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Dietary Law Comparison: Kashrut vs. Halal Essay


Introduction

The religious aspect has greatly changed over the years and it has thus been proved that there is no single religion tradition in the 21st century that is an island. Islam and Judaism are among the religious traditions of the 21st century. The US terrorist attack on September 2001 has called for an understanding between the diverse traditional religions.

The following essay examines the relationship between Islam and Judaism. The essay specifically examines the similarities and differences between dietary laws of Islam and Judaism by comparing the Kashrut in the Judaism tradition vs. Halal in the Islam tradition.The essay also investigates the origin of Kashrut and Halal.The last section of the essay is comprised of a conclusion on the dietary laws of Islam and Judaism.

However, it is important to know the meaning of the words Kashrut and Halal.In Jewish. The term Kashrut means being fit i.e. foods that man is permitted to eat and if well prepared, the food is regarded as being Kosher. Usually, there are various reasons for observing the Kashrut law and the most popular reason is that it is unhealthy to take forbidden food.

Thus, holiness forms the basis of this law. According to Judaism, all things should be viewed from a spiritual perspective and therefore one must eat some foods and at the same time refrains form eating others. According to this law, it is important for people to have control over their appetites.On the other hand, Halal is an Arabic term that could be translated to mean something that is considered per4missible by law.

Haram, also an Arabic term could be translated to mean something not permitted by the law; it means opposite of Halal. These two words i.e. Halal and Haram are global terms that are used with regards to food products, food ingredients and meat products. The Halal dietary law is an aspect of Shari law.

In the Shari, Hall could be translated to mean that all foods are permissible with of exception of some foods like pork and related products among other (Cutis 165).

The origin of Kashrut and Halal

The following is a brief history of the Judaism and Islam dietary laws; The Jewish dietary laws revolve around the prohibitions and regulations in the Torah i.e. the five books of Moses. The Judaic dietary law is thought to date back in the 1250 BC when Moses was given Kashrut law by God on Mount Sinai. The Jewish thus were obliged to follow the Kashrut law as a result of its divine source.

The Kashrut law has over the years gained a huge symbolic significance to an extent that the Jews are prepared to offer their lives as a sacrifice rather than disobey God’s decree. The laws regarding the kind of animals, fish and birds that should be eaten is explained in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. According to the scripture, the Jews are supposed to eat animals which have split hooves and also those that chew the cud.

Such animals that have spilt hooves and also chew the cuds are domestic animals like sheep and cow. On the other hand there is no common formula that is stated with regards to the birds that may be eaten instead; there is a list of forbidden animals which includes the owl, the raven and the eagle.

Although there is no reason that explains the above choices, scholars have suggested that the birds that are forbidden are the birds of prey. Thus by refraining from eating birds of prey, man have been considered as cruel in that, he exploits the weak. With fish, the law of Kashrut states that man should only eat fish that has scales and fins. Also, there is no reason that is given in supporting this distinction.

The scholars have came up with various explanations regarding this law e.g. the argument that those fish that don’t have scales and fins are found in sea depths which is associated with such chaos and adultery( Lewis 30.

The Kashrut law also explains how animals should be killed for food. Despite the fact that this procedure is not explained in the Torah, it is believed that the procedure of killing animals has divine influence as God explained to Moses on how to go about it. This procedure is however explained by various laws and one is required to undergo training before he or she becomes a slaughter.

Studies by Maimonides in 12th century explained that, the main reason behind slaughtering procedure is to allow the animal to die a painless death. According to Judaism, animals should not be subjected to too much suffering during slaughter. Another aspect of slaughter law is that animals that has any kind of defect should not be eaten.Defect according to Kashrut is known as ‘terefah’ which means the state of being torn.

This provision of Kashrut law is contained in Exodus 22:31.Similarly, an animal that is found to have some defects after slaughter is usually taken to a religious leader in order to examine whether it is a kosher or not. Also, adequate salt should be added during meat preparation.

