A Dialogue about ‘Halal’ Meat and Prohibited Meat in the West
by- ahmed subhi mansur
Published in June 28, 2019
Translated by: Ahmed Fathy
He said to me: I went to a nearby shop and I found that some chunks of meat has the label ‘Halal’, in Arabic, stuck to it; these chunks are sold within higher prices; they are indeed expensive. The same chucks of the same quality which have not that label are cheaper.
We said to him: What has made you so sure that both kinds of chunks of meat are of the same quality?
He said: I am an expert in kinds of meat; I checked and found that both kinds of chunks are the exactly same and have the same weight; the only difference is in the prices.
We said: What about poultry?
He said: It is the same case for poultry; the pieces with the label ‘Halal’ in Arabic are more expensive than the ones without that label!
We said: Have you tasted both kinds and felt any difference between the ones with the label and the ones without it?
He said: There is no difference at all; the only difference is among the shops themselves; some are first-class shops and some are not. This classification is known in the market; the quality of meat and poultry differ as per the classification of the shops. In general, my experience tells me that I should trust the meat chunks and poultry pieces which do not have the label ‘Halal’ because they are products of big companies which care much about their reputation and apply all the regulations. The problem is that when one labels some products as ‘Halal’, one might get the false impression that the other products are supposedly prohibited food items!
We said: What is your own opinion about the spread of the label ‘Halal’ within trade about meat and poultry?
He said: This is a cunning way to sell more. It is a trend. That is all. Even some Asian people in their shops label eggs and fish as ‘Halal’!
We said: We know the way of slaughtering animals for food among Muslims; is it the same way in the abattoirs and slaughterhouses of the West?
He said: No; they dislike very much the way of slaughtering employed by Muslims and deemed as ‘Islamic’. They use electric shocks to make animals and poultry lose consciousness and then they slaughter them by cutting their heads off.
We said: Their dislike is needless and most out of place; the Lord God has made it permissible to human beings to slaughter animals, game, and poultry and consume their meat; these creatures do not feel pain; they shake when slaughtered so that their blood would trickle.
He said: Would the fact that they use electric shocks before slaughtering such creatures make them prohibited food items in Islam?!
We said: No.
He said: What if the electric shocks killed the creatures? Would this make them prohibited food items?
We said: No. to put an animal to death in order to consume its meat is not like finding a dead animal; it is prohibited to consume the meat of dead animals; i.e., the ones found dead and not the ones slaughtered for the purpose of food.
He said: What Quranic proofs have I of your view?!
We said: There is a difference between natural death and killing or putting to death: “If you die, or are killed-to God you will be gathered up. ” (3:158); “Those who emigrate in God’s cause, then get killed, or die, God will provide them with fine provisions…” (22:58).
He said: These Quranic verses you have quoted are about human beings!
We said: The human beings and non-human creatures may die or get killed. We talk here about the cause of death: with or without the interference of external factors. The Lord God has prohibited the consumption of dead meat; i.e., animals found dead and not killed/slaughtered by human beings.
He said: Yet, those who support the label ‘Halal’ assume that this verse about prohibited food items applies to slaughterhouses of the West: “Prohibited for you are carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and animals dedicated to other than God; also the flesh of animals strangled, killed violently, killed by a fall, gored to death, mangled by wild animals – except what you rescue…” (5:3). Does this verse apply to abattoirs of the West?!
We said: No. Death of animals caused by factors mentioned in 5:3 and not by being slaughtered for food by human beings makes them prohibited food items. Permissible meat is the one of creatures killed/slaughtered by human beings for the purpose of being consumed as food; these are not dead animals; this is why we find the phrase (except what you rescue) in 5:3.
He said: Are you sure, then, that when human beings kill/slaughter any creature/animal, its meat is permissible food in Islam?
We said: Yes, we are quite sure.
He said: What Quranic proofs have I of your stance?!
We said: Let us suppose that you go hunting now with your gun; you aim and shoot at a gazelle, killing it instantly; you can consume the flesh of this gazelle; right?
He said: Sure thing; yet, I want Quranic proofs supporting what you say to me.
We said: The Lord God says the following in the Quran: “O you who believe! God will test you with something of the game your hands and spears obtain, that God may know who fears Him at heart. Whoever commits aggression after that will have a painful torment. O you who believe! Do not kill game while you are in pilgrim sanctity. Whoever of you kills any intentionally, its penalty shall be a domestic animal comparable to what he killed, as determined by two honest persons among you-an offering delivered to the Kaaba. Or he may atone by feeding the needy, or its equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the consequences of his conduct. God forgives what is past. But whoever repeats, God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Avenger.” (5:94-95).
He said: Would explain this further to me?!
We said: Pilgrims during Hajj and Umrah in Mecca should never go hunting or kill any creatures.
He said: So, they cannot hunt, but what about consuming the meat of hunted animals.
We said: People typically hunt animals for food.
He said: So, the pilgrims are not to hunt and never to eat meat of animals hunted in Mecca. I understand now. But what about my question?!
We said: This means that hunting and consumption of hunted animals as food is allowed outside Mecca for non-pilgrims before they begin their Ihram as pilgrims.
He said: What is hunting exactly in the Quran?!
We said: It means catching any kind of wild or even domesticated animals.
He said: What Quranic proofs have you of this?!
