

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