Talking About Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Concepts in Islamic Dietary Practices | Animal Slaughter | Abrahamic Religions

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales Authors

note : This discussion was prepared by the author in the hope that it can assist others in understanding the concept of halal and alternative diet that may still conform to Islamic law. Introduction: “If its not Organically healthy then it can not be Halal.” Zabiha and the ethics of halal food. In todays era where many new-age Philosophies of wholistic living, living in tune with the environment, humanism, animal rights and evolution, people are being attracted to new ideas, novel fancy concepts and seemingly vague fashionable lifestyles that include not only dress and behavior but also dietary practices. Under these issues we have been seeing people question the moral acceptability of Halal food practice and that even some Muslims begin to advocate vegetarianism without due respect and understanding for Islamic dietaty practices. It is in this fancy that we feel there is a need to address this issue as well as show that Islam indeed may have strict dietary considerations but are even more advanced in considering what the advocates of alternative diets say as “wholistic diet consumption or healthy lifestyle”. There has been many issues behind the halal label, in fact some question the process of it becoming halal considering that it is being slaughtered. many Non Muslims as well as Muslims who have been influenced by vegetarianism tend to discredit the prcess saying it is a violent way to end a life. One step forward. Before we go forward in discoursing this we may have to answer a few direct questions that is replied by the Quran, which is the text adhered by the Muslims. What can Muslims eat? Why is pork prohibited? And what makes meat zabiha-compliant? These and other answers can be found in the Quran, Islam’s holy scripture, the Quran, which describes it as : “Forbidden to you (for food) are dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which has been invoked the name of other than Allah [God], that which has been killed by strangling or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death, that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it (in due form).” (Quran, 5:3)

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales The text explicitly first prohibits the following : a. dead meat (carrion) and b. blood which is scientifically proven as not fit for human consumption, as well as c. pork which has been also prohibited in previous (judaic and chritian) traditions, or d. animals that were subjected to inhuman treatment leading to its death and e. meat partially eaten by other animals (due to the possiblity of the meat containing saliva laden rabies) From both a hygenic and scientific viewpoint the text mentioned teaches caution to Muslims to avoid doubtful meat (meat killed or found in unexpected places to assure that they may not ingest contaminated meat/food). Seeing Allah in All Things As Muslims we must realize thatall that is created is a manifestation of Allah's mercy towards mankind and that we will always see His mercy in them : “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end.” (Surat al-An’am 6:38) Allah is the Uniquely Existent (al-Wahid). Allah alone exists without support. Everything but Allah is only contingent creation, temporarily real, destined for disappearance and return to that which alone is Real. In this world of manifestation, our intention, our actions, and Allah’s grace and mercy combine to form the bridge to our spiritual evolution represented by the promise of the next world. As such it is imperative that our actions and interactions,should be interphased with nothing less than a divine manifestation, a physical expression of some or all of Allah’s qualities and names. When we speak, we speak to Allah. When we think, we think through Allah. When we kill (for food) , we can kill only one of Allah’s surrendered (Muslim) creatures. In fact, the Holy Qur’an teaches us that it is only people and jinn (non-physical beings) who are not perfectly surrendered as species. “Have you not seen how what is in the heavens and what is in the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the mountains and the trees and the beasts and many of the people prostrate before Allah? And yet many of the people defy Allah and thus deserve punishment.” (Surat al-Hajj 22:18)

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but hymns His praise; but you understand not their praise.” (Surat al-Isra’ 17:44) Life and Death Without Mercy Most Muslims are familiar with the concept of halal (lawful/permissible), the Islamic equivalent of kosher. But we tend to be less familiar with the concept of tayyib (pure/ethical/wholesome/good). Nearly everywhere that we are enjoined in the Qur’an to eat only of the halal, tayyib is explicitly mentioned as a necessary quality as well. But in this age, tayyib has been largely forgotten. “Oh, you people, eat from the earth what is halal and tayyib, and follow not the footsteps of the Shaytan ...” (Surat al-Baqarah 2:168) The issue of non-Tayyib consumed food may have been forgotten by consumers, but the 10 billion animals that were slaughtered in 2003 in the U.S. alone con not simply ignored , not even for a moment.1 These innocent creatures were, and are, the victims of the factory-farming industry, where most of them spend every moment of their lives in bleak, terrifying, disease-ridden conditions, deprived of everything that makes life bearable. The only relief comes through death, and even death is given without mercy, delivered in countless hideous and painful ways. They are out of our sight, and so they are largely out of our minds. But the fact that all we see is the neatly packaged meat at the store does not change the essential reality of what it is and the process that created it2. In addition to the unconscionable suffering that the system causes, industrial animal agriculture also creates enormous quantities of greenhouse gases, poisons the land with millions of tons of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and is the world’s leading cause of water pollution and wastewater by far. It takes an estimated 12,000 gallons of water and up to 20 pounds of grain to produce one single pound of meatii. And the wastewater from industrial agriculture is the main reason why 60 percent of rivers and streams are severely damaged. The Holy Qur'an enjoins over and over, “Waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters,” and, “Do not pollute the earth after it has been (so) wholesomely (set in order) ...” (Surat al-A'raf 7:56)
1 http://www.adaptt.org/killcounter.html 2 http://www.islamicconcern.com/bismillah.asp