We said: We see here that consuming animals for food is permissible – except for the kinds prohibited in the Quran; hunting is prohibited for pilgrims in a state of Ihram (i.e., pilgrim sanctity) in Mecca: “O you who believe! Fulfill your contracts. Livestock animals are permitted for you, except those specified to you; but do not go hunting while you are in pilgrim sanctity. God decrees whatever He wills.” (5:1).
He said: What about fishing?
We said: It is permissible for pilgrims and non-pilgrims: “Permitted for you is the catch of sea, and its food – as sustenance for you and for travelers. But forbidden for you is hunting while you are in pilgrim sanctity…” (5:96). Of course, hunting (i.e., chasing, catching, and killing/slaughtering animals for food) is permissible for non-pilgrims.
He said: What about 5:94?
We said: Let us remind you of it: “O you who believe! God will test you with something of the game your hands and spears obtain, that God may know who fears Him at heart. Whoever commits aggression after that will have a painful torment.” (5:94).
He said: What is meant by 5:94?
We said: Of course this legislation comes in the Quranic Chapter Five, one of the Chapters revealed shortly before the death of Muhammad. Arab believers used to hunt for food during pilgrimage; this went on until the conquest of Mecca peacefully by the Yathreb city-state troops. The Lord God warns them in 5:94 about this test of obedience; they must never catch (with their arrows and spears) wild game or domesticated animals inside the Sacred Kaaba Mosque; these creatures must walk peacefully in the crowd and no one must harm them or hunt them for food. In 5:95, hunting is prohibited for pilgrims within the state of Ihram; those who violate this Quranic rule must make amends and those who repeat this sin intentionally will be punished severely by God: “O you who believe! Do not kill game while you are in pilgrim sanctity. Whoever of you kills any intentionally, its penalty shall be a domestic animal comparable to what he killed, as determined by two honest persons among you-an offering delivered to the Kaaba. Or he may atone by feeding the needy, or its equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the consequences of his conduct. God forgives what is past. But whoever repeats, God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Avenger.” (5:95). We notice the use of the verb (to kill) and not slaughter or rescue. This means that in most cases, hunters who catch any creatures kill them for food; this is permissible food items in ordinary cases; this hunting and this food is prohibited only for pilgrims in Mecca who are in a state of Ihram.
He said: I understand now that hunting and killing animals for food is permissible for non-pilgrims; hunting and killing creatures for food is permissible and this means only animals killed by human beings are permissible food items. Right?!
We said: Exactly. Let us ask you: Do you know if the meat chunks with the label ‘Halal’ in Arabic come from animals slaughtered in the way of Muslims or not?
He said: I am not sure; I only see the label and I am supposed to think that the owners of the products do not tell lies.
We said: You believe they do not lie at all?!
He said: I think they tell lies; I tasted both kinds: the one with the label and the one without it. I am an expert in kinds of meat. There is no difference. Besides, manipulating religion in trade makes me think such owners of the so-called ‘Halal’ products tell many lies to consumers in order to sell! They are doubtful products, I think!
We said: There is something else.
He said: What is it?!
We said: The Lord God has made it permissible for us to consume the permissible food items cooked/produced by the People of the Book (i.e., Jews + Christians). “Today all good things are made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them…” (5:5).
He said: But they consume the flesh of pigs and swines!
We said: This is forbidden food items for them and for Muslims; this is why we said that the Lord God has made it permissible for us to consume the permissible food items cooked/produced by the People of the Book.
He said: But they consume the flesh of pigs and swines!
We said: The Muhammadans, who suppose themselves to be ‘Muslims’, commit the same sin!
He said: Do you mean that they consume the flesh of pigs and swines?!
We said: No; they do not consume the flesh of pigs and swines; we mean that they violate Quranic laws about one prohibited food item; namely, the animals slaughtered at sanctified mausoleums and altars honoring (and dedicated to) the so-called ‘saints’ or deified mortals in Sufi, Sunnite, or Shiite religious feasts. Though such animals are slaughtered in the way of Muslims, and deemed as ‘Islamic’, they are among the prohibited food items mentioned repeatedly in the Quran: “Prohibited for you are…and animals dedicated to other than God…and animals sacrificed on altars…” (5:3); “He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and what was dedicated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled, without desiring or exceeding, he commits no sin. God is Forgiving and Merciful.” (2:173); “He has forbidden you carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and anything consecrated to other than God. But if anyone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious, then God is Forgiving and Merciful.” (16:115); “Say, “In what was revealed to me, I find nothing forbidden to a consumer who eats it, except carrion, or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine – because it is impure – or a sinful offering dedicated to other than God. But if someone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious-your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful. ” (6:145). Sadly, despite this repetition and warning, the Muhammadans venerate and worship their ‘holy’ tombs to draw benediction from them and consume meat of animals slaughtered and dedicated to honor the so-called ‘saints’ and entombed deities.
He said: May the Lord God’s Holy Name be glorified! The Muhammadans are extremists in prohibiting permissible food items cooked/prepared by the People of the Book but they allow the consumption of a food item prohibited in the Quran repeatedly!
We said: This is the bad habit of the followers of terrestrial/earthly religion of Satan. Some of the misguided ones among the People of the Book consume meat of swines/pigs/hogs and drink wine though both items are prohibited food; they deem them as permissible food items. Likewise, the Muhammadans made it permissible (and as if a religious ‘good’ deed drawing them ‘nearer’ to God!) to consume a prohibited food item: meat of animals slaughtered during religious feasts at the sanctified mausoleums of the so-called ‘saints’!
He said: Indeed, Satan and devils will never tender their resignation and will never give up!