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I've done some reading on this lately but not sure if I've actually got to the truth. My suspicion is that many are just bandwagon jumpers. I'm not Muslim nor do I profess to be an expert on what is Halal (permitted) and what is Haram (forbidden) but I thought a definition would be a good place to start.
So for meat (except fish) to be Halal the animal must have their throat cut in a particular method, by a Muslim whilst the animal is facing Mecca and the prayer "In the name of God" said. (I would assume in Arabic).Halal is often used in reference to foods, i.e. foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic Shariʻah. The criteria specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat and animal tissue.
The most common example of non-halal (or haraam) food is pork. While pork is the only meat that cannot be eaten by Muslims at all (due to historically, culturally, and religiously perceived hygienic concerns), foods other than pork can also be haraam. The criteria for non-pork items include their source, the cause of the animal's death, and how it was processed.
The food must come from a supplier that uses halal practices. Specifically, the slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying "Bismillah" ("In the name of God") and then three times "Allahu akbar" (God is the greatest). Then, the animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck, causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord. Lastly, the blood from the veins must be drained.
Muslims must also ensure that all foods (particularly processed foods), as well as non-food items like cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, are halal. Frequently, these products contain animal by-products or other ingredients that are not permissible for Muslims to eat or use on their bodies.
Foods that are not halal for Muslims to consume as per various Qurʼanic verses are:
- Intoxicants and alcoholic beverages
- Animals killed incorrectly and/or without Allah's name being pronounced in their killing
- Animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but "Allah". All that has been dedicated or offered in sacrifice to an idolatrous altar or saint or a person considered to be "divine"
- Carrion (carcasses of dead animals, i.e. animals who died in the wild)
- An animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), or savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human)
There are some concerns regarding the animal welfare of this method of killing the animal - the quote below is from the RSPCA
Halal compliance in Australia is given by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. I don't know what Halal boycotters take issue with in particular but these are some of the issues I have read about in regard to the AFIC so it could be about these.The main concern with halal slaughter is whether or not pre-slaughter stunning is used. In Australia, the national standard for meat production requires that all animals must be effectively stunned (unconscious) prior to slaughter. The vast majority of halal slaughter in Australia complies with this standard, that is, all animals are stunned prior to slaughter. The only difference is that a reversible stunning method is used, while conventional humane slaughter may use an irreversible stunning method.
Halal slaughter in overseas abattoirs often does not include stunning - this is the key difference between halal slaughter in Australia and many other countries.
There are a small number of abattoirs in Australia that have been granted permission from the relevant State or Territory food authority to conduct religious slaughter without prior stunning – for either Halal or Kosher (Jewish slaughter) purposes. These ‘approvals’ are effectively exemptions to standard Australian slaughter practice. The proportion of animals slaughtered under these exemptions is very small, but nevertheless that any animals are slaughtered without stunning is of concern to the RSPCA.
- In 2010 the AFIC received $5.2m from an Islamic School which is largely tafpayer funded. In 2012 the NSW government demanded the repayment of $9m passed on to the AFIC. (link)
- In 2011 the AFIC made a submission to the Federal Government that Muslims be able to marry, divorce and conduct financial transactions under the principles of sharia law. This would be "legal pluralism" - the existence of multiple legal systems for one population. (link)
There is a Halal Choices website that seems to be a leading website for Halal boycotters but it seems rather one-sided and biggoted so I'm very skeptical of it's objectivity. This news article sums up the argument behind Halal Choices. I thought these sentences were where the issue with Halal may lie:
What troubled Smith was the extensive payments for halal certification for hundreds of products that did not require any halal process. She then discovered examples of overt pressure.
''A wholesale chicken supplier in Perth lost $120,000 a year over three years because he wasn't halal certified,'' she said. ''The chickens he sold had been ritually slaughtered and were halal, but because he would not pay for certification he found all his outlets were forced to boycott him. He was outraged and held out for three years but had to give in to save his business. … Isn't that illegal?''
Halal mainly involves meat. Much of the non-meat food supply is intrinsically halal, and thus does not require certification, including milk, honey, fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and grains. Yet many producers and suppliers of such products pay for halal certification.
''I emailed Capilano Honey after I discovered they were paying for halal certification,'' Smith said. ''This was their response: 'While we appreciate that honey is considered halal under Islamic law, it is our customer's requirement to provide halal certification in order for us to conduct business with them.' This sounds like extortion to me. And why does nearly every fresh loaf of bread you buy in a supermarket or fast food chain have a paid halal certification? I have a list of 23 pages of halal certificates for breads.
''Parmalat have a huge list of halal-certified products, most of them being the white milk you buy in supermarkets. White milk does not need to be certified. They don't mark their labels and now they have removed the certificates from their website because of negative feedback.
''Purina Fancy Feast cat food is now on the list of halal-certified foods. Are cats becoming Muslim? Or is a lot of this just a money-making scheme?''My guess is that some boycotters may have a genuine grievement with the process but there would be others who are just using it as a facade to be as anti-Muslim as possible.
ETA: My understanding is the boycott is about food being labelled Halal, not Halal food in general.
Companies that make foods that are Halal approved have to pay a fee the same way they have to pay the heart foundation to get the tick of approval...
Thanks @Busy-Bee - wouldn't it be a better world if everyone could just do a little reading before they form their opinions? It's not like we have to wait for the library to open to borrow the encyclopedia any more?
I can respect people being anti-halal for the reasons that you provided, but all of this 'apparently...', 'I heard that...', 'something something something TERRORISTS!' drives me dotty.
I remember when there was outcry over Japanese signage in the Gold Coast too. It seems as a nation we just have this constant fear of being invaded and over run. Ironic, hey?
I don't eat or buy halal certified meat (I don't eat meat at all anymore, but when I did), because I disagreed with the slaughter practices. I've not seen a certification that stipulates if the meat from certain butchers were stunned or not but just to be safe (for my conscience) I didn't buy it. When I have Muslim friends over who adhere to Halal food guidelines I simply serve up vegetarian halal foods. No one's ever had a problem with it yet. So seems to be working out okay.
I'm just chucking ideas out there to try and work out the situation. I spent an evening just last week reading up on this topic and I'm still not clear.
I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a very sound value, to want to support Australia and Australians, but I would expect that to mean buying purely Australian manufactured and owned products, otherwise it reeks of hypocrisy to me.
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