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales

Halal "certified food", do they pass the standard? “Halal” meat has become a myth in the industrialized world. One study found that 75 percent of meat bearing “halal” certification was, in fact, not halal—it was simply standard factory-farmed (i.e., pork-, meat-, and feces-fed) meat bearing a “halal” label. 3 And it is well known that a large portion of the meat that may be halal by the letter of the law (i.e., slaughtered “Islamically”) does not meet any of the other requirements that jurists throughout the history of Islam have agreed are necessary for meat to be truly lawful to eat. These include the following, among others2: 1. The animal must be raised in a humane and wholesome environment. 2. The animal must not be mishandled, stressed, or caused any discomfort during transport. 3. The animal must not feel stress or fear before death. 4. The animal must not be killed using continuous pain or injury. 5. The animal must be killed away from the view of other animals. v Clearly, none of the conditions requiring that the dignity of the creature be respected and maintained are met in today’s world of industrial meat production. This poses a challenge to halal auditing firms worldwide.4 Meat prepared by a Muslim Is Always considered Zabiha For Muslims, the concept of animal slaughtering is simple. it is refered to in Islamic law as zabiha (‫ ,)ذبيححة‬the word literally means ‘slaughter’ and goes hand-in-hand with animal welfare and moral purification. Does Islam respect and promote Animal rights? The Prophet Muhammad (saw) if one may see in his seerah as well as in hadith literature was a big advocator of animal rights. Many ahadith demonstrate how providing water to a thirsty dog, feeding a stray cat and guarding a bird’s nest of eggs are actions of merit. Like his predecessors, Prophets Moses and Jesus, Prophet Muhammad was a shepherd – of sheep – and thus trained in a preserving awareness to ‘guide’ his flock towards health and conservation. When being asked about the importance of quenching the dog’s thirst, Prophet Muhammad told people, “every kind act to the animal is rewarded”. He reminded his companions always that,
3 HALAL MARKET IN FRANCE DatedJuly 2005 . http://goo.gl/UPzIq 4 Agri-Food Trade Service.The Specialty Food Market in North America.March 2012 http://www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca/info/6116-eng.htm

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales “Do not overload them (animals), do not treat them badly, do not tie them and shoot them (tying with intent to kill)”. (Hadith mentioned in Sahih Muslim.) Animal welfare in Islam is extended to the slaughter process. A sharp knife is required for a single, efficient cut and so the animal “does not feel pain”. Muslims believe animals are ‘alive’ like plants but they do not have a soul like humans. Animals are acutely aware of what’s going on around them. Thus, Prophet Muhammad showed a concern for emotional stability saying “do not kill one animal in front of the other, and do not kill the animal twice.” *Hadith mentioned in Imam Muslim, The Quran Reminds that : “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end.” (Surat al-An’am 6:38) How should Muslims slaughter Animals (in accordance to Islamic law )? When an animal is slaughtered following the zabiha method, only the windpipe and 4 blood vessels are cut with a single slice. For one school of thought in Islam, the gullet (oesophagus) must also be cut. The knife must reach the back of the throat and the head must remain intact. No other harm to the animal’s body is allowed, which was an animal concern by Princess Ali of Jordan in the run before Eid. 5 When animals are selected for Qurbaan, which is sacrificial offerring for Eid-ul-Adha to mark the ending of the Hajj ,there are strict conditions and require extra checks which are the following.If an animal has been found to be: a. blind, b. lame, c. deaf, or e. disfigured through mutilation or f. is found to be unhealthy, Such an animal cannot be used for the sacrifice. The principle behind this is to follow the Abrahamic footsteps by giving up the best, strongest and healthiest meat to distribute amongst the poor.6

