A big story in the UK today: it turns out that many institutions have begun using only halal meat, without telling anyone of the change. People are alarmed! Spokesmen explain that there's nothing to fear, because the change is just to make sure that Muslim customers can get what they want. Fausta asks:
Surely the spokesman would be equally agreeable to Kosher foods?Now that raises a curious question. Just what is the difference between Kosher and Islamic slaughtering? I was under the impression that the procedures were largely the same (as you would expect, since Islam sources much of its core material from originally Jewish sources). According to Wikipedia, the physical procedure is the same. Symbolically, there are two major differences:
Dhabiha requires that God's (see Islamic Concept of God) name be pronounced before each slaughter. Some Muslims have accorded meat to be halal but not necessarily dhabiha; in other words, kosher meat is considered halal by some Muslims. This is according to the Hadith: "[I]t is narrated by Al Bukhari from Aisha the Prophet Muhammad's wife, that some people came to him and said, Oh God's Prophet, some people bring us meat and we do not know if they pronounced the name of God on it or not, and he said pronounce you the name of God and eat." Dhabiha meat by definition is meat that is slaughtered in the shariah manner and the name of God is said before the slaughter. In Shechita, a blessing to God is recited before beginning an uninterrupted period of slaughtering; as long as the shochet does not have a lengthy pause, interrupt, or otherwise lose concentration, this blessing covers all the animals slaughtered that period. This blessing follows the standard form for a blessing before most Jewish rituals ("Blesséd are you God ... who commanded us regarding [such-and-such]," in this case, Shechita). The general rule in Judaism is that for rituals which have an associated blessing, if one omitted the blessing, the ritual is still valid [see Maimonides Laws of Blessings 11:5]; as such, even if the shochet failed to recite the blessing before Shechita, the slaughter is still valid and the meat is kosher.So: if you slaughter meat so that it is dhabiha, which is the strongest reading of what halal meat requires, it is also kosher. If you slaughter meat so that it is kosher, it is also halal for at least some Muslims.
Therefore, the rational thing for a business to do is to slaughter all its meat dhabiha. Christians, Buddhists and atheists won't care; many Hindus weren't going to eat it anyway; and you satisfy both Islamic and Jewish law.
There are only two classes that are likely to object: animal rights activists concerned that this is an unacceptably cruel form of slaughter (which, frankly, it does not seem to be); and those who are motivated by an aesthetic desire to drive Islam out of Western life. That latter motivation is one that I think more understandable and acceptable than some do, though I do not share it; I am one of those who honestly does not think that Islam is an enemy. However, I also can understand the perspective of those who have come to the opposite conclusion.