by Syarif Hidayat
       Muslims are allowed to eat what is “halal” and “good” (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqara, Verse:168 “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.)  – that is, what is pure, clean, wholesome, nourishing, and pleasing to the taste. In general, everything is allowed (halal) except what has been specifically forbidden.
Halal Food:
      “They ask thee what is lawful to them (as food): say: Lawful unto you are (all) things g
ood and pure: and what ye have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by Allah; eat what they catch for you, but pronounce the name of Allah over it: and fear Allah; for Allah is swift in taking account. “ (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maeda, Verse 4)
        Eating is a matter of faith in Islam. Muslim dietary practise is fundamentally about obeying God. All practising Muslim believers obey God Almighty by eating the allowed foods (halal) and avoiding the forbidden foods (haram) which are mentioned in the Qur’an and in the sayings of the final Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
        The following are a list of Muslim dietary practises. Muslims follow these because it is God’s word in the Qur’an. The health benefits (which are now apparent with the development of science) of the Muslim diet merely qualify the wisdom of God’s word and shed light on God’s benevolence. It is God’s commandments that are crucial; the health benefits are secondary.
      Recite the name of God (Allah) before eating (In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful) and thank God after finishing (Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds). It is a good thing to eat by the right hand and in company. Muslims must pronounce the name of Allah on all animals while slaughtering. Think and contemplate in every item of food you eat by remembering God the creator the Designer, The Organiser and the Provider. A prayer-like state may be achieved in this way.
       It is important to eat only when you are hungry. When you do eat, you should not eat in excess. As advised by the Prophet, one should divide his / her stomach into 3 parts – a third each for food, fluid, and respiration. Remember the hungry when you eat. One could avoid going to hell by feeding a hungry dying person or animal.
       Halal pure healthy meat, chicken, fish, milk, olive oil and honey are highly recommended in Islam.
Haram Food:
       Muslims are enjoined by their religion to abstain from eating certain foods. This is in the interest of health and cleanliness, and in obedience to God. In the Qur’an (2:173, 5:3, 5:90-91, 6:145, 16:115), the following foods and drinks are strictly prohibited by God (haram):
       In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits―then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”  (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqara, Verse 173)
      Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah, that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject Faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.” (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maeda, Verse 3)
      O ye who believe! Intoxicants (Intoxicating thing is something that causes physical or psychological intoxication, e.g. an alcoholic beverage) and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination― of Satan’s handiwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain? (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Maeda, Verses 90-91)
       Say: “I find not in the Message received by me by inspiration any (meat) forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine― for it is an abomination or what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than Allah’s.” But (even so) if a person is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience nor transgressing due limits― thy Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”  (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Anaam, Verse 145)
       He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits― then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.  (Al Qur’an, Surah An-Nahl, Verse 115)
Islamic Slaughtering
      Muslims are enjoined to slaughter their livestock by slitting the animal’s throat in a swift and merciful manner, reciting God’s name with the words, “In the name of God, God is Most Great” (Qur’an 6:118-121). This is in acknowledgement that life is sacred, and that one must kill only with God’s permission, to meet one’s lawful need for food. The animal is then bled completely before consumption. Meat prepared in this manner is called zabihah, or simply, halal meat.
       Some Muslims will abstain from eating meat if they are uncertain of how it was slaughtered. They place importance on the animal having been slaughtered in a humane fashion with the remembrance of God and gratefulness for this sacrifice of the animal’s life. They also place importance on the animal having been bled properly, as otherwise it would not be considered healthy to eat.
       Some Muslims living in predominantly-Christian countries hold the opinion that one may eat commercial meat (apart from pork, of course), and pronounce God’s name at the time of eating it. This opinion is based on the Qur’anic verse (5:5) that the food of Christians and Jews is lawful for Muslims.
      Muslims’ abstention from pork eating is in adherence to the Qur’anic Law which states: ” Forbidden to you for (food) are: dead meat, blood and the flesh of the swine (pork) and that which hath been invoked the name other than Allah. “ Holy Al Qur’an 5:3
Such prohibition is also found in the Bible: “The pig is unclean for you. None of their flesh must you eat and carcass you must not touch. “Deuteronomy 14:8. (Bible).
Islam, is an Arabic word which means submission to the will
of the Almighty God (Allah SWT), has laid down the foundation for the best approach in keeping good health. In the Holy Al Qur’an (The Last Testament ) God exhorts the believers to select the best food and to stay away from any harmful food to maintain good health:
” Let him find out which is the best food ( to be had ) … Eat of the best foods We have provided for you.” ( Holy Al Qur’an 18:19;7:160 ).

Bible & Al Quran Say: DO NOT EAT PORK!
Please read your bible again: Pork is prohibited: Leviticus 11:7-8 Deuteronomy 14:8 Isaiah 65:2-5 Do you see it now!