5 ISLAMIC GUIDELINES TO SLAUGHTERING ANIMALS.By Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam http://www.shariahprogram.ca/eat-halal-foods/islamic-guidelines-slaughtering-animals.shtml 6 ibid

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales The spinal cord is not cut and should not be damaged, otherwise the nerves leading to the heart may get severed causing the animal to go under cardiac arrest. As the spinal cord remains intact, the heart is still beating, preventing stagnation and allowing a constant flow of blood from the body until death. Since blood is forbidden for consumption in Islam, it’s important to see that the blood is completely drained. 7 4 Ethical Zabiha Principles that should serve as our guide : 1) Animal freedom and organic living The animal that is going to be sacrificed should be raised to graze freely, treated well, given food and water on the day of slaughter. When brought forward, the animal needs to be kept calmed. Its eyes are covered and it is laid down on the ground. Typically, no other instruments or pressure is involved, and the event is not shown to other animals. Organic Muslim butchers from America, Mercy Halal, have filmed Islam’s zabiha method quite stunningly on their farm. The second video showing the actual slaughter is graphic. 8 2) Animals allowed in Islamic law Muslims only eat animals that are herbivores, leading a vegetarian life. Animals shot, killed by accident, birds of prey, pork and porcine substances and roadkill are not halal. Pork in particular is forbidden for major health reasons; while the animal itself is seen as a creature of God, it will eat practically anything put in front of it including excrement and is a carrier of many diseases. Amongst the animals Islam permits for slaughter are: cattle – cows, buffalo, poultry – chicken, pigeons, duck and others, deer, goats, sheep, rabbits. Fish are considered halal by default, except in some schools of though who may not eat fish without scales9. 3) Sanitised sharp tools The knife used for the slaughter needs to be sterile and to ensure no irritation occurs, must be sharpened, but not in front of the animal. Gloves are recommended, as well as a clean workspace with access to water. 4) A Muslim prayer before slaughter Before slaughtering the animal, Islam asks for the person performing it to be a mature Muslim, and to read a prayer in God’s name, saying “Bismillah” (in the name of God) and “Allahu akbar” (God is Greater). Without the “bismillah”, the animal is not halal for eating 10.
7 8 9 10 ibid If aint organic it aint Halal : http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/11/zabiha-organic-halal/ ibid ibid

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales Do Animals Feel Pain? One of the major reasons for vegetarianism from the eco-Rabbi and arguments heard from animal rights campaigners is the view that animals feel pain, and as another species, should not be killed without need. Islam holds the view that while animals do feel pain and need loving treatment, the zabiha method does not tolerate any unecessary pain or fear 11. For correct slaughter, it is the blood vessels in the animals’ throat that are cut, along with the nerves responsible for pain. Due to a gush of blood, the animal’s muscles contract and relax. When done properly, there is no pain involved in zabiha slaughter. The animal is not writhing in pain, it is simply dying a painless death. Is Zabiha Meat certainly Halal– ? In a nutshell, ‘zabiha’ is the name given to the method of slaughtering an animal by a believer reading a prayer in God’s name. But halal (‫ )حلل‬is the description for products that are permissible by God and which include people’s welfare. Therefore, halal products are also healthy, sustainable and good for you. A table format breaks down the zabiha method on Green Zabiha, organic and halal meat farmers in America. In many areas of the less developed world where Muslims are the dominant population, one will find animals being injected with an infamous hormone to fatten them up. DES, Diacecerol Beseserol, is used by farmers to quicken the muscle growth and get more sales for the zabiha flesh. This meat is considered haram. Additional preservatives and electrical stunning affect the nervous system of the animal, which Halal Monitoring Committee explains, would also not be considered halal. Figures suggest as high as 80% of worldwide meat is injected with hormones and according to European Union’s Scientific Committee, artificial growth hormones in meat pose a potential risk to human’s health and reproductive system, Sustainable Table reports. All carginogenic hormones injected into animals – even if slaughtered by the zabiha method, make the animal haram. The animal is zabiha, but it’s not halal, nor could it be considered thayyib (pure) due to the presence of such compounds detrimental to health. In response to the questions that is Vegetarianism a concept that is allowed in Islam, we have found that major Islamic scholars have pronounced rullings on its permissibility and considered it halal on certain conditions, among them we have quoted Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, a famous scholar in the United states. 12:
11 ibid 12 http://www.organic-halal-meat.com/article/hamza-yusuf.php

