Not just a term but a lifestyle
In this series of articles, Eish! takes a look at different cultural and religious practices and how they all contribute to the beautiful, rich tapestry of South African life. In this article we speak to a staff member who as a Muslim only eats halaal food that is prepared according to Islamic Shari’a Law. She tells us when food is considered to be halaal and the importance of it to her faith.
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The Arabic word, halaal, means permissible and is not only applicable to food, but to all aspects of a Muslim’s life. Halaal is one of five principles that define the morals of human actions in the Islamic faith. In this article we focus mainly on halaal with regard to food.
Noory Yusuf, administrative assistant at the School of Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus, says she is proud of halaal as it is her lifestyle as a Muslim. “I would like to encourage everyone to educate themselves on it so that there is more understanding regarding the Muslim faith and the Islamic way of life.”
When is food considered to be halaal?
Halaal refers to food that is prepared strictly according to Islamic law. “No pork or alcohol is allowed for Muslim consumption. Halaal meat comes from fully grown, healthy, herbivore mammals that are slaughtered in a humane way accompanied by prayer,” Noory explains.
She says the animals are slaughtered in such a way that their suffering is minimised to the greatest possible extent. This is done by swiftly cutting the jugular vein on the animal’s throat.
Halaal food is also prepared with clean utensils that have not been exposed to non-halaal meat, or alcohol. All Noory’s meals are halaal and prepared at home with ingredients that have been halaal certified.
Vaal Triangle's Noory Yusuf from the School of Information Technology and the TELIT-SA Liaison for the Faculty of Economic Sciences and InformationTechnology enjoys quiet moments in nature and the occasional get-together with close friends and family.
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Concerns during functions
She says her biggest concern when attending functions is cross-contamination. “I have to be sure that the food served to me is from a certified halaal supplier or at the very least, prepared according to the strict stipulations of the Shari’a.”
“It is disheartening to experience the ignorance of people when they assume that halaal food is either fish or chicken and that is all you are served when you stipulate your dietary requirements.”
Noory says there is also a misconception that halaal refers to a specific taste. Many South African Muslims - including Noory - enjoy a nice braai. “I like the meat marinated with a myriad of spices for that added punch of aroma and flavour and then cooked well-done.”
The importance of halaal
As a Muslim, Noory believes that halaal food should not be considered restrictive or limiting. “These rules have been put in place by the Almighty to safeguard our health and our mental and spiritual well-being.” She says this is exactly why there should be no compromise when it comes to living the halaal way.
Eish! invites staff to tell us about their cultural customs and practices. Send your contributions to our Eish! journalist, Willie du Plessis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noory Yusuf says there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to halaal. “Many people do not know what halaal is and that it refers to more than just food.”
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What is Shari’a Law
Shari’a Law refers to the legal system that governs members of the Islamic faith. It is based on the religious rules of Islam as stated in the Quran and the Hadith.
This defines morality in Islam
Morality of human actions is defined by five principles in the Islamic faith. They are Ahkam-fard (compulsory), mustahabb (recommended), halaal (allowed), makruh (disliked) and haram (forbidden).
Halaal food is delicious and healthy. Noory Yusuf prepares her meals with certified ingredients and likes to add flavour with a mixture of aromatic spices.