The Divisive Taboo of Halal for Sikhs

Like many Sikhs, I grew up eating meat. It was something I never really questioned until I was in college and started learning more about the treatment of animals on factory farms and the environmental impact of the meat industry.

But growing up I never thought about where my spicy deep-fried chicken strips were coming from. Or the living (and dying) conditions of the cow that made up the thinly sliced pieces of meat in my Arbys roast beef sandwich. As long is it wasnt halal, it was all good.

I never understood what halal truly meant, but the message I got from my parents and others in the community went something like this: Halal is the way Muslims slaughter animals, and it involves killing the animal slowly and painfully. And lots of gushing blood. We Sikhs dont believe in torturing animals, so we dont eat halal meat. Sound like a familiar story line?

This, of course, contributed to my perception of Muslims as barbaric people who were dirty, had multiple wives and questionable morals, and killed my ancestors during partition. In the context of the messages I received from family and community growing up, the story about halal fit right in yet another way Muslims are backwards.

As is abundantly clear in my writing on this blog, this is in stark contrast to how I see Islam and the Muslim community at this point in my life. But I grew up with these messages and stereotypes just like most of my Sikh peers did.

Really, whats all the fuss about halal? Why arent Sikhs supposed to eat halal meat?

Section Six of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Code of Conduct) states:

The undermentioned fourtransgressions (tabooed practices) must be avoided:

1. Dishonouring the hair;
2. Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way;
3. Cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse;
4. Using tobacco.

The most common argument I usually hear to explain the halal ban is simply that the Rehat Maryada says so. No disrespect to the Rehat Maryada or the (attempted) consensus-based process through which it was created in the first half of the 20th Century, but this is not a sufficient reason in and of itself. If the lives our Gurus have taught me anything, it is to think critically, question everything Im told, and to always keep the love of Waheguru in my heart. So an argument based solely on citation of the Rehat Maryada (which our Gurus were not involved in writing) is not convincing to me.

Another common argument I hear is the aforementioned animal welfare argument: that slaughtering the Muslim way is unnecessarily painful for the animalits a slow death and a form of torture. With jathka meat, on the other hand, the animal is killed swiftly, experiencing minimal pain.

Scientific research reveals a more complicated reality, however. A 1978 German study found that halal slaughtering actually caused less pain to calves and sheep than slaughtering after the animals were stunned by a captive bolt (the industry standard). A more recent New Zealand study, on the other hand, found that stunning reduces the pain of the slaughter. However, according to a study cited by the Guardian last year, 90% of animals killed for halal food in 2004 were stunned first. As in mainstream food production, the animal’s throat is then cut. So this supposedly sinister method, it seems, is not that different after all.

Research studies aside, the intention of halal (and for Jews, kosher) slaughtering is to minimize pain and suffering to the animal. The Guardian states:

The definition of halal is anything that is legal or lawful for Muslims. In terms of meat, this can apply to what kind of animal is used (not pigs, for instance) and the way they are killed: an animal must be healthy, the butcher must make a recitation dedicating it to God, and the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe are cut with a single swipe from a sharp knife. As with kosher meat, the idea is that the animal dies immediately and the blood drains away. [my emphasis]

And in fact, if the animal is not killed immediately with a single swipe, it is not considered halal.

Thus, not eating halal because of our concern for animal welfare simply doesnt make sense. If this was our primary concern in our food choices as a community, then I would argue we should talk about a Sikh prohibition of all factory-farmed meats, eggs, and dairy products. Animals on factory farms (or the official term, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, CAFOs) live in grotesquely unnatural, overcrowded conditions, never seeing the sun or grazing in the grass. Pumped with growth hormones and antibiotics, these animals are treated simply as units of production rather than living beings. There is nothing respectful or humane about the treatment of animals on factory farms, so why are we so concerned about halal and not worried about the cows that become our Big Mac or produce the milk in our cha?

A final explanation of the Sikh ban on halal meat I have often heard is we should not partake in the ritual or sacrificial killing of an animal. Of course, we Sikhs are not proponents of ritual for the sake of ritual:

jaalo aisee reeth jith mai piaaraa veesarai ||
Burn away those rituals which lead you to forget the Beloved Lord.
naanak saaee bhalee pareeth jith saahib saethee path rehai ||2||
O Nanak, sublime is that love, which preserves my honor with my Lord Master. |

(Guru Granth Sahib, p. 590)

But talk to a devout Muslim or Jew about halal or kosher, and youll likely find that they think of their respective religions practice of killing an animal as a necessary means to show respect to the animal and to God, since the animal is a creation of God. Is saying a prayer and remembering God while ending the life of a living being for the purposes of eating a blind ritual? Even if we dont see it as a necessary step for our own religious practice as Sikhs, I would argue that it is not fundamentally contrary to the Sikh way of life.

Yes, I am raising questions and concerns about a guidelines set forth in the Rehat Maryada, and perhaps some readers will take issue with that. But over sixty years after our code of conduct was officially approved by the Panth, dont we owe it to ourselves as a community to continually look inward and ask questions about where we are and where we are going?

From my own observations about the Sikh prohibition of halal meat, it does little to protect the well-being and humane treatment of animals and even less to get us closer to Waheguru. Instead, the prohibition of halal meat spreads misinformation and perpetuates stereotypical and demeaning attitudes about Islam and the Muslim community. While I have heard some say the prohibition is not about halal specifically, but about any sacrificial meat, the Rehat Maryada explicitly singles out an animal slaughtered the Muslim way. Rarely do I hear any talk of kosher meat being taboo for Sikhs.