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales "Meat is not a necessity in Shari'ah, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat, if they were wealthy, like middle class-once a week on Friday. If they were poor-on the Eids 13." "So traditionally Muslims were semi-vegetarians. The Prophet was, I mean, technically, the Prophet (SAWS) was in that category. He was not a meat-eater. Most of his meals did not have meat in them. And the proof of that is clearly in the Muwatta-when Sayyidina Umar says, 'Beware of meat, because it has an addiction like the addiction of wine.' And the other hadith in the Muwattathere is a chapter called 'Bab al-Laham,' the chapter of laham, the chapter of meat. Both are from Sayyidina Umar. And Umar, during his khilafa, prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row. He only allowed them to eat [it] every other day. And the khalifa has that right to do that. He did not let people eat meat every day - he saw one man eating meat every day, and he said to him, 'Every time you get hungry you go out and buy meat? Right? In other words, every time your nafs wants meat, you go out and buy it?' He said, 'Yeah, Amir al-Mumineen, ana qaram,' which in Arabic, 'qaram' means 'I love meat'-he's a carnivore, he loves meat. And Sayyidina Umar said, 'It would be better for you to roll up your tummy a little bit so that other people can eat.'" "Now Umar, if there was a prophet after the Prophet, it would have been Umar. And that is really verging on prophecy, that statement. Because if you study the modern meat industry, you will find out that a lot of the famine in the world is a direct result of the overconsumption of meat in countries like the United States and Canada and Europe, because the amount of grain needed to produce 1 pound of meat, right, is much greater than the amount you need to produce grain itself. And beef in particular-I really recommend Rifkin's book Beyond Beef. It's an extraordinary book. And it's interesting 'Baqara' is also a chapter of the Qur'an ('kill the cow'), because beef-eating societies just have massive impact on the environment, on natural resources, on all these things. And traditionally the Muslims were not cow-eaters, they were sheep and lamb [-eaters] when they did eat meat." 14 Looking at his words, it is clear that the personal analysis of Sh. Hamza Yusuf is that he sees that vegetarianism as long as its not taken to an extreme level is an allowable practice considering it was done by poor Muslims during the time of the earlier companions of the Prophet (saw). In another website we find that there was a selection of Islamic scholars who have given Fatawas on the issue of vegetarianism15 : Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Salafi Scholar)
13 ibid 14 ibid 15 Fatwas on Vegetarianism : http://www.islamveg.com/fatwas.asp

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales “A Muslim may be a vegetarian. However, he should not regard eating meat as prohibited. And Allah Taãla knows best. Was salaam.” —Mufti Ebrahim Desai Fatwa Department

Sayyid Fadhlullah : “ Vegetarianism is halal. Meat is not compulsory. Any food is permissible provided it is not harmful. Muslims are free to eat whatever they want provided it is halal.” "It is like wanting to eat a certain fruit and not the other." Sayyid Fadlallah —Summation of answer given by the Honorable Sayyid Fadhlullah during an online Q&A session, December 1, 2001 Wa Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatullah, Muzammil Siddiqi: You are right that the matter of halal and haram is only the authority of Allah (SWT) as we are not allowed to make any halal haram, we are also not allowed to make any haram halal. Allah has created some animals for our food as Allah says in the Qur'an in surat an-Nahl, “And cattle He has created for you. From them you drive wont and numerous benefits and of their meat, you eat.” (16:5-8) Muslims do recognize animal rights, and animal rights means that we should not abuse them, torture them, and when we have to use them for meat, we should slaughter them with a sharp knife, mentioning the name of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAAWS) said, “Allah has prescribed goodness (ihsan) in everything. When you sacrifice, sacrifice well. Let you sharpen your knife and make it easy for the animal to be slaughtered.” So, Muslims are not vegetarianists. However, if someone prefers to eat vegetables, then they are allowed to do so. Allah has given us permission to eat meat of slaughtered animals, but He has not made it obligatory upon us. —Muzammil Siddiqi The salafi scholar Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid issues a famous fatwa in this regard :

