Click on the picture to read a newspaper report about the sale of Halal meat in UK shops. This issue has been the subject of recent news reports and radio and TV discussions. Blogger, Christina, submitted the following article for discussion, from a Catholic perspective…
The UK operates under European Union rules which normally require stunning before animal slaughter. But the rules have an opt-out clause for “religious rites” that exempts animals from being stunned.
The Muslim community is divided over whether stunning of animals is allowed before bleeding. Strict interpretation of the law requires that they be not stunned, as they might die before the throat is cut, and ‘the animal needs to do the convulsions so that the flowing blood is drained out’. It is claimed that most halal meat is stunned – 81 per cent of sheeps and goats and 88 per cent of poultry, according to the Food Standards Agency, although, given the information to be found on various Muslim sites, and the two Muslim certification bodies active in the UK, one may perhaps be forgiven for considering these figures to be underestimated.
However, I am not considering here the question of whether or not halal and kosher methods of slaughter are cruel and inhumane (although clearly the BVA and other animal welfare groups argue convincingly that without prior stunning of the animal they certainly are, and think that the EU opt-out clause for ‘religious rites’ should be opposed).
What I am considering is the ritual aspect, specifically the ‘tasmiyah’ or blessing said over the animal being slaughtered, and whether or not this should concern me as a Catholic.
According to a Muslim source:
Sharia is a general principle, a way and a way of life. This is what Islam applies in all matters whether it is an act of worship or a daily act. Animal slaughter can be both of them. It is an act of worship if the Muslim slaughters a goat, a sheep, a cow or even a camel on the occasion of the Sacrifice Day on the 10th, 11th or 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. This sacrifice is compulsory on every sane Muslim, male or female alike – having 613,65 grams of silver and who is not on a journey. The sacrifice, done because of an oath taken previously called ‘adak’ is also an act of worship. The animal slaughtered for daily consumption is slaughtered the same way as a sacrifice……….Another verse of the holy Qur’an gives us further details: “They ask thee what is lawful to them as food. Say: Lawful unto you are all things good and pure: and what ye have taught your trained hunting animals to catch in the manner directed to you by Allah. Eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it and fear Allah. For Allah is swift in taking account” (Qur’an 5:4). This is the first Quranic reference in the order of the chapters to slaughter in the name of Allah. Four verses……..reveal that this principle does not only apply to hunting but to normal slaughter as well (which must be done by a Muslim, or a group of Muslims). Remembering Allah means pronouncing the following formula three times: “Bismillah. Allahu akbar” (In the name of Allah. Allah is the greatest).
Thus halal slaughter is an act of worship (or a sacrifice) to Allah, the god of Islam, a false religion dating from 622AD, after Mohammed claimed to have been visited by the Angel Gabriel who dictated the Qur’an to him. In this visitation ‘Gabriel’ told Mohammed that God has no Son and that God is unable to become incarnate, thus contradicting the true Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary, some six centuries earlier, telling her that she was to become the Mother of God. Thus, Mohammed’s ‘angel’ was most certainly a demon, for Satan himself can pass for an angel of light, and his servants have no difficulty in passing for servants of holiness (2. Cor.11: 14-15), and Islam, the new religion he taught, is a false religion: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema (1. Gal.1: 8-9). Allah is therefore a false god or idol.
Because I am forbidden, by the first Commandment, to worship false gods or idols, it follows that I am forbidden to have anything to do with the worship of the false god Allah, which, I believe, includes the eating of meat that has been slaughtered ritually by a Muslim(s) pronouncing the ‘tasmiyah’ as an act of worship or a sacrifice to him.
In the First Epistle to the Corinthians St. Paul deals in detail with the eating of meat that has been used in idolatrous worship. He says: But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils. He goes on to say that although human considerations might dictate that they avoid giving offence to others by refusing to eat such meat, nevertheless such liberty does not obtain if there is any danger that eating it might give scandal: …..but if any man say: this has been sacrificed to idols, do not eat of it for his sake that told it, and for conscience’ sake.
Muslims are strictly forbidden to eat meat slaughtered ‘in the name of anyone but Allah’, and ‘all that has been dedicated or offered in sacrifice to an idolatrous altar or saint or a person considered to be divine’. In other words, they observe the first commandment strictly in accordance with their own religious laws. They are giving witness to their false religion with such fervour that our entire society is bowing to it. To counter Muslim witness, where is Christian witness? It is confined to a few, mainly Evangelicals, who have been dismissed contemptuously as ‘islamophobic’ and told that this is no longer a Christian society so ‘Christian interests’ no longer need to be considered. To accommodate Muslims our islamophilic establishment and its economic interests ensure that in the schools, hospitals and care homes in parts of the UK only halal meat is served. Two branches of Tesco near to my home sell only halal meat, and the government’s refusal to label ensures that I, as a Christian, have no choice unless I limit myself to eating pork meat and products therefrom.
So, to conclude, I believe that as a Catholic I must bear witness to my faith in God, and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot in conscience eat the halal meat that is foisted on me increasingly in UK shops, supermarkets and restaurants. I recently asked the manager of the meat section in my local Tesco if the steak I wanted to buy was halal. He lied, saying: “Tesco doesn’t sell halal meat”, and turned his back on me. I then said (to his back): “Are you going to serve me?” and he turned round and lied again saying “Halal meat has to be labelled”. It obviously isn’t going to be easy to have a Christian voice heeded. Maybe pork is going to be the only option.
Do you agree with Christina? Is it troublesome to the Catholic conscience to have no choice but to purchase halal meat?