Is There Such a Thing as ‘Halal’ Foie Gras?

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Is There Such a Thing as ‘Halal’ Foie Gras?

By Syed Rizvi (Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights) on People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

I hope that the Imams become aware of these facts so that they can issue fatwas on foie gras as haram and spare Muslims from indulging in an act that is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

Although Muslims who eat foie gras without knowing how it is produced may be forgiven in the eyes of God, it is the obligation of the foie gras producers to tell Muslim customers how foie gras is produced and to refrain from the deceptive “halal foie gras” labeling.

As a Muslim who grew up in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, I was appalled when I read that some retailers in France have started marketing so-called “halal foie gras” to the area’s growing Muslim community. I would argue that this term is as deceptive as “halal pork” would be. Because swine is haram (forbidden by God) according to Islamic law, the animal’s flesh will always be haram no matter how closely Islamic law is followed during slaughter.

Muslims are allowed to eat only certain animals who have been slaughtered in a specific way while the butcher recites the name of God. Meat obtained in this way is known as “halal” (permissible by God). Any meat that is obtained as a result of any departure from the prescribed slaughter procedures no longer remains halal and becomes haram. Of course, I am of the opinion that killing an animal for food is itself a cruel practice. But let’s focus on the issue at hand.

Besides the strict adherence to slaughtering procedures, there are two additional requirements that are equally imperative in Islamic law. One of those requirements is that animals must not be under stress or experience any discomfort prior to their slaughter. The other requirement is that animals must not be mutilated, deformed, or, most importantly, diseased when ready for slaughter. This is common knowledge among Muslims, and Islamic law is quite clear about these requirements. The Imams (Muslim clergies) always ensure that these requirements are met before an animal is slaughtered.

Foie gras, by its very nature, does not meet the two requirements mentioned above and cannot qualify as halal no matter how closely the slaughter laws are adhered to. Ducks and geese raised for foie gras (French for “fatty liver”) are force-fed with pipes that are shoved down the birds’ throats. Up to 4 pounds of grain and fat are pumped into birds’ stomachs several times each day. This cruel procedure causes birds’ livers to become diseased—known as hepatic lipidosis—and swell to up to 10 times their normal size. Birds suffer excruciating pain throughout their lives, and many birds with diseased and enlarged livers, which can only be described as deformed, become too sick to stand up.

Therefore, the production of foie gras does not meet the two requirements of Islamic law, which clearly states that animals must not be under stress or discomfort before slaughter and that animals must not be diseased, mutilated, or deformed.

Although Muslims who eat foie gras without knowing how it is produced may be forgiven in the eyes of God, it is the obligation of the foie gras producers to tell Muslim customers how foie gras is produced and to refrain from the deceptive “halal foie gras” labeling.

It is also the duty of every Muslim who knows how foie gras is produced to tell other Muslims. I am glad that PETA is working to make the facts about foie gras production widely known, and I hope that the Imams become aware of these facts so that they can issue fatwas on foie gras as haram and spare Muslims from indulging in an act that is strictly prohibited by Islamic law.

For more information on animals and Islam, see Islam Concern.


This guest post was written by Syed Rizvi. Syed is a physicist by profession, and through his group, Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights, he reaches out to the scientific and technical communities, promoting the animal rights philosophy. Syed lives in Silicon Valley, California.