In seeking better understanding between Buddhists and Muslims we welcome the fact that issues hitherto considered highly sensitive and not subject to questions, such as halal products and halal certification, have now come out in the open. Even while we write this piece we learn that the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) and the Buddhist clergy, after considerable discussion, have amicably resolved the issue of halal certification. It would appear the ground is now laid with better opportunity to speak our concerns honestly and straightforwardly with our Muslim friends and try to find solutions based on mutual respect and understanding.
Although both sides were embroiled in this issue of halal certification, it must be understood that the more fundamental issue which affects the Buddhist public, and all those in our society who have humanitarian concerns, is the treatment meted out to animals slaughtered for meat. It is the awareness of brutalities mercilessly inflicted on animals by butchers that has led Buddhists to desperately save animals from slaughter, paying large sums of money to owners of abattoirs. At the same time we are informed by many of our Muslim friends that the brutal slaughter of animals is a matter of serious concern to them too, because slaughtering of animals by Muslims must be done strictly in accordance with the strictures laid out in the Quran. They inform us that only then could meat be pronounced as ‘halal’.
We are aware that cruelty to animals is prohibited in Islam. Many are the instances in the Quran where compassion to animals and respect for all living beings, even the tiniest of creatures is called for. In the case of animals brought for slaughter, clear strictures are laid down to ensure that these animals are treated humanely, fed and watered; in killing the swiftest thrust must be made with the sharpest of knives in order to avoid causing pain; further an animal must not be killed within the sight and hearing of other animals. But, as most Muslims are aware, the brutal practices of Muslim butchers are no better than the brutality of non-Muslim butchers who are not bound by religious and moral strictures in handling and slaughtering of animals.
The obtaining of halal certification may be optional for manufacturers and consumers but it is required that animals are slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rituals and strictures. The slaughter of animals in abattoirs is said to be strictly supervised by the ACJU. We are informed that in every abattoir there is a monitor employed by the ACJU and also a team of monitors who visit all the certified facilities, abattoirs and restaurants on a monthly basis to audit for halal confirmation. Now, it is common knowledge that in all abattoirs animals are treated cruelly. They are brutally beaten, their tails and even their legs are broken with iron rods in order to restrain them quickly and speed up the killing; pregnant cows are mercilessly slaughtered and young calves slaughtered in the sight of the mother cows. Yet the monitors said to be sent by the ACJU to abattoirs fail to take note of these brutalities to animals that are indeed outrageous acts of violation of the Islamic strictures.
Besides cruelty to animals there are other obnoxious aspects of the meat trade. For instance it is beset with corruption and illegal practices. Animals transported to abattoirs in different parts of the country are largely stolen from cattle owners whose practice it is to allow their animals to graze freely; very often animals are transported unlawfully without valid permits, and certificates from veterinary surgeons. Vehicles carrying animals are severely overcrowded and animals packed one on top of another; the police, from top officials to the lower ranks are offered bribes. Is it proper for the ACJU, the moral guardians of Islamic principles, to ignore the massive corruption gripping the meat trade controlled largely by Muslims and sanction the meat so produced and supplied to markets as ‘halal?’
It is urgently required that the government should reform the meat trade, riddled with corruption and cruelty to animals. Pressure must be brought on the government and meat traders as well to address this issue, not only by Buddhists as it happens up to now, but by all communities, and Muslims in particular, because the meat trade is largely controlled by them. As things stand, successive governments have fought shy of interfering in the meat trade fearing slaughter of animals to be a sensitive issue among the Muslim community. Also Muslim meat traders, a powerful lobby, will heed Muslim religious and intellectual bodies rather than non-Muslims.
Muslim leaders must understand that by condoning the brutality that is practiced by Muslim butchers and sanctioning it as halal, they are preventing animal welfare laws being brought in by the state protecting animals from barbaric cruelty. In fact this appears to be the reason for the Animal Welfare Bill, prepared by the Law Commission, not being enacted for the past several years. We believe that if the Muslim community is informed about the realities in the meat trade they will surely add their voice against wrongful practices and ask for reforms in keeping with the principles of Islam. It must be understood that we are not calling here for the prohibition of Islamic ritual slaughter. We are asking that the atrocities committed to animals in abattoirs by Muslim butchers in the name of Islamic ritual be stopped and bring humanity to the meat trade by honestly carrying out (with strict monitoring) true Islamic principles in animal slaughter for food, As we said at the outset, it is good that hitherto sensitive issues have come into the open because it leads to better clarification and understanding between the two communities. This can pave the way for Buddhists and Muslims to act together to put an end to the atrocious cruelty and corruption in the meat trade.
Any method of killing cannot be considered humane.
fazel Thursday, 14 March 2013 06:41 AM
please go to slaughter house and have a look. there may be some problem. but not that extend and you imagined.
pissu poosa Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:01 AM
ignorence in its peak
mohamed asfar Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:05 AM
local media used to vilify muslims. the west vilify sri lanka with their media. ironic ha.
Yunus Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:06 AM
It is sad that many including our Muslims are only hyped on Halal meat products. Halal means permissible way of living. I am sure; the Executive President can ban all type of slaughter, smoking, liquor, gambling etc overnight and clear the air for all citizens of our mother Lanka and respect each other’s religion as our own.
siddeeq Thursday, 14 March 2013 01:48 PM
I don't understand why these people always talk about goat and cows. Why killing fish and pig seems not relevant to this matter? Treat them all equally.Don't put all blame on muslim people.
idroos2002 Thursday, 14 March 2013 01:53 PM
I mean if u r a veg its does not mean non veg is wrong and vice versa
idroos2002 Thursday, 14 March 2013 01:54 PM
Just because there is a tiny black mark on the saffron robes the whole robe needs to thrown aside this is not mercy
mortein Friday, 15 March 2013 09:16 AM
Dont kill, fish, bull, goats, chicken, plants, trees, pig, cockroaches, mosquitoes, duck, birds, ants. Dont feed the lions, tigers, goats and any animals in the zoo. Ban all the spray chemicals that kill insects that destroy the veg crops. stop doctors giving medicine that kill worms in children stomach, that kills bacteria and germs. That will leave then with the option of Human to kill Human to eat, No fishing, no meat trade, no bird trading, no killing of plants, trees. That should be our way forward, we are Sri Lankans lets set an example to everyone in the world, non of the liviing being should feel the pain. --- Hurry Lanka lets achieve some thing fast fast fast no time now..
Roshan Friday, 15 March 2013 09:50 AM
What about the human killing. why media is silent about , human killing, woman rapes , child rapes. Do you only think about animal. why not human. when you come to human killings, don't you see most of them are killed by Sinhalese highly populated and killed in Sinhalese living areas. recently a monk killed by Sinhalese. Imagine if Muslim, Hindu or Christian does it. why this discrimination?
Max Friday, 15 March 2013 10:32 AM
Doesn't plants have life. Are they dead things.
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