I have personally spoken about the halal meat industry twice whilst delivering the Friday Khutba. The first time I spoke about how I looked at how animals are communities according to Allah and how we must treat them with respect and dignity, this was after the Danish Government had decided to ban kosher and halal produced meat in their country.
During both of these speeches I talked about how the meat in the UK which is labelled halal, is simply not. The notion that a baby chicken which is sold at a butcher for a few pounds (£) could be halal is laughable. There is plenty of evidence that shows that the animals are not treated well, there is no consideration to their health and wellbeing and they are killed on a mass scale. This is all because halal meat is a very lucrative business, especially here in the UK, and Muslim and non Muslim businessmen alike are making a lot of money from selling meat labelled as halal.
We the Muslim consumer are also to blame and are complicit in the poor treatment of the animals because we demand the meat at the cheapest possible price. It seems that most people are happy to play along with the halal lie as long as the meat is cheap, very cheap.
But it is good to see that some people are fighting back against this trend and trying to put the principles of the Holy Quran into action;
“The problem with halal is actually a problem that our community created,” he continues. When Muslims began immigrating to the United States, it was too expensive for people to slaughter their own meat. A mass production cycle arose, engendering two problems that, ironically, call the meat’s halal status into question. First is the blessing, which must be uttered by a Muslim, who then cuts the jugular vein himself, letting all the blood drain out. In the world of mass production, this invocation of Allah is often bestowed upon a single machine blade, which then slaughters hundreds of animals, each one deemed halal as long as the blade hasn’t shut off.
The second problem is the way the animals are raised. “We came up with a way to make meat that was cheaper,” Tariq says, but “the animals are treated poorly and the conditions in which they were raised weren’t right.” To the partners, each of these problems on its own is enough to render the meat a far cry from halal. In conjunction, the label is that much harder to justify.
Bassam Tariq runs the ‘Honest Chops’ butchers in New York, and he is bucking the trend of the race to the bottom on prices, and trying to supply real halal meat to his customers.
Happily we also have the organic farm Willowbrook here in the UK doing similar things.
Muslims in the UK make up approximately 5% of the population, but consume around 20% of the meat, this is a disgusting statistic which flies in the face of the behaviour of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Holy Prophet ate so little meat that he could almost be described as a vegetarian, and we must follow his example and reduce our dependance on meat, and demand that animals be treated as instructed in the Holy Quran, with respect and dignity for their whole lives.