Action Alert January 2011
This is an archived edition of Action Alert.
The Petition Against the Imposition of Halal Foods
In the Muslim worldview and in accordance with Shari’a Law, all matters of human life – both individually and communally – are divided into halal (pure and therefore permitted and lawful) and haram (impure, and therefore forbidden and unlawful). This concept applies to foodstuffs, and halal foods are those that are prepared, stored, and transported in accordance with Shari’a Law. Halal meat products must be produced from animals slaughtered according to Islamic Law; halal products must be free from any haram substance or ingredient (such as enzymes and emulsifiers made from pigs); halal products must be produced, manufactured, and stored using utensils, equipment, and machines that have been cleansed according to Islamic Law; and manufactured food must be free from any contamination and must not come into contact with any haram substance during preparation, production, and storage.
While not all Muslims strictly follow Shari’a Law in this matter, and while we would uphold the freedom of Muslim people to follow Shari’a Law in regard to their food if they wish to do so, the issue is that the halal food system is being imposed upon all of us in our Western countries. Increasing numbers of food producers and manufacturers are ensuring that their products are halal, and are paying Islamic organisations to secure the appropriate halal certification. Some products now carry a small symbol on the packaging to identify the foodstuff as halal compliant and some products will actually list halal ingredients in the list of ingredients (for example, halal gelatine is listed as a thickener in some cream and yogurt). Because it is easier and more cost-effective for food producers and manufacturers to operate a single production process, many of these companies are shifting their production processes to comply with Shari’a Law, even though the majority of the consumers of their food products are non-Muslims. So, the result is that the halal system is imposed upon us all, without our consent, often without our knowledge, and usually without alternatives being available.
Why is this a concern? Well, there are a number of reasons why non-Muslims may not want to eat halal foods –
- The spread of the halal system in our Western countries is seen by many Muslims as a part of Islamic mission (dawa) and the Islamisation of their non-Muslim host societies. Non-Muslims are being forced to comply with Shari’a Law at this level, and this re-affirms their understanding that Islam is supreme.
- The halal compliant methods of slaughtering animals raise issues of animal cruelty. Many Muslims believe that Shari’a Law prohibits an animal from being stunned prior to its slaughter, because its throat must be cut and the blood must run out and not congeal in the animal’s veins. Many Muslims think that the animal must be fully conscious and sensate to ensure that the full drainage of blood occurs. (In our usual Western slaughter practice, we ensure that the animals are stunned to lessen pain and suffering.)
- The halal compliant methods of slaughtering animals also require that the animals are facing toward Mecca [some abattoirs in Western countries have been re-designed so that the animals coming along the production line are facing the ‘correct’ way] and that the slaughterman proclaim in Arabic the bismillah (meaning “in the name of Allah”) or the shahada (the Islamic creedal statement) over the animal as it dies [this means that only Muslim slaughtermen can get work at these abattoirs].
- The eating of meats association with non-Christian religious practices may be of concern to some Christians and raises the issue of ‘meat-sacrificed-to-idols’. While Christians do not acknowledge Allah as the true God, some Christians would prefer to not have halal meat or other halal foodstuffs on their dining tables.
- The food producers and manufacturers are paying Islamic organisations to certify their products as halal compliant. We may not want a portion of the money that we spend to buy those products supporting the advance of Islam.
Barnabas Fund (a Christian mission agency that primarily works to support Christian minority groups in Muslim majority countries) has launched a petition calling on the governments of Western nations to address this issue. The petition in Australia asks our Federal Government to legislate so that all halal foodstuffs are clearly labelled as such and to ensure that food producers and manufacturers offer consumers alternative non-halal foods. It also raises the question of the level of animal cruelty involved in halal compliant slaughter methods.
You are urged to sign this petition. You can obtain a copy of the petition from Barnabas Fund Australia, Postal Suite 107, 236 Hyperdome, Loganholme, Qld, 4129. You can telephone Barnabas Fund on 1300 365799. You can visit their website at www.barnabasfund.org and sign on-line, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
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This monthly release is prepared by Pastor Brian Robertson (P O Box 2367, Bundaberg, 4670) to inform Christian people about issues within our society. “Action Alert” does not promote any one political party, but encourages its readers to be “salt and light” by speaking out on some of these matters. The views expressed in “Action Alert” are those of the author and are not necessarily those of a local church or a denominational organisation. To the extent permissible by law, no church or denomination accepts liability for anything contained in this publication and any use made of it.