At the heart of Sikhi is Ik Onkar One Divine Light that shines in all human beings. Waheguru connects us all. Guru Gobind Singh was always clear that the Khalsas war was never against Muslim people or Islam, but it was against tyranny, which at the time was epitomized by Aurangzeb’s empire. Sadly, many in the contemporary Sikh community maybe even a majority have taken home a different message which they have taught to their kids, and their kids taught to their kids, and so on.

When do we stop this legacy and get back to the heart of Sikhi?

Sikhi is arguably one of the most inclusive philosophies of the major world religions. Yet it seems to me that prohibiting the eating of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way serves only to divide.


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132 Responses to “The Divisive Taboo of Halal for Sikhs”

  1. Banda Singh says:

    Halal meat is sacrificial meat. If you wish to eat meat, then eat it because you want to, not because your eating it in the name of God.

    This is why Sikhs are forbidden from eating Halal.

  2. Sukhwinder Singh says:

    This Note posted by you my friend shows how you Disregard the Sikh rehat Maryada. A sikh is never meant to eat any kind of meat in his life be it the halal or Jhatka. The thing you have listed in the 4 Mryadas of sikhs 'Eating the meat of an animal slaughtered in a Muslim way'. Let me ask you something mate, is there any right way of killing someone? If you go out and intend to kill someone you can't think of a right or a wrong way. Either you kill him/her slowly or in a single swipe as you say. A sin is a sin. These lame excuses are made by those people who Disrespect and oppose the Guru. A true Gursikh is the one who never questions the Guru's ability and decision. You are not alone who keep an eye of suspicion on the Maryada. There a Millions out there who want to disscuss this kind of stuff just to make themselves look more knowledgeable and putting forth a view which fits their own way of life.
    Myself, I lived 17 years in Punjab and have my roots connected to a Family of Amritdharis and I am too a proud Guru Ka Sikh since I was a kid. Its been 3 years now that I moved abroad, I haven't touched any kind of meat be it Halal or Jhatka by the Akal Purakh's Grace and I see people pretending to be true followers of Sikhism and on the contrary put up views opposing the Sikh Rehat Maryada just to live the life they want to live and convince people that they are Right, Which hurts me from within because that seed sown once by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, watered and looked after by the Nine Guru Sahiban's with their blood and hard work which started blossoming and showering its Mehak around the World, instead of protecting and spreading it we are just plucking its delicate petals by questioning on Guru's Word itself. I can't Justify myself here without Gurbani, But I am not knowledgeable enough to Take a Pankti from Guru Granth Sahib Ji's and try to Explain it in my way or favour as it satisfies me. May Waheguru Give you the Strength and Understanding to follow the Sikh Rehat Maryada rather that questioning on it.
    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

  3. kds says:

    <The most common argument I usually hear to explain the halal ban is simply that the Rehat Maryada says so. No disrespect to the Rehat Maryada or the (attempted) consensus-based process through which it was created in the first half of the 20th Century, but this is not a sufficient reason in and of itself. If the lives our Gurus have taught me anything, it is to think critically, question everything I’m told, and to always keep the love of Waheguru in my heart. So an argument based solely on citation of the Rehat Maryada (which our Gurus were not involved in writing) is not convincing to me.>

    Here are some of the views regarding halal from puratan Rehats
    http://www.allaboutsikhs.com/sikh-rehat-maryada/s

    1 .Tanakhah-nama
    Bhai nand lal

    Avoid meat cooked by Turks.

    2
    Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama

    A Gursikh is strictly forbidden to eat meat killed according to Muslim rites

    3Desa Singh Rahit-nama:
    The flesh of a goat may be eaten provided the goat is killed with a single blow well away from a langar

    4 Daya Singh Rahit-nama

    Eating halal meat or concealing one 's knees with a kachh, are described as serious offences. [49—53, 55, 57—8, 61—2]

    ————————————————————————————————————————————

    Saying that halal meat was not forbidden by Guru gobind singh ji same like saying that cutting kes is not forbidden by Guru ji

  4. another singh says:

    This is an excellent and thought-provoking post. I hope that our initial reactions here are not to be defensive, but instead, to take seriously what Brooklynwala is suggesting. That is, how do we make sense of this ban on consuming halal meat? Once we better understand where it's coming from, then we can begin forming our opinions and arguments for it.

    Thanks for calling our attention to the issue and for inspiring us to think, Brooklynwala.

  5. Harjinder Singh says:

    Interesting post.

    However I have some concerns in relation to it;

    You state the German research in 1978 concluded that it was less painful to be killed slowly, I've not had a chance to view the study as yet BUT is this research backed up by any other studies? A one off study cannot be considered fact.

    You also mention that animals are now stunned before the halal slaughtering begins….a few questions in relation to this;
    1) Doesn't the fact that that they stun them with the captive bolt defeat the German study argument? Why the need to the stunning if there is study in place which claims halal slaughtering was less painful to start with?
    2) Also, this is a relative new technology and certainly not one that was available when the Sikh Rehat Maryada was drawn up so surely it stands to reason it was valid THEN, if debateable now.

    I do however share your concerns that some aspects of our community prefer to demonise the Islamic community I don't think the forbidding of eat halal meat actually contributes to that, I feel it is a tenuous argument to link the two and your call to look at the Sikh Rehat Maryada again is misguided…..it is our cultural habits that are failing us more than anything, more so than the "faults" in the Sikh Rehat Maryada.

