Archive for December, 2009


Insensitive

I’ve been meaning to post about this for so long but where is the time these day? Holidays are here and how wonderful it is to be around the children sans school and madressah rush. Gym is going along very well but the creche will be closed for the next couple of weeks so will need to do evening sessions and that means having to negotiate my way around big burly men who hog machines. Actually they hog the entire free weight section as well  which is just so dang annoying.  The women-only section has only a few standard machines and that’s pretty full up in the evenings too (obviously since the men are HOGGING EVERYTHING ELSE.)

Certification for Hand in Hand parenting is going along swimmingly alhamdulillah. Have made some huge progress my connection with my children and surprisingly have noticed a huge difference in my adult relationships, too.

So now all that is out of the way:

Achelois posted recently on an incident where  a friend tricked her into eating camel meat all the while knowing that Achelois did not eat it. I commented on how awful it was for her and added a few excuses for her friend – maybe this was a way of showing Achelois that camel meat was really not that bad.

Her reply (and I will post it here in its entirety because it’s just that good)

Tasmiya, she knew well I don’t eat rabbit and cammel. We had that conversation ages ago and even then she had insisted that it was very tasty. I’m offended and will show her that by not talking to her for some time so she understands that in my culture what she did was in appropriate.
Like Abu Sinan so well said, what we put in our bodies is a very private matter.

She’s right. Achelois did everything possible so as not to offend her friend. She did what was culturally appropriate, culturally acceptable and culturally good manners. It’s not much that she ask the same of her friend. In Achelois’ culture, it’s rude and insensitive to trick someone into eating something they do not usually eat. Reading the post again (and I can’t believe I missed this part before) here is the real insult:

If that wasn’t enough, she then asked me if I wanted to make abolution with her since we had all eaten camel meat!

So knowing how awful and obviously UNCLEAN Achelois would feel after finding out the truth, her friend jokingly tells her they should what? Go and perform wudhu together? Woah, now that’s pretty nasty.

It’s late so I am just going to just start typing until I stop. This may come out pretty disjointed – I might come back another time and fix up or add more to this post if I have time over the weekend inshaAllah

I live in a country where the majority of the population is not Muslim. Not many non-Muslims know about the concept of  food being either halal (permissible) or haraam (forbidden). I don’t expect them to know about it. When I was younger as far as I can remember in Zimbabwe there were no laws for compulsory labelling on food packaging and we pretty much ate everything (we bought all our meat from halal butchers obviously but things such as marshmallows, jelly babies and fruit gums OH MY GOD I MISS THOSE FRUIT GUMS were all eaten in our house.) Maybe in those days, we were just not so strict. Maybe we knew that the sources of the ingredients were all legitimate halal sources.  I can’t remember. When we moved to Australia we never checked the ingredients of things we bought – we kept on eating marshmallows, jelly babies and my sisters and I discovered the heavenly Summer Roll Chocolate.  Then over time, we began to become more conscious of what we were eating – gelatine is an animal product and most certainly not allowed-  and our favourite sweets and chocolates were promptly taken off the shopping list although they never quite left the “craving for” list. I still check Summer Rolls to see if the makers have somehow managed to devise a way to maintain the chewy nougat centre without needing to use gelatine. Please try harder, Europe bars.

I’ve started with gelatine so let’s talk about that, shall we?

Gelatin is a protein produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattlepigs, and horses.

(source)

Many Muslims believe that if the gelatine is produced from cattle or other non-pig sources  then it is halal, even if the animal has not been slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines because the process by which gelatine is made renders the finished product so far removed from the original source (Tabdeel-e-Mahiyat)  AFIC holds this view too.

Products made from the following substances are Halal unless containing or come into contact with a Haram substance…………..

