Food and Religion in Islam and Judaism

Introduction

            Many religions around the world have various ways of guidelines or restrictions about the dietary systems that people in a society can allow to adhere to in a more religious way. Every religion that has been existence beyond the last century has various correlations with food and food-related elements that can be categorized and presented in diverse ways. Judaism and Islam are among religions have strict guidelines and requirements when it comes to food, and there are no comprises when it comes to applying them (Shafi and Arkush 2014). The paper will illustrate the similarities between Judaism and Islam about how both religions depict food and offer reasons why both religions implement the guideline regarding scarifying animals before consuming them. The paper will also provide an argument about why halal and kosher are applied and if they are safe for human health. A comparison will be drawn to the slaughter house method of killing animals in the US and suggest if the US should use halal or kosher.

Food and Religion

            It is important to note that, Jews handle their method of preparing food in a way that their religion deems appropriate to appease God. It can be argued that Jews in their Judaism religion have what is called the “Kashrut” as the guidelines for dietary rituals and they illustrate how the appropriate foodstuff can be consumed.  These guidelines are the distinctive feature of religious ways of preparing any meal that is seen correct in the eyes of the Rabbis and it is also good before God.  

It is not only food preparation method that is taken care of in Judaism, it appears that Jewish strictly observe “Kosher.” “Kosher” in Judaism relates to the description of food stuff about the standards that have been set by the religion itself to guide its followers (Rosenblum 59). It is these guidelines that permit Jews to consume hoofed animals on land, and they can consume only finned seafood that has scales, and they are not authorized to eat scavengers and birds of prey (Bergeaud-Blackler, Fischer, and Lever 127). However, chicken, ducks, turkeys, and geese and among birds that can be consumed by Judaism followers. Hence, it can be said that Kosher in Judaism regards guidelines that apply to the preparation of ritual clean animals and birds that Judaism allows Jewish people to consume.   

Similarly, it has been noted that in the Islamic world, there are set guidelines regarding food that is allowed for consumption (halal foods) as it is prohibited for a Muslim to use other foods (haram food stuff).  Halal way is an Islamic way of sacrificing animals in which the name of Allah has to be invoked in the process and it is also carried out on permissible animals or foods only in order to please Allah (Wilson and Liu 32). Non-permissible meat includes that of swine, pigs, boar, and that of flesh-eating creatures and fowls of prey.  The permissible animals that please Allah comprise of tamed and hoofed beasts like cattle, sheep, and goat and birds without claws for pinning food (chicken and turkey) are allowed.  In the Muslim way, eggs and milk from permissible animals and poultry are allowed for consumption (Wilson and Liu 38).

In both cases, available foods have to be prepared while adhering to the Jewish or Islamic dietary laws that make the food appropriate for in Judaism way or halal for Muslims. In other words as it has  been revealed, Islamic or Jewish way of preparation food is  carried  out that way because of spirituality to appease God more than anything else by adhering to the religious laws. In emphasizing it can be noted that, in view of both halal and kosher, other than observing moral guidelines to please the deity as the rules are implemented for the benefit of followers and that is why it is called dietary guidelines.  In this manner, it can be argued that, the dietary methods that adhere to kosher o halal do so to make sure religious guidelines are followed and that they eat permissible food. This is so because the guidelines are not categorical about any health gains of doing so but rather they emphasize on please God or Allah instead.  The only element that can be scientifically supported is the guideline that does not allow Jews or Muslims to consume blood. It is so because science confirms that the human body is not accustomed to ingesting too much iron that is in high quantities

In comparing halal and the US or western way of slaughtering animals,  it is found that for Muslims, it is the honor of improving their nourishment with beef or mutton protein as a responsibility to beast  well being. In this way, Muslims practice this throughout rearing of animals and throughout the slaughter process.  Contemporary rearing of animals and killing on the contrary targets the huge end user market and handles the animals as goods or commodities. For instance, gauged chickens are calmer for extensive egg yielding. The other thing is that, the US slaughter approaches are calmer for the beef and mutton business and thus they do not offer any favor to the beast or the end user.  Contrarily, the Islamic method assures an improved existence for the beast and an improved meat for the end user. Increasingly, in the US most animals are killed by stunned before slaughter, though they may follow the halal guidelines later in the slaughtering process.

 In essence, relating to many sheep and lambs it is realized that this approach of stunning is made electronically while targeting the head.  In poultry this act is achieved through a water bath that is electrified with enough power to cause the chicken to be unconscious (Meikle 2014). Despite this, the halal method is so cruel in that animal struggles to die as its brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, it struggles to moo, but cannot since its throat is cut off and not the spinal which is left intact.  In relation to the US slaughter methods, the animal slaughter houses are established to meet market demands and not religious needs, thus it still remains the most appropriate and suitable method even though kosher and halal may have huge health benefits in terms of blood draining.  

In conclusion, it was found that in Judaism, food preparation is handled in a manner that established an association with God. It was noted that, Islam also permits (halal foods) and prohibits the use of other foods (haram foodstuffs). It was clear that the implementation of halal and kosher has health benefits to both Jews and Muslims who adhere to their religion`s dietary guideline. It was also notable that, in the US most animals are killed by stunned before slaughter, although they may follow the kosher or halal guidelines later in the slaughtering process. It was notable that the US market favors mass slaughter to meet market demand and thus the stunning method that blends with some level of kosher or halal their after was the most appropriate.

 

Works Cited

Bergeaud-Blackler, Florence, Johan, Fischer, and John, Lever, eds. Halal matters: Islam, politics and markets in global perspective. Rutledge, 2015.

Meikle, James. “What exactly does the halal method of animal slaughter involve?” The Guardian, 2014.

Rosenblum, Jordan D. “Food and identity in early rabbinic Judaism.” Meals in Early Judaism. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2014, 59-70.

Shafi, Shuja and Arkush, Jonathan. “Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter prioritize animal welfare.” The Guardian, 2014.

Wilson, Jonathan A.J., and Jonathan, Liu. “The challenges of Islamic branding: navigating emotions and halal.” Journal of Islamic Marketing 2.1 (2011): 28-42.

 

 RELATED: Islamic Economies as an Alternative to their Conventional Counterparts