News / USA

Local US Farmers Cater to Muslim Traditions

A goat slaughtered according to the Halal tradition at Joe Kavanagh's farm in Mount Airy, Maryland
A goat slaughtered according to the Halal tradition at Joe Kavanagh's farm in Mount Airy, Maryland

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Many Muslim-Americans have often had difficulty finding Halal-certified meat, or meat slaughtered in according to Islamic tradition, in their local grocery stores.  Sometimes, they have resorted to buying whole goats or lambs on farms and slaughtering them on-site themselves, in accordance with tradition.  But this is illegal in many parts of the United States.  Realizing the growing Muslim market in the U.S., some American farmers are opening legal halal-certified slaughterhouses with great success.

After 37 years of working with livestock on other people's farms, Joe Kavanagh decided to open a slaughterhouse on his own farm with a unique clientele in mind.

Part of his business is catering to Muslims, who want to buy meat from animals they know have been slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic tradition of halal.

"My youngest sister is married to a Kuwaiti Muslim," said Joe Kavanagh, owner of Lambco. "And, we had talked about it over the years.  There is a lot of, well we call them 'back woods' operations in America where people go and get lambs and goats and stuff like that.  I just wanted to do something for the rest of my life and not have to look over my shoulders and hold my breath when I did it."

WARNING: This Video Contains Graphic Images

The "back woods" operations, as Joe calls them, are illegal in this part of rural Maryland, and rarely clean or sanitary.  Joe saw an opportunity to build a legally-certified slaughterhouse that catered to the Muslim community.

His facility called Lambco LLC,  is built in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture safety and sanitary standards.

Most of his business is with a large national grocery store chain, but he also sells to individuals.  And with more than 800,000 Muslims in the Baltimore-Washington area, he says business is growing every month.  

One of Joe's customers, Syed Wagar Farhat, is from Pakistan.  He has been slaughtering animals the halal way since he was a young boy.

"When we slaughter, we slaughter with the knife and we cut like half throat and we have to read some verses of our holy book, Koran," said Syed Wagar Farhat.

Traditional U.S. slaughterhouses shoot animals in the head with a stun-gun, causing brain trauma.  Then they hoist the animals up and bleed them out.  The Islamic way is to hold the animal down with its head pointed toward Mecca.

As the person performing the ritual recites the Koran, he makes a quick cut to the main arteries in the neck. The animal bleeds out, and slowly loses consciousness.  According to the Koran, this should be done as humanely as possible.

"This way, all the air when he breathe, all the air will go in, and all the blood will come out," explained Farhat. "So there will be no blood in his tissues and muscles."

Joe Kavanagh says the most difficult thing about starting his business was working through all the county, state, and federal health regulations.

"You would have thought I was building a nuclear reactor down here and getting water out of the creek," he said.

His facility is inspected regularly, and he is often complimented on its cleanliness - something that is not lost on customers like Farhat who used to frequent some of the illegal operations.

"We used to go to some farms and they didn't have a slaughter house," Farhat said. "We had to slaughter by the trees where we can have a lot of mosquitoes and insects."

For Joe Kavanagh, working with the Muslim community is good business.  Farhat leaves with peace of mind.  The goat meat will last his family for a month.  He knows the facility was clean, the animal was healthy and was slaughtered in accordance with Islamic tradition.  

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More