Dear Sisters & Brothers in Iman,
Salaamun ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah
In 2014, I along with Shk. Hasanain Kassamali and Shk. Jaffer Jaffer, had visited the facility of Maple Lodge Farms to inspect its mechanized slaughtering process for chickens. After visiting the plant, we found there was an issue in their slaughtering process. In a mechanized process, according to the fatwa of the Grand Ayatullah Sistani, the person who starts the machine is considered the slaughterer (“zābiḥ”), and he should be the same person who says the tasmiyya (bismillah) when the chickens are being slaughtered. We found that whenever the lead employee takes his break, he would be replaced by a backup employee who would say tasmiyya in his place. The problem is that (1) the machine does not stop during the personnel change, and (2) the backup employee was not involved in starting the machine; therefore, he did not qualify as the zābiḥ (slaughterer).
Subsequently, we suggested a solution which requires both the lead employee as well as the backup employees to start the machine together – in this way, all will qualify as “slaughterers”. Unfortunately, this simple suggestion was not implemented and so we were not able to declare the products of Maple Lodge Farms as ḥalāl at that time.
Fortunately, the newly formed Halal Monitoring Organization (HMO), run by brothers who I know, under the supervision of the respected Sayed Alaaeddin Abulhassan, approached Maple Lodge Farms to correct the process so that it could be certified specifically under the Shi‘a Ja‘fari fiqh. HMO officials informed me of their discussions with Maple Lodge Farms and they have assured me that the change has already been executed in the slaughtering process. They’ve provided a buffer of 100 days in order to exhaust old inventory, ensuring all production thereafter is halal as per Shi’i fiqhi requirements.
The 100 days have passed, and as a result, the HMO have made the official announcement stating that “Zabiha Halal” products by Maple Lodge Farms are halal as of October 1st 2018 production date, and I hereby endorse their announcement.
I would like to take this opportunity to also inform community members that as of this writing, meat products certified by Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA), Halal Canada (CHEC), and Halal Monitoring Organization (HMO) are acceptable in my view.
Note that while it is crucial to verify that you’re consuming halal meat, it’s equally important to ensure that contamination through non-halal products does not occur in restaurant environments.
To help ensure you’re consuming food deemed acceptable to our fiqh, you should ask questions such as (but not limited to):
- Who is your halal meat supplier?
- Is your full menu halal?
- If not, do you ensure there is no contamination with non-halal ingredients?
- Is alcohol served here or used in any dish preparation?
Always remember that food does not only impact the body, it also leaves its mark on our soul. Therefore, be sure to eat what is good and ḥalāl.
Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi
10 Rabi I 1440 / 18 November 2018
Updated Nov 25th: Clarified that the 100 days have already passed leading up to Oct 1, added suggested questions for restaurants.