Are We Giving Halal Meat to Our Gods?

A reader from Australia emailed me this morning. Her question was simple:

My reader wrote:

 “I just found out recently that a *lot* of the meat here is now. My understanding is that those animals are then dedicated with a prayer to Allah by a practicing Muslim.

The issue there is that they don’t label such meat so you don’t know what you’re getting. (A horrible greedy move from corporations wanting to make money*)

As someone who makes fairly frequent food offerings which may have been halal meat without my knowledge – would this make a difference at all?

This is probably a really stupid question – but as someone else who makes food offerings, I was interested in your opinion.”

*(Apparently, it is less expensive to produce one category of meat. There have been issues for observant Jews and Muslims with kosher and halal slaughtering in factories, with it not being done properly, so perhaps the real issue here is factory farming… -GK)

Well, yes. It makes quite a huge difference. I’ve asked my reader to send me more information, and I’ll be doing some research on my own, but if meat is being rendered halal, and that includes a prayer and dedication to Allah, and then that meat is being sold without efficient labelling, that is a huge problem for us.

This is, ironically, the same thing early Christians had to deal with in the Roman Empire, where the majority of meat came from offerings to the Gods. This was one of the spurs to the development of the Eastern monastic movement, and you even see Vegetarianism in parts of the Eastern Church. The Christians solved this by conquering the Roman empire. #lifegoals. 

Seriously though, if meat is offered to Allah, or dedicated to Him before purchase, (as it is perfectly acceptable and proper for Muslims to do), then it is not an appropriate offering to our Gods. Plus, if we consume it, we’re consuming meat dedicated to at best a God Whose tradition is opposed to ours, Whose tradition contributed to the destruction of ours, and we’re giving to our Gods, meat already claimed. This is horrifying to me. It’s like having a friend over for dinner and giving them meat that has been pre-chewed.

I would suggest two things: either slaughter your own meat (chickens, rabbits etc, but you have to have training for this) or research the hell out of it and find meat that isn’t halal. One thing you might look for is organic farms that will allow you to pick out an animal and have it slaughtered for you, then you get the meat, or you and whoever else has bought into the animal. 

Either way, this is a significant theological issue, not just for those of us whose traditions involve the sacrament of sacrifice, but for those who wish to eat meat without polluting themselves. What is appropriate for a Muslim to give, is not for us (and vice versa).

I’m not sure what the state of things is in the US, but you better believe, I’ll be looking into it.

 

EDIT: after a cursory websearch it looks like this is a problem with USDA as well, so much so that there have been ongoing petitions for accurate labelling.

Advertisements

Posted on December 18, 2017, in theology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. In the US, I am more concerned with the abundance of marginally labeled genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m kind of surprised that there hasn’t been a bigger stink about this from Christians or Jews. I mean, I realize many of them will pay lip service to the idea that they are all worshipping the same god, but even so there are vast differences in their traditions and I bet at least some would be opposed to their food having been dedicated in a different religion.

    I want to point out that if you can’t slaughter your own meat, and you can’t find a farm wiling to let you pick out your own animal, an easier route might just be finding a couple local farms that provide meat to butcher shops and natural food stores and whatnot in your area, and then contacting them directly to ask about this issue (they probably don’t process their own meat on site, but they tend to know and care more about it). Then just stick with buying from them. Which frankly would also be a good idea to ensure your meat is coming from a place that treats its animals well in life and in death.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I suspect most people don’t know. I found one article that featured an Imam complaining about this (because it removed informed consent on the part of the purchaser — good for him for complaining!) but there hasn’t been a lot of publicity about this in the States. There should be. It really is a gross violation of religious freedom.

      I tend to buy meat from local farmers, but not always. I can tell you from now on, i’ll be very, very careful from where I shop.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Even just going straight to the local butcher could be enough to resolve the problem. We always bought our meat from the butcher where we lived in Idaho. If we had questions, he could easily answer them. If there are any hunters in your area, you might be able to score some wild game too.

      Like

  3. I agree, this is a major issue of concern, and I’d be especially curious to know if this is the case with many places in the U.S. (I somehow doubt it, given the general antipathy to Muslims and the justification that because it is a very minor population in the U.S. who are Muslim, that outside of certain areas [e.g. Michigan], it’s probably not that common.) It would be good to know for certain, in any case.

