Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Concerns About Halal Foods

Jul 15, 2010

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.

halal 2In 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.

General concerns

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:

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.

Christian concerns

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.

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45 Responses to Concerns About Halal Foods

  • Perhaps a Christian boycott of these foods is required.
    Nick Smith

  • Thanks Nick

    Yes that is one possible option. The trouble is, there are so many of them now!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • hi Bill
    check out what Mike Evans of the Jerusalem Prayer Team says :

    Not long after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 a young member of the Revolutionary Guard, disgusted by what he saw from the mullahs who were running the country, contacted the CIA and offered to work as a double agent. For years “Wally” was one of the best sources of intelligence for America about what was happening in the radical Islamic regime.

    In a speech this month at the Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, “Wally” described an Iran that is very different from what is normally portrayed by our political and diplomatic elites. Protected by a bodyguard, wearing a disguise, and using a voice modulator to protect his identity, “Wally” described the dangerous reality in no uncertain terms.

    “Stop dreaming, please,” he said. “You are not dealing with rational people. Every time you extend a hand, it is not seen as sincerity, but stupidity.” He predicted that Iran will eventually attack Israel, Europe and the Gulf and advocated a preemptive military strike against the regime but not against the Iranian people or infrastructure.

    “Wally” accused the Obama administration of naivete and betrayal for seeking to engage Iran. Not only does the regime see this as weakness on the part of the United States, he said, but the Iranian people view it as a betrayal of the highest order as they fight for freedom. There is no doubt listening to his inside information that Israel is in great and imminent danger.

    Henry Lim

  • When discovering that many of our locally produced products have the halal approved sticker, we immediately stopped buying the product. While it takes a little longer to shop in the supermarket, we have discovered much better products to replace those we used to purchase.
    Madge Fahy

  • Bill,
    Some time ago I was told about ‘halal’ Cadbury’s chocolate. I went looking for the ‘halal endorsement’ but couldn’t find it. I assumed that I had been told a furphy. From what you say there is such a thing as halal Cadbury’s. How can I identify it? Maybe there is Cadbury’s (and other products, ie. Bega Cheese) which is halal. Maybe there is some that is and some that isn’t. If for religious reasons we have no choice except to not buy the product then maybe we should write to the manufacturer and request non-halal product, at a slightly lower price to reflect that there is no ‘halal levy’ to be included in the price. If more than 300,000 people (roughly the number of Muslims in our population) wrote then maybe we would see a result.

    Karen Bos

  • Bill, I think its believing the lie that makes things idolatrous – not the food itself – what do you think? 1 Cor 8 suggests its a matter of conscience and we are no better or worse if we eat or don’t eat. Isn’t it more a matter of not supporting the lie, spiritually or politically by promoting or financing sharia compliance?
    Vickie Janson

  • Bill,

    Having travelled extensively through out the world, I have always maintained a practise of praying over the food I eat; since in many of the very isolated places I have not been sure where it had come from! Though many of us may say Grace before eating our food here in Australia, as thanks; now we should be recognising that we not only giving thanks but are asking for spiritually cleansing as well! Perhaps it will help us to remember that we are dealing with the principalities and powers of the unseen on a daily basis!!

    Charles Northcote

  • Thanks Vicki

    Yes 1 Cor 8 speaks of Christian freedom and how our main concern should be not putting a stumbling block before the weaker brother. But it is 1 Cor 10 that especially seems to raise some issues here, including the connection between idols and demons. I was more or less asking questions in the article, not asserting that I had all the answers as to how such texts relate to Halal foods. I guess we all need to think this through some more.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Having contacted Bega and Cadbury last year against the halal sign on their products and their company supporting halal food, Cadbury have now brought out new packaging with no halal emblem! Yet Cadbury still support halal!
    Judith Bond

  • Thanks guys

    In case you have not yet noticed it, here is what the Halal symbol looks like (actually, various versions of it):

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks again guys

    It looks like I will need to write some more articles on all the relevant biblical materials. There are a number of crucial passages which relate to this discussion, including the following:

    Acts 15:1-35
    Romans 14:1-15:13
    1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1

    These passages alone amount to some five and a half full chapters on some contentious issues. Some of these are extended discussions of the relationship between the weaker and stronger brother in terms of Christian conscience and freedom. All are complex and subject to much discussion and debate, let alone trying to tie them in to modern discussions about Halal foods and what might be the Christian attitude toward them.

