Halal – a lettering that can be seen above all on the shop windows of Turkish or Arabic snacks but Halal is more.
It means “permitted” or “pure” that are permissible from an Islamic perspective and the opposite is “Haram”, that is, prohibited.
A Turkish restaurant in Solingen, Germany and at the entrance two kebab skewers are spinning with peppers and eggplants hiss next on charcoal grill. The shop owner Bedavi Usta invites you to a glass of tea and we quickly get into conversation and discuss the term “Halal”, which cannot be overlooked in his shop either as halal logos are placed several times in the shop window, printed on a framed certificate from the meat supplier and on the menu cards.
The owner wants to show how important Islamic guidelines are in his restaurant, but when asked about the term Halal, he is somewhat unsettled:
“Depending on which scholar you ask, there are different explanations about halal. Everyone interprets Halal a little differently and we as Muslims are insecure, so what should we do? ”
Slaughter as a religious act
What Bedavi Usta criticizes here concerns many Muslims in Germany and throughout Europe. Most Muslims only eat the meat of animals that are allowed in the Quran, such as lamb, beef or chicken. In addition, general Islamic law requires a butcher who is ideally a Muslim or at least believes in one God that the animals that are to be slaughtered to be killed in the name of God but nes Curuk, a young theologian from the Rhineland, looks back to the early days of Islam.
He believes that “slaughtering animals at the time was a religious act – and this religious act consisted primarily of offerings to idols and offerings to different gods.”
Muslims should do the same for their god, but this context no longer exists today, says Curuk.
That is why he would like the Muslims to be a little more relaxed when it comes to questions, “Whether as a Muslim products from shops that do not work with halal branding or products that are produced at German farms can be consumed by Muslims.
This would make this halal branding unnecessary, so to speak. ”
The question of anesthesia
But Curuk knows that there is a large market behind the Halal seal and also another controversy “anesthesia“. For some of the Muslims, the anesthetic is not a problem, almost a matter of course, subject to that the animal does not die due to the anesthetic.
On the other hand, those traditionalists, “who say that anesthetic is not then the ‘pure’ slaughter, as we were prescribed centuries ago, or what we believe in. In any case, the animal would still have to be alive and then killed and then bled to death. ”According to Seher Günyak, managing director of the Halal consulting company Kanbi that accompanies manufacturers in the halal certification process of their products, traditional Muslims therefore consider the anesthetic of the animals to be too risky.
But the representatives of traditional slaughter houses have been running against a wall for several years, because both European law prohibit the slaughter without stunning.
Halal is based on trust
Nevertheless, there are countless companies that issue halal certificates for meat products and with success. According to Günyak, around 90 percent of Muslim consumers trust such halal seals but about ten percent doubt their credibility and Halal expert Günyak is right by saying that some in the industry are careless with halal rules.
The lack of transparency is a problem for Muslim consumers, says Günyak.
“The butcher says yes, this is Halal” because he probably received it from his butcher. And in Islam, if I sell you something where I say ‘that’s Halal!’, then you believe me as a Muslim and I believe you. I can only tell you what I’ve been told. That means that the original sin is with the butcher, with the one who slaughtered it, or with the one who certified it because he believed in it that way. ”
“Finally, I choose the interpretation that I agree with, of course to the best of my knowledge and belief. Everything else doesn’t matter to me after that as I only sell what I eat myself. “