    I have one minor qualm about something you said above: “Plus, if we consume it, we’re consuming meat dedicated to at best a God Whose tradition is opposed to ours, Whose tradition contributed to the destruction of ours, and we’re giving to our Gods, meat already claimed.” I’d personally amend that to “a tradition stemming from a prophet whose words and the actions of his followers are opposed to ours, which has contributed to the destruction of ours.” As a thoroughgoing polytheist who understands Allah long pre-exists Islam and who refuses to allow those who claim through a certain prophet to have the last word on that particular Deity, I don’t think it is good to attribute to a Deity the actions of said Deity’s followers who claim to be acting in His name (the same is true of many Christians as well). It is humans who carry out and create religious traditions; the Deities may inspire them, certainly, but culture and personal motives often have just as much purchase in them (pun somewhat intended!) as do the actual messages and directives of the Deities involved, if indeed there were any divine directives present at all (and with Islam, I have my doubts). If any of the epithets that Muslims apply to Allah are in any way true or correct (e.g. “most merciful, most compassionate,” etc.), then every action they do which is not in line with those virtues while claiming the sanction of Allah to do so is a spit in Allah’s face, and most likely is a result of their prophet’s horse-talk and not the Deity’s expressed will.

    I know not everyone agrees with me on this point, but I think it needs to be said anyway. Just as every Lokean’s actions out there are not measures by which to assess Loki, so too does the same situation apply for the various Deities and divine beings revered by the monotheistic religions.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s absolutely an issue in the US. And as i said, the tradition is the problem, not the God. But even that isn’t the problem here. If i give meat dedicated to Allah to one of my Deities even unknowingly then i’m committing a double impiety: i’m taking something away from one God and giving inappropriate meat to Another.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Edward P. Butler

      Do we have clear evidence, though, that Allah was worshiped before Muhammad? Because a lot of what I see on this is ambiguous, i.e., Muslim sources saying that Allah was worshiped at Mecca before Muhammad, but in a way that leaves me uncertain that they aren’t just claiming the worship of the other Gods at Mecca retrospectively, so to speak. I can’t recall if there are pre-Islamic dedications mentioning Allah, though aspects of his worship seem to have been anticipated in the cult of al-Rahman.

      Like

    • Edward P. Butler

      (Of course, if we simply regard Allah as being identical with the God of Abraham, then the issue is moot.)

      Like

      • That is a very fair question…and I’m not entirely certain. The arguments I’ve heard tend to conclude on linguistic grounds that Allah is essentially the Arabic equivalent of El in Canaanite/Israelite practice, a fatherly “head-of-pantheon” Deity; and based on the idea of the “Three Daughters of Allah,” Who are not called by that collective epithet in the text of the Qur’an itself, it would seem to indicate the likely pre-existence of Allah as a separate Deity entirely independent of the Hebrew God and/or that God’s pre-henotheistic components (i.e. El, Yahweh, a Ba’al or two, and so forth).

        Like

      • Edward P. Butler

        I don’t think that we can use the “three daughters of Allah” as evidence, because as you say, they aren’t specifically named as such. If we accept, on principle, the God’s self-definition, then there is no doubt that he wished his prophet to regard him as the identical deity worshiped by the Jews and Christians. Etymologically, we could say that the relationship to El bolster’s his claim to be identical to Yahweh, insofar as the latter has El, at a minimum, as an epithet; *or* we could say that the etymology leads us to think of Allah as a generic term for “deity as such”, which would comport with Islam’s emphasis on a strict monotheism. If we take it in this latter sense, it entails that Allah is God as such, and identical with the God of Abraham just insofar as the latter is God as such, but no further; which may be a significant logical reservation.

        Like

      • To clarify re: the Three Daughters of Allah–that epithet comes from somewhere, it just isn’t in the Qur’an, and we know that those three Goddesses certainly pre-date Islam, which thus suggests that Their existence and that epithet’s circulation is independent of Islam. Allat might be either the daughter or wife of Allah, depending on the location at which She is honored, from what I understand. (I’ll have to look at what Her temple at Palmyra’s inscriptions say…it’s been a few years.) So, that makes me think there is good evidence to use Their Qur’an-independent existence as evidence for Allah’s (just as Anat is a daughter of El and sister of Ba’al in attested narratives, which shows both of those terms being used in a polytheist context).

