The Family Council
May 17, 2007 § 7 Comments
Recently, we began a new practice in my home. We have decided to hold a bi-weekly shura which is much like a family meeting. It was rather interesting because as some of you may know my children are young, the eldest being 5 and the youngest 8 months. But that did not stop the two eldest from expressing their views on various issue that range from the number of shura we should have per month, to a unanimous request for mommy (Umm Hajji) to give a brief lesson on character, manners and conduct after our little meeting.
As the shura ended we each drew a random card from a grey tarboush with eight little cards representing the eight ‘inroads to the heart’ inside. On seven of these cards were the names of different body parts (tongue, eyes, ears, stomach, private parts, hands and feet) and on one of them was written as-salah (the Islamic Ritual Prayer). This is an exercise that my wife and I decided to do as a family after studying Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir’s book, Agenda to Change Our Condition.
In this exercise we would select a card and make a daily intention to guard this area of our lives. Incidentally, I choose ‘the salah’ and my wife choose ‘the ears’ (and Allah knows best). But the reason I am writing this article is because our eldest son selected ‘the stomach’. We began to explain to him exactly what it means to ‘guard the stomach’ mentioning that he should only eat halal food, and if he did not know whether it was halal or not that he should leave it until he was certain. Likewise, he should avoid overeating and excessive consumption of snacks, etc.. That evening he went to sleep pleased with his choice and ready for a day of guarding his stomach.
The following morning is when the confusion began. My wife and I realized on our way to dropping the kids at school that much of what we eat packaged food. In fact it was brought to our attention that we only observe our dietary obligation regarding meat. And then I stumbled upon an article from Turkish Weekly suggested,
“American Muslims, like Muslim minorities in the West, concern themselves with eating halal meat, which usually focused on slaughtering animals according to Shari`ah. Discovering more about what animals are being fed before being shipped to slaughterhouses, whether Islamic or not, many Muslims are wondering what the term halal meat really implicates.”
This is exactly the question that I have arrived at, what does “halal meat” really mean? The article goes on saying,
“In the United States, it is common to feed chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows the blood, bone and unwanted flesh of farm animals mixed into their regular animal feed.”
So how do you know that the animal was not raised with these types of practices only to be shipped to an Muslim slaughter house and deemed “halal”? How do we know? Who can we trust to speak the truth concerning this matter? There are a growing number of “halal meat” markets here in New York, but as the article says, many are owned by non-Muslims serving the Muslim community and do not know the origins of their meat products.
Our religion says that there is a connection between righteous deeds and eating pure foods. For Muslims purity – in ever aspect of our lives – is so important and I would like to always have access to reliable sources like Zabiha.com to find pure foods to eat at home and on the go. Over the years I have seen lists of products on the Internet, which some put together to identify halal and haram foods here in the U.S. but I always disregard them because it just seemed like common sense to read the ingredients before you purchased or consumed a product. But now with the children it would be nice to be certain about a product but even more so about a company, I know that I would remain loyal to a company that always provided halal foods, such as My Halal Meat but just a bit more affordable.