Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do you eat Halal?

Halal certification

Are you familiar with the Halal certification on meats and other products in your grocery store? Perhaps you have been eating and are eating Halal certified food products. H.E.B., where my family shops for our groceries, is a major grocery retailer in central Texas carries Halal. What this certification designates is those meats and products which are approved and which are allowed for Muslims to eat. The Jewish designation for foods which are allowed for Jews to eat and which have been prepared in accordance with their laws is kosher. One specific aspect of Halal certification is the requirement that livestock being slaughtered be facing towards Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

What is your stake

Idols and places as objects of devotion, adoration and worship or of meats sacrificed to an idol or a particular place may mean nothing to nonbelievers. Their interests may be from a cultural or economic perspective. The interests at stake may be voiced as humane concerns about the slaughter of animals; perhaps a carryover from other, older, existing ongoing protests which may be as much against eating meat altogether. These interests may be voiced as patriotic concerning the presence of foreign influences in America. Quite likely, there are gains and losses as concerns the growing presence of Halal standards in the meat industry, both culturally and economically, depending on a person’s perspective and priorities. It would seem no matter whatever one’s stance might be there is a stake in the matter.

Christians in the first century who had severed their ties with their past beliefs and their sacrifice to and worship of idols. Now, in the faith that is in Jesus, they were often faced with the reality of idols and marketplace vendors from whom they bought meat which had been sacrificed to idols. The apostle Paul addressed their concerns in First Corinthians 8. I am copying the entire chapter here.

things sacrificed to idols

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one.5 For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him. 7 However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble.

Is there anything about Halal for the saints in Christ to examine and consider. After all, as it is alleged and which is not within the scope of this brief article, Halal just involves a humane way of slaughtering animals. However, here is  the matter for every individual to consider for himself as a matter of a conscience informed by his/her knowledge of the scriptures.

what is involved in the Halal certified slaughter of animals

The practice of slaughter in accordance with Halal to have the animal facing Mecca involves 1) an idol as a place of reverence according to Muslims, and 2) it is an invocation to Allah at the moment the animal is slaughtered. Yes, Muslims may deny Mecca is an idol, but what should anyone who has desecrated such a holy place, but death? It is a matter of actions, that is the taking of human life, speaks louder than words, that is, denying Mecca is an idol.

What and how Muslims seek to worship is their own business. I have, as a Christian or an American,  no need to bash or desecrate neither their beliefs nor their practices either for cultural, religious or economical reasons.

What are you compelled to do

What I am compelled to do is within my conscience as informed in accordance with my knowledge of I Corinthians and related New Testament passages. I will not purchase meat, whether beef or poultry, which bears the Halal certification. I have no need to boycott or call for a boycott nor would I support such a worldly response by Christians towards those retailers who sell Halal products anymore than the apostle Paul instructed the saints in Corinth to do so with those vendors who earned their livelihood from those meat sales. Unlike the first century idols to whom those animals sold in the marketplace were sacrificed which did not espouse a teaching against Jesus as Lord and Savior and the Son of God, this is the message of Islam today.

Peace to all.

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