Can a Christian eat halal food?Muslims teach that their foods must be "halal", an Arabic term meaning permissible. The Qur'an provides many direct rules regarding forbidden foods, including:
-Do not consume blood (Sura 2:173).
-Do not eat pork (Sura 2:173).
-Do not eat the carcasses of dead animals (Sura 2:173).
-Do not eat an animal strangled, beaten, killed by falling, gored, or killed by another animal unless finished off by a person (Sura 5:3).
-Do not eat animals slaughtered in the name of other gods except Allah (Sura 5:3; 6:118-119, 121).
-Do not consume alcohol (Sura 5:90).
-Do not eat food from Christians or Jews (Surah 5:5, interpreted differently by different Muslims).
-Exception is made if only non-halal foods are available (Sura 2:173; 5:5).
Muslims are often also taught to ensure cosmetics, medicines, and other items with animal ingredients are halal.
Should Christians eat halal foods? Romans 14:1-4a says, "As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?" Paul clearly noted that a believer could eat any food he or she felt was acceptable to eat. In addition, Christians were not to judge others based on the kinds of foods they ate.
Yet this same chapter warns against eating anything that would cause "another brother" to stumble: "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:13-15). Concerning halal foods, a Christian should be careful not to eat anything with another Christian that would cause the person to be offended. When eating with a Christian from a Muslim background, there may be times it would be important to restrain from eating certain foods, possibly including non-halal foods, if it would be offensive to the other person involved.
Another consideration can be found in 1 Corinthians 10:27-29 that states, "If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience?" Because halal foods are traditionally prayed over by a Muslim (using either the bismillah or shahada), there can be a real application that applies from this passage. If a person makes clear that a food has been prepared in the traditional manner that includes dedicating food to Allah, should a Christian still eat it? It would seem there would be room to say "no."
However, not all would agree. Others note that Paul also wrote about making changes regarding cultural issues in order to reach those from other cultures: "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Those who wish to minister to Muslims or in Muslim cultures may find it helpful to restrict his or her diet to halal foods in order to share the gospel with Muslims more effectively. This is not due to a requirement for one's own life, but as Paul wrote, in order that "I might save some." Alternately, they may find it helpful to abstain from halal foods so as not to condone worship of Allah.
Christians can eat halal foods, yet there are times it would be wise to abstain on behalf of others the Christian wishes to serve.
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