Imam ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam
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“…During my visits to the West, and when I am being served meals on planes or in restaurants in Europe or America, I would find that I was very hesitant to eat the food, and I wanted very much to search for halal food and find that pure bite to eat in order to protect any part of my flesh from being nourished on haram, as the Fire is more deserving of every bit of flesh nourished on the haram…”
This is a treatise that I had written a few years ago at the start of my frequent visits to the West – especially America – to attend student conferences organized by the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) that have been held until this year, and it is an annual conference that takes place during Christmas, which falls at the end of each Gregorian year. MAYA was the precursor to many Islamic organizations, and the Muslim Youth Association in America was formed from the Muslim Student Association (MSA), which initially was composed of just thirteen students in Chicago.
And this issue has concerned me on my travels, and I exhausted myself in investigating it. If there is anything I could forget, I could never forget my visit to Spain as I was making my way around Grenada and Cordova, as the Islamic awakening there had not yet led to any viable communities forming that could operate their own markets and shops, especially those for halal foods and meats. So, I would spend most of my trip eating roasted pistachios.
I dug deeply into this issue – and it deserves to be dug into deeply – as the West has its own system of life. Carcasses and pork are not considered prohibitions in their daily life. In fact, pork and lard are ingredients in many products and desserts, and the life of the Muslim in the West has become unbearable considering the temptations that surround him and the prohibited ingredients that are found in most foods – in many places, you will find that even bread is made with lard!
The problem also has spread to most of the Muslim lands, with the Muslim populations and nations importing meat from Communist and Western nations without giving any consideration as to the status of the permissibility of such meat. When concerns are raised here and there from those who are hesitant to eat imported meat, a simple seal is placed on the meat that says ‘Slaughtered Islamically.’ So, if a country does respond to some concerns, it sends an envoy from the Department of Commerce to the slaughterhouse to task the embassy in the country from which the meat is coming to supervise the process of slaughtering. The problem is that the issue usually means nothing to the diplomats who work in these embassies of the Muslim countries in the Western or Eastern world. They usually pay no attention to it, let alone spend all of their time in slaughterhouses making sure Allah is mentioned at the time of slaughtering, mentioning and exalting Him whenever another animal is slaughtered. To make matters worse, commerce officials in the Islamic world don’t care much for this issue as they consider it a manifestation of backwardness, closedmindedness, and strictness on the part of religious people due to their so-called extremism.
Also, what would you say if you knew that many commerce officials in some Muslim countries – those who are responsible for declaring what foods are religiously permissible or prohibited – are Christians who refuse to import products from the Muslim nation of Turkey, and accept only to import meat from the Eastern nations like Bulgaria? This is despite the fact that Turkish meat is generally cleaner and cheaper. Continue reading