    But until I do pen such pieces, I still welcome your thoughts here on all this. I do not have all the answers on this one, and we need to put our heads together on this as we prayerfully and carefully consider these issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • BTW, having just penned four articles on commentaries and their importance, the passages mentioned above are difficult to always get a clear grasp of even at the best of times. It helps considerably to be aware of all the cultural, social, historical, and economic background to all this. A good thorough commentary will provide lots of that background information to better help us understand what the text is actually saying.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, I think you’re right. It’s another avenue for this movement that’s sweeping through the nations, to get yet another grip on our freedom of choice. Yet, I do question westerners food choices anyway, but that’s a whole other health issue. I will not offend my God by putting things in my body that are offered to idols as the eternal word, which is relevant for all ages, instructs. I can’t help but consider Daniel who made a decision to only eat vegetables and water as a choice, when offered the delicacies of a king. The choice made all the difference in his physical appearance, his ability to articulate and it would seem his relationship with the powers of that age. In other words, he heard and knew the voice of God clearer just through his diet. Maybe this too, is something we Christians should take into account when considering the upcoming, inevitable strike against Australia and her freedoms.
    Deborah Lorkin, Perth

  • Thanks Deborah

    Yes Daniel 1 is another passage that can be considered in light of this issue. Thanks for reminding us of it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill
    Following one of your articles that said Vegemite is now halal, I wrote to Kraft and asked them if they could direct me to a store that stocked non-Muslim Vegemite, indicating that my local store only had the halal variety. I also wrote to Woolworth and Coles again asking them to tell me where I could get the non-Muslim variety. Kraft replied in part, ‘Muslim consumers have certain criteria for the food they are allowed to eat & a product that displays the halal symbol helps Australian Muslim consumers easily determine if they can consume the product. Halal certification does not involve any form of blessing or ritual of the actual product or production line…’ Woolworth told me to buy Promite, Marmite or Mightmite instead. Coles answered, ‘I have spoken with the Grocery Manager and they advised they stock the other Vegemite, it is in aisle 20, not the International section.’ Just for the record the variety in aisle 20 is halal, there is only one variety of Vegemite.
    Boycotting the product will make little difference but if these companies got hundreds of emails every week they will soon get the message. Woolworth and Coles can put great pressure on their suppliers. Go to the website of these companies and select ‘contact us.’ Imagine if every Christian family did this, we can stop the Islamisation of Australia.
    Des Morris

  • @Des, yes I’d concur that putting pressure on the distributors is the pressure point that should be adopted. They are primarily interested in profits – it’s a simple equation: if many people start making a noise about it, they’ll multiply that by a factor many times and make the choice that the miniscule Muslim population isn’t worth sacrificing their larger body of clientele over.

    @Vickie & @Charles, isn’t 1 Cor 8 more about clean and unclean foods, not those essentially prepared in an idolatrous way. But no doubt, always good to consecrate things to Christ. However the question is, should we choose to indirectly support the growth of Islam in Australia through supporting these products?

    I say we should boycott ANY manufacturer who pays any royalty for use of the halal logo etc. otherwise we are simply supporting the rise of Islam in Australia by default. They will use those funds to lobby parliament for changes to laws and local councils to build mosques etc.

    Garth Penglase

  • Thanks guys

    Speaking of dhimmitude: Coming soon to a mall near you: squatties!:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • @Garth:

    “I say we should boycott ANY manufacturer who pays any royalty for use of the halal logo etc.”

    Careful with this, Garth, I believe this is sailing close to the wind. We may object to the “halal levy” but it may not be the only objectionable thing the manufacturers spend their money on.

    It’s similar to the argument that we boycott the tax office (withhold part of our tax) to the extent that the government spends money on anti-Christian things. I don’t believe this is the way we are meant to react.

    Instead, I agree with the need to be alert to the symbol and ask the retailers to supply us with non-halal products.

    Also, we don’t know if the Jewish kosher system encompasses a fee for inspection or certification. Should we object to that also, because we are free of the food laws of the Bible?

    John Angelico

  • Did the Melbourne council that banned ham sandwiches also ban alcohol? Surely they would be hypocrites if they didn’t, but I’d be surprised if they did.
    Philip Rayment

  • This article and many of the comments come across as petty, nasty, and mean-spirited, not to mention racist. Many people in society have special food requirements, whether owing to religion, culture, medical reasons, or mere personal whim. There is nothing wrong with food companies, airlines etc. catering to such requirements.

    We live in a multi-cultural society. We need to respect the human rights of others who are different from us. People don’t lose their humanity just because they represent an ethnic or cultural minority.

