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Halal meat despite anesthesia : A short Prayer before Death

Mostly Muslims come to Rolf Piepmeier’s slaughterhouse near Bremen as they see his meat as halal, even though the animals are stunned

As soon as you enter the shop of slaughterhouse owner Rolf Piepmeier, it becomes clear that he is not hiding anything as everything is visible. Two employees stand at the sales counter and cut meat into small pieces and the skinned bodies hang directly behind the sales counter.

Immediately next to them is the cold room, where the carcasses are kept fresh at three degrees Celsius and customers are waiting for their order in front of the counter and beyond is Piepmeier’s office.

Rolf Piepmeier sits at his desk in a white coat and with a mild smile. What is special about Piepmeier’s slaughterhouse near Bremen is that it mainly has Muslim customers, because almost all of his butchers are devout Muslims, so his customers consider the meat to be halal, that is, allowed, even though it has been stunned beforehand.

In Germany, none-anesthetic slaughtering is prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act, only with some rare exceptions.

The animals look curious

Today, lambs and bulls are slaughtered at Piepmeier. There is a paddock in the back yard, where the animals are housed before slaughter. There are still twelve of the four-month-old animals in the paddock, 70 of them arrived early in the morning.

They look curious, but rather shy to people. When they enter the gate, they crowd into the corner, one coughs loudly. “We all do that, maybe it choked,” says veterinarian Holger Klükas who is with Piepmeier five days a week. Four of the lambs are already in a narrow lock and they will slaughtered and die next.

The animals come from Wilhelmshaven, their owner, Jochen Fass, is also there. They all weight around 50 kilograms, in the end about half of which comes out as a meat product. One of the lambs nudges me carefully, I hold out my hand. Tickle his hair and it can be scratched on the head. I am now also interested in the other pairs of eyes. Another lamb sucks on the metal bar, the animal begins to nibble on my fingers.

The veterinarian is not involved in the slaughter

Jochen Fass is a dyke keeper. Nothing protects the dyke like sheep. The lambs were there for four months, now they are dying for human consumption. Veterinary Klükas inspects the animals before slaughtering and assesses the meat afterwards but he is not involved in the slaughter itself, “butchers can do that“.

During the live inspection, he pays attention to the mood of the animals, whether they are stressed or whether they are missing something externally, for example if a lamb is too lean. He also has to examine the waste from the slaughter later: the liver, lungs and other organs as they all must look perfect.

The door to the slaughter room opens, the four butchers are ready. The first animal is urged to open, then the power pads are placed on the head. 230 volts shoot through the young sheep’s body and it slacks onto  the ground.

The animal is stunned and Ali Hiyazi, one of the butchers, pulls the seemingly lifeless body into the slaughter room, with his sharp butcher knife he cuts the esophagus and trachea as well as the jugular veins and carotid arteries in one cut.

Before that he speaks the words “Bismillah, allahu akbar.” which means “In the name of God, God is great.” One of the animals shrugs a lot, but Klükas waves it away and says “These are just nerves and muscle twitches.”

The blood floods the floor and flows into the grating drain and the butchers hang up the animals. Everything happens very quickly, the butchers are professionals as slaughtering is their job. They remove the hooves and head and pull off the skin: they separate them from the meat with powerful knife blows and the next animal is ready and the procedure is repeated.

“I love my job, otherwise I wouldn’t do it anymore, ”says Piepmeier. His job makes him happy. “That’s why everyone can come and watch. When a customer calls and has questions, I say: ‘Just come over!’. He can then see the animal before and after. “But there are no customers involved in the slaughter”, he adds.

Only Muslims slaughter

However, Rolf Piepmeier himself no longer puts his hand on the knife, otherwise the meat would no longer be halal for some Muslims. Ahmed Ismail, a long-time Piepmeier customer who has come into the sales room, says that it is important to him that a devout Muslim slaughtered the animal and according to his understanding of faith, he shouldn’t eat it from a German, then it would be haram.

Some Muslims even reject anesthesia before slaughter because they believe that the animal was already dead by then. Butcher Ali Hiyazi explains that it depends on the previous prayer whether the meat of an animal slaughtered under anesthetic is allowed or not. Muslims are not a self-contained religious community, there are different interpretations, just as there are differences in Christianity.

There is a friendly but depressed atmosphere in the break room. Every now and then customers just come in, someone brings cake from his wife. The workers smoke here between slaughtering and Klükas brews a coffee. The only women are the customers and a sheep owner. The men are silent, a job like that has to be mentally stressful and one says “I can’t do that with goats, they always scream like that.”

On the wall behind them is a list of 40 cattle breeds from around the world and the other walls are littered with Piepmeier’s certificates: the 60th anniversary of his slaughterhouse, his master’s certificate is hanging there and countless newspaper articles in which Piepmeier mostly gets away well.

