Beyond the “halal”

Eating customs and habits are often culturally distinct and may seem unusual and pointless to people of varying backgrounds. However, one of the best ways to understand a culture is through their food.

 

There is a growing global trend of increasing consciousness with regards to how and what we eat. Due to this impetus, many people are going beyond reading labels and demanding to know the source of their food. They want to know what the animals are eating and what living conditions they are subjected to. For a qualified/informed/true understanding of halal food, one must take into account all the processes and activities starting from the farm to animal/plant treatment, the use of antibiotics, pesticides and other chemical additives along with the way involved workers are being compensated.

 

An animal, for instance, must have lived a pure life from the very beginning, finishing a cycle of life that is permissible in accordance with Islamic standards. It must have eaten well, been treated well, and been sacrificed well. Death matters (in terms of the sacrifice ritual), of course. But quality of life matters, equally.

 

Scientific research and its nuggets of wisdom

 

“Organic food is commonly known for its healthier content without the use of pesticides, herbicides, inorganic fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones. To a certain extent organic food is directly related to Halal, a preconditioned to the Muslim to consume certain permitted foods ” [1]

 

In this vein, the common stereotype of equating halal food with only the ritual/method of slaughter or the exclusion of pork and alcohol, seems tragically restrictive. Another common misperception is that halal is just something for, or by, Muslims. A glaring example to this point is kosher meat, which is also considered to be halal.

 

The farmers’ reaffirmation – A balance between the physical, mental and spiritual realms

 

Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, urged his companions and followers to treat animals with kindness and respect. And if required, kill them swiftly and mercifully. In so far as the nexus between halal and organic exists, preventing animal cruelty is also an innate Islamic value.

 

"A New York farmer Zaid Kurdieh, of Norwich Meadows Farm, believes most of the meat that brands itself as halal, is nothing but a hoax. For him, if it’s not organic, it’s not halal. The same philosophy is followed by another halal butcher shop in New York, called Honest Chops. They provide hand-slaughtered, ethically-raised beef and chicken and even ensure dignified wages for their workforce." [2]

 

Conclusion

 

While we may have different opinions and belief with regards to what constitutes spirituality but a genuine concern for our physical and mental health is about as real as it gets. Let’s face it, getting systematically abused animals or chemically treated crops into our system doesn’t lead to a sustainable lifestyle, one that is becoming necessary for the survival of human species.

 

References

 

1.  Reference 1

2.  Reference 2