Tuesday, April 8, 2014

OPINION: Why we Should try Partial Halal Restaurants?

Admit it, when you see the word "Partial" in a halal restaurant, or if you see a separate halal menu, you either have a mini heart-attack or you spit out the food that you are eating. When you see either of those things, you often go on rage-filled rants and spread the word to others about a specific restaurant lying about halal food. You ponder whether everything else is haram, and that you will go to hell for the food you eat. You viciously attack (verbally) all the people that work in the restaurant, those same people that work on tips. You yell at people if they eat at that specific restaurant or call them degrading names.
Now I want you to think about all those things you have done. Do you feel happy? Or do you feel sad? Do you feel justified in using curse words against people trying to provide for their families? Now think. Would the Prophet (PBUH) would do such things, that he would call people insulting names for selling non-halal meat alongside certified halal meat? Would he automatically assume that those people are bad because they don't run a fully halal restaurant?
Here is the thing. Over the past 10 years, halal food has grown to be one of the largest food markets in the world. Demand is still on the rise as we speak, and more halal restaurants are opening up than ever. Most of the restaurants that are opening up are not Indian/Pakistani or Arab. Don't get me wrong, I really love those two cuisines In fact, these halal restaurants mainly feature food from 3 continents. M&M Grill, which offers Mexican, Mediterranean and American, opened in 2011. Cafe Pita, a Bosnian restaurant, opened up during the 2000s. Anothai, a Thai restaurant, opened up in this decade. Earlier I mentioned about the separate halal menus some restaurants have. They are constantly growing in exponential numbers as we speak. The most common example of this is KFC. So what is the point of this essay? The point is that we should consider trying partial halal restaurants, and that there is evidence in the world today that it would be OK to try them.
KFC is not the only restaurant with a partial halal menu. Examples in Houston include: Stanton City Bites, Third Coast food truck, and Coreanos. Now you may think that these names are weird because they have non-Muslim names, but the reason is because they are run by non-Muslims. "OMG YOU ARE EATING HARAM BECAUSE NON-MUSLIMS ARE MAKING THE FOOD! YOU SAY YOU EAT HALAL YET YOU GO TO THESE PLACES?! YOU ARE SINNING VERY BADLY BROTHER!" This would be the first reaction a Muslim would make if they saw a picture of me eating food from these places. Heck, my own father believes that I am eating haram food. What these people do not realize is that when going halal, these people undergo training about cooking halal, and how they must cook it separately from the others. This is because they also want to cater to their non-Muslim customers, since they are so popular with people in Houston. All these places do that because I saw them make it separately from the non-halal stuff myself. When I was part of the halal focus group at the University of Houston, the dietitian herself said that when they implement the halal food, they will train the cooks to cook everything separately. So in the end, it is not just Muslims who know about halal, it is also a growing number of non-Muslims.
Now if it turns out that nothing is halal and the restaurant has been lying about the halal meat, it is a completely different story. If a person claims that a restaurant has been lying about selling halal, research the place. If it turns out to be false, still eat there. But if it turns out to be true, just don't eat there anymore, AND DON'T VICIOUSLY ATTACK THE PEOPLE THERE. At first it may be difficult, but eveutually you will be able to cooperate with it. And regarding the idea that you would go to hell for eating haram meat, that is not the case. This is because God understand that you are trying to eat halal meat. So if a restaurant claims to be halal, just believe them. If it turns out to be a lie, just simply stop going there, as I mentioned earlier. Also, the sin would not go to the consumer. It would go to the people running the restaurant. Think of it this way, you are not sinning if you are eating food that was falsely claimed to be halal, but you would be sinning if you viciously attack those people and call them degrading names. And, as always, God knows everything.

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