Interview with a muslim group’s representative concerning halal

As I wandered down the halls of the University of Western Sydney today (for research reasons), I came across a stall selling chicken kebabs by the Muslim Student’s Association (MSA) with the intent of informing the consuming public that they were about to eat halal food. A representative gave me a small pamphlet outlining halal and its reasons for its importance. A brief explanation about what halal constitutes emphasized the reduction of pain for the animal, and the draining of blood in order to remove toxins et al.. After reading through the rest of the pamphlet that emphasized the universal health advantages of halal (included not eating pork, but this is another topic) I decided to engage the MSA representative in an impromptu interview, to which he agreed. These are the questions and responses I received.

Question 1: Do you stun the animal before they bleed out?

The MSA representative emphasized the importance of dedicating the meat for eating towards God, and cited the health benefits of exsanguinations. I pressed the issue, emphasizing the less painless manner that the slaughter could be carried out. The representative suggested that shooting the animal was scientifically investigated and found more painful than slowly losing consciousness from loss of blood (my research indicates the contrary). I wasn’t concerned with shooting to slaughter, rather the more commonly used stunning method. He said they did not stun, but could not be persuaded to say why not and whether he thought this would be a less painful procedure.

Question 2: The booklet says that a Muslim, Jew or Christian can slaughter meat in a halal manner. Does that mean that someone not of these religions cannot? If this is the case, what health benefit is there to permit only members of these faiths to participate?

The representative felt that the slaughter in halal procedure was hygienically superior to other methods. He suggested that if a non-believer were to do exactly halal procedure than it would have the same standard of hygiene, but would not be classified halal. He stated that the halal action was based on religious merit, which to me suggests that the hygiene of halal preparation is totally ancillary.

Question 3: What does halal offer the consumer above and beyond currently enforced Australian slaughter and food regulations?

He again quoted the cleanliness of the animal, although perhaps he was unaware exsanguinations are carried out universally for all meats. With that exception, he stated the dedication to God as a response.

While the procedure of halal is somewhat health-conscious, my previous argument, that it is unnecessarily cruel and we have better hygiene measures in place, still stands. Despite touting health advantages, I found that the representative of MSA would fall back to a requirement to worship God. From this discussion therefore, if one is not muslim and one is concerned with limitation of suffering, halal should not be considered a viable preparation for food.

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~ by freeze43 on May 4, 2011.

3 Responses to “Interview with a muslim group’s representative concerning halal”

  1. The halal posts are the most interesting on your blog so far, and I admire your stance on the issue. Out of curiosity, if you had to convince a muslim purely through argument to abandon halal (suppose you would win a million dollars if you did, or something) – what strategy would you use?

  2. Hm I thought you liked the David Wong posts. Anyway, from what I experienced of the MSA representative, halal is inherently religious based; it’s not like I’m suggesting not eating easter eggs it seems to be a very inherent part of Islam. I would have to argue down the entire faith (which is accomplishable provided the individual was open to discussion).

    However if that wasn’t an issue, I would probably show that their attempts at proving halal’s health benefits are unneccessary. While it was probably intended to be a health initiative of sorts to start with, the modern world is more than capable of exceeded any hygiene measures halal has in place. I would also probably state that stunning doesn’t kill the animal, and that not even the Koran would theoretically be against it yet it seems to be important thesedays.

    To that end, what would be left would be the God aspect of halal, and if I had a solution to break that sort of belief I certainly wouldn’t be hiding it up until now.

  3. […] UPDATE: I recently had an interview with an MSA representative on halal, you can see the interview questions and discussion here. […]

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