TO HALAL, OR NOT TO HALAL, THAT IS THE QUESTION.
Should one concede, add foods people need,
Should one stand strong, plant hatred’s seed?
Silly little ditty but so true.
Now, before I go on I want to make one thing clear, I am not anti any ethnic group.
Today, Sunday I went shopping at the local grocery store. I do not usually go on Sundays due to the crowds but had to get some things for dinner. As I was shopping, more like hunting I noticed something I have never consciously noticed before; overhead signs proclaims sections for “Snacks,” “Pickles, Relishes, Condiments,” “Soups,” “Kosher Foods,” “Coffee and Tea,” “Mexican Foods,” “Asian Foods.” “Baking Supplies,” and so on.. Damn near broke my neck trying to read some of them.
While cranking my neck in one aisle to find wild rice, I accidentally bumped into a young girl who had dashed out in front of me. She was a cutie with beautiful long black hair and eyes that will one day win the hearts of many men. As I regained my composure, a women’s voice called to the child from behind me. I turned to see a young lady in a hajib telling the girl to apologize to me.
I told the lady it was a much my fault as the child, so no harm was done.
As I resumed my hunt for whatever foolish thing I wanted, I started to think about an article I had read last week. It seems a recent immigrant from a predominantly Muslim country was upset about not being able to find “Halal” foods for her family.
Not being a Muslim, I was curious as what Halal is. I googled it and found Halal means permissible. Halal food is food devout Muslims are permitted to eat. The food is prepared to set standards and procedures of Islamic teaching. This is also true of Kosher food prepared in compliance with established Hebrew criteria and procedures. They are similar but different.
So, how can I, a non-Muslim, non-Jew, non-Christian tell if a packaged product is Halal or Kosher? Label – read the label, certified Halal and Kosher products each display a seal of approval from the appropriate certifying agency within that religion.
Yes, I know, I have done a simple form of a complex issue, but I am not promoting anything other than what I have learned as a non-Jew, Muslim, Christian about a topic of interest to me.
Onward to the meat section of my local grocery store where I find Kosher meats section. This one was easy to find because the signs and the Star of David frame it. I think it is cool as it celebrates diversity and honors a commitment by a particular group of people.
I checked around but did not see any Halal meat section so, out of pure curiosity, I finished shopping in this store and went to another one operated by a different company. Know what I found there? Yep, the same product signs, and a Kosher meat section, but nothing other than packaged products with Halal seals. No Halal meat section.
The fact is, I have not noticed any Halal meat sections in any of the stores I shop. Guess no Muslims shop in those stores, right? Wrong! I see Muslims shopping in all the stores I do, so what’s the problem?
I do not know the answer to that question other than to say, all the Muslims I know eat meat, maybe not pork but they do eat lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, and some others. Now that I think about it, my Jewish friends do the same! This led me to believe that the dietary requirements for Muslims may, in fact, be equally applicable to those of the Jewish dietary needs. However, it does not explain why there are not Halal meat sections in stores I shop along with Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, and a plethora of other ethnic shoppers.
Perhaps the problem lies in cost v demand? Most businesses operate on the principle.
I am not suggesting I know the answer; I am suggesting it would be great to see a Halal meat section in the same stores we all shop. If there is a cultural issue, perhaps one could separate the sections by placing all pork products in the center of the display case, then add beef on one side and chicken on the other followed by Halal and Kosher at the respective ends.
I call this inclusion, the forerunner of assimilation and the opponent of anti-culturalism.