  6. Bostonvala says:

    @Brooklynwala – you have covered two angles to the issue
    1) Causing pain/less pain to the animal – For me this argument is weak enough to not even worth commenting on. As @Sukhwinder Singh who is a proponent of no meat at all suggests, that argument does not stand on its own.

    2) Sacrificial meat – This one is a strong argument. And rather than take the word halal literally, the spirit of the law needs to be applied here. Any meat that is butchered or prepared as a sacrifice to God, with the intention that somehow we gift another life to please God – is antithetical to Sikhi. The only sacrifice acceptable to Vahiguru is the sacrifice of an individual's bad deeds and rather a life of useful, fruitful and meaningful deeds for self and the world. This injunction is to remind us that in our daily consumption – be thankful always, and be mindful to do good.

    (cont…as comment is too long)

  7. Bostonvala says:

    However, you have not covered other angles to the discussion and for that the key ingredients of Sikh history and Sikhi feeling of sovereignty are required. The Gursikhs of the past have passed down through oral tradition that it was a law of the land that "only halal meat" was allowed to be consumed by the public. So all Muslim butchers got the advantage and non-Muslims were forced to partake in that. There was nothing inherently negative about Muslim thought, instead as is usually the case, it was the result of an extreme interpretation by a power hungry Emperor and his minions. Anyway, as a challenge to this type of hegemony, the Guru ordained that his Sikhs (if they chose to consume meat) would refrain from consuming halal and would instead take matters into their own sovereign hands and hunt and consume independently. This is where the confusion or clarity (as the case may be) of jhatka meat comes. There are still some Sikh practitioners that refuse to eat any meat unless they have butchered the animal themselves – my late grandfather was one of them – and when they butcher the animal they do it in one blow.

  8. Bostonvala says:

    (@admin – don't know why browser is requiring me to break up the comment…)

    So the whole topic can be clarified as follows – (my opinion but using the framework of scripture/history/discipline):
    1. Consumption of ritualized and sacrificial meat provides no inherent spiritual or physical value. Focusing on good meaningful deeds and avoidance of actions that are negative is the direction for a Sikhi lifestyle.
    2. In keeping the tradition of sovereignty and honoring the spirit of our ancestors we refrain from a practice that was a sign of slavery and hegemony
    3. For those that have made a public declaration of their allegiance to the Guru (Khandey ki Pahul) this injunction of not consuming halal (interpreted as sacrificial meat) is a serious enough promise that if broken requires them to present themselves to the Five Sovereign Ones again.

  9. Ranjit Matharu says:

    the fact it was written, one should not eat meat slaughterd the muslim way, maybe this means, that "muslims eat meat, we sikhs dont" so, therefore it was written dont eat meat slaughterd the muslim way means "dont eat meat period" get it. muslims were slaughterers and butchers, so the reference was written as such…Listen, YOU, guy who wrote this blog peice or whatever you call it…with the sacrifices made by hundreds and thousands of sikhs, our guru's everyone before you – this has enabled you to go on and become learned, to be educated, to expand your horizons and aspirations – to question every fucking thing, if one wants…i cant stand reading this sort of stuff..Find some faith, what ever it is, get some therapy to conquer the hatred and anger, play hard, love life and be cool. Islam has a lot to blame for…im afraid. It conquers and want to destroy, just like chrisianity…I dont want to eat halal simply because its part of the islamic religion – end off. Im not a muslim or a jew. so i dont want to eat either of these types of meat, kosher or halal.

  10. Harinder says:

    Killing animals to feed one self is Barbaric to me.
    What ever any faith on this planet may say .
    No cruelty to any GODs creation should be the motto
    I am pro animal right activist

  11. Dal Singh says:

    Are you serious Brooklynwala?

    Why not ask Muslims to not be so 'divisive' and eat non halal meat like it was no big thing? See what response you get.

    That non halal thing has a solid precedent in our community and as mentioned before, most extant early rehatnamas give instructions to this effect.

    Let's not beat around the bush, what you are doing is actually remodeling the faith to fit your contemporary worldview. I pray you are not another brother/sister who is struggling to see the boundaries and differences between western liberalism and Sikhi.

    We are a community with our own traditions and practices and your our whatabouttery regarding halal is akin to a Muslim thinking Mohammad was wrong about Halal and refusing to adhere to their own dietary proscriptions. We are a distinct community with our own particular norms, practices etc., face up to it.

    Odds are you're just simply feeling hindered in your social life by this restriction and are trying to 'rationalise' a way to overcome this.

    That's weak.

  12. SHAKTI says:

    So you don't agree meat eating is wrong, you don't agree halal meat is wrong, what on earth do you think is the kurehit then? We only have three now? Or are you going to dismiss the other three as well?

  13. SHAKTI says:

    ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?
    ???? ???? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?
    Kab?r jor? k??e julam hai kah?? n??o hal?l.
    Kabeer, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it legal.(halal)

  14. @rsbagga says:

    Really interesting post, and so glad that we are able to discuss these issues openly. I think that Guru Nanak's gift to us was to establish a legacy of questioning why we engage in certain religions practices, and ask if they truly bring us closer to God. I'm glad to see that spirit is alive and well – if there's one thing thats clear, the line between "religious tradition" and "unnecessary ritual" is not necessarily always clear.

