Issues Affecting the Halal Consumption of Food
Mufti Ebrahim Desai, IFANCA Religious Advisor
In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.
All praises are due to God and peace and Salutations be upon our beloved Prophet, Muhammad ( s ). At the outset, I wish to express my mixed feelings regarding this halal food conference. Some items are halal. Some are haram. Some are not clear and others are doubtful.
Similarly, while I am pleased to be associated with this august body, IFANCA, which is committed to serving the Muslim community, I am also disappointed that I could not personally attend the conference. My visa to the USA has been kept on hold for clearance. In essence I am halal for the conference, hence my participation, but my personal attendance has been made haram. Hence, my heart is experiencing mixed feelings as I prepare this paper.
I congratulate and salute IFANCA for its sterling services and creating awareness of halal through such conferences. It is my fervent wish and prayer that this conference be a great success.
May God accept the hard work of the officials of IFANCA and the many silent workers behind it. Ameen.
I have been requested to present a paper on aspects that affect the halal consumption of food. This is a very broad topic which could include some of the following issues:
The definition of halal and haram
The conditions of halal
Reasons for an item being haram
Unification of the halal process
The remembrance (zikr) of God in relation to halal
The consciousness of halal and compliancy with Islamic law (shariah) beyond consumption
It is not possible to discuss all these issues in this brief presentation. I, therefore, wish to discuss the following two points:
Remembrance of God in Relation to Halal
Shariah Compliance Beyond Food Consumption
A fundamental requirement of slaughtering an animal and making it halal, requires that the name of God be recited. God states, “And eat from that upon which God’s name has been taken.”(6:118) In another verse, God states, “And do not eat from those animals upon which God’s name has not been taken.” (6:121)
The healthy survival of human beings also depends on meat which must be consumed after taking the name of God. In essence, the taking of the name of God is a means to our physical survival. We, therefore, owe our survival to God and should remember Him more often. In fact, the existence of this very world depends upon God’s name being taken. It is mentioned in the hadith, “when the world will be empty of people taking the name of God, doomsday (Qiyamah) will come.” (Muslim)
In issues of halal and haram, while discussing technical matters, we should not lose focus of the root of halal, the remembrance of (Zikr) of God. We should conduct a metamorphosis of the verbal utterance of the name of God, into an occasion of remembering God from within our hearts, and live and die with His name.
There is much more desired from the spiritual angle of halal. The verbal utterance of the name of God upon slaughtering an animal should be a commencing point for the journey of spirituality. Alternatively, the uttering of the name of God upon slaughtering the animal should be an expression of the spirituality of the heart.
The second important issue is that halal should not be confined to food consumption. The effort in the halal industry is encouraging and a reflection of submission to the order of God. However, Islam is not only about halal. It is a complete way of life with guidance as to every facet of life.
I call upon everyone to educate himself / herself on Islam and understand the beauties of God from within, rather than relying on the media and others forms of propaganda. Many honest people have satisfied their curiosity about Islam and even embraced it. This is a reality that is widely reported. Islam belongs to God and His light will shine forever.
Furthermore, Muslims should practice Islam and live by example. Islam needs to be made apparent. Unfortunately, much of Islam is not practiced and is not apparent. It will also be appropriate to state that non-Muslims should not judge Islam by its weak followers. No just law is condemned by the evil actions of criminals. Similarly, Islam cannot be condemned by the evil and wrong actions of some Muslims. Islam should be judged by its rules and principles. I urge you to obtain authentic literature on Islam and study it with an open heart. God is close to a sincere heart.
In conclusion, I pray and ask that God grant us the ability to remember Him (Zikr) with conviction from deep within our hearts and enable us to express complete submission to Him. Ameen. After all, slaughtering an animal for halal consumption is based on the remembrance of God and complete submission to Him.
This presentation was for the IFANCA organized, 9th International Halal Food Conference and Banquet, April 2007.
Besides being a Hafiz of the Quran, Mufti Ebrahim Desai (db) has studied sacred Islamic knowledge in Dabhel for nine years: commencing from the Arabic Language and comprising Usool-e-Fiqh, Hanafi Fiqh, Logic, Usool-e-Hadith, Hadith, Usool-e-Tafseer, Tafseer. Having completed the Dars-e-Nizamiyyah, he then studied the principles of issuing Fatwas for two years in Dabhel under Mufti Ahmad Khanpuri Saheb, a renowned and leading Scholar in India, and another year under the grand Mufti of India, Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan Saheb. He currently teaches Mishkat, Sahih Bukhari and Tirmidhi and answers fatwa inquires received at Dar Ul Ifta at Madrasa Inaamiyah, Camperdown, South Africa. He has authored “Al Mahmood Vol. I&II, a book for Hadith students: Introduction to Hadith”, and numerous articles on a wide spectrum of topics and issues relating to Islam.