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales Wa`alykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakaatuh. In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. Welcome to the fold of Islam! We pray to Allah to make you a good Muslim. As for your question, there is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian or not eating animal products, but you need to be aware of the following:

You should not think that these things are Haraam (forbidden), because Almighty Allah says: “O ye who believe! Make not unlawful the good things, which Allah hath made lawful for you, but commit no excess: for Allah loveth not those given to excess.” (Al-Maa’idah: 87) “Say: who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for his servants, and the things, clean and pure (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say they are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment thus do we explain the Signs in detail for those who understand.” (Al-`Araaf: 32) “Say: see ye what things Allah hath sent down to you for sustenance? Yet ye hold forbidden some things thereof and (some things) lawful. Say: hath Allah indeed permitted you, or do ye invent (things) to attribute to Allah?” (Yoonus: 59) One should not think that it is better to abstain from eating these foods, that doing so will be rewarded, or that being a vegetarian is closer to Allah than not, and so on. It is not permitted to draw closer to Allah in this way. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who is the best of mankind and the closest to Allah, used to eat meat and honey and drink milk. When one of his Companions wanted to give up meat, he told him that this was wrong. Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that there was a group of the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, one of whom said, “I will never marry women”; another said, “I will not eat meat”; a third said, “I will not sleep on a bed”; and a fourth said, “I will fast and never break my fast.” When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was informed about this, he praised and thanked Allah, then said: “What is wrong with the people who say such and such? I pray and I sleep; I fast and I break my fast; and I marry women. Whoever deviates from my Sunnah (way) does not belong to me.” (Reported by An-Nasaa’i). There is a great difference between not eating a certain kind of food because of not liking it, or one has been put off it—for example by seeing an animal slaughtered when one was a child, which may leave the person with a distaste for meat—and other similar reasons, and thinking that meat is Haraam by abstaining from it is an act of worship, as the Brahmins, monks and others do. Once this matter is clear in your mind, there is nothing wrong with not eating food that you

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales do not like. We ask Allah to give you the strength to do good deeds and to protect you from every evil. It is only Allah Who guides to the Straight Path. (Based on a Fatwa given by Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, www. Islam-qa.com 16) —Islam Online Fatwa Committee Islamic Scholars from the shia school of jurisprudence also gives simmilar fatawa 17: A member of Islamic Concern for Animals asked the following question of several leading ulema via their online question-and-answer sections: I am a convert to Islam, mash’a allah. I grew up as a vegetarian, I am an athlete, and [I] feel very healthy and strong. Is it halal to be vegetarian? In reply to this question, the rahbar (leader ) of the Islamic republic of Iran and ne of the leading Mujtahids, Ayatullah Sayyid Khamanei replies as follows : “Bismihi Ta`ala According to Islamic law (shar`) there is no objection to it. However, eating meat is permissible in Islamic law although eating too much is reprehensible (makruh).Wallahul`Alim.” Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah in his opinion as well remarks on vegetarianism : “In the Name of Allah There is no problem in that.” Another famous Mujtahid Ayatullah Shirazi mentions that : “Being vegetarian is OK and halal, and in fact we have hadith in Islam that encourages us to eat less meat.” What a Muslim Vegetarian Looks Like In general Islam does not compel its followers to eat meat. A Muslim can be a great believer and remain a pure vegetarian. But God has given Muslims permission to eat non-vegan food (meat, dairy products, fish, poultry). In the Quran it says, “…Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you [in this Qur'an]…” (Chapter 5, verse 1). The Quran also says there are “numerous benefits” to eating meat, which is why most Muslims browse the worldwide restaurant guide Zabiha.com to enjoy a good burger, halal hot-dog and lamb kebab. 16 Fatwa on dietary practices : Www.islam-qa.com
17www.IslamOnline.net

Talking about Halal, Tahir and Zabiha : Some Concepts in Islamic dietary practices a discussion by Yusuf Morales As such, we hope that this brief guide can help other understand the context of eating halal food and strive to practice a "halal dietary lifestyle"..... Clearly there has been injunctions to ensure that the food we ingest are Taheer (pure), zabiha (slaughtered according to islamic standards) and halal (fall under the category of foods allowed to eat. And that practicing this method of dietary discipline doesnt mean that one may have to avoid vegetarianism or avoid the ingestion of meat. Islam allows both moderation and views vegetarianism as not violative of islamic Laws provided they conform to the same strict standards we use.

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