    First, I am a vegetarian, just to make clear where i'm coming from. Second, I came from a mixed family – though I consider myself a devout Sikh, my mother's family is primarily Hindu Punjabi, while my father's is primarily Sikh (though each of their families are mixed, too). But even that doesn't fully explain everything – most of my father's Sikh family is vegetarian, and most of my mother's Hindu family is not.

    I think that, though this debate is worthwhile, we may never get an appropriate or satisfactory answer. The debate has always centered on whether we, as Sikhs "can" or "are allowed to" eat meat. We will, almost always, come up short on answering this question. It is without question that there is a long standing history of meat-eating in the Indian peninsula. Ancient and modern hindus alike ate meat, Muslims ate meat, Christians ate meat, and I think that much of the historical evidence around Sikhi also indicates that the first Sikhs probably ate meat too. I won't go into this in great detail because it has been done above.

    I think, perhaps, the more appropriate debate should be whether we "should" eat meat – what is the more appropriate practice going forward? There, I think the answer is clearer. On a societal level, there is almost no doubt that even those who ate meat in earlier generations ate significantly less amounts – frankly, it was far too expensive for everyone to eat frequently. Meat is now artificially cheap – this is because of the tremendous amounts of antibiotics used in raising livestock, the ease by which livestock is killed and processed, and also because of the low price of livestock feed (i.e., most livestock eats corn, even though their bodies aren't made for it). This is having major implications on the environment – more greenhouse gases due to high livestock populations, major public health issues, grain being used to raise livestock rather than feed the hungry. I think we should question whether eating meat truly allows us to ask for "sarbat da bhala" – are we actually asking for the greatest good for the greatest number of people by eating meat? I'd argue that maybe we aren't.

    On a more selfish note – our ethnicity is plagued with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high obesity rates, high liver function issues, and much more. Perhaps a grain, vegetable, and fruit based diet would be more appropriate for us, rather than one in which we are causing injury to the body that the Guru has given us.

    Yes, I have a bias here, I admit it. But I am glad to see that Brooklynvala, and others, are raising these societal questions – and I think as Sikhs, we should look to not only what we are allowed to do, but what we should do. By being vegetarian, or as close to it as possible, we are probably doing more to seek universal good for all than by eating it.

  15. Sukhi Singh says:

    Clearly you've hit on some raw nerves with this one, Brooklynwala. I enjoyed your post and agree with much of your sentiment. Questioning and challenging the status quo is exactly what Sikhi has always been about – even if it's challenging from within. There are always progressive factions in every religion and community who challenge the more ardent zealots of that community/religion. Sikhi is no exception. Hats off to you for opening up the dialogue and standing fast in the backlash. No easy task, that–and definitely not weak.

    The heart of your post seems to be more about questioning the idea of maintaining outdated divisions and enmities. As Sikhs, most of us were raised to mistrust Muslims, but does it make sense to keep on mistrusting an entire faith _now_? That's a good question – particularly for those of us in the west who are routinely mistaken for Muslims, Arabs, and Middle Easterners. Here, we're battling systemic racism, not Muslims.

    Keep on, Brooklynwala, and know that there are others out here who may be less vocal, but who support your spirit of challenge and critique, nonetheless.

  16. Jodha says:

    Thought-provoking post Brooklynwala, but a separate identity need not mean exclusivity. As others have suggested by others a shift towards difference, need not be interpreted as exclusivity. Langar at the Gurdwaras traditionally do not serve meat for greatest inclusivity. The Hukamnamas give an explicit order by Guru Gobind Singh against halal, at the same time that Sikh authors were carving out a discourse of Sikhi as a 'theesra Panth'. I believe that the order against halal meat can be seen as part of this.

  17. Shakti says:

    The original word in the panthic rehat maryada is not to eat kutha, however the english version of the maryada translates it as meat slaughtered the muslim way, however it means all meat

    Read hear to understand why :http://www.sikhism101.com/node/77

  18. brooklynwala says:

    Here's some more food for thought (pun intended) on the subject: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/20

  19. Singh says:

    It is as simple as:

    Jau tau prem khelan ka chao. Sir dhar tali gali mori aao.
    “If you wish to play the game of love, come my way, with your head on the palm of your hand.” (Guru Granth Sahib (GGS) p.1412)

    The Guru gave an explicit Hukam to avoid halal at all costs. As Sikhs, it is not only our sacred duty to obey, but it is part of the game of giving our heads to the Guru. A rare few manage give their heads all at once. The rest of us do it only bit by bit, with the aid of Gurbani, Gurkirpa, and sadh sangat. Ignoring the Guru's Hukam, or changing it, is completely counter to the path of a Sikh.

    The only divisiveness I see is from people trying to justify their own marjee as being acceptable within Sikh dharm even when it runs counter to the Guru's explicit teachings. What's next?? Will you call our belief in reincarnation divisive b/c Christains, Jews, and Muslims don't believe in it?? Is keeping the hair divisive b/c most people choose to cut theirs?? This is along the same lines as changing the Guru's stance on halal.

  20. Sikh history says:

    I think you are missing a major point on why Sikhs do not eat Halal meat. A common practice at the time was to forcibly convert Sikhs and Hindus into Islam. One of the popular practices enforced at the time was the FORCING of non-Muslims to consume Halal meat. For many devout Hindus this was repulsive and was a way of breaking their spirit. As a result of this, the Sikhs openly refused to eat Halal meat as a statement against the oppression of Islam. Observing it today as a Sikh is a sign of respect to those who did not forcibly adopt Muslim customs being enforced on the general population of India at the time. Just as we remember those who gave their lives for our faith daily in our Ardas.

