How Halal Meat Can Help in Integration of Muslims in Europe
Halal meat can play a greater role in the integration of Muslims in the Western world and elsewhere. Halal means permitted or lawful in the Arabic language as revealed in the Quran and taught by Muhammad (SAW). We can get Halal meat as a result of performing the slaughter of certain permitted animals according to Islam in a particular way. A Muslim performs the slaughter by saying Arabic words “Bismillah Allahu Akbar” meaning “In the Name of Allah, Allah is Great”.
Animal Slaughter and West
Islam clearly defines, the method of slaughtering animals before making it acceptable for Muslim eating.
As per European Union rules, animals must be stunned (made unconscious) before slaughter to minimize their sufferings at the time of death. Both EU Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter and EU Regulation 1099/2009 also allow exemption to stunning on ritual slaughter.
But many countries like Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland and even Australia etc. do not offer any exception on religious grounds.
Animal stunning is carried out through gas, an electric shock, or a steel bolt which is supposed as more humane by its supporters. While Muslim scholars argue that to minimize animals’ suffering is the integral part of a ritual slaughter. Ritual slaughter is carried out through a quick, deep precise cut on the throat, with a sharp knife-edge by a trained slaughterer. It is ensured that the blood flows out completely from the body by cutting its jugular vein, windpipe, and arteries. The sight of slaughter is not to be seen by another animal to save it from fear and pain.
Fatwa on Stunning
Although Islamic scholars disagree on pre-stunning among themselves but permits its meat if the animal doesn’t die as a result of unconsciousness. Some allow stunning if animals can be brought back to normal condition.
According to a Fatwa issued by renowned scholar Mufti Taqi Usman from Pakistan in 2005, “An animal’s meat will not be halal if it has died because of stunning and not because of cutting throat and the blood flowing from its veins. However, if its death is caused by the blood flowing from its veins not caused by stunning, eating its meat will not be held impermissible, although the act of stunning, either before or after the slaughter, is not permissible”.
Muslims face problems while celebrating Eid-ul-Adha (a major annual festival of animal sacrifice in Islam) in Europe and many other non-Muslims countries.
Eid-ul-Adha means feast of the sacrifice in Arabic. It is meant to honor the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice his son Ismail to submit to the will of Allah.
Rahid Ali from Pakistan, lives in London with his Bulgarian wife and two kids Aleena and Husnain.
He finds it difficult to explain Eid-ul-Adha to his family as they have not seen (Qurbani)animal sacrifice by their own eyes.
“We lived in Cyprus for ten years where I used to go to work on the day of Eid-ul-Adha like other Muslims there. Sometime I would come to know from my family in Pakistan about Eid-ul-Adha. This leaves a bad effect on our kids because they don’t know about the history, purpose and meaning of Eid-ul-Adha,” Ali regretted.
“Last year, I ordered for a Qurbani here in London, they provided me meat but we couldn’t see how it was done.” Ali informed SalamWebToday.
Need for Mutual Consensus
Islam takes great care of Animal welfare not only at the time of killing but throughout their life. Animal well-being can be learnt from the verses of Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Therefore, debates are needed to reach a mutual consensus on the freedom of manifestation of religion and animal rights.
The demand for halal food should not be considered as the failure of Muslims to integrate into European society. Halal if marketed well can attract people beyond religion as nutritious and healthy food. The large Muslim population in Europe and other non-Muslim countries is a great potential for the halal products market and a means of greater Muslim integration to European communities.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a development professional from Pakistan. He has a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])