Bible & Al Quran Say: DO NOT EAT PORK! Both the Bible and Al Quran Prohibit the eating of pork. Muslims are aware of this prohibition and observe it strictly. However, most readers of the Bible say they do not know where they can find this in the Bible. In the book of Leviticus, Chapter 11, v.7, it is recorded that God declares the pig to be unclean for believers.
Then, in verse 8, God says: ‘ You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you’. This command is repeated in Deuteronomy 14; 7-8. Then, in Isaiah 65:2-4, and 66:17, God issues a stern warning against those who eat pork.

St. Paul’s Misunderstanding
Some people are aware of this prohibition from God, but they say that they can eat pork because St. Paul said that all food is clean in his letter to the Romans 14:20. St. Paul said this because he believed (as he wrote in his letter to the Ephesians 2:14-15) that Jesus had abolished the Law with all its commandments and regulations.
He seems, however, to have misunderstood what he heard from Jesus. In the Gospel According to Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus is reported to have said quite the contrary, as follows: ‘ Do not think that I have come to abolish the law…’ Jesus then went on in that passage (in verse 19) to denounce anyone who would break the smallest commandment and teach others likewise. He also praised his true followers who will practice and teach even the smallest commandments. One of the commandments, as we have seen, is to stay away from pork.
       This is why the true followers of Jesus, holding on to his teachings, did not let unclean food such as pork enter their mouths, so that Peter, the chief disciple, can say:’ I have never eaten anything impure or unclean’ (Acts of the Apostles, ch.10, v.14). Five chapters later in the Acts of the Apostles, 15:29, we find that the original disciples still differentiate between clean and unclean foods and this time Paul is in agreement with them.
       Six chapters later, in ch.21, v.25, their decision to impose food regulations on believers is mentioned without regret, and this time Paul is challenged to prove that he is in agreement with them; and he demonstrated his full agreement with them. What remains then, is that Jesus, on whom be peace, upheld the prohibition against pork. His disciples also upheld it, and so must all his followers.
       Those who fail to uphold it need to be informed and reminded of this rule from God. This is one reason why God sent His final messenger, on whom be peace. God says: “O people of the Scripture! Now has Our Messenger come unto you, expounding unto you much of that which you used to hide in the Scripture and forgiving much. Now has come unto you light from Allah and a plain Scripture” (The Meaning of the Glorious Quran 5:15). Pork prohibited in the Bible.
       The Christian is likely to be convinced by his religious scriptures. The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of Leviticus and the swine, as he divideth the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; it is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.
       Leviticus chapter 11 verse 7 and 8: Pork is also prohibited in the book of Deuteronomy And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass. Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 8: A similar prohibition is repeated in the book of Isaiah chapter 65 verse 2-5. 3.

Several Diseases
Consumption of pork causes several diseases. The other non-Muslims and atheists will agree only if convinced through reason, logic and science. Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases. A person can have various Helminthes, like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc. One of the most dangerous is Taenia Solium, which in a laymans terminology is called tapeworm.
It harbours in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart it can cause heart attack and if it enters the eye it can cause blindness. If it enters the liver it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body. Another dangerous helminthes is Taenia Tichurasis.
A common misconception about pork is that if it is cooked well, these ova die. In a research project undertaken in America, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from Taenia tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ovas present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.
Halal Food Certification Worries UK MuslimsHalal food certification worries UK Muslims
       LANCASHIRE, UK  – Following recent fiasco surrounding pork traces found in halal food, the relation between Lancashire Council of Mosques and the city council has come to a deadlock after raising concerns about the certification of halal food supplied to schools.
      “The Muslim community of Lancashire is utterly shocked that the supplier of pork contaminated products is certified by the Halal Food Authority,” the statement issued by Lancashire Council of Mosques was cited by The Asian Image website on Thursday, February 8.
      “We urge communities and schools across Lancashire to boycott HFA-accredited products until further investigation.” The stalemate started three months ago when the organization urged parents not to allow their children to eat school meals provided by Lancashire County Council which contain meat.
        The warning came because of concerns over whether halal products were properly accredited by the authorities approved by the council. The problem aggravated after traces of pork were found in food deliveries to prisons by a local halal meat supplier.
        The incident was made public after a spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said the halal meat supplied to prisons involved traces of pork. The discovery comes after horsemeat was found in beefburgers stocked by major British supermarket chains, with one brand of burger coming in at 29 percent horse.
       Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat. After the finding the Lancashire Council of Mosques called for an investigation into the halal food industry.
      Despite halal food scandal, Lancashire County Council rejected the mosques’ request, stating it will continue to provide meat supplied by the HFA, one of three halal accreditation agencies.
      “The only products we purchase through the HFA are halal chicken products which come from a supplier which only processes chickens on site, so we have no concerns about cross-contamination with pork,” Roger Eakhurst, assistant director of Lancashire county commercial services, said.
       Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, agreed. “I am disappointed that the Lancashire Council of Mosques is asking parents not to allow their children to have halal meals provided in our school kitchens,” he said.
      “I am prepared to discuss this, but the council of mosques must recognize that the council will not provide meat from animals that were not stunned before slaughter.”
       The Muslim authority, however, said it felt vindicated about its previous concerns and may yet warn parents away from all school meals.
“We only trust meat certified by the Halal Food Committee,” Moulana Hanif, a member of the council’s halal sub-committee, said.
       Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million. The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
       Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Unified global halal standards
label-halal-india / Image source: republika.co.id       Caline Malek in an article titled “Unified global halal standards top of the agenda, say food experts”  writes Trading halal food under unified global standards is at the top of the agenda for Islamic countries, experts said.
       With common mistakes made by some certification bodies, experts said a universal system must be set to ensure consumers’ food is 100 per cent halal.
       “Halal is a very sensitive issue that Muslims should deal with,” said Haluk Dag, secretary general of the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) in Turkey. “We must have a technical committee to deal with halal food issues, especially with new technologies in place such as mechanical slaughtering and genetically-modified organisms.”
       He was speaking during a lecture on halal standards at the Halal Congress Middle East, which took place alongside the Halal Food Middle East exhibition in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates.
       The global halal industry is estimated at more than Dh10 trillion and it is growing by more than 20 per cent every year. It caters to around 1.6 billion consumers worldwide, according to Asad Sajjad, chief executive of the Halal Development Council.
       But with the increase in the demand for halal products comes an increase in common mistakes made by different certification bodies.
        “Most halal certification bodies do not have scientific and Sharia committees,” said Dr Hani Mansour Al Mazeedi, a research scientist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. “The two committees are needed to work hand in hand to understand new technologies, to solve emerging religious issues linked with new technologies, to understand the chemical nature of raw materials and to provide procedures to switch haram production lines to halal ones.”
        He said in the west, many halal meat certifying bodies were “ignorant” about halal processed food requirements, such as processed cheese in hamburgers. “They are not sincere in selecting their halal slaughter operator,” he said. “I have personally witnessed a halal slaughterman in France who does not utter the Tasmiyah” a prayer required when slaughtering an animal.
       Dr Al Mazeedi said more inspections of halal premises should also be done. “Some bodies are not trustworthy and certify haram meat,” he added. “There must be an international trustworthy organisation that will harmonise halal services globally such as the Muslim World League of Saudi Arabia.”
        Countries are starting to take the necessary steps in order to achieve that. “For centuries, we needed a common language which defined quality and safety in our daily lives, especially when it comes to trade,” said Dr Mohammed Hussain Shojaee, the director of Faroogh Life Sciences Research in Iran. “And until we resolve this part, we won’t be able to move forward.”
       After being chosen by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to regulate unified halal codes for cosmetics and perfumes in June, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) was also selected to chair the halal food technical committee. “A single halal standard will ultimately harmonise exports and imports and ease market access to several regions,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, the Expo Centre’s director-general in Sharjah.
       Experts said Gulf countries have also discussed making it mandatory for all imported meat to carry a halal stamp. “Different halal authorities follow different Islamic rulings,” said Mr Dag. “There must be a common platform where all the parties come together and argue on the specific issues to define the minimum requirements of halal standards.”
        He said those regulations must be applied regionally, then globally.
“The journey from science to standard is sometimes very complicated,” Dr Shojaee said. “But Muslims are entitled to halal food that is wholesome and safe.”
Malaysia plan to standardise halal standards as market expands
        A Malaysia-based group is drafting halal standards to give Muslim countries a framework to regulate a $2 trillion global industry ranging from food to finance.
         The global halal industry is regarded as a vast but difficult market with the substantial Muslim population outweighed by the use of disparate sharia standards, differing levels of development across Muslim countries and a lack of regulatory infrastructure.
        The International Halal Integrity Alliance is working on guidelines relating to the use of sharia-compliant pharmaceuticals, finance and processed food which would be completed by year-end, its chief executive officer Darhim Hashim said.
        “We, as Muslims, are not in control of the supply chain,” he said on the sidelines of a halal forum. “We cannot say that we can accept everything that comes into the country is halal so at the very basic level is some kind of import regulation. That in return leads to a standard.”
        Darhim said the alliance has published seven other standards which include the regulation of sharia-compliant restaurants, cosmetics, lab testing and animal slaughtering which have been ratified by the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a grouping of 56 Islamic countries.
       The alliance’s members include certification bodies from Europe, India, the Phillipines, Cambodia and Australia.  The halal industry has been overshadowed by the Islamic finance sector in recent years as the petrodollar boom sparked a rush for sharia-compliant assets. But the large global Muslim population is seen as offering growth opportunities for the industry.  (HSH)Sources:
1.     Reuters and other international news agencies
3.   OnIslam.net
4.     MuslimVillage.com.


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