We have been told, over and over, that ‘Halal meat’ is the ‘lowest common denominator’ for all peoples: that is, that serving ‘Halal meat’ does not infringe the sensibilities (religious or otherwise) of non-Muslims while serving non-Halal food does….the logical conclusion being that serving Halal meat is the best course of action.
Indeed, in the UK, many have bought into this line of reasoning, including many schools. They no longer offer a non-Halal meat option. Indeed, many supermarkets in the UK offer Halal-slaughtered meat only – without labeling it as ‘Halal meat’ or ‘Halal-compliant-meat’ or ‘Halal-slaughtered-meat’.
However, serving/selling Halal meat is not as ‘universally acceptable’ as many Islamist lobbyists would like us to believe…even if we were to leave out the implications of the rules required for ‘Halal certification’, which violate our hiring/labour laws based on not discriminating on the grounds of relgion when hirin workers, as in order to maintain ‘Halal’ certification, only Muslims and/or Muslim supervisors are permitted.
When I was doing a little bit of research on this, I discovered that ‘Halal-certified meat’ could, indeed, be problematic.
The first group to be strictly forbidden to consume ‘Halal meat’ my research encountered were the Sikhs….who are very strictly forbidden from consuming ‘Halal meat,’ indeed.
It would appear that there are two distinct, both important, doctrinal reasons for the prohibition.
- Sikhism requires that an animal is to be killed in as swift and painless manner as possible in order for them to be able to eat it. The Islamic method of ‘Halal slaughter’ violates this by requiring animals to be slowly and painfully bled to death. When India was conquered by Muslims and the Koranic method of slowly bleeding the animal to death was imposed, Sikh religious leaders forbade all Sikhs the consumption of meat slaughtered in such a cruel manner. Most Sikhs will prefer to become vegetarians rather than eat meat that was slaughtered by either the Halal or Kosher method.
- Sikhism forbids the eating of food that was ‘prayed over’ or that was ‘sacrificial’. This, of course, would apply to all ‘Halal meat’, which is prayed over and dedicated as a sacrifice to ‘Allah’ as it is slaughtered.
Here are the references:
- Sikhs.org – Sikhs.org/meat
- this source adds a third reason - ‘sovereignty’
- even Wikipedia has some info on it: Prohibitions in Sikhism (Not that I consider Wikipedia to be an authoritative source – I included it to demonstrate that this is a well known principle of mainstream Sikhism and does not just represent the position of some obscure fringe sect.)
The Sikh method of animal slaughter is called ‘Jhatka‘. It is very clear that Halal meat cannot be Jhatka meat and Jhatka meat cannot be Halal meat, as described in one of the references cited already above (first bullet). They are, by definition, mutually exclusive.
What I found interesting while doing this research is that meat-eating Hindus are strictly prohibited from eating Halal meat. The references found are not deeply scriptual, but they do demonstrate this is a widely held belief: here and here.
Here is a news report that demonstrates that Buddhists also find the consumption of Halal meat problematic on doctrinal grounds.
Needles to say, secular humanists are very strongly opposed to the consumption of Halal meat because of the extreme cruelty of the method of slaughter. Here is just one example.
What is interesting is that when I was poking around on the internet, I have found a curious twist to things: in both the Old Testament and in the Apostolic Letters of the New Testament, there are clear and strict prohibitions for Christians on the consumption of all sacrificial meat. As all Halal meat is, indeed, sacrificial meat by the virtue of the prayer chanted over them as they are slaughtered (this is indeed the Sikh and Hindu interpretation, as well), some of the better-informed, or, perhaps, more doctrinally-adherent Christian sects are, in fact, interpreting this to mean that Christian scriptures strictly forbid the consumption of Halal meat.
In conclusion, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhist and Christians are doctrinally forbidden from consuming Halal meat and secular humanists tend to avoid it on animal cruelty grounds.
Thus, any and all claims that ‘Halal meat’ ought to be the ‘default’ or ‘lowest common denominator’ for serving food in schools or other institutions, or that it is not necessary to label ‘Halal-slaughtered-meat’ as ‘Halal-compliant’ or ‘Sharia-compliant’ in our restaurants and retail stores is an obvious violation of the freedom of religion provision of our constitution – and, as such, cannot be permitted and/or tolerated.
After all, each and every one of us deserves the right to make a choice – an informed choice – about the food we consume.
It is our constitutional/common-law right – now let us make sure our governments require the proper labeling so that we can, indeed, make the informed choice our constitutional/common-law rights give us!!!