…Gelatine produced from beef skins and/or bones,…

I don’t know if this opinion is held by the majority of Muslims but in any case, I am really struggling with this ruling. I’m not saying that it’s wrong, it’s just not a ruling that I can agree with FOR MYSELF. Sunnipath has a different view on gelatine – the whole article gives a comprehensive explanation on many aspects of halal and haram food, including a detailed step-by-step analysis of  the process of gelatine production. It’s very good reading:

If the source of Gelatine is derived from a Halaal source then its usage is permissible, whilst if the source is Haraam or Mashqook [doubtful] then it will be considered Haraam……

……….Despite the above method of changing a raw product into gelatine under tremendous chemical pressure still retains much of its chemical equation. The collagen triple helix structure is lost during this procedure but the resultant Gelatine product retains the original coil structure. The aspect of Tabdeel-e-Mahiyyat does not take place.

My understanding here is that if the gelatine is derived from beef bones then it will only be permissible if the cattle are slaughtered Islamically. One can’t just say that since it’s made from beef it’s automatically halal. I am not sure if I am correct in my interpretation here, maybe someone else can help me out.

Now ok let me digress here a bit –  why the issue? Why am I making such a mountain of a molehill? Why am I purposely trying to make Islam difficult? I don’t think I am. I think that as a Muslim I must be careful what I put into my mouth and if the information out there allows me to see exactly what part of the product comes from what part of the animal then I can be well informed to decide for myself.  I am not saying that others who take the AFIC view are wrong. Alhamdulillah the differences in opinion are a mercy to us but for me, again I want to say FOR ME, I don’t know if I can say that just because AFIC has certified something as halal, that it is permissible FOR ME.

And gelatine is just ONE thing here. I mean just the other day I had a brother call me to get a veterinary opinion on the stunning methods used in the abattoirs here because he was convinced that the method currently in use renders the meat impermissible. Then we have the E471, the animal rennet (if it’s calf rennet I will eat it, because I follow the Hanafi school of thought but most other schools will not allow it), then the vanilla essence and peppermint essence in Arnott’s biscuits. At one time someone said that all Arnott’s biscuits were haram. I don’t think that one can go too far. If you want to do a nutritional breakdown on everything in the supermarket, be my guest.  I don’t eat gelatine that says it’s “halal” but I will eat Arnott’s biscuits because I believe synthetic alcohol in small doses and for flavour is ok. I don’t eat jelly babies. I do eat gelatine products from Malaysia if they have a halal stamp on them.

The thing is that everyone has a different opinion on what is permissible and what is not. There are some who say if it isn’t pork, it’s halal. Some say if you just say “bismillah” pretty much everything is halal. Then there are others who say if AFIC says it’s halal, it’s halal. If the company says they only put halal gelatine in their products, then it’s halal. If it’s a synthetic alcohol, it’s halal. I don’t keep cheese with animal rennet in my home anymore because I know the majority of my friends and family will consider it haram. I don’t offer those friends Arnott’s biscuits if they believe that the vanilla essence in the biscuits is haram. I try not to argue with people on their opinions but I try to respect it. Where I really get annoyed is when people make comments when I bring something to their house and say things like, “Oh. Can we eat that now?” or “Is that halal, now?”  I feel like saying, “Well, actually it’s haram but I just like to eat haram things and I would love for you to partake in my sinning.” I mean OF COURSE IF I BOUGHT IT, I THINK IT’S OK TO EAT. And then the very same people who check and double check and call the companies and don’t eat anything with vanilla in it are the first ones to go out to eat in restaurants and just assume that if they eat something from the vegetarian menu, it’s all ok. Do they drill the waiter or the owner of the restaurant to make sure there is no E471 or gelatine or vanilla? NO.

You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to give me, a Muslim, the third degree and in the same breath tell me how wonderful xyx non-Muslim owned restaurant is, then you really need to shut your mouth.

So.

  • everyone has a different view on what is halal and what is haram
  • and that’s ok
  • if someone doesn’t want to eat anything with animal derived E471 or gelatine from non zabiha cattle or vanilla essence then it’s really ok
  • they aren’t making Islam difficult FOR THEM
  • sure it gets your knickers in a knot but
  • everyone has a different view on what is halal and what is haram
  • and that’s ok
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