Monday, December 27, 2010

Halal meat. I bought it, wouldn’t you?

Two days before Christmas, I went grocery shopping at a Muslim grocery store. I was there to buy some “halal” meat as I had invited some Malaysian friends to a Christmas lunch at my home. My friends were Muslims so it made perfect sense to me to cook halal meat.  Halal foods are those processed in accordance with Islamic law.

At the meat counter, I smiled at the butcher as he came to ask for my order. As I stood there deciding how much meat to get, I asked him where he was from as he was somewhat fair-skinned and frankly, I was curious. He said he was from Afghanistan. How interesting.  He then asked where I was from, to which I responded, “Malaysia”.

“Aahh… Malaysia. It’s a Muslim country, no?”

“Yes, it is,” I confirmed with a smile.

“And you are Muslim?”

“No, I am not,” with another big smile.

….. Pause…..the butcher raised his eyebrow….it was accompanied by a confused look.

“You’re not Muslim?” …and his unspoken, “So why are you here?”

“I’m Christian and I’m celebrating Christmas.  My Muslim friends invited me for Eid Mubarak (end of Ramadan celebrations) and so I am inviting them back for Christmas. This is why I am here to buy halal meat for them.”

Still confused look…. And then a smile….followed by, “How much you want for your friends?”

We had a good exchange and he ended up cutting my 20lbs of chicken into all the pieces I required, thereby saving me a good hour of blood, sweat and tears.  When my order was ready, the Afghan-born butcher wished me a good celebration and a Happy New Year with a big, friendly smile.

I know this is not exactly “world peace” but I am hopeful that I changed someone’s stereotype of a race and of a religion.   I don’t need a 180° change. I simply need a 1° change.  It's a start. It's better than nothing.

This was not at all difficult for me to do. I have Muslim friends coming over for a meal. I have access to a Muslim grocery store only 15 minutes away from home. I bought halal meat. Wouldn’t you?

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
- Mother Teresa