A heated debated is occurring in the UK about the growing trend of halal meats sold in their markets and restaurants and whether or not to label them. The concern has also reached the U.S. since an agriculture law passed this year requires the USDA to include halal foods in emergency food stocks kept by various agencies. It was thrown in the bill as an amendment under the guise that people shouldn’t have to choose between religious beliefs and having enough to eat. But of course governments are infamous for using pretexts to move in other agendas by stealth.
What is halal meat?
Halal is Arabic for “lawful” or “permissible” and it refers to meat that is permissible for Muslims to eat under sharia. For food to be considered halal requires that a company follow the halal ritual of “zabihah”. The guidelines for the actual slaughter of the animals are considered very humane for the animals, but it is required that a Muslim carry out the slaughter right after invoking the name of Allah over the animal by uttering either “Bismillah” (in the name of Allah) or “Allahu akbar” (Allah is the greatest [god]).
What’s the harm in it?
The demand in recent years for halal meats in the common markets is seen as non-discriminatory toward Muslims, a way to make more money, and the same as offering kosher foods by non-Muslims who don’t know any better (or who choose not to know any better). But those who are concerned know that the push for halal meats is really about sharia creep. In the same way some Muslims change Christian or Jewish worship sites into mosques or set up mosques near a site Muslims attacked to proclaim victory for Islam over their enemies, halal meats are considered a victory in the name of Allah over the daily routine practices of the infidels. It’s considered a step closer to instituting total sharia.
The Obama administration made it sound as if people would starve to death if they don’t have halal food, but in reality Sura 2:173 in the Koran allows for exceptions for mercy’s sake if no halal food is available. Which is why many think the new agricultural law was simply a pretext for something else. For years, Muslims in the UK and US survived emergencies without halal foods, so why the sudden changes now?
What does the Bible say?
When the apostles came together in Acts over the question about physical circumcision and whether or not it has anything to do with salvation, they came up with very simple principles for Christians in a letter to all the churches:
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Acts 15
Paul gave more detailed guidelines for food dedicated to idols, which is really what halal meat is. In 1 Corinthians 8 & 10, he came up with these basic understandings for believers:
- Idols are nothing since God is the only God (8:4-6).
- Not everyone is aware of this so consider your environment (v. 7).
- Food itself has no bearing on our relationship to God (v. 8).
- Avoid eating in a temple or at a pagan feast if a spiritual sibling still thinks idols are real, to avoiding offending them or causing them to fall by making them believe pagan rituals are okay (v. 9-13)
- If you’re invited to a meal, you can go if you choose, but don’t ask questions about the food served if you’re eating with pagans (10:27).
- If anyone volunteers the information that the food is dedicated to a false god or false religion, don’t eat it as a testimony to the pagans around you and for your own conscience (10:28).
Kathryn Hill. Good Question: What is Halal Meat? Thekitchn.com. Aug. 26, 2008.
Peter Swinford & Peter Dominiczak. Halal meat row: Ministers will consider labelling if there is ‘widespread demand’. The London Telegraph. May 14, 2014.
Jazelle Hunt. USDA to Accommodate Religious Diets. BlackVoiceNews.com. May 14, 2014.
Harry A. Gaylord