  21. BIk says:

    The guardian thread also contains a link to another opinion piece which states that research shows that halal slaughter is not painless as vested interests such as the Muslim council of Britain like to propagate.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/20

    I am used to reading islamophile posts on TLH. I am surprised that TLH hasn't been renamed the Mosque hall as the bleeding heart liberal 'sikhs' here seem to be more concerned about how a Muslim's feelings might be hurt they follow the Rehat Maryada. There will come a time when these liberal fools will even question whether they should be keeping the Kesh because a Muslim might feel 'excluded'. How about a Kirpan? I know Muslims would feel 'threatened' if they saw a Sikh with a Kirpan. Time to start questioning the rest of the 5 Ks in the interest of interfaith harmony, inclusiveness, dialogue, fairness and any other liberal buzzwords useful idiots like brooklynwala can come up with.

  22. Harinder says:

    I guess there is a "GENE" of religion too.
    Scientist need to seriously find it .
    Some of the writngs here show that we still have lot of Islamic genes in our genome.
    Not surprising !
    Given our ancetors prolonged interaction with Islam.

  23. Singh says:

    Watch the video of the journalist who was beheaded using the halal method… After you hear his screams let me know if you still think that the halal method of slaughter is humane.

    It's time to wake up from the shackles of liberalism.

  24. Citizen Singh says:

    "… the intention of halal (and for Jews, kosher) slaughtering is to minimize pain and suffering to the animal"

    That is not the intention at all. The intention is to drain the meat of blood. Traditional thinking at the time taught that diseases/deficiencies of a animal (like humans) were carried in the blood – by draining the animal of blood it prevented or minimized the risk of diseases being transferred to whoever eats the meat. There is no concern for the welfare of the animal whatsoever.

  25. LogicVallah says:

    i'm sorry but your simply an idiot if you think the halal way of killing animals is humane. Please see the following video of cows being killed according to "halal maryada".


    You can clearly see the animals suffering as blood rushes out of its throat. Brooklyinwala get ur facts straight before questioning panthic protocal (maryada) which has actually been in place since guru gobind singh jis time.

  26. Rajinder Singh says:

    Animal Sacrifice – ha ha – It seems like it is the animal that is making the Ultimate Sacrifice, while humans are trying to pin it down and slit its throat. As a sikh, a prayer needs to go out for the animal. Animals are seen as a source of food. Hey, I got a pet turtle – Danny, and get annoyed when people talk about turtle soup.
    Cannibalism is when a species eats its own. It was prevalent in primitive and medieval human societies, but is considered to be an abhorrent practice now. But if you look at the tree of life, we share common ancestors with animals. Mammals are our closer genetic cousins than reptiles. So I gave up meat eating because I think its one of my poor distant relatives on the plate- someone who could not cope. Being animals they are misfits in the modern multilingual, multiethnic world and cannot cope- even if they want…… They do not have a voice at all and need protection. No, I am not advocating voting rights for them as yet.

    It is inductive reasoning that starts with cannibalism and extends itself to other animals based on scientific principles. Cant we just get along and live off love and coconuts? Ha ha.

  27. van Singh says:

    I think some of us are scared to discuss; fearing that the truth will prevail! As much as we respect the Guru's teachings, there should be no one on earth telling us not to ask thought provoking questions. If we as a community cannot stand discussing it, how can we respond to questions from others?! Blind faith never works, and will not stand the test of time(for most)…Kudos brooklynwala for posting this and not be afraid of the Ghadafis!

  28. Amrit says:

    Great writing. I had pondered the same question for a while and I like the position you took on the matter.

  29. anti-Brooklynwalla says:

    Are you guys all idiots that support this article? please take a look at a video of halal and then talk…its the probably one of the most inhumane ways one can kill an animal…Check out this video of halal

    please get your facts straight before questioning maryada that has been in place since guru gobind singh jis time and not just since the inception of the SGPC….

  30. laadli fauj says:

    If the rehitnaame aren't convincing enough, maharaj tells his gursikhs in Sri Dasam Granth Sahib ji in the Asfokat Svaiyye to avoid "hookah, *halaalo*, hajaamat, haraam". But you probably aren't very fond of Pita ji's bani either.
    You see the pattern here? I cannot say whether or not you are conscious of this, but you are most definitely are a victim of it if not a perpetuator. Those who have malice for gursikhi slowly try to delegitimize gurbani in our eyes, and we end up coming to conclusions such as they acceptability of halal meat all by ourselves
    the issue of halal meat is NOT a divisive tool. it is at its core an issue of our acceptance of the words of our Guru, of history, and of tradition. a martial tradition, not the gluttonous/indulgent one we seem to follow today, okaying anything and everything for consumption, rooted in practicality as well as humanity.
    ppl that promote loose rehit, feel as if sikhi needs to be modernized, as if our traditions and rehit and ultimately our Guru are somehow flawed and incomplete are the divisive tools

  31. Hari Singh says:

    I am surprised how everything else has been considered in detail in this article but as Sikhs, our spiritual guide which has to be Gurbani has been totally left out of this debate. How can we call ourselves Sikhs if we do not follow the primary instructions given in Gurbani.

    To a Sikh, the main underlying guide has to be the Guru Granth Sahib. You have looked at everything else – like our manmade Rehatnamay, which were not created by the Gurus, etc but have totally left out the clear instructions given by Bhagat Kabir on this topic.