This law is derived from the Bible. Kashrut law also restricts people from taking meat and milk together and this law is stipulated in Exodus 23:19. The Bible usually does not explain the source of Judaism dietary laws but it associates these laws with holiness i.e. in Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 11:44-45 and Deuteronomy 14:21 (Cohn-Sherbok 556).

On the other hand, religious leaders in their studies about Kashrut held the view that, the mere observance of dietary laws helps to promote self discipline among the Jewish community. Maimonides in his studies argued that, the Kashrut laws plays an important role of teaching discipline and appetites mastery.

Other scholars argued that the Kashrut laws were based on humanitarian grounds due to the fact that the law requires animals to be slaughtered painlessly. However, the Kashrut laws were universally practiced in the 19th century. The prescriptions of Kashrus laws have largely been ignored by the Jews reformists while the Judaism conservatives have been adhering to the Kashrus laws (Rachel 48).

On the other hand, Islamic dietary laws also known as Halal determine the kind of foods that are permitted or lawful for Muslims and are contained in the Sunni and in the Quran. The Halal laws are believed to have been in existence since 620 AD. The Quran documents the ritual procedures of slaughtering poultry and animals. The Quran requires that dead animals should not be slaughtered.

The Halal forbidden the carrion and requires the windpipe and carotid artery to be cut off by using a sharp knife so as to not to cause much pain. Additionally, one is required to mention the name of Allah before he or she begins the slaughtering and to completely drain the blood (Deutsch & Saks 48).

Similarities between dietary laws of Islam and Judaism

While there are many differences between the dietary laws of Islam and Judaism, both religions have some similarities which include the following;

In both Judaism and Islam dietary laws, blood usually signifies life and thus both laws restricts people from consuming animal’s blood i.e. blood is supposed to be taken back to the creator (Smith 25).

Both Islam and Judaism dietary laws are similar in that, their origin is based in the scripture. The Judaism dietary law ‘Kashrus’ is contained in the Hebrew Bible also known as Torah whereas, the Muslim dietary law ‘Halal’ is contained in the Holy Book of Quran.

Thus, there are a variety of substances like blood and pork that are not permitted for the Muslims and are also forbidden by the Jews. In both sets of dietary laws, blood should be completely drained from the meat. Also, the two sets of dietary laws do not allow most insects and amphibians to be eaten (Smith 25).

In both sets of dietary laws, prohibited food should be kept separate from the non-prohibited food substances in order to avoid food from being crossed contaminated. Thus, Kashrut requires that kosher substances be kept apart from non-kosher substances and also, the Islamic dietary law forbid Halal food substances from being kept together with the Haram food substances (Bunzl 84).

Both sets of dietary laws are similar with regards to animal slaughtering. The Judaism dietary law requires animals to be butchered by following the right procedures i.e. one should cut the throat quickly and in a compassionate manner. According to Judaism dietary law, the animal is deemed as non-kosher if proper procedure of slaughtering is not followed.

Close vetting of the slaughtered should be made to ensure that the animal was bereft of any diseases. If the animal is found to have a defect, then it is considered to be non-kosher and hence not to be eaten.

The Islam dietary laws also require the right procedures to be followed while slaughtering an animal i.e. cutting the throat quickly and in a compassionate manner. Also, the animal is regarded as being Hiram if proper slaughtering procedures are not followed (Smith 25).

In both Judaism and Islamic dietary laws, fresh fruits and vegetables are allowed to be eaten (Smith 25).

In both Judaism and Islamic dietary laws, any food that is deemed to be unholy is not permitted. According to Judaism dietary law, one is not supposed to consume dairy products and meat together and also, there are special silverware and dishes that are supposed to be used.With regards to Islamic dietary law, one is not supposed to eat any kind of food that is deemed to be consecrated (Smith 25).

