Various religious groups have particular dietary laws. One thinks of Kosher foods which Jews are allowed to eat, for example. In the Islamic religion there are also allowable foods and prohibited foods. With the influx of Muslims into Western nations, this issue has become quite pronounced of late.
The Arabic word Halal simply means that which is acceptable, lawful or legal, and Halal foods are those which a Muslim is allowed to eat. Haram foods, on the other hand, are prohibited and unlawful foods. Pork and alcohol are the main Haram food and drink items for a Muslim.
The Koran speaks to these matters in various places, such as Surahs 2:172-173 and 5:3-5. Over the centuries fairly elaborate commentary about all this has arisen, and today there are official Islamic bodies which overlook this area, certifying those foods which are considered to be Halal.
In Australia Halal foodstuffs have become a major industry. There are official Islamic certification boards which decide on these matters, and one such organisation has a listing of Halal products which extends to ten pages of fine print.
All kinds of foods now have the Halal seal of approval, ranging from Vegemite to Cadbury chocolates. This may seem curious since there are only 340,000 Muslims in Australia out of a population of 22 million (or 1.5 per cent of the population). But a major part of the Halal food industry here concerns our exports to other countries. It has become big business indeed.
So what is the concern then about Halal foods in Australia (and the West)? A general concern which all Australians may well have is how this fits into the bigger picture of Islam in Australia. A major worry is that this is just another part of the process of setting up a parallel Islamic state within Australia, leading to the eventual full implementation of sharia law.
Everyone concerned about the free and democratic West and how it is being undermined by various covert and overt Islamic pressures should be worried about this. I have written before, for example, how a Melbourne council has banned ham sandwiches for fear of offending any Muslims present: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2003/05/27/the-demise-of-western-culture-and-the-ham-sandwich/
Dhimmitude can take many forms, and being forced to forego certain liberties simply to placate a very small minority group is one aspect of this. Today we may be asked to forgo certain foods. Tomorrow we may be asked to forego more significant things.
And one can rightly ask why we are to be so concerned about not offending Muslim feelings in the West, when Westerners in Muslim-majority nations would not dare make such demands. You either comply there, or get out. Indeed, while we allow mosques to be built all over the West, we do not see churches being built in Muslim-dominated countries.
In fact, Christians risk their lives in these nations, while Muslims are free to do their thing here. So this is all one way traffic. One could be more inclined to allow for Islamic practices here if they allowed similar freedoms to non-Muslims there.
Another concern is that companies pay these certification boards. So who gets the money? Where are these funds going to? Is it possible that some of it is finding its way into the hands of jihadist groups? These seem to be legitimate questions to ask.
But more specifically, Christian concerns have to do with how Halal meats are ritually slaughtered. In this process (which can only be carried out by a Muslim), the Muslim prays to Allah while facing Mecca. Arguments can be made about how humane the process is, and groups like the RSPCA claim it is less humane than traditional slaughter methods.
But what about this ritual, and the prayers to a false God? Several Biblical passages speak to this, including Acts 15:28-29, 1 Cor 8, and 1 Cor 10:14-33. The latter text for example speaks about foods offered to idols. Paul says in vv 19-20, “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”
The question is whether eating Halal meats fits into this warning. It may well, and we need to proceed with caution here. If we accept the biblical worldview that there is one God, and that this God is not Allah, then those worshipping Allah are worshipping a false God.
Both Testaments make it clear that false religions are associated with the demonic, and thus this is a genuine matter of concern. But sadly even many Christians are quite confused about all this. Consider what one Catholic blogger (who happens to be fully involved in the interfaith movement) had to say about all this:
“There are many Christians who wish to say that the God Muslims seek and intend to worship is ‘not the same’ as our God. It is true that some of attributes Muslim’s ascribe to the Deity are different from the attributes we ascribe to Him, but then, the attributes of God in Jewish theology is different from the attributes of God in Christian theology too, and no-one is suggesting that they worship ‘an idol’.”
Sadly he is wrong in everything he says here. Allah is not Yahweh. The God of Islam is not the God of the Bible. I argue that case elsewhere:
And his assertion that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New is simple heresy. The Marcionites of the second century were condemned by the church for seeking to promote such foolishness. God does not change, and all the attributes of God as found in the OT are found in the NT.
It seems to me there are two main worries here. One is the ever encroaching inroads made by Islam in the West, along with the gradual diminutions of our freedoms. The other is the sloppy and unbiblical thinking found in so many people calling themselves Christians.
Between the two of them the Islamist agenda is nicely being pushed along, while the West is slowly unravelling.