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Halal and Tayyib in the Here and Now

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim

In the name of Allah, the infinitely compassionate, the uniquely merciful

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All praise is only for Allah, the Lord, Protector, and Sustainer of all the worlds. Wherever we turn, be it inside of ourselves, toward that which lies directly in our path, or to the most distant horizon, we find nothing but Allah. From my deep heart, I ask that Allah give all the Muslims, all the mu’min (believers) of all of The One’s religions and ways, and all of those who follow their own way of compassion and mercy, the himma (longing) and the strength to struggle and strive to see Allah in all places, in all faces, in all beings and in all circumstances. I ask that Allah guide us to clarity and discernment, that we might truly become the vice regents and stewards of this planet that we are created to be.

Seeing Allah in All Things
“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth nor a being that flies on its wings, but they are communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Rabb (Lord) in the end.”
(Surat al-An’am 6:38)

Allah is the Uniquely Existent (al-Wahid). Allah alone exists without support. Everything but Allah is only contingent creation, temporarily real, destined for disappearance and return to that which alone is Real.

In this world of manifestation, our intention, our actions, and Allah’s grace and mercy combine to form the bridge to our spiritual evolution represented by the promise of the next world. Therefore it is imperative that in all of our actions and interactions, we see that we are interfacing with nothing less than a divine manifestation, a physical expression of some or all of Allah’s qualities and names. When we speak, we speak to Allah. When we think, we think through Allah. When we kill, we can kill only one of Allah’s surrendered (Muslim) creatures. In fact, the Holy Qur’an teaches us that it is only people and jinn (energy beings) who are not perfectly surrendered as species.

“Have you not seen how what is in the heavens and what is in the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and the mountains and the trees and the beasts and many of the people prostrate before Allah? And yet many of the people defy Allah and thus deserve punishment.”
(Surat al-Hajj 22:18)

“The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but hymns His praise; but you understand not their praise.”
(Surat al-Isra’ 17:44)

Life and Death Without Mercy
Most Muslims are familiar with the concept of halal (lawful/permissible), the Islamic equivalent of kosher. But we tend to be less familiar with the concept of tayyib (pure/ethical/wholesome/good). Nearly everywhere that we are enjoined in the Qur’an to eat only of the halal, tayyib is explicitly mentioned as a necessary quality as well. But in this age, tayyib has been largely forgotten.

“Oh, you people, eat from the earth what is halal and tayyib, and follow not the footsteps of the Shaytan ...”
(Surat al-Baqarah 2:168)

Tayyib may have been forgotten by us, but the 10 billion animals that were slaughtered in 2003 in the U.S. alonei could not forget, not for a moment.

These holy and innocent creatures were, and are, the victims of the factory-farming industry, where most of them spend every moment of their lives in bleak, terrifying, disease-ridden conditions, deprived of everything that makes life bearable. The only relief comes through death, and even death is given without mercy, delivered in countless hideous and painful ways. They are out of our sight, and so they are largely out of our minds. But the fact that all we see is the neatly packaged meat at the store does not change the essential reality of what it is and the process that created it.

In addition to the unconscionable suffering that the system causes, industrial animal agriculture also creates enormous quantities of greenhouse gases, poisons the land with millions of tons of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and is the world’s leading cause of water pollution and wastewater by far. It takes an estimated 12,000 gallons of water and up to 20 pounds of grain to produce one single pound of meatii. And the wastewater from industrial agriculture is the main reason why 60 percent of America’s rivers and streams are “impaired.”iii The Holy Qur'an enjoins over and over, “Waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters,” and, “Do not pollute the earth after it has been (so) wholesomely (set in order) ...”
(Surat al-A'raf 7:56)

The question that I humbly wish to put before us as believers is: Can we knowingly and willingly participate in this system and be in right relationship with Allah? God willing, the information here will help each of us find our own way.

Halal? Extremely Unlikely
“Halal” meat is largely a myth in the industrialized world. One study found that 75 percent of meat bearing “halal” certification was, in fact, not halal—it was simply standard factory-farmed (i.e., pork-, meat-, and feces-fed) meat bearing a “halal” label.iv And it is well known that a large portion of the meat that may be halal by the letter of the law (i.e., slaughtered “Islamically”) does not meet any of the other requirements that jurists throughout the history of Islam have agreed are necessary for meat to be truly lawful to eat. These include the following, among others:

1. The animal must be raised in a humane and wholesome environment.
2. The animal must not be mishandled, stressed, or caused any discomfort during transport.
3. The animal must not feel stress or fear before death.
4. The animal must not be killed using continuous pain or injury.
5. The animal must be killed away from the view of other animals. v

Clearly, none of the conditions requiring that the dignity of the creature be respected and maintained are met in today’s world of industrial meat production.

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