5:3 (Asad) FORBIDDEN to you is carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that over which any name other than God's has been invoked,  and the animal that has been strangled, or beaten to death, or killed by a fall, or gored to death, or savaged by a beast of prey, save that which you [yourselves] may have slaughtered while it was still alive; and [forbidden to you is] all that has been slaughtered on idolatrous altars.  And [you are forbidden] to seek to learn through divination what the future may hold in store for you:  this is sinful conduct. Today, those who , are bent on denying the truth have lost all hope of [your ever forsaking] your religion: do not, then, hold them in awe, but stand in awe of Me! Today have I perfected your religious law for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self-surrender unto Me shall be your religion.  As for him, however, who is driven [to what is forbidden] by dire necessity  and not by an inclination to sinning -behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.
(Thank you Quran Search ) This is from Surah Ma'idah. It is not the only place in the Quran that mentions Halaal but I like it as it is in some detail. Remember Quran is not the only source of information for Muslims, the volumes and volumes of Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) is also a major source, not to mention your own intellect (but we define intellect in a different way and more on that in a later post)!
The above sounds pretty straightforward. Don't eat dead animals, blood, pigs and only eat what has been slaughtered. It is interesting that it says "any name other than God's has been invoked" and not on which God's name has been invoked. So you can invoke God's name and some other name also and that would make it Haram? Right? Not sure here.
Then there is more in surah Baqara in the Quran يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلاً طَيِّباً وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
2:168 (Asad) O MANKIND! Partake of what is lawful and good on earth, and follow not Satan's footsteps: for, verily, he is your open foe,
So we get Halaal, but what is this "Tayyib" or "good on earth"?
I don't know, but I would like to know. I have been making lots of guesses about it since Khaled's diagnosis and although we have always consumed halaal, I have begun to question seriously what Halaal REALLY means.
Does "good on earth" mean healthy? Wholesome? Organic? Clean?
Here is my breakdown of what "good on earth" could mean. Intention Intentions count for a lot in Islam. Greed is obviously bad intention. Remember when meat was a privilege? Something you ate on Friday or the day off so it would be like a celebration. (Friday is not even a day off in my old country anymore sadly). This was because it was expensive and considered extravagant. Simplicity was encouraged in everyday life including in the food you ate.
Now it is common for families to eat meat everyday. "My kids only eat chicken", " My husband has to have meat everyday" and so on. I think sometimes, although I am not even 30 yet, I come from another time. When I would make vegan food for my husband in the early days of our marriage he would make a face and I would say, you have to prepare for any eventuality. What if one day you lose your job and cannot afford to eat whatever you want all the time? He isn't complaining anymore.
Suppliers are trying to meet this exponential demand for meat.
If the intention underlying your production of food is greed or gluttony, then does it make your food halaal?
If you are feeding an animal hormones, antibiotics, additives and so on to make them fatter, grow faster so you can sell more animals to feed more people who feel it is their God given right to eat meat all the time, then is that animal still halaal? The treatment of animals Do you ever imagine the animal you are eating? And if you do, then is that image a sentimental one of animals trotting about the farm happily? In reality this probably happened, a few decades ago! Nowadays it is all about factory farming. Most animals are mass-produced for human consumption. They aren't just trotting about and you slaughter a few to eat, they are bred, birthed and raised only for the purpose of human consumption. This bothers me.
In Islam there is a special celebration called Eid-al Adha. It is on the 10Th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul Hijja. It is the festival of sacrifice. SACRIFICE being the operative word here. On this day we are meant to remember the willingness of Ibarhim to slaughter his son Ishmael as an act of devotion to God (he didn't actually get slaughtered, it was just a test, God saved him). One dictionary meaning of sacrifice is "the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim." The animals one purchases before Eid (with the intention to sacrifice) are meant to be prized, valued, treated with respect and love. You are supposed to feel a loss, financially and emotionally. It is forbidden in Islam to mistreat living things.
Now consider animals caged in window-less pens, in overcrowded factories with no regard for their well-being. If animals are genetically produced (like dairy cows) to only produce milk and forced to continually birth calves to produce milk, then is this situation halaal?
Have you ever asked your Halaal butcher or halaal assigning committees how they make sure that it is not just Allah-Akbar that is uttered during slaughter of the animal but also these animals are treated from birth in a Tayyib and Islamic way?
I love meat. I like barbeque's, but I love myself more. I want to be healthy and I want God to be happy with me. I don't want to have to answer for the horrific conditions in which animals are bred to fulfil my meat-greed. I would rather be safe than sorry. I cannot afford Organic halal meat all the time as it is expensive, but who said you have to eat meat everyday?
Just a rant I wanted to put out there for people to contemplate. A lot of people think religion and faith is about blind submission and rituals. I do not feel that way about my faith. I think God wants us to think and feel.
Here are a few eid photos from I think two years ago.
All of them cry when the animals are slaugthered. I hope they remember it always when they buy and eat meat.