Halaal & Haraam: how conscious are we?
Carelessness in the consumption of Doubtful or Haraam edibles is a sure sign of ‘diseased’ Imaan. If this state of heedlessness about what is consumed continues, the day dawns in a person’s life when halaal/haraam is eventually regarded as a trivial matter, causing Imaan to ‘choke out’ and die. Judging from the increasing number of Muslims eating out at franchised and other food outlets, it seems this trend is growing fast among Muslims these days.
PEOPLE IN THE PAST EDUCATED THEIR CHILDREN
In the past, people may not have been very learned or ‘enlightened’ as they appear to be now, but they were very conscious of the issue of Halaal/Haraam. Extreme care was exercised in this matter. Even young children were drilled into observing this Islamic teaching, which had a lasting impression on their minds and hearts.
HEARTS HAVE BECOME DESENSITIZED; WHY?
Haraam is becoming so common and rife, people are hardly shocked or perturbed when something is discovered or shown up as being Haraam, even though they may have been consuming such an item for a long time. Hardly an eyelid is bat. No remorse or even a pang of guilt crosses the heart. This is a clear sign of a desensitized heart. Why is it that people have become so careless regarding Haraam?
HARAAM IS VERY MUCH LIKE POISON
Part of the answer may be found in a widespread attitude, a terrible misconception, that prevails. It is felt that so long as a person is unaware of a thing being Haraam, his consumption of that item will not cause harm to him. This is totally incorrect. The effects of Haraam are felt, whether consumed knowingly or unknowingly. It is much like eating poison. Only a fool will believe that absence of knowledge of a poisonous substance will negate the effect of the poison. Poison is poison and will remain so, irrespective of knowledge or ignorance regarding its effects. Poison will do its work. It will kill or cause serious harm. Haraam edibles are the same. They kill the consumer spiritually or cause serious spiritual damage.
It is in view of this fact that Islam has always emphasised great precaution with regard to whatever is consumed. Nothing is to be consumed without carefully studying its source and ingredients. Although manufacturers are compelled by law in most countries to reveal the ingredients of processed foods, they are yet able to cleverly camouflage the actual thing under the guise tongue-twisting scientific jargon and terminology. The unsuspecting Muslim consumer, blissfully unaware of this, consumes the item, which may contain a Haraam ingredient such as lard or certain emulsifiers with great relish and abandon, little realising the harm that he is doing to himself.
HARAAM IS HARMFUL
Haraam is extremely harmful for mankind, both spiritually and physically. Allah Ta’ala, out of His infinite Kindness and Mercy for His believing servants, prohibited the intake of Haraam because of its terrible effects on the body and soul of man. Haraam is polluted and contaminated. It breeds in dirt and filth. Its composition is mainly of filth. This causes serious harm and damage to the organs, tissues and other parts of the body. The health of a person is eventually eroded and debilitating illnesses set in. The body is then subjected to much torment, pain, suffering and agony. The resultant mental trauma is an added source of anguish.
The loss of health and the setting in of disease is a calamity in today’s world in yet another sense; it is very expensive to fall ill in today’s world. Medical costs are exorbitant and prohibitive. This is a harrowing issue in its own right. If a person is not killed by the disease itself, the shock of the medical bill is likely to complete the job!
ABSTENTION IS THE WAY OF A SENSIBLE PERSON
In view of all of this, it is much wiser to exercise a little restraint and abstain from Haraam and doubtful edibles and save oneself from many physical and spiritual disasters in the process. On the other hand, a careless attitude in this matter, eating merrily without a care, will manifest its consequences, sooner or later. It will finally cost a person, dearly. An intelligent and sensible person will opt for an attitude of precaution and abstention when necessary. Curbing the desires of the heart and the inordinate cravings of the stomach is the hallmark of an intelligent person and the way of pious Muslims.
Among the long list of doubtful and Haraam foods prevalent these days, meat products top the list. Meat stuff, in a variety of forms, are being prepared and sold at franchised outlets all over, under the guise of “Halaal”. Dubious halaal certificates are waved in the faces of unwary, gullible or downright indifferent Muslim patrons. The Muslim patrons are more than happy at this dubious assurance and buy and eat unhesitatingly. Worse still, even their wives and innocent children are exposed to this. Such a practice augers ill for the future of the Muslim Ummah.
THE WAY FORWARD FOR THE UMMAH
It is high time that Muslims make an about turn in their attitude towards Haraam/Halaal. They need to become more vigilant; make a thorough investigation first before buying (or selling). If in doubt, the golden rule is ABSTAIN! Muslims must also attempt to produce their own sources of Halaal in the food processing industry. In this way, we could be assured of the validity of our edibles. It is time that conscientious and reliable Muslim entrepreneurs (not profit-greedy opportunists) looked at the prospect of establishing abattoirs, food processing and other related industries. May Allah Ta’ala cause this to happen in all Muslim communities throughout the world.
Mufti Zubair Bayat