What it actually means to be muslim in Estonia

Important things first: first rainbow of the season!!

I got my first introduction to Islamic food today. Few days back I was told about how hard it was at first to find food here because of the halal and haram rules in Islamic and because of fear of getting it wrong. It didn’t sound so hard to me, cooking since I was 12 – you just go out there and cook! Today, after we had longer talk on the subject, it hit me like a wall of water what she actually meant and I honestly had no idea finding food can be so hard inEstonia.

She told me how important it is to learn what is in the foods so she’d feel ok to eat them according to the rules. I must say I haven’t really thought on it that way. To have problems finding food suited to your religion. It is so hard, worse than eating by some diet.

So far, the only principle I’ve followed when searching food, has been that the more natural the better and if it harms me or not. But what if I’d had to also follow religious diet added to this? How much of my daily diet would survive?

So. According to the haram rules, it shouldn’t be so hard to find out, right? Wrong. She told me about the e-code additives in food and how each and every one must be checked if it’s ok or not. Easy, right? She gave me few pages to check the list. As I’m not that good in Chemist in English, I took ours next to it and started comparing. It turns out, ours has very little incite on the origin of the ingredients. It gives good idea where to find them, but leaves little space for the origin.

It gets worse. Even if I’d find most of the food that is halal, I would have to get the idea of where and how the animal was for example slaughtered. I’ve never even thought on the fact for example that the food that was fertilized with manure can propose a threat either. In lack of any of such info, it comes more clear why she would feel so overwhelmed, she’d have to live on very limited food.

Still, being local and far more educated where my food comes from, I should be able to find enough food to live proper diet, right? Like… I know where to get my basic ingredients and cook the halal food?

Sure, if I’d only know if the cow manure is ok to fertilize my crops. Or if the oatmeal I’m eating wasn’t made more resilient to weather using animal protein. Is the fruit not made shinier using animal fat? The sour cream – halal or haram? The list goes on for a mile! Not to mention the foods I must leave behind that I so love. Nice things, like kefir (always on the table), pork (don’t get me started), blood sausage (no holidays without it), rye bread (is it halal or not?).  

I fear even if I’d ever be attempted to follow Islam, I’d be off the wagon quite soon. It’s incomprehensible to me at this state that I’d have to leave behind not only the fancy food we have for feast, but most of the daily foods, too.

I’m sure to ask more questions about their and our food though – it is fascinating discovery! And I’d love to go through this journey with her.


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