    Mary O’Connor, Sydney

  • Thanks Mary

    But you miss the point of the article. It has nothing to do with racism. Indeed, Islam is a religion, not a race. The article has to do with the bigger issue of the worldwide implementation of sharia compliance in all areas, and how that can often be incompatible with Western democratic values.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am an immigrant from a christian country; why did we let such a horrific fear based religion like Islam enter this land? we are not multi cultural we have one culture – Australian; we are multi racial and the balance has tipped so that soon the one culture will be Muslim and we will have people with arms chopped off because we dare to question them as happened to an American 54 yr old professor in India last week. Please God I pray for our leaders that they will know you and that the bible will be respected and that love will prevail not savagery.
    Ilona Sturla

  • I wonder if Mary O’Connor even knows what multiculturalism is, so ignorant are her comments?

    At least one of our federal politicians “gets it” with regard to the threat posed by radical Islam:

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Hello Bill

    I certainly agree with much of what I have read from you about Islam; I think it is one of the greatest dangers of our age.

    However, I suggest that the fear that eating Halal slaughtered meat is eating food offered to idols is a bit shrill. How far do we go with literality here? Surely the whole concept of eating food offered to idols would be sensibly interpreted as meaning that the person eating the food was involved in the belief system doing the offering and/or participated in the ceremony etc.

    Do you think the ritual slaughtering actually does something to the meat? What if the meat was ‘offered’ and we ate it without realising it? What if a Muslim cheff in a restaurant prayed to Allah while at work.

    Surely it is the beliefs and intentions of the eater that determine the outcome.

    David Williams

  • Thanks David

    As can be seen in my article, I really just raise some questions here. I am not claiming any final word on all this. I simply told my readers that in the light of such passages as those found in Romans and I Corinthians, how might we think about such matters. I would have thought these were legitimate questions and concerns to raise, and to do so does not make me or my article “a bit shrill”.

    So we might have to agree to disagree here, thanks.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi @John Angelico, I firmly state that I believe in boycotting any manufacturer who supports Islam directly or indirectly, and this includes royalties through Halal. The Jews are not looking to take over this country by economic, political or religious means nor to enforce their way upon us, so why would I be concerned about Kosher certification? Also, though it’s not stated here I have said elsewhere that I am generally not opposed to a certification & inspection, even halal certification, as long as it does not involve ongoing royalties and widespread promotion such as the Islamic council’s attempt at getting halal certification widely accepted here.

    This is Australia. I am opposed to any general Islamification whether it be educational, social, political or otherwise. Islam is dangerous, not benign, and once it gains any sort of momentum it becomes seriously malignant.

    And the tax office is an entirely different kettle of fish – chalk and cheese. Unless it goes against God’s commandments we are not to break the civil law, and we are to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. We’re talking about companies and halal certification specifically.

    Garth Penglase

  • Bill, FYI – I wrote to Kraft concerning their Halal labelling and this was their reply and as stated by them their position on the matter.

    Dear Mr Brodie,
    Thank you for contacting Kraft Foods recently in relation to the halal status of Vegemite. We would like to reassure you that the formulation for Vegemite has not altered at all. Vegemite has been certified halal for many years,however, the product label was updated recently and now displays both the halal and kosher logos on the jar. Muslim consumers have certain criteria for the food they are allowed to eat & a product that displays the halal symbol helps Australian Muslim consumers easily determine if they can consume the product. Halal certification does not involve any form of blessing or ritual of the actual product or production line, but ensures the ingredients,processing as well as the hygiene and sanitation procedures meet the strict food requirements for halal. This provides reassurance to Muslim consumers that the product contains only halal ingredients (eg noalcohol, pork and no meat that has not been halal approved). We appreciate you sharing your views with us and trust the above explains our position.
    Regards, Kraft Foods Limited
    Alda Stein Consumer Relations Advisor

    Grant Brodie

  • Hello all, just thought I’d let you know Safeway and Coles meat is Halal! As are Leggo’s sauces, most yoghurts now contain Halal gelatine, as does the creams, Cadbury’s blocks of chocolate, most homebrand cheese’s, Mainland produce and no doubt there’s more! I phoned Coles and Safeway who informed me that while a lot of their homebrand cheese’s are now Halal, along with the meat produce, they’re under no obligation to put the Australian Muslim Council symbol on the packaging! Good luck with all your shopping and use Tasman butchers who are not Halal!
    Regards Marion Jenkins

  • Please sign the Barnabas Fund petition online which asks the government authorities to ensure halal food does not become the norm in Australia, and that all halal foods are clearly identified. Christians expect to be able to exercise choices of conscience and not to have the requirements of other religions imposed on them.
    Philip Starks

