Just about every butchery in town wants Halal somewhere in its slogan. Most food dealers shove Halal certificates into the faces of the customers to be seen as compliant with Halal specifications. What is Halal food? What are the issues surrounding it, why should you eat or not eat Halal food? Bright Mhango deals with the issue.
Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines from the Quâ€™ran, Muslim followers cannot consume â€˜haraamâ€™ or that which is forbidden in Islam.
Haraam foods include: animals not slaughtered properly, animals that are slaughtered in the name of a god other than Allah, carnivorous mammals, pork or pork by-products (like marshmallows, gelatin, jello), animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, blood and blood by-products, birds of prey and alcohol. (Quran 2:173, 5:3, 6:121)
Muslims are taught through the Qurâ€™an that all animals should be treated with respect and should be well cared for. Muslims claim that Islamic law aims to keep the world ecology balanced in a stable and healthy way.
In Halal slaying, the jugular vein is cut in a way that cuts off oxygen to the brain and pain receptors. Blood is completely drained from the carcass as much as is practical.
It is this type of slaughter that does not go down well with some people who argue that Halal tortures animals as they are killed slowly.
In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), a British organisation that advises government on how to avoid torture of livestock, recommended that Halal should be banned because the way Halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals.
Peter Jinman, president of the British Veterinary Association, said vets respected peopleâ€™s religious beliefs, but urged Muslims to be respectful of animals too.
“Weâ€™re looking at what is acceptable in the moral and ethical society we live in,” he told BBC.
National coordinator of the Islamic Information Bureau Sheik Dinala Chabulika trashed the accusations as baseless, saying the Halal way is what Allah recommends.
“Even those who do not eat meat saying animals are killed should also know that plants are living things tooâ€¦God gave us a go-ahead to eat animals and as much as stunning animals is good, the Islam says we should slaughter our animals with a sharp knife and we do just that,” said Chabulika.
Muslims argue that their long established method of slaughter results in a sudden loss of blood from the head, causing animals to feel virtually nothing
The Muslim Council of Britain argued that animals are not distressed when they are slaughtered.
“Itâ€™s a sudden and quick haemorrhage. A quick loss of blood pressure and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain,” said the councilâ€™s spokesman at the time Dr Majid Katme.
Chabulika said Halal foods are not just about Islam but also cleanliness.
“Blood might contain some diseases and draining it might prevent infection,” he said.
Scholars argue that what man eats cannot interfere with his faith. There are, however, some scholars such as those from the Seventh-Day Adventist who argue that there is a link between eating foods prohibited in the Old Testaments and bad health.
Almost all the meat eaten in Malawian restaurants is Halal and the fact that Malawi is a predominantly Christian shows that there is religious tolerance at play as no Christian has risen up to contest the Halal meat on their plate.
For some Rastafarians and vegetarians, however, it doesnâ€™t matter whether the animal was killed while on euthanasia.
For them, as long as the animal dies, there is no decency.