I have been thinking about this topic for a couple years now. I always found it fascinating how certain Muslims are such die hard halal meat eaters, without ever questioning that halal meat with the same scrutiny they give “outside” meat. Now this is not an article about what is halal and what is haram, or whether McDonald is halal or makhruh. This article is about looking at halal from another angle, one that is very often missed.
When you think about halal meat you immediately know that the slaughtering process must follow a couple strict guidelines. Name of Allah has to be said, blood must be drained, animal must be treated humanly, all that good stuff. Now when it comes to halal, we focus, for the most part, on the first two items. My goal is to show you how the last part is what makes or breaks, for me, what is truly halal meat.
Organic: The New Halal
This explosion of organic has been both refreshing and annoying. Just like “halal” people take the term organic at face value and don’t dig deeper. For me a truly organic product is one where the animal was treated kindly, given ample room to graze, did not eat dead animal bits mixed with corn, came from family farmers, and the money goes to supporting a company that is fair and responsible. Now, tell me how many companies like this do you know?
Not very many. I have done extraneous research on companies that seem all lovely and organic, like Horizon Organic, a huge organic milk seller. Only to find these companies are just like their non-organic counterparts, where the bottom line is king and everything and everyone comes second to money. Most of the time they don’t treat family farmers who provide them meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc, fairly and the company is ethically deficient.
Save A Cow, Save the World
So why is all of this important? Why should I care how the animals are treated, or take so much concern if the farmer is getting the right cut for his or her efforts? We should care because as Muslims it is our responsibility to do so. As Muslims we care and stand up for the rights of animals, the rights of farmers, the rights of our bodies. Think about it, every time you buy milk which is not organic and not from a respectable company you are literally saying yes, I support bovine suffering, and I’m totally okay with giving my halal money to a greedy, money hungry, company. Halal is so much deeper then not eating McDonalds, or “outside” food. Even when it comes to halal restaurants, do we know where the meat is coming from. Was the chicken in our shawarma allowed to live its life outside, under the sun, snacking on natural grains? Or was it crushed together with a thousand other steroid injected chickens, suffering, cursing every human for the state of its injustice? But at least it was slaughtered in the name of Allah, right?
I would like to end with this excellent video of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in which he talks about animals & Islam. It is imperative that we think deeper about topics, understand the whole picture, and do our research. We as Muslims are caretakers of this planet and every creature that resides within. So if you want to eat halal, start by making sure the milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, fish, even fruits and vegetables you are eating also meet the standards of halal. Halal is the original organic, never forget.