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.

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§ 7 Responses to The Family Council

  • Millie says:

    As a convert to Islam, it has taken me a while to figure out what ingredients in packaged foods were derived from and if they were halal or haram. In fact it took me 3 years to figure out marshmallows had gelatin most likely from pork in them!! I started buying “halal” meats but the market I had access to was frequently closed down from health code violations! I also was concerned what the animals were fed and how they were raised. Telling me how they died was just the tip of the iceburg! Until I can find a store that sells certified organic halal meats I will buy organic meats from Whole foods market. If you go there and talk to the butcher they will tell you that the animal not only was raised humanely it also died humanely and with respect…not far off from halal. The past few weeks we have been off meat completely, eating legumes and vegetables. I may add fish soon.

    I erroneously believed that if I lived in a Muslim country I would not have to worry about non’halal ingredients. I know now that these countries have just a big a problem of haram ingredients as we do.

    What about when you are a guest in a persons’ home who is not Muslim? My family is Christian so when I visit them I steer away from pork products but I do eat what I amserved. I know there is a code of conduct when you are a guest in someone’s home but I do not know all the particulars.

    I like your idea of having a shura with your children !

  • Baraka says:

    Salaam,

    What a beautiful ritual with your family.

    I agree, too often we limit ourselves to a purely literal interpretation of halal (or other Islamic injunctions).

    Given that we are supposed to care for animals & given the way animals are force-fed, fed ground up dead animals, pumped up with steroids, etc., I think the only real options are vegetarianism or halal organic free-range meat.

    Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of the latter out there yet, not even in the politically conscious & progressive Bay Area. As Muslims we need to be lobbying for pureness to extend beyond slitting an animal’s throat.

  • KashifN says:

    Masha’Allah, that is a really creative idea.

  • I read this a while back, but didn’t comment. I really think this is something that many Muslim families could benefit from. Also, the halal discussion was worth the read.

  • Nuri says:

    Hmmm… I’m not a muslim, but I find this meeting quite interesting. How many children do you have, and besides the 5year old and the 8 month old (who I guess didn’t pick a card) what ages are they?? My daughters are 2 and 4…
    And, if they chose the “hands” or “feet” card, what are they supposed to do?
    Thanks…

  • Hakim says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments. They are most welcome and appreciated. I’m afraid I may be apologizing for poorly timed replies to comments at least until the Summer ends. As for Nuri’s question,

    “And, if they chose the “hands” or “feet” card, what are they supposed to do?

    Guarding the hands and feet consist of protecting ones-self from forbidden uses of each. For the hands it is forbidden to steal and harm any of Allah’s Creation without just cause. Likewise the feet are a means of travel and transportation, therefore when guarding the feet one would avoid those places that are forbidden as well as involving ones self in forbidden things by way of our mobility.

    For example – in a child related incident – if a child intentionally damages someones flower garden – then flees the scene upon the gardeners approach the child has violated his hands by destroying Allah’s Creation (beautiful flowers) and has also violated his feet by fleeing the scene to avoid responsibility for his or her misdeed.

    I hope that is not too complicated, however it is all I could come up with on the fly Let me know how everything works out. By the way I have 3 children and the middle child is 3 going on 4. He ended up guarding his feet, masha’allah it the easiest of the 8 practices (and Allah knows best).

  • Jamal says:

    http://radicalmuslim.blogsome.com/2007/05/30/the-mega-mosque/

    49,981 signatures have now been received on a terrible petition against the London ‘Mega mosque’ based on incorrect and inciteful information. This shows the existence of the intolerance and Islamophobia in Britain.

    The mosque would provide a place of worship and show Britains tolerance and multiculturalism. It is now the duty of Muslims and evey citizen to sign the counter-petition to BUILD the ‘Mega Mosque’. Please sign at the link below, email it to your friends, post it in forums you visit and promote this on your site/blog.

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/buildmosque/

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