Monday, March 8, 2021

Demystifying “Halaal”

I would like to respond to the article that appeared in your 9th-15th February edition regarding the views of the Evangelical Church and the Ministers Fraternal in Francistown on the issue of Halaal.

After reading this article one can draw several conclusions from it:

┬À┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á That their knowledge of Islam, the fastest growing religion in the world, is very limited and sketchy;
┬À┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á That they choose to ignore the basic truth and facts in order to promote their own misconstrued views; and
┬À┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á They may have their own agenda in forwarding the arguments in the manner they did.

Regrettably those who have commented have little / no idea or understanding of what is meant by the term ‘halaal’. Therefore it may be useful to explain what is meant by ‘Halaal’ so that people may understand.

‘Forbidden to you for food are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which the name of other than God has been invoked; that which has been killed by strangling…………………. That which is sacrificed on stone alters……… that is impiety’ Quran 5: 3

In Islam the word ‘halaal’ means ‘that which is permitted by God’ (that is, by the God you and I worship). The opposite of the word ‘halaal’, is ‘haraam’ meaning prohibited/forbidden. In the case of food, ‘halaal’ means that which one is permitted to lawfully eat. God commands in Sacred Texts that we should only consume those animals that God permitted us to eat. But before we eat it then it must have been slaughtered in a humane manner (i.e. the prescribed Islamic manner) by someone (in this case a Muslim) who, when slaughtering, invokes God’s glorious name. The blood is then drained. Read Leviticus 17:12-13 (and others) about draining of blood.┬á The concept of invoking God’s name is an indication that we are taking the life of the animal that God allowed us to consume.

In the article Rre Matlhaope concocts some weird interpretations that misrepresents the concept of Halaal; he incorrectly avers that Muslims slaughter these animals for idols and he and other non-Muslims consume ‘foods (that are) sacrificed to idols’. This is a great insult and I, as a Muslim, take great exception to and I am deeply offended by such an allegation that God Almighty, our (and his) Lord and Creator, is an idol; this is an unfounded and preposterous statement that needs challenging.

For the record, Islam is the only religion that specifically forbids the concept of, the worship, the depiction by drawing, making of statues, carvings, sculptures, icons, symbols or any graven image of a god, a deity, a Prophet or anything that is symbolic of being worshipped. If they ever care to visit the mosque in Francistown or anywhere else in Botswana, they will NEVER find any such material or depiction anywhere in the house of Islam. God clearly stipulates:

‘Shun the abomination of idols, and shun the word that is false’ (Quran 22: 30)

‘If you worship idols besides God, you invent falsehood. The things that you worship besides Allah have no power to give you sustenance; then seek your sustenance from Allah, serve Him, and be grateful to Him; to Him will be your final return. (Quran 29: 17)

If you have taken for worship idols besides God…………… on the Day of Judgement ………. Your abode shall be the fire and you shall have no one to help you. (Quran 29: 25)

If Rre Matlhaope et al were true to their faith, they would know that the Bible categorically says: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above or that is in the earth beneath. (Exodus 20: 3-4). Yet everywhere we go you will find in churches statues, paintings, carvings and the like of Jesus (i.e. ‘Isa) and his beloved Mother Mary (i.e. Mariam ÔÇô May God ‘s peace and blessings be showered upon them both).

The thing that intrigues me about individuals such as these, who vehemently question Muslims for following the dictates of their religion, is that they conveniently turn a blind eye to their own Biblical teachings and actions. To him and others of his ilk I would like to say, as a man of the cloth you are not being entirely honest with yourself or for that matter to God because you like to portray yourself as religiously-minded and God conscious and hide behind a cloak of being a ‘good’ Christian, yet you do not follow the injunctions of the Bible text; a text that even Muslims consider sacred.

The Bible says: “Do not eat pigs. They must be considered unclean; they have divided hoofs and do not chew their cud. Do not eat any of these animals or even touch their dead bodies; they are unclean” Leviticus 11: 7-8 and Deuteronomy 14: 8. Sadly many in Christian homes will without hesitation not only sell but also eat pork, ham, bacon, pork sausages and other pork derivatives. Come on, let’s be serious is this not hypocrisy, when by your own choice you consciously ignore YOUR OWN religious beliefs and teachings and then you fault Muslims for practicing theirs?┬á Now if you argue the way you do, sir, then surely something does not add up here.

I sincerely ask that you and others should re-visit the Biblical text, re-examine the verses and chapters and thereafter put yourself and your house in order. Would you not be following the teachings of the Bible if you heed its injunctions and please no-one else but God? If, for example, you call for the banning of all pork, pig meat and all its derivatives would that not be in line with the Biblical injunctions? These mentioned unwholesome products are offered in our supermarkets without much thought given to the Biblical injunctions quoted earlier. Take heed it is not I who is saying this, these are the commands located in the Biblical text. Unfortunately because of the community’s heedlessness towards the Bible, the pig and its derivatives have been added to and included in all types of food that you and I come across in the food market.

I implore you and others to carefully re-read the Bible and to seriously endeavour to follow its divine dictates before challenging others about how they should slaughter their animals and consume their foods. Let us consume food that is in line with God’s commands.

Rre tell me what is your stand against wine and alcohol consumption? I suggest that you return to the Bible and read the various verses, I quote but one, Leviticus 10: 9; a verse that undeniably talks of the evil of alcohol. The Bible is clear about it yet many indulge in the practice and on top of it prefer to keep quiet about it instead of speaking out against it.┬á Let me remind you of another verse in Luke 6: 42; it states that, “Thou hypocrite! remove the beam from thine own eye and thou shalt see clearly to remove the mote from your brothers eye”.

I can only hope that individuals making these type of allegations have not joined the grass eating type of ‘believers’ as reported in the media recently, because the grass that they may have eaten may not have been the natural kind, but, other ‘grass’ that takes them into an unreal world – you know what I mean.

Rre Matlhaope you and others are welcome to question the beliefs of Islam and its adherents, but when you do so then I implore you to base those questions on FACTS. For your information and everyone else, English translations of the Quran are available and if you wish for one then you may contact me at the Mosque in Francistown or you may go to any other mosque or Muslim Centre in Botswana.

The Botswana Muslim Association invites the Christian fellowship, Christian Council or any other interested parties to contact its headquarters should they wish to have a face-to-face discussion in order to perpetuate inter-religious dialogue on any issues relating to Islam and the Muslims.

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