Halal Meat

Fatima points out that Mercy doesn’t have any halal butchers and she has to rely on kosher butchers.

When you live in small communities, it is difficult to get fresh halal meat. I feel that we are lucky in that sense. Even though our community is small (25 families), we still have farms in neighbouring towns that carry halal certified meat. Our local butcher really believes in the quality of the halal meat and he imports it in; so we are able to enjoy fresh halal poulty frequently. We get our lamb frozen but unfortunately we don’t have access to cattle farms.  We have to travel to a major metropolitan area to get fresh beef.

Do you have difficulty getting halal meat in your community? What did you have to do to make it easy to get fresh halal meat?

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14 Comments

Filed under Episode 5

14 responses to “Halal Meat

  1. In my neck of the woods (SE Asia), halal meat is relatively easy to come by. While not all stores sell halal meat, there are enough halal delis to make the buying of meat easy enough to do. (Poultry is especially plentiful; beef less so.)

    The more difficult thing for me is to find are particular foods that are halal. In SE Asia, many foods are labeled halal; others are not. Some of the halal labels have an authority that’s readily accepted. For example, foods with either the Singapore or Malaysia halal labels my wife and I will readily purchase. The Thai halal label is looked upon by us with some suspicion. A plain halal label that has no authority attached is either not purchased or accepted only with great reluctance (and a double-checking of the ingredient listing). Foods that have no halal label either are not purchased at all or have the ingredient listing gone over with a fine-toothed comb (especially the emulsifier listings).

    The same is the case for restaurants. In SE Asia, many restaurants apply for a halal rating. This includes most of the major fast food chains (e.g., McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, etc.). However, some do not. For example, the other day, I stopped in a Starbucks. While the manager is a Muslim, and I have no doubt the coffee is halal, Starbucks as a chain has no halal rating from the local authority, so I will not buy any food there until they should get that rating, if ever, insha’allah.

    So that, in a nutshell, is what it’s like for me. 😉

  2. hassan

    I wish we had Halal KFC and McDonald’s in North America! Yumm.

  3. yusuf

    JDSG, Thanks for sharing. Who knew looking for the Halal label was so commonplace.

  4. Who knew looking for the Halal label was so commonplace.

    Here, it’s a way of life. 😉

  5. Cyndi

    What is the difference between kosher standards and halal standards?

  6. Karraar

    @Cindy
    Salient differences between kosher and halal are:

    Islam prohibits all intoxicating alcohols, liquors, wines and drugs. kashrut regards all wines kosher. Hence food items and drinks showing the kosher symbol containing alcohol are not halal.

    Gelatine is considered kosher regardless of its source of origin. If the gelatine is prepared from swine, Muslims consider it haraam (prohibited). Hence foods items such as marshmallows, yoghurt, etc., showing kosher symbols are not halal.

    Enzymes (irrespective of their sources even from non-kosher animals) in cheese making are considered mere secretion (pirsah b’almah) according to some kashrut organizations, hence all cheeses are considered kosher. Muslims look for the source of the enzyme in cheese making. If it is coming from the swine, it is considered haraam (forbidden). Hence cheeses showing kosher symbols may not be halal.

    Jews do not pronounce the name of God on each animal while slaughtering. They feel that uttering the name of God, out of context, is wasteful. Muslims on the other hand pronounce the name of Allah on all animals while slaughtering.

    The salient differences between kosher and halal have been illustrated so that Muslim consumers can distinguish halal from kosher.

    Islam is a complete way of life providing infallible guidance to all its followers in all walks of life. Halal brings immense satisfaction to the Muslim life both now and in the hereafter. Muslims therefore, do not have to depend on any other set of laws for want of convenience.

    The final, divine laws of Islam are indeed perfect and the best for all its followers for all time to come.

    Muslims in non-Muslim countries should strive to follow the Islamic injunctions in their diet (as well as in every walk of life) and establish their own businesses and institutions to cater to the needs of the Muslim Ummah. By doing so, not only the identity of the Muslims will be preserved, but they will be recognized and respected for their beliefs and practices. What a subtle means of Da’wah!

    I remember when i went for a holiday to Iran… even the pens were halal i don’t know how ut they were.
    and JDSG how can you have harraam coffee?

  7. f it is coming from the swine, it is considered haraam (forbidden).

    Enzymes come from three sources: meats (including insects), plants, and bacteria. Now, of course, if the enzymes were to come from pigs, that would be haraam, no doubt about it. However, the position of my wife and I is, if the enzymes come from *any* meat, was that animal slaughtered in a halal manner? We err on the side of caution and say not. So our belief is not that just those foods using enzymes from swine are haraam, but that all foods using any animal enzymes are probably haraam. Hence, we won’t buy any cheeses that say something to the effect of “enzymes” in the ingredient listing without any detail of which enzymes were used. (Click on the “food additives listing” link at the MUIS website for a comprehensive listing of all the “E” codes for food additives; the listing doesn’t say which enzymes are halal or not, but there are some other listings on the internet that give that information.)

    and JDSG how can you have harraam coffee?

    Coffee, in and of itself, isn’t haraam, of course. However, something could be added to the coffee that may make it haraam.