    Can I suggest that we can only become better Sikhs if we get a better understanding of Gurbani; nothing else will assist you on the spiritual path. The Guru warns us clearly:

    ? ???? ???? ? ???? ???? ? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ?

    Na saba? b?j?ai na j??ai ba??. Manmuk? an??e ?uk? vih???.

    The blind, self-willed manmukh does not understand the Shabad; he does not know the Word of the Guru's Bani, and so he passes his life in misery. (sggs:665)

    And what does Bhagat Kabir say about Halal:

    ???? ??? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ?? ????? ? ????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ????? ???? ????? ?????

    Kab?r j??a jo m?r?h jor kar kah?e h?h jo hal?l. ?af?ar ?a?? jab k?d? hai ho?ig? ka?un hav?l. ||199||

    Kabeer, they oppress living beings and kill them, and call it proper (halal),
    When the Lord calls for their account, what will their condition be? ||199|| (sggs:1375)

    These tuks are in simply Punjabi – please read these lines yourself to understand the meaning; literally it is: kabir, jee jo mareh jor kaar – those who kill beings with force – kaht hah jo halal – and call this halal

    Daftar (office) daee (Lord) jab kadh hai, When the Lord calls the account – hoega kuun hawal – what will be your condition!

  32. TheKidsBeIgnant says:

    YEAH!!! Let's all question the rehat maryada…why? well because those sikhs from "over sixty years ago" were the preeminent scholars of their time, they spent year deliberating and could provide countless lines of support in gurbani and history. But all we have is just lofty and porous metaphysical notions of sikhi's inclusiveness and "way of life"….keep it up!! I'm sure your feelings along with the feelings of your peers will surely lead us out of the darkness that we've fallen in, because all of us know that in the last sixty years theirs been TONS of brand new gurbani we need to incorporate.

  33. Manni says:

    What a ridiculous article (author) and an even more ridiculous argument.

    Go get a chicken/lamb live with it for a day and kill it yourself and consume. 90% haven’t got the consciousness to do it. You see I can go to my garden pull of an apple eat it.

    And if you want to eat halal meat why stop there, follow sharia law, abide by Muslim customs etc etc Our gurus freed india from oppression so other religions could live by their own customs.

    Stop creating stupid arguments

  34. BIk says:

    Manni,

    You can't write that! Don't you know we live in an age of Political Correctness, your post might hurt the feelings of a Muslim who might come on here! This blog is only for people who question Sikhism and who think their mat is greater than the Guru's mat. You are a hater and I want the moderators to delete your post before some Sikh youth might stumble across it and it might awaken some Panthic feelings in them!

  35. sanraj says:

    I agree with Manni,

    This is a silly article and for those of you who eat meat try killing the animal yourself rather than paying KFC to do it inhumanely for you.

    Bik or Blk thats ridiculous, it's true when non-muslims were forced to abide by halal cutoms and sharia laws as imposed by the mughal empire, along came our Gurus….

    Practice what you want but don't try to change Gurus teachings to fit your own.

    Author of post…well done in creating a heated debate, now go heat some halal kukkar.

  36. dalbir singh says:

    i agree with Hari Singh

    the author need to just read Gurbani and learn from the guide of the sikhs
    gurbani and dasam bani clearly say not to eat halal
    is that not enough for you
    if you are just trying to justify eating halal than go ahead we wont stop
    but plz don't insult our intelligence about Gurbani and Sikhi

  37. NKaur says:

    If the people constantly leaving unconstructive comments on these posts would actually read other posts such as the discovery of the Hondh Chillar and Pataudi sites in Panjab or on the International Women's Day posts and comment constructively there, then maybe our qaum wouldn't in the state it's in today.

    As a Sikh woman, i'm tired of the men of our community speaking LOUDLY and standing themselves on pedestals to represent our entire faith. Sikhi is NOT going to end if we dialogue about it!! Why are we so threatened by an opinion post on a blog? If you don't like it, don't read it. Go back to reading the stifling Sikh forums and blogs that lecture you and tell you what to do and think.

    As a Sikh, i like that i can THINK about my faith and participate in coversation.

  38. Watch one of the many videos showing halal slaughter. The animal is not killed instantly it hangs up side down kicking and struggling and suffering with its head nearly decapitated but the brain still functioning and aware.
    spicy deep-fried chicken strips and thinly sliced pieces of meat in Arby’s roast beef sandwich come from imposed cruelty and suffering and robbing the life of another being. That's anyone's choice but please make it consciously. Yes SRM is meant to divide the Sikh from such practices which originate in indulgence of ego and attachment to it's voices lust greed pride anger which are nourished by the cruelty of the meat industry.
    tTraditionally meat is never served in langar, because langar is meant to nourish both body and soul with humility.
    Please watch these videos so that you understand where meat is coming from and what other beings endure for the sake of the taste for flesh.
    The Pitiful Plight of Poultry

    Live Fast Die Young – the life of a meat chicken

    KFC: Kentucky Fried Cruelty

    how chickens are made

    Chicken Slaughter Short Doco

    Humane Slaughter?

