HALAL-ISM. The Muslims are back!

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Not these Muslims AGAIN! We are still incapable of understanding the whole veil (nikaaq) bonanza and now they hit us even harder. OUR MEAT. “British school kids are being forced to eat halal meat”, “Britain goes halal…but no one tells the public”. Oh how we owe our lives to these tabloids, otherwise no one would actually know the truth.

It is almost as if Muslims were behind some sinister plot to inflict halal meat on innocent Non-Muslim Brits.

What is the actual issue? The fact that Muslims simply have their meat slaughtered in a different manner? And ofcourse this is just news to us all as it hasn’t been the case for centuries, and I am sure nobody was taught about it during Religious Studies at High School. Or how cruel Muslims are to animals? Oh and how the 3 percent Muslim population is dominating so called multi-cultural Britain.

The theatrics stop here.

The term halal has thrown up such a frenzy lets actually take a moment to define what it means. The literal translation is “lawful” and refers to any object – not just food – or action or behaviour that is deemed permissible under Islamic law.

For meat to be considered halal, three conditions must be met:

1) The animal must be healthy and uninjured and, crucially, it must be killed with a cut to the throat.
2) All the blood must be drained from the animal’s body.
3) The slaughterer must recite the appropriate Islamic prayer at the time of slaughter.

Islam, like Judaism, prescribes a single-cut method of slaughter: the animal is killed with a quick cut to the throat using a sharp knife. This allows the blood to drain out and, it is believed, makes the meat cleaner.

I understand the image of blood draining out of an animal’s body can be quite graphic. I still remember witnessing a cow being slaughtered in Pakistan and the blood flowing through the valley. But Muslims, like Jews, insist that so-called ritual slaughter is humane and pain-free because the animal quickly loses consciousness. In the words of Dr Majid Katme, a former spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain: “There is no time to start feeling any pain.”

Joe Regenstein, professor of food science at Cornell University in the United States, who leads the university’s Kosher and Halal Food Initiative makes some worthy points, “the traditional or Prophetic method might actually be equal or possibly superior” because the initial pain of the throat cut results “in the animal releasing large quantities of endorphins, putting it in a state of euphoria and numbness”. The cut thus serves as its own stun. The scientific evidence against halal slaughter, Regenstein says, “is extremely weak and has often been done poorly with an agenda driving a desired outcome”.

To then argue that Muslims do not care about animal welfare is ludacris. There are several Quranic verses and sayings of the Prophet warning Muslims not to harm livestock; mistreatment of animals is considered a sin.

If this issue is really about animal cruelty, we should also label those meat products that have been subject to a pre-slaughter intervention – like having their skull cracked open, being electrocuted, or put in a gas chamber. More so, there should be labelling on meat that has come from animals who have been victims of “mis-stunning”, which leaves the animal conscious and in pain, and occurs “relatively frequently”, according to a 2004 report by the European Food Safety Authority.

Why not label all meat with detailed explanations of how exactly the animal in question was killed, and let consumers decide? Why is only halal meat in question here? Despite Jews having similar conditions regarding meat being slaughtered why is there no outcry towards the Jewish population? Why are there no headlines aimed at the Jews?  

To even consider for a moment that food outlets are serving halal meat is a sign of Muslim domination is beyond belief. It all comes down to the fact that we live in a capitalist society. Therefore, businesses will invest in what they believe will bring in the money, and not simply to please the Muslim population, which I would like to remind everyone, sits at 3 percent.

Whether Pizza Express or any other food outlet is ‘secretly’ halal is not a mission set up by Secret Services that has somehow been leaked, it takes looking no further than their website to see what options are available.

And if people want to turn this halal issue into a moral panic and vow never to shop at Asda again. May I remind you that also means never to have a kebab again from the takeaways that im sure you undoubtedly enjoyed after a Saturday night. And oh do you remember that curry you was just ‘gorgeous’, yep, that was halal meat too my friend.

So I think we should put this back into perspective. And remember I am the student, like many other Muslims, who in the university canteen is spoilt by choice – either it will be a cheese sandwich, or maybe we will go crazy and get a tuna panini! Your choices have not been limited.

But I would like to leave you with this thought:

Has halal become a substitute for much deeper fears and worries about the presence of a growing and vocal Muslim population.

If this was a debate about animal welfare, it would be about all forms of slaughter; if it was a debate about ritual slaughter, it would address kosher, and not just halal meat.

Is the issue really with the meat or the religion?

 

Written by Sameera Rafiq

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