Our conception of Halal (second part)
Halal is not simply a gesture
The concept of halal, which literally means that which is lawful, refers to notions of goodness, purity, fairness, and respect that enables the believer to journey spiritually towards God. In the context of meat consumption, halal must of course not be reduced to a mere ritualistic gesture. Confronted to the excesses of industrial farming and consumerism, it is essential to reposition the question of consumption at the heart of a global understanding of the aims and meaning of life.
According to Islamic concepts man is considered a « steward » rather than an « owner » of his environment. The animal is not a « commodity » that he can use as he pleases, but a living being with an intrinsic sensitivity. It is for this reason that the Muslim slaughterman is asked to utter the word “bismallah” (in the name of God) at the time of the sticking. This incantation reminds the believer that his fatal act is an exemption granted by God within the limits and rules He has imposed.
The scrupulous application of the rites of slaughter is merely a means with which to confirm our full and conscious adherence to global spiritual and ethical imperatives. And while within Islamic jurisprudence it is indeed the act of sticking that ultimately determines the halal character of the meat, the responsibilities of the believer towards the animal don’t end there.
By allowing us to eat meat, God has granted us a blessing, but this privilege must correspond to the divine vision of balance and justice among His creatures. Thus, it is imperative that the prerogative to sacrifice animals is bound to a set of responsibilities towards the latter, as well as to the environment and the human beings who often work in deplorable conditions in slaughterhouses or other meat processing plants.
In other words, beyond ensuring whether or not an animal was slaughtered accordingly to Islamic rite, it is essential in today’s world, before buying any product, to ask oneself under what conditions the animals we consume are being reared, transported to the slaughterhouse (and obviously put to death), and also to promote a moderate consumption of meat products.
To formally obey the ritual while ignoring the principles which underlie it, is to betray our spirituality while keeping up appearances. To refuse to challenge the contemporary systems of production and consumption is to betray our ethics with the illusory objective of maintaining our own comfort.
 Sticking refers to the cutting of the animal’s throat.
Read first part: http://avs.fr/english/2017/10/our-conception-of-halal-first-part/
Read third part: http://avs.fr/english/2017/10/our-conception-of-halal-third-part/