    Chicken Slaughter the indian way

    Informative Halal video: http://clipmarks.com/clipmark/3CC868C0-18FA-4742-

  39. jkaur says:

    i noticed you consitently quote the english version of the panthic rehet maryada. have you read it in punjabi? it says: 'kuthha khana". what does kuthha mean? well, for thousands of years, the word has simply meant "meat", the literal translation of the word being "killed". it comes from persian, and was used to describe the flesh of any slain animal since long before the concept of "halal" existed. when or how we began to translate "meat" as "halal" i have no idea. but it's worth looking into. i'll bet there are some politics behind choosing this translation for the english version. perhaps it has something to do with our allergy to what we consider hindu philosophy. hmm, yet another divisive theory.

    if one is worried about the idea of ritual slaughter or sacrificial meat, one only has to look at the nihangs of hazoor sahib performing the jhatka ritual to see that sikh proponents of meat eating are no different than their muslim counterparts. prayers are said, an animal is killed, and an offering of that animal is given to god. there is no difference between halal and jhatka besides the instrument used and manner in which the animal dies. the ritual aspect is nearly identical.

    the idea of rehet is to keep us spiritually strong. it fosters an environment in which Naam can blossom. eating the flesh of animals brings negative karam which interferes with our spiritual practice. it's quite simple. we can make all sorts of excuses as to why meat is ok- i used to do the same. but then i realized something… while many who call themselves sikh eat meat, how many truly spiritually advanced gursikhs eat meat? i can't think of a single one. it's worth thinking about.

  40. moorakh88 says:

    Actually Guru Gobind Singh ji made the injunction against halal for two reasons. 1) As inverse way of indoctrination 2) As a symbol to fight oppression when the tyrannical ruler Aurangzeb forced everyone to sell and heat halal meat only

    Now for those who hurled the words “idiots,” “manmukhs” or other disparaging words in the name of Sikhi, which I’m sure you consider very noble and superior, stop talabizing Sikhi! Discussion and thought are integral part of the inner journey.

  41. Anoop Singh says:

    if u were smart you would know that amrit dhari's are not allowed to eat meat at all
    your ignorance and those of others who think like you is what brings down the sikhs of the world

  42. A_Singh says:

    Are you SikhRI influenced? No need for "scholarly" articles. Do what is right. Follow the Panthic truth.

  43. Kaur says:

    thanx for deleting my post Brooklynwala…. i'll ask again.. how did the muslims pay to write this huh??

  44. moorakh88 says:

    The author is not questioning the taboo of halal meat, but its explanation. And I agree the explanation is inadequate and contradicts Sikh philosophy. It’s almost as ridiculous as some say we have long hair cause it’s healthier. That may or may not be so, but the sacred 5k’s are articles of faith, not of science. The Guru jis taught us and set us on a path of truthful living. The symbols and the injunctions posed are a catalyst for truthful living. I posted my explanation for the taboo of halal meat below, which was used a symbol to fight oppression. It has nothing to do with animal welfare, which is a different topic.

    Sikhs are against halal meat, Shaira laws, the caste system, etc, to help us live more truthfully. Symbols and rules help to guide us, and which should be observed.

    But some of the explanations (not the taboos) given are completely illogical. Congrats to the author for exposing them.

  45. banta says:

    There's a vibe here of identifying with a persecuted Other at the expense of a sense of balance. Every interaction with someone of a supposed different community offers a way forward to understanding our common humanity. Try branching out. What's the relationship between Catholicism and Sikhi? I would actually like to know what that kind of post brings up.

  46. Manni says:

    All I have is one thing to say to everyone who eats meat in the name of religion and uses this interplistic yet depelon argument for their benefit of flesh consumption………..

    …….bigmac tonight?

  47. Aman says:

    I have to say, I'm still on the fence with this one. But as a Sikh youth that's been told to stay away from Halal meat his entire life, I'm leaning more so on the side of jhatka meat only (if any!).

    I wanted to mention that while researching this issue, I came across many Muslim forums where they were discussing the same issue and the amount of negative anti-Sikh comments were just astounding. At least when it happens here regarding Muslims, it's called out on. Over there, it was encouraged. I've very glad that as an educated community the vast majority of us do try to question these things in an appropriate manner without having to resort to name calling.

    Very thought-provoking post!

  48. J Singh says:

    Reading the article and some responses above has prompted me to reply to this topic in order to provide a contextual point of view from Gurbani.

    To my knowledge the Akal Takhat Rehat marayada neither mentions the word halal or kosher. It uses the word Kuttha (???? ). Now if we look at how this word is used in the context of Gurbani in Guru Granth Sahib ji:

    ??? ??????? ??? ???? ??? ???? ???? || (p. 321)

    eik nira(n)jan rav rehiaa bhaao dhuyaa kut(h)aa ||

    The One Immaculate Lord is pervading everywhere; He destroys the love of duality.

    ??? ?? ???? ???? ???? || (p.956)

    this dhaa kut(h)aa hovai saekh ||

    If the Shaykh is killed with that

    ???? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ????? ??? ?? ??? ||?|| ???? || (p.714)

    kaadt kut(h)aar pith baath ha(n)thaa aoukhadhh har ko naao ||1|| rehaao ||

    The Name of the Lord is the medicine; it is like an axe, which destroys the diseases caused by anger and egotism. ||1||Pause||

    It is clearly evident from these references the the word Kuttha (???? ) is used to describe killing or destroying. It doesnt make any reference to the method used. Therefore it should be taken that any form of meat is forbidden by sikhs as defined in the Sikh Rehat Marayda.

    It is up to us if we want to continue twisting the meaning for our own means to satisfy our taste buds and fill our stomachs.