This is how his business model came about, says Piepmeier. “I had a lot of Turkish customers.” Then he went to their numerous weddings and made himself known and there someone finally agreed to slaughter for him. Halal slaughter has been carried out in the Piepmeier slaughterhouse since 1964. He found his niche in which he could survive. Piepmeier also says: “That was not out of profit interest. I enjoy my work. “

“Underdog” against large slaughterhouses like Tönnies

He sees himself as an “underdog” to the big slaughterhouses like Tönnies, who set the price. “I’m the only quality slaughterer in the area,” says Piepmeier and in his area, he would only be called the “Turkish butcher” but it doesn’t bother him.

His customer Ahmed Ismail also buys lamb on some days, but today he wants 40 kilograms of bull. The animals have just arrived, there are five heavyweights, each weighing almost 500 kilograms. They are about 19 months old and do not want to get out of the truck as if they felt that something bad was going to happen to them.

They are excited, finally two of them dash down into the lock. They run straight into the slaughter room, the other three are still in the transporter. Their owner makes noise and sprinkles them with water, finally they all push each other into the narrow lock. Relaxed looks different, but Klükas says: “This is normal, nothing unusual.”

The first colossus wants to go straight on, but a butcher slams his head away and closes the hatch. In the slaughter room, the animals first come into a box, which they fix while standing. The bolt shot is placed there to stun the animal. The metal rod drills through the skull to the brain.

The pit door opens and the animal falls to the ground, lands on its back and tilts to the side. Then it is pulled up on a hind leg.

Nevertheless, the bull is still alive at this moment, it may only take a few seconds until the throat is cut. The air steams from the warm body, the blood runs down the drain and the sweet smell spreads. “The meat has to bleed out completely, otherwise it won’t keep long and fresh,” explains Klükas.

What happens at Rolf Piepmeier’s slaughterhouse does not seem so different from what happens in other slaughterhouses. There are only small differences like saying a prayer and of course the fact that only Muslims kill the animal but what looks like little makes the meat edible by a large number of consumers.

An exception to the shafting would be “unthinkable” for Piepmeier. That is cruelty to animals, he says, and his customers also consider the meat to be pure/halal.

Would the animals suffer more from anesthetic slaughter? The veterinarian thinks for a moment. “I can’t say that, I don’t know,” says Holger Klükas.

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Halal News

Ethereum Blockchain and Ether classified as Halal

Additional rules apply to believing Muslims in financial transactions and those transactions are dictated by Sharia law, the Islamic law. So far, there is no general judgment as to whether cryptocurrencies meet the Sharia requirements. In order to promote the adaptation of the Ethereum platform in the Islamic region, the Ethereum Foundation has had its blockchain examined.

Are Muslims allowed to use the Ethereum platform? Islamic legal scholars from Amanie Advisors, an Islamic financial consultancy that have investigated this question in cooperation with the Ethereum Foundation.

The result should be gratifying for Muslim crypto enthusiasts: the scholars classified both the Ethereum platform and the associated cryptocurrency Ether as “Sharia-compliant”. Amanie Advisors summarized the results of their investigation in a Shariah white paper

Being Sharia compliant means that ether can be lawfully traded and exchanged by the Muslim community. It is permissible for a Muslim to buy, sell or hold Ether to participate in the Ethereum Blockhain and take full advantage of the technology.

The purpose of the investigation was to remove any uncertainties in order to stimulate interest in the Ethereum platform in the Islamic world. The head of the initiative is Virgil Griffith, who is responsible for special projects at Ethereum. He made contact with Amanie Advisors and the legal scholars then set out to highlight the “Sharia parameters” of Ethereum and Ether.

Ether is not considered a currency

In the Shariah White Paper , the authors first discuss the question of whether Ether should be classified as a currency from an Islamic perspective. The scholars deny such an assessment; instead, Ether is designated as a valuable commodity, because they recognize the primary function of Ether as a utility token for the Ethereum platform.

Ether therefore primarily serves as an incentive for miners to confirm transactions and as such, it only has value within a limited ecosystem. In contrast, the use of Ether as a store of value and a universally valid medium of exchange is only of marginal importance from the perspective of the experts.

The scholars then check whether Ether meets the Sharia requirements for goods. The principle applies here: What does not include anything prohibited is allowed. Following this maxim, they come to the conclusion that the exchange of Ether does not include interest nor is there an inevitable uncertainty. After all, trading in Ether could not be compared to gambling thus, from an Islamic perspective, there is no reason why Ether should be considered banned.

The Ethereum blockchain is also sharia-compliant

Amanie Advisors also assessed the other components of the Ethereum ecosystem. They classified both the platform and the mining of Ether as permitted. They also saw no fundamental objections regarding smart contracts and dApps, however, it is important to check the specific content of the contracts and applications from case to case.

Incidentally, Ethereum is not the first Crypto project to undergo a Sharia check. The Stellar cryptocurrency received a Sharia certificate in 2018 .

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Halal News

Halal Travel – How Muslim travelers change tourism !

Ever heard of Halal Travel?  No population group in the world is growing faster than that of Muslims and now the tourism industry is adapting to the new target group – also in Europe

With its sweet and juicy baklava, dates and dried fruits from the Arabic welcome treatment, the view of the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz can be embellished in the suite of the “Adlon Kempinski Berlin“.

An Arabic transmitter is quietly playing in the background, the Koran is at hand, the prayer mat too. An arrow shows the right Kiblat to the person praying.

