The ill-evolved humans religiously and ridiculously complicate their meals.
-Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung
The news is that the BJP-led South Delhi Municipal Corporation is organizing to make it mandatory for restaurants and meat shops in its jurisdiction to prominently show whether or not the meat they are serving is halal or jhatka. For excellent measure, the proposal states that consuming halal meat is “forbidden and against religion in Hinduism and Sikhism”. The standing committee of the civic body authorized the proposal a handful of days ago. It will now go to the House, exactly where the BJP has a majority.
Muslims have been consuming halal meat for 1,400 years. But Hindus and majority of Sikhs have created no bones about halal or haraam meat, although Sikhism categorically urges its followers not to have halal meat but to opt for jhatka meat. Before enumerating upon these religio-dietary distinctions and diktats, it is worthwhile to comprehend the distinction involving the two.
The followers of Islam strictly adhere to halal meat, which is basically a Semitic religious legacy from Judaism. Halal meat is named kosher in Hebrew, which now signifies ‘transparent and sincere ‘ in English. Here, I will have to mention that in spite of the ostensible variations in Judaism and Islam, there are 79 religious practices that are similar in each the warring faiths. Halal and circumcision being the two most vital Semitic religious legacies accepted and internalised by Islam. Both the practices came from Judaism which is the nodal head of all 3 Semitic faiths.
Muslims consume halal meat since they think that meat ready in this way is not just hygiene, it is also religious. That’s why, when an animal is butchered for human consumption, Tasmiya or Shahda (Kalma) is recited: La Ilah Illilah Muhammad Rasoolillah. It’s also identified in basic parlance as Dhai Chhuri. But in jhatka (typical amongst Hindus and Sikhs), the head of the animal is severed in one particular go so that it does not really feel the discomfort. Despite getting a Semitic faith, Christians also adhere to jhatka which appears and sounds more ‘humane’, although till the eighth century, all denominations in Christianity also practised halal. Today, Christians consume halal, as properly as jhatka meat, without having any reservation whatsoever.
Now the query is, what creates a dietary division on the basis of halal and jhatka? Having studied Semitic religions, cultures and civilisations at the world’s premier universities and also at Al-Azhar, Cairo, I after asked my professor of Islamic theology Dr Imam-ul-Unsif, about the significance of halal. He mentioned that apart from getting a (mere) religious practice and an early Semitic legacy, halal has no other significance. He also told me that the meat, whether or not halal or jhatka, tastes the similar and has comparable properties. In truth, jhatka is more humane in the sense that it does not result in excruciating discomfort to the animal.
An experiment was performed by the University of Kent (England) in 2001. Twenty-4 Christian students had been served kosher (halal) and non-kosher (jhatka) meat products for a month since they are rather ‘liberal’ in this regard and had been asked to comment whether or not they could discern any distinction in the taste. No one particular could. They had been also checked medically for a year to see whether or not kosher or non-kosher meat triggered any wellness problem. Nothing occurred.
In his seminal essay, ‘Food and Faith,’ Sir Paul Escott of London University is of the opinion that dietary idiosyncrasies and restrictions in practically all faiths have a religious streak to them. Humans build particular religious peculiarities and impose them on their meals products. That leads to the acceptance and rejection of particular meals. These religio-dietary restrictions and idiosyncrasies are central to all faiths. Since all faiths look at meals to be sacrosanct, religious purification appears indispensable. All these practices have absolutely nothing to do with spiritual or divine awareness. In truth, these dietary predilections, laced with particular religious beliefs and dogmas, have a quite mundane function to play.
Ritualistic, not spiritual
Humans are nevertheless pretty duty-bound when it comes to religion. The challenge with practically all believers is that they are ritualistically-inclined, but not spiritually driven. It’s a classic case of missing the woods for the trees. If at all there is a god or some larger energy up in the sky, certainly, it would not be bothered by what a man eats or how he eats it.
Centuries ago, Fariduddin Attar wrote: Dee azmai gosht un neez, ya ifla halal choon haram (First of all, you are killing an animal for your palate, which’s fundamentally incorrect and then you spar more than whether or not or not it is halal!).
Humans will need to answer and address particular conscientious concerns connected to their meals and palate. After that, we should really consider more than redundant, hairline variations like what is far better or religiously acceptable: halal or haraam or jhatka? All is excellent if our conscience is clean. So, initial cleanse the conscience and consume. All meals will seem kosher to you.
The writer is an sophisticated analysis scholar of Semitic languages, civilisations and cultures.