  49. nihangs_r_tru_singhs says:

    sikhs not eating meat? The Khalsa army of the Akali Nihangs still does jhatka. They are the true amrit dharis and they eat meat mahaparshad. Some of you chat rubbish without and disrespect your khalsa traditions. Amrit dharis don;t eat meat, that's rubbish and against the kshatri dharm of Khalsa.

    And the way kuttha meat is killed is appaling, that is not the way of a sikh warrior!

  50. md s haider says:

    if you want to test a religion than you have go through the test of the time if it fails to deal with than it must have interpolation and inffected by the sick mind. science is so advanced to day and with the help of established science we can definately eradicate the misconception and blind faiths. as in Quran "when truth heard against falsehood, falsehood perishes bescouse falsehood by nature is bound to perish" thankyou

  51. JASVIR says:

    SIKHS PLEASE STOP EATING HALAL MEAT. HERE IN CANADA, I LIVE IN BRAMPTON WHERE LARGE POPULATION OF SIKHS LIVE. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, HALAL SIGNS ARE EVERYWHERE AND SIKHS ARE IN THEIR…SHAME ON YOU GUYS…STOP THIS NON SENSE..

  52. Balwant says:

    Guys truth is, no one actually sticks by what we have really been taught. Conversations always ends up talking about a khalistan, which technocally means land of the pure, with so many people out their with anti hinu or muslim views…and dividing people into religions and not just seeing their deeds as humane or inhumane…how will we ever acheive this

  53. pnkr says:

    keeping unshorn hair like the rishi muni's did – that's good to be in accordance with Divine Will to the point of not even harming one hair upon one's head or body – maintaining one's body at the expense of another creature's life, isn't that also against Divine Will a little? what about the cycle of 8400 000 species of animals – isn't it like asking to be put in a lesser than human form of life by eating animals – singing God's praises while eating animals, what evil and filth – i can't imagine a Rishi eating animals and i can't imagine a Sikh eating animals – mlechhas whom the 10th Master fought against eat animals not Sikhs – eating the remains of a violent bloody slaughter is EVIL!!!

  54. Vic Singh says:

    Interesting Blog and some excellent points. I would however point our that the SRM translation of "Kuttha" as “an animal slaughtered the Muslim way" is at fault. Kuttha is that which is sacrificed in the name of God. Sikhs would argue that Sikhs do not sacrifice animals, humans, plants in the name of God. Halal/Kosher also is a purufucation ritual. Sikhs argue, how can you purify that which is created by God? Are we human God's that we can purifiy God's handywork?

    The whole notion of Kuttha is tied up in the notion of sacrifice, and purification, something we Sikhs do not adhere to.

  55. UK-wala says:

    Unfortunately, Brooklynwala, I appreciate you're trying to be a better Sikh, by attempting to promote equality. But, you're forgetting to stand up for your religion.
    Overall, I think it was wrong of you to post an article, when you are clearly no expert and are ignorant to the truth. I implore you to back up your article, which some hard facts – even go and watch how the animals are killed. Also – wake up to the issues going on in our community, before rushing off to the aid of others. People like you weaken our religion.

  56. abhi says:

    shri guru granth sahib, shrimad bhagwad gita and many other religious texts convey not to kill animals for your tastes and pleasure and thats pretty obvious and correct from my point of view. but you people who are fond of non-veg. don’t you find it difficult to consume a dish made after such a violent and henious act. your demands for such things gets fulfilled after brutal killing of an animal. what you eat are the dead remains then why don’t you even drink the blood of the same. i know i am getting rude. but its nothing personal. apart from religious views, doesn’t your conscience makes you afraid of such an act. look on to your hands before you sit on the dinning next time….

  57. vibrant says:

    I find this article interesting. Firstly, let me say that i am a muslim convert. Family members are mostl Sikhs. My family members are not inclined to believe this rehat maryada. I never believed if it was for any benefit.

    And to all the others who keep spouting that the Dabihah (halal way of slaughter) is not intended to minimise the pain of the animal to be slaughtered. Please read 5:3.

    005.003

    YUSUFALI: Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

    This is the primary verse in the Quran, not the hadiths which talk about the slaughter of animals.

  58. vibrant says:

    The fact of the matter is, when an animal is killed, it will feel pain. The point of the passage is that, (i) when we slaughter animals, we are to do it in the most humane fashion whilst perserving the wholesomeness of the meat. That would mean, draining the blood out so as to allow the meat to be “fresh” longer. The bits about forbiding a “violent blow”, strangulation..all those point to the prohibition against purposefuly harming the animal. Also, when a muslim says “in the name of God” when slaughtering the animal, it’s not a sacrifice to God. It’s a prayer to apologise that you are taking a life for your survival and to be thankful that you have somethng to eat. I don’t get it. My grandfather who was a sikh used to say “Waheguru” when slaughtering chickens. Would that be kutha as well?

    I have heard arguments that we are living in the 21st century and all that. But how many people are still living without refrigeration? Answer: Millions. Quite a lo of them muslims.

    ANd i am sick to death of hearing, oh yea then don’t eat animals. Are you forgetting that vegetables are alive too? Or because you can’t see its pain or perceive the loss of its life, you are fine with it? Guru Nanak said, to argue the loss of lfe between an animal and a rooted vegetable is one and the same.

    As long as we are alive, we will cause the deaths of living things. Even in death, we cause the death of living things. To confine our understanding of what constitutes as living as being an object with blood is to confine or restrict God’s creation.

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