by Ian Sleeper
“Halal” means permissible in Arabic. Under Islamic law, anything halal, is allowable for a Muslim. It doesn’t just apply to meat, or food generally. The term “halal” also applies to any product or activity that Muhammad, according to Muslims, would allow (including marrying your sex slave, if you have one). This includes a wide range of items, for example, halal lipstick, halal skin cream, halal beer which is non-alcoholic of course, and even halal cigarettes.
Halal meat requires the animal to be blessed by a prayer, in the name of Allah, using the “Bismilah”, a most powerful prayer to a Muslim: Say (O Muhammad): Invoke Allah or invoke the Most Gracious, [al-Rahmaan] (Allah) (Quran S.17:110).The animal’s throat is then cut and it dies a slow, cruel death, without being humanely stunned first. Eat not (O believers) of that (meat) on which Allah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering of the animal) (Quran S.6:121)
Currently, UK government guidelines on animal slaughter state that animals must be stunned to render them unconscious before being slaughtered, stopping them from feeling pain when having their throats cut, and therefore reducing any suffering; unless, the animal is to be slaughtered for religious consumption, i.e. halal for Muslims or kosher for Jews. Here the act of stunning first is omitted and deemed unnecessary. Government guidance on stunned slaughter. So, there is one rule of slaughtering for one group of society and another for the rest.
My Indian Restaurant
Sitting in my Indian Restaurant (yes, I own an Indian restaurant), a Muslim couple drinking beer and wine asked my waiter if our lamb was halal. All food and drink is Halal for Muslims, apart from pork and alcohol, but the meat must be prayed over before slaughter. So, the answer for the couple at the table was: “Your lamb jalfrezi is halal, but your Cobra beer and Chardonnay aren’t”.
It’s so ridiculously contradictory, and funny, for them to be so concerned about keeping within Islamic law whilst not keeping within Islamic law. They might as well have asked for a halal bacon butty but sadly bacon butties are not on our menu, so not possible anyway.
To make meat halal for Muslims, the animal from which it comes has to be slaughtered in a certain way, in accordance with Islamic practice, and this practice has been written into UK law.
No choice in suppliers
Now, I know what you are all thinking, hang on Ian, aren’t you being a bit hypocritical, owning an Indian Restaurant and serving halal meat? Well yes, you could say that but, I still must keep the peace with my chefs, who won’t handle anything that is not halal, and none of my suppliers will deal in non-halal chicken. I do have to tread a very fine line. It is easy to criticise halal meat and the practices surrounding it, but I must equally keep the Singleton Tandoori a happy ship. Besides, I can’t change things on my own. I must be realistic.
Halal meat, whether we like it or not, is used in many institutions in the UK, such as prisons, schools and hospitals, to satisfy the needs of a minority. It is easier and more cost effective for them to supply halal-approved foods for all, rather than offer a choice of halal or non-halal. This is an imposition on the majority for the sake of the vocal minority.
The choice between halal and non-halal is being reduced for the rest of us too, as more and more food outlets, such as KFC, M&S, Pizza Express, the Slug and Lettuce chain, Domino’s Pizza, Morrisons, Tesco, Greggs, Waitrose, Subway, Zizzi and Nando’s are vying for the Islamic pound.
There are specialist Kosher meat outlets for those who specifically want Kosher meat, and that’s fine if you are not concerned about the inhumane killing methods at the abattoir. But the same cannot be said for halal where there is no choice for the rest of us.
Many people won’t have a problem with the availability of halal food for Muslims. We are, after all, a tolerant nation. But when it is forced onto all our plates, it is fair to say that our tolerance is being abused.
However, all this controversy is unnecessary, because an Imam’s advice to any Muslim travelling abroad to somewhere where halal meat cannot be found, is to follow the rule of convenience… just don’t worry about it, eat what’s there! Our government does not need to allow halal slaughter at all. Muslims would not suffer.
How do Christians feel?
Some Christians are concerned about whether they are allowed to eat meat which has been offered up in worship to another God, but halal has only been prayed over and not offered as an appeasing sacrifice. Besides, whatever has been prayed into your dinner, can be prayed out again for your peace of mind. Be assured also that Jesus said, in Mathew 15:11, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them”.
Of further concern is the suspicion that a portion of the funds generated from the fees charged to businesses for the certification of products as halal is being used to fund terrorism. At the very least, money generated is used to prop up and fund an ideology that is anti-female Surah 4:34 “Men are in charge of women” , “Men can beat their wives”; anti-homosexual “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” Book of Al-Akhan Book 38 Number 4447; anti-unbeliever “Slay the unbelievers, and ambush them” Sura 9:5; and anti-apostate “Kill the apostate” Sura 4:89.
Whatever is permissible or not permissible for Muslims, it is not acceptable for the rest of us to be asked to follow the rules of their religion. We must stop all non-stun slaughter in this country.