Earlier this year, I picked up a newspaper by Port Elizabeth-based group Mujlisul Ulama (a.k.a. The Majlis), which went into some depth about the problems with the Halaal certification of certain meats in South Africa and internationally. While I grossly disagree with the manner in which this group attack those who they feel are in the wrong (i.e. calling SANHA a “despicably satanic organization”, among other extremely insulting terms) – it did bring into my mind the issue of the commercial food industry, which, I’ve since discovered, seems to be rotten to the core.
Recently, I found an article by Al-Jumuah writer Shireen Pishdadi, which details the dark side of our modern food industry (article link: “Unwholesome Harvest”). The contents not only shocked and disturbed me, but reminded me of the words of the angels, when Allah told them that He was to put mankind on Earth (Surah Al-Baqara, verse 30). They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee?”
Reading what’s happened to agriculture and food production over the last century, the words “harm” and “shed blood” are most appropriate – but I would add “rape” and “plunder” to the list, too. Multinational corporations have monopolised the production of food and agriculture, running farmers out of business and even taking ownership of the very natural plants and seeds that Allah has placed in the Earth. Apparently, farmers – whose income is being squeezed dry by these multinationals who have taken over agriculture – are committing suicide and selling their kidneys.
And the way livestock are treated just brings dismay to my heart. Allah gave us these animals, made them subservient to us, so that we may eat of them and use them for our own benefit. Yet some modern practices of commercial farming are just sickening, and display such ungratefulness for a bounty which mankind could not survive without.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, because we know that mankind is not all bad. Allah’s reply to the angels’ question was: “Surely I know that which ye know not.”
In Surah At-Tin (Surah 95), Allah says: “Surely We created man of the best stature, Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing.”
It’s the basic nature of man: we have the potential to be higher than the angels; yet we also have the capability to drop to below the level of animals – “lowest of the low”.
What we’re seeing – in those who control the food industry these days – is that the lowest of the low is winning out; plundering this planet and its treasures just out of greed and lust for material wealth.
But there are ways forward, and in my view, it’s a revolution that has to start from the ground – because those in power will never give up their own interests while their hearts are so consumed with greed.
I’d recommend everyone reads the article mentioned earlier, which goes on to suggest solutions and things we should put in place.
Locally, I’d love to see some of our people – post-graduate students or other – undertake a serious study of the local Halaal food industry. To bring a well-researched, academic investigation of the claims regarding commercial chickens – but expand that to other meats and foods. From there, it should be the responsibility of our local scholars to look at the results and decide on the way forward.
They’re already meeting to decide on a unified strategy with regard to the anti-Zionist boycotts, and while that is very important – I think issues around our food are just as important.