Differences between dietary laws of Islam and Judaism

With Judaism dietary laws, one is not supposed to take Kosher i.e. foods which are explicitly allowed to be consumed whereas the Islamic dietary laws the range of foods which are Halal is usually unrestricted.

Kashrut clearly defines the animals that are permitted i.e. animals that chew the cud and have split hooves whereas; Halal does not give a clear definition of restrictive animals. The Quran only explicitly prohibits pork and animals that have claws are implicitly prohibited implying that human beings can eat such animals as camels (Alon et.al. 310).

With Judaism dietary laws, the hindquarters of domestic animals such as cows, goats and sheep are usually not deemed as Kosher unless they are prepared in a special way whereas the Islam dietary laws allows the hindquarters of these animals to be eaten. Meat that is slaughtered by a non-kosher person is usually restricted except in unavoidable circumstances such as hunger (Hayes and Laudan 504).

The Judaism dietary laws contains the provisions that dairy products and meat be kept apart whereas, the Islamic dietary laws does not restrict people from combining dairy products with the meat.

The Judaism dietary law prescribes some bird species that people are prohibited from taking. For instance, people are restricted from eating birds of prey by the law. Basically, domestic birds such as hen and turkey are permitted and also, the law does not permit the Jews to take eggs of kosher birds. On the other hand, the Quran does not specifically forbid people from eating such birds as eagles.

Alcohol is not allowed in Islamic dietary law whereas the Judaism dietary law allows the consumption of alcohol which does not have non-kosher component (Thomas et.al 75).

In Judaism dietary law, fish without fins and scales are not allowed for people to eat. For instance, tilapia, scrubs and some other marine animals have fins and are permitted for eating. Also, there Judaism law does not have a particular procedure on how fish should be slaughtered. On the other hand, the Islamic dietary law permits all sea food (Millam 118).

Conclusion

Judaism and Islamic have some similar aspects that make them compare and also others that distinguish between them. Both laws instruct their believers to take particular type of foods only so as to remain holy and pure.

In both Judaism and Islam dietary laws, blood usually signifies life, the origin of both dietary laws is based in the scripture, and prohibited food should be kept separate from the non-prohibited food substances in order to avoid food from being cross contaminated in both laws. Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the foods that are allowed for eating in both the Islamic and Judaism dietary laws.

Also in both Judaism and Islamic dietary laws, any food that is deemed to be unholy is not permitted. The Jewish dietary laws are considered as to have set by God. Kashrut requires that animals should be killed in a certain manner, Pig; fish that have no scales e.t.c. are some of the food that is forbidden.

Kashrut also requires that the dairy products and meat to be kept separately from each other in order to avoid cross-contamination. However, there are various environmental issues that make it difficult for the contemporary Jews to observe Kashrut. With regards to Halal, animals are usually slaughtered in a manner that is compassionate so as to avoid environmental harm.

During Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to fast during day time and this plays an important role of helping to reduce meat consumption as well as other consumption habits. However, both laws tend to violate the dietary laws once and when a need arises i.e. for survival. This implies that Muslims or Jews who are stranded in the wilderness can eat prohibited foods so as to save their life.

Works Cited

Alon, Ilai et al. Concepts of the other in Near Eastern religions. Philadelphia: BRILL, 1994.

Bunzl, John. Islam, Judaism, and the political role of religions in the Middle East. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2004.

Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. Judaism: history, belief, and practice. London: Routledge, 2004.

Cutis, Patricia. Guide to food laws and regulations. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005.

Deutsch, Jonathan & Saks, Rachel. Jewish American food culture. California: ABC-CLIO, 2008.

Hayes, Dayle & Laudan, Rachel. Food and Nutrition / Editorial Advisers, Dayle Hayes, Rachel Laudan, Volume 4. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2008.

Lewis, Bernard. Jews of Islam. London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002.

Millam, Rosalind. Anti-discriminatory practice. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002.

Smith, Debbie.Israel the People. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007.

Thomas, Amelia et al. Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Victoria: Lonely Planet, 2010.

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