  8. americanmuslim

    Quite honestly, I don’t eat halal meat at home because it just is not easy to get in my city. We have a handful of stores that sell halal meat, but they are ALL so un-clean, and have been shut down by the health department so many times, I am afraid to even step foot in one. Until, and unless, we can get a proper Muslim owned halal meat market in my city, I must settle for carefully selecting my cuts of meat from the local grocery store.

  9. restoringtide

    Living in the greater Philadelphia region for most of my life, I have always had access to an abundance of halal foods. Sometimes it seems like my halal meat choices are infinite. I’ve spent years building my list of good stores and restaurants. Every moment spent has been worth it. Seek and you will find. Change has to start somewhere. We have to support what halal business there are or the industry will never flourish.

    What do I do when I travel? I go to islamicfinder or contact the local mosque before I even set out, so I know where to go for halal once I get there. And If I can’t find Halal meat? I eat fish or go vegetarian. It’s better for your body, the environment, and your soul.

  10. Umm Haniyyah

    Should mention that there are Jews (and Kosher certification boards) who also don’t consider generic gelatin kosher. Hence, when I’ve gone into the grocery store in the Jewish area here I’ve noticed a lot of products that contain gelatin, using ‘fish gelatin.’ It’s the only place I’ve seen fish gelatin…Muslim markets tend to carry products made with seaweed gelatin (agar-agar).

  11. Ali

    Luckily, most small communities in Canada are farming communities. And though finding halal meat is impossible, going to the cattle farm and arranging a slaughter really isn’t that difficult (but it is costly and is usually divided among several families). As far as I know, a Christian can slaughter my cow, though you might have to say the prayers yourself. When it isn’t available, there is always fish, tofu, cashews, and other fun ingredients.

  12. Sara

    Halal method of slaugthering an animal is much better. It is far less stressful than the stunning method. They give big electric shocks to the animal, bolts to the head, sometimes two, three times before it works. It’s horrible. With halal, the blood is drained in a matter of seconds.

    35 to 38 seconds it takes to stun an animal. It only takes Eight seconds halal side. Just 8 Seconds, which is better?

  13. Erik

    If you have ever witnessed a proper halal killing compared to English slaughter house method I think you would change your mind. The halal way to kill an animal is to take care of it very well before hand. Then to make sure no other animal is near to see the killing. Make sure the animal does not see the very sharp knife and then slit the neck. This then cuts the jugular with stops the flow of blood to the brain, the animal is brained dead within seconds; I witnessed it several times and it was about 8 seconds. We all know that cuts with very sharp implements do not hurt that much as it slices through the nerves.

    Compare this to animals being hooked on conveyor belts and witnessing the fate that befalls animals long before it comes to them. Many of them open their bowels in fright. Then they are stunned, this in a good slaughter house will be done well, but more often than not it is not done properly. Check out any animal welfare website.

    The difference is Muslims should be concerned about the welfare of this animal within their religious duty, which dictates that animals are part of Gods creation and the Creator has told us how to send his creation back to him, so they do not suffer.

  14. I’m sure no one’s looking at this anymore, but I just wanted to correct a couple things about Kosher laws (Kashrut). They’re pretty complicated, and there are a bunch of different things written online, so it’s easy to get confused.

    “kashrut regards all wines kosher. ”
    Not quite. Lots of wine is Kosher, but there are a bunch of rules about who can be involved in processing the wine, etc. These rule apply to all grape products, not just wine though. Also, plenty of other alchohols have additives that make them non kosher (treif), so not all alchohol is Kosher. (Although lots of Jews are unaware of that too. Like I said, it’s pretty confusing.)

    “Gelatine is considered kosher regardless of its source of origin. If the gelatine is prepared from swine, Muslims consider it haraam (prohibited). Hence foods items such as marshmallows, yoghurt, etc., showing kosher symbols are not halal.”
    “Enzymes (irrespective of their sources even from non-kosher animals) in cheese making are considered mere secretion (pirsah b’almah) according to some kashrut organizations, hence all cheeses are considered kosher. ”
    Those are actually just the Conservative opinions. Orthodox Kashrut organizations don’t recognize gelatin from animal sources as Kosher, and they also don’t allow animal rennet (the enzyme used in cheese making) for cheese. To the best of my information they use bactieral rennet, or acid based cheeses (for example, riccotta is often made with lemon juice rather than rennet.) It sounds to me like the requirement for halal cheese would be met by any cheese with an reliable orthodox Heksher (the OU, or OK for example). If you’re looking for a good one, Tillamook makes a great kosher Chedder with non animal rennet.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make those notes, in case anyone still read this far back. It sounds to me like with the exception of blessing the animal when it’s slaughtered (Is that the correct term for it? In a Jewish context any use of G-d’s name would be part of a blessing, so I’m inclined to think it’s simaler.) that Halal and Kosher are really very simaler. Kosher slaughter is also very quick, and from my limited knowladge (not nearly enough to slaugher an animal on my own) it’s just like halal slaughter. Are there also Halal requriments about mixing meat and dairy, or any of the other Kosher laws?

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