Refreshments are waiting in the minibar, but no alcohol – if you get hungry, you can order food with confidence, there is also halal food here. No population group worldwide is growing faster than that of Muslims and the tourism industry is taking on the new target group with halal-friendly trips.

“Halal” describes according to Islamic law “all things or actions that are permitted, in contrast to haram”, says professor Jamal Malik from the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Erfurt. This means compliance with Islamic dietary regulations, the waiver of pork and animals that are not properly slaughtered, but can also relate to the entire lifestyle and is “to a certain extent a matter of interpretation” due to various legal schools.

This includes praying to Mecca five times a day, following dress codes such as wearing headscarves, and refraining from alcohol, drugs and extramarital sex.

“Customers no longer want to compromise”

Those who live according to Islamic rules also value halal services when traveling. No matter whether on a business or city trip, a wellness weekend or a beach vacation. Like the “Adlon Kempinski Berlin”, more and more hotels across Germany are trying to reach the target group – also because the so-called “Halal Travel” market is exploding:

According to the “Muslim Millennial Travel Report” (2018), the number of Muslim travelers will be close to 160 million and the numbers are rising.

By 2020, the new jet setters are expected to spend $ 220 billion annually, by 2026 it should be $ 300 billion. The growing interest in halal-friendly travel is also due to the rapidly growing group of young and affluent Muslims.

By 2030, almost 30 percent of the world’s population will be Muslims between the ages of 15 and 29. While globetrotters with an interest in halal offers have so far mostly come from rich oil countries such as Saudi Arabia, demand is now increasing in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where the middle class is growing. “But the second and third generation of Muslims in Europe also want to make nice trips,” says Malik.

“With the new purchasing power, customers have become more demanding and don’t want to compromise anymore,” says Ufuk Seçgin from the booking portal
Seçgin, who was born in Hamburg with Turkish roots and has lived in London for 16 years, knows the dilemma himself. “When I travel, I’d like to go to a chic star restaurant, and I don’t always fancy Turkish cuisine. “In the meantime, many British restaurateurs in London have prepared themselves for Muslim guests from home and abroad, while hip bars are expanding their cocktail menu with non-alcoholic alternatives and leisure organizers such as “Muslim History Tours” offer sightseeing trips with a focus on British Muslim history. For many cities, tourism associations, tour operators or hoteliers there is a lucrative potential.
Prayer rugs in the room and corresponding culinary offers are just the beginning and for many people, halal travel begins with the arrival of the appropriate food on the plane or even prayer rooms on board and at airports, continues with leisure activities and ends with the quiet place.
“It is common in the Muslim world to clean yourself with water after going to the toilet,” says Seçgin. “Anyone who adapts to this as a hotelier with special sanitary facilities really serves a great demand.”

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Halal News

Religiously correct cosmetics : Everything Halal

  • Large cosmetic companies have been using halal labeling for some time. A billion-dollar business beckons worldwide.
  • Halal identifies care products and perfumes that, for example, contain neither pork fat nor alcohol.

The trend comes from Southeast Asia: Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world with around 260 million inhabitants, passed a law requiring all products to have a halal label since last year. Perfumes with alcohol or lipsticks with pork fat fail – instead, manufacturers have to do without animal products and alcohols.

Cosmetics giant L’Oréal and the German chemical company BASF pay attention, the market finally grows – after all, according to several studies, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.

L’Oréal has long had hundreds of its products certified as halal and the French company also check production for religious admissibility.

A few years ago, halal cosmetics was a niche market for some small businesses in Muslim countries but that has changed in the meantime, as can also be seen at the Festi Ramazan, the huge Ramadan festival currently in Dortmund: the word “halal” is often found on a tour of the 22,000 square meter festival site.

The global market already reached a volume of 18 billion euros in 2014 and according to the British market research company Tech Navio, this could double again by 2020 and account for six percent of the global business with beauty products.

No waiving of Plastic – so far

French perfume manufacturers have also discovered Dadestal for themselves: tons of roses are exported to Grasse in France, the “world capital of perfumery”, where they are used to make perfume. “There is so much on the market that can be done even better, even fairer – for everyone involved,” says Fritz confidently.

Halal is a very exciting business, explains Julia Fritz and it is an ethical task.

For example, it is not enough for them to do without animal products or alcohol. “Halal has to be good for everyone, for the producer, the retailer, the consumer. It has to be fair and transparent for everyone.” Many Muslims are too concerned with prohibitions and commands and lose sight of the essentials, she says. “The basic idea of ​​every Muslim should actually be that we should take care of this earth,” says Fritz, who converted to Islam at the age of 22.

So far, al-balsam has not been without plastic. Not yet. The market would be there, as you can see at the Dortmund Religious Festival. The festival is a large consumer fair, in which German automobile clubs or, for example, electricity retailers also take part. Visitors can buy bed linen and real estate here as well as stay in two tent mosques to pray.

Next door tens of thousands visit the international tattoo fair at the same time, many are tattooed from top to bottom – but some of them end up at the Festi Ramazan. Because of the culinary specialties that they like to emphasize and, of course, they are all halal, of course.

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