  • It’s quite amazing that this has become so widespread throughout our food industry in such a short space of time, but it is not just confined to the food sector. I am in the beauty industry and am seeing skincare products are turning halal also. It is becoming difficult to purchase non-halal food particularly meat, but I have found that certified organic meat is non-halal but I don not know if this is across the board or just from the few places where I purchase. Signing the Barnabas Fund petition is a must as we have the right to be aware of what we are purchasing.
    Margaret-Ann Cutt

  • I fully agree that Christians should not be eating halal food. for all the reasons as first stated also note two churches in revelations are rebuked for allowing their followers to eat food dedicated to idols. According to history (easily found on the internet) of the kabba stone in mecca was originally shown to Mohammad by an angel that fell from heaven it was said to house 360 middle eastern idols and demons. He was then shown how to “clean” it. So I guess it depends on whether you believe he did or was misled. If he did it may be relatively harmless if he didn’t its probably the abomination of desolation. My advice choose carefully.
    Trish McIntosh

  • I am very concerned about this endorsement on our foods, I will not by such products, where is the money going?? I have tried to contact the media but nobody prepared to touch the subject, what is everyone afraid of?? I thought if Dick Smith got hold of it he could bring it to light. We should not be so complacent.
    Kim Phillips

  • I strongly support your views regarding the islamification of Australia but sadly most people and Christians do not want to address or even admit this is happening.

    I will continue to pray to God to open their eyes and hearts and wake up Australia.

    Kaye Buckley

  • G’day Bill,
    I agree with your comments about halal foodstuffs and the slow and steady creep of Islam into Australian society, and believe we need to be more aware of what is going on in the west generally. Please check out this link. It is written by a Veterinarian and lists the actual health concerns of halal slaughter. We always raise the religious issues, but never the aspects of being force fed halal meats on our health, and general wellbeing. I hope this is useful to your readers.
    The sanitary risks linked to halal slaughter. By Alain Peretti, Doctor of veterinary medicine.
    Tim Newman

  • Trying to find non-halal meat is becoming increasingly more difficult. We can’t go to restaurants these days either or if we do, we can only eat vegetarian options. However, I have discovered that Coles chicken in Qld comes from Golden Cockrell who are not halal suppliers for which I am very grateful! Coles beef is also non-halal (for now).

    Wholesale meat suppliers for lamb which are halal compliant include; Murray Valley, Sovereign, & Schultz’s. Haven’t found a lamb supplier yet in Qld which carries non-hahal.
    Very frustrating!! Islamisation continues unabated.

    Yvonne Plan

  • Yes quite so Yvonne

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I have read your article and agree with everything you say.
    A useful website is the halal choices website with listings of products.
    I recently got news that some turkey producing companies have halal certified turkeys. This concerns me because why would they be certified when muslims don’t even celebrate Christmas when I do. I do not wish for my turkey to be certified (prayed over) when I ask for the turkey to be blessed by God as we ask for our food to be blessed. This “grates ” to my very soul.
    Aldinga turkeys (SA) are not certified
    Please pass this on to your twitter followers.
    God Bless, Merryn Wallace

  • Bill what about non-meat halal foods? Aldi’s now has Halal certified flour and sugar as well as dairy and other products.
    Kylie Anderson

  • Thanks Kylie

    There are many thousands of halal foods in Australia, including Cadbury’s chocolates! If they all get halal certification, at the very least as I state in my article, monies may still be channelled into questionable Islamic groups and activities. Plus the broader concern about parallel societies also remains.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It seems very strange that something that is supposed to help Muslims know which foods they may eat is hidden. One would think if the only purpose of Halal certification was so Muslims knew the food was Halal that products would be clearly labelled. Instead may are not labelled. Seems like someone is hiding something.

    Kylie Anderson

  • I have been saying for alot of years our government has allowed our country to fill up with what I call sleepers and they are now waking up to destroy the country we love. I will never give up the true God and his son Jesus so if they want to punish me for it then so be it. I will also black ban any halal foods from my diet if I am aware they are halal. After reading this I am so much more aware. I am very scared for my family members who live in Sydney because I believe it will be taken over in the not too distant future.

  • Just to let Lynne Walters be updated, Cockerel Chickens in Queensland are Halal. I checked. Generally, all major supermarkets are Halal on most products, although they don’t feel obliged to label that way for the general Australian. Organic suppliers are usually the best avenue but you will still have to check. Halal is a tax collected for sharia law, it’s not just on food, it’s big business. I mean it’s HUGE $US700 BILLION a year and growing. Great nations rise and fall and the way we are heading, like it or not, the new world order will be sharia law. After the horse has bolted it will be too late to close the gate.

  • I am not sure if this has already been mentioned in the above comments but I have read that medication is also becoming halal certified, including Panadol and Hedanol.
    If this is true then this scam is way out of control.

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