Today I want to talk about halal meat. Halal meat is meat that has been processed according to Shariah law. I also want to look at what the Bible has to say about this and about what is going on in Western countries when it comes to Muslims demanding halal meat being served in public places.
Let me start with some news coming out of England. Two hundred Subway branches in the UK and Ireland have removed ham and bacon from their menu. The reason is they want to please the Muslims in their community.
When you live in a strongly Muslim community, like Dearborn, MI, you will have many stores that have certified halal meats offered in their restaurants. It is proudly advertised on their windows just about everywhere.
Many of you know that I spent about 29 years in England, both as a missionary kid and a church planting missionary. The area I grew up in was a very strong Muslim community and halal meat was a standard, especially in restaurants frequented by Muslims. Most of the Muslim in this community came from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and so forth. We had a lot of curries, kebabs, and that kind of meat. Of course a lot of it was halal certified. If you had a problem eating halal meat there were a lot of restaurants that you could not eat in.
Some areas in Great Britain have been taken over by Muslims. The Subway stores in these areas have to serve halal meat if they are going to cater to these Muslim communities.
If you are in business, especially in the restaurant business, in an area with a high Muslim population you would be a fool not to offer halal meat. I have no problem with a business person looking at what the market desires and providing products desired by that community.
Let me explain what halal meat is. In many regards it is similar to kosher food that the Old Testament gave for the Jews. Certain animals were not permitted. Animals with a cloven hoof that did not chew it cud were forbidden. This eliminates the pig, which means no pork, ham or bacon. these are some of my favorite meats. Muslims follow those same dietary laws. The animal has to be killed in a particular way. The jugular has to be cut while the animal is still alive. It is humane if done correctly.
The difference between the Muslim way and the Jewish way is that the Muslim offers prayers to their god. The Bismillah, the Allahu akbar, are pronounced as the animals are being sacrificed. In a number of these meat packing plants these prayers are broadcast over speakers and, therefore, the meat is halal.
Yesterday we talked about the Muslims who walked off the job in a meat packing plant because they couldn’t have more than 3 people leave the processing line at a time for prayer. The company offered Muslims the right to say their prayers, but had every right not to let their prayers disrupt the work being done.
The problem comes when Muslims demand that all of the meat supplied at a venue be halal meat, even though some being served are not Muslims. It removes the rights of those who have a conscience problem with eating halal meat because they feel that it is meat that has been offered to idols. My co-host on our Saturday broadcast, Shahram Hadian, takes this position if i remember correctly.
What does the Bible have to say on this issue? I believe the Bible gives us a choice on this issue. I don’t have the time to get into all the Bible has to say on this, but Paul dealt with this to the church at Corinth. In I Corinthians 10 Paul gives us the guidelines on this issue.
Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:25-31)
The word “shambles” is not used much today. I used to live near York, in northern England, There is an old part of the city that is still called the Shambles. It is a beautiful part of the city, it is the market area. The shambles is where the butchers would sell their meat.
In Paul’s day, meat that was offered to idols was sold in the market place. Usually it was the best bargain in the market place. Many people would take advantage of the bargain. To many of the Christians of that day the idol meant nothing so they would eat the meat. However, if it did bother the conscience, the Scriptures say don’t ask any questions for the sake of your conscience. If we are invited to a non-believer’s home for a meal we are not to ask any questions about the meat. On the other hand, if someone says that it is meat offered to idols, don’t eat for his sake. We are not to offend a brother’s conscience.
Paul reminds us that the earth, and all that is in it, belongs to the Lord. The bottom line is that everything we do, including eating and drinking, should be done for the glory of God.
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