        Following from the latter, the etymological relationship of Allah to El, I don’t think, needs to indicate what you suggested any more than the etymological relationship of the name “Zeus” to a root word simply meaning “God” needs to suggest that the Ancient Greeks (and especially the Stoics) were monotheists. El’s attestation, as previously stated, does not invalidate Canaanite and Israelite polytheism since El operates within both of those religious cultures as a head-of-pantheon Deity. There can be an idea of “Big Deity, No Further Qualification Needed In Epithets” that exists in two different cultures, including ones that are in close geographical proximity to each other, without concluding that they are “the same” existentially outside of the inability of each of their respective cultures to imagine anything “higher” or “different” than that. As in some of the African and Afro-Diasporic religions, there might also be a theological distinction going on here between the “highest” Deity, Who might be a creator Deity (e.g.), and all of the subsequent Deities that is the only thing indicated by the “God” name being attached to the Deity-in-question.

        As for accepting the Qur’an in terms of the self-definition of Allah as being the Jewish and Christian God…I have several issues with that. First, I’m not inclined toward accepting anything theological stated in the Qur’an since I am a polytheist. Second, we have no way of knowing whether those statements were genuinely derived from Islam’s prophet or were the result of later editors (I don’t accept that it is a “protected text” either), since we know some of the recitations were definitely edited over time in the early decades of Islam. Third, we don’t know whether Islam’s prophet was actually hearing what he said he heard, or whether that was his own insecurities and socio-political agendas (“horse-talk”) being given divine sanction. Fourth, the “Allah” in question saying all of these things–if the previous three issues are ignored–might not be “The God” either, but instead some local daimon which posed as a higher Deity for the purposes of self-aggrandizement. Given how little we can be certain of the bona fides of Islam’s prophet in this situation, I’m not inclined to accept the ret-conning of two competing religions by another religion seeking power and influence as a valid theological argument, nor to even consider taking seriously the claims arising from such, as a polytheist or otherwise.

        (But, on re-reading your comment, I see you’re not actually arguing for Their actual identity, but simply their functional equivalence, if I’ve understood you correctly on a second and third reading…so I hope the above at least highlights the differences a bit further, if for no one else than the general reader rather than you, Dr. Edward Butler, in particular–!)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Edward P. Butler

        On the three Goddesses being called “daughters of Allah”, I checked, and this is claimed in the Book of Idols, in the chapter on al-Uzza; the editor sources it to Al-Tabari, Jami’ al-Bay’dn fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, Cairo, 1323-1330, vol. xxvii, pp.34-36, and directs one as well to F. V. Winnett, “The Daughters of Allah,” in The Moslem World, vol. xxx (1940), pp. 113-130, none of which I’ve looked at. But the claim is clearly a lot more rare than one would think from the way it gets circulated on the web.

        Like

      • Good to know…

        I’ll need to check those Palmyra inscriptions…

        Like

  4. fionaLokisdottir

    Im in uk and found out few months ago that major supermarkets been selling halal meat without labelling. It really concerned me and I wont buy meat for offerings from major chains incase its halal now

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just found out this is a thing in the US too. I’m really horrified.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t want to use meat from large scale farming and slaughtering practices to give in sacrifices anyway. It’s impersonal, there’s no respect shown to those animals, and certainly very little is sacrificed on our part. A sacrifice that is too easy isn’t much of a sacrifice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What about Kosher? Are Kosher foods also not appropriate for offerings? (A LOT of supermarket foods are blessed by rabbis in order to make Kosher food.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know if Kosher slaughter requires the animal to be blessed to Yahweh (I need to look into this and haven’t had time yet. I just found out about this early this morning). The problem isn’t the method of killing but whether or not the meat is blessed and dedicated so…maybe. depends on what it entails.

      and i’ve no problem with halal and kosher meat being available — it should be— just LABEL it so we don’t commit a religious offense.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have family who have worked is abattoirs in Australia and can confirm that a lot of meat sold as just meat is halal slaughtered and blessed. This includes some of biggest butcher/meat corporations in Australia.

    Like

    • thanks for chiming in. I was horrified when I realized (when my reader emailed me) that this was really a thing. It is in the US too:

      I’ve no issue with halal meat being available to Muslims, and Kosher meat being available to Jewish consumers. My issue is the lack of clear labelling. If i’m unknowingly giving meat that has been blessed in the name of and dedicated to Allah, then I am — without informed consent– committing an impiety on both sides of that equation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Do you have the same misgivings about kosher meat?

    Like

    • That depends entirely on whether the animal is then blessed to the Jewish God. It’s the blessing that is the problem, the dedication of the meat to another Deity, not the manner in which it’s killed.

