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Halal and Kosher meat under the cosh – can there be a meeting of minds?

Jonathan A. J. Wilson | December 10, 2011 | 1 Comment
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Recent debates in the Netherlands seem set to have a significant effect on Jewish and Muslim mean slaughtering practices.

Here’s a great piece that gives an overview of the landscape and varying perspectives: Should animals be stunned before slaughter?

The interesting thing will be whether Jewish and Muslim communities can use this issue as an opportunity to unite and laugh in the face of many media stories, which seek to divide and rule. Beyond this, its also worth mentioning that Christians, as the other brothers and sisters in Abrahamic faith, especially in Africa and the Middle East, often stand shoulder to shoulder in appreciating the spiritual nature and brotherhood in such perspectives on diet.

After all the Qur’an states in Surah Al-Ma’idah, verse 5 (Translated as ‘the Chapter of The Table Spread With Food):

“Made lawful to you this day are At-Tayyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) foods, which Allah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, etc., milk products, fats, vegetables and fruits, etc.). The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them.”

It’s not just Halal, but Kosher consumers are grabbing the headlines too, as being a buoyant market.

However, it appears the Muslim dietary laws often attract more negative press coverage, whilst it can be argued that interpretations of Jewish laws on kosher slaughter offer much less acceptance of stunning methods – which is where the battleground lies.

The issue in some ways appears to have been hijacked by the far-right in Europe, as a way of controlling increasingly assertive and influential religious groups and especially those who are non-Christian. As always, it brings the circular discussions about the role of religion and state – and how far these should be separated, if at all. In tandem, it appears that in the modern world some profile science as being rational and diametrically opposed to religion, rendering it as irrational. History stands testament to the fact that the reality is a bit more complicated. After all, how many leaders, business people and scientists who profess religious beliefs of any denomination have made indelible and significant positive contributions?

Having recently travelled to the UAE, where there exists a significant population of non-Muslim, European, Western, ex-pats (or however you wish to classify them) residents and tourists, these issues appear to be of little importance. The vast majority of meat supplied across the board is halal. Also, Australia and New Zealand, whilst discussing how meat should be consumed on home soil, seem eager enough to supply the Muslim region with high quality meat products, conforming at times to conflicting practices. So is this about meat, or money, or animal welfare, or religion, or politics, or xenophobia – or all of them?

So maybe these opposing groups understand key messages in the Qur’an better than Muslims? Hospitality is a key aspect of worship, brotherhood and cordial relations with neighbours. If producing halal and kosher foods is made difficult, surely it will affect the way in which Muslim and Jews live and can engage with the wider community.  So perhaps the global Muslim community spends too much time engaged in ‘halal wars’ with so many different regulatory organisations, scrutinizing over the minutia associated with technical molecular aspects, which often at times also means that national identity and sectarianism is fused with halal authenticity and desirability.

Therefore, could a counter action be that the Abrahamic faiths work together to produce a cross-religion code of conduct, set of regulations and even a brand, which can be used for produce, which is suitable for consumption by all of them? Divide and rule, or strength in numbers? Let’s see what happens…

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  1. Jonathan A. J. Wilson Jonathan A. J. Wilson says:

    News update:

    Ritual slaughter ban fails in Dutch Senate

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