      Like

  8. With regard to kosher slaughter, the exact wording of the blessing used by the schochet is:

    ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וציוונו על השחיטה

    (Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to slaughter).

    I leave it to more learned heads than mine to determine whether or not this renders kosher meat unacceptable.

    Like

  9. The truth about kosher foods, at least, (can’t say for certain about Hamal) is that it is a big money making scheme. A Rabbi just does some quick little blessing, not over each animal, as far as I’ve read, but sometimes just over the factory maybe once in a day. Then the company adds a small price increase to the so called kosher goods, which is a stretch on the word kosher. That kosher tax, payable to certain Jewish organizations, is then passed on to consumers without informing us of the kosher tax. It’s a small amount of money per item, but it adds up really quick. A few pennies here and there. How much does that equate to in, for instance, pickle sales, most of which are labeled kosher? I guess Hamal is just cashing in on the scam. Funny, Christians and pagans are perfectly content in praying over and blessing their own meals/offerings.

    Like

  10. Also, kosher slaughter is a pretty brutal method, and I doubt that slaughter houses have rabbis slitting the throats of each animal that passes through the line. It is a practice that was, ironically, banned by Nazi Germany for being cruelty to animals.

    Like

  11. Having taken part in slaughtering livestock personally, kosher and halal Methods aren’t brutal the way they often get vilified. Running animals through a chute that stinks of shot and blood, popping them in the skull with something that Might stun them, and then half assedly cutting their throats…that is brutal, and standard practice in most slaughter houses.

    That rant aside, it’s repulsive that these same places are now dedicating their meat to Allah (or Yahweh) without labeling the meat…granted such practices don’t meet the requirements of either kosher or halal meat but the dedication is still being made. I’m already really careful most of the time with meat, that will have to become all of the time after this.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So i found out that, as Stephen notes above, kosher butchering also involves a prayer. I contacted my local butcher and they get their meat from local farmers — no blessings. So maybe that is a good alternative and it will encourage us to shop locally.

    Like

  13. From my understanding all export abattoirs in Australia are now halal certified. The exported might be labeled as such but if not it would likely have come from the same place where the whole abattoir has the one type of slaughter.

    Supermarkets in Australia are now unlabeled halal meat too in my understanding. I absolutely think halal and kosher meat should be available for the Jewish and Muslim community. But labeling it is of crucial importance and my thinking is that any decision not to do so is purely motivated by cost issues for the suppliers.

    Money seems to be the real god of many people 😦

    Like

  14. ** By cost what I mean is they think that accurate labels could lead to less sales for them and they figure that if people don’t know people won’t care.

    Like

  15. ** By cost what I mean is they think that accurate labels could lead to less sales for them and they figure that if people don’t know people won’t care.

    Like

  16. This isn’t meant to sound snarky or insensitive, but maybe offer pork? I’m pretty confident no Rabbi or iman is saying a prayer over some pigs.

    Like

    • i do and have, but i liked to EAT beef. lol as a blotere, I solve this problem by slaughtering the animals myself if i’m giving them to the Gods but I still don’t want to be consuming meat that was given to another Power.

      but, talk to your local butchers people. I did this yesterday and was very, very pleased at the positive response and now I have a place to buy clean meat.

      Like

  17. I’m also wondering if there is some way to “reclaim” or purify the meat for our purposes?
    I’m also lucky​ enough to have a local source of meat, farm to fork, and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. just thinking- does it make sense for the factory farms to bless halal or kosher their meats without telling consumers? Orthodox Jews can’t assume that their meat is properly blessed (for them) with out labels, and the same would be true for the equivalent of orthodox Moslems?

    Like

  19. Goatsandgreens, this is the issue with halal meat. As far as I’m aware in Australia, possibly UK and USA, kosher meat is *always* labeled as such and there are more private markets that cater to the Jewish community.

    The issue with halal is that most abattoirs have everything halal slaughtered nowadays (at least in Aus) and they do *not* label the meat as such in supermarkets as the probably figure that they’ll lose sales as there would likely be a significant number of people who wouldn’t buy it if they knew.

    Their reasoning is probably ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

    What I and others are hoping for is accuracy and transparency to know what it is we’re eating.

    Like

  1. Pingback: GRÄL utbryter om Julmaten mellan Aftonbladet och Känd Matexpert – och SÄRIMNER är FORTFARANDE inte Halal… | Hedniska Tankar

%d bloggers like this: