I worked in that library as a page for seven months in 1969.
I saw on my friend Lynne Jackson’s Facebook page on the Saturday morning of Albany’s annual tradition, the Tulip Festival, that there would be a booth where one could “Ask A Muslim” a question.
When the family finally got there, the family got to meet Nafisa and Fazana (pictured with that hatted Lynne). They were gracious and intelligent and wonderfully open. It was a wonderful idea, though I told them I thought it was quite brave.
Fazana wrote on her Facebook page “I talked to a non-Muslim gentleman who had just finished reading the English translation of the Quran and was pleased to report that nowhere in it did it say that Muslims should kill Christians. Needless to say, I wanted to recruit him to talk to others on behalf of Muslims because we are constantly trying to convince others to believe this fact!”
The bar in the Holiday Inn outside Fenway Park that systematically failed to serve me on Flag Day, 1991, even as others got drinks – THAT I’m sure was racism.
So here’s the scenario: a woman (white) goes into a Muslim market, where she is given the cold shoulder, until she asks for some halal products. Then people are quite friendly. And the woman says later, “It seems that racism exists everywhere.” I give an understanding nod, even as I’m thinking to myself, “Is that really racist behavior?” Or is it the action of a group of people who are merely suspicious of strangers, of someone new (and, to be sure, different)?
I was watching ABC News (US) last month, and there was a piece about Air National Guard members from Illinois putting pallets of meals onto a C-130H at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The Meals Ready to Eat would be delivered to Pakistan as part of a relief mission after the devastating floods. What I noticed is that every single box I saw was labelled, in a very large font, HALAL.
So what IS halal? The best site I’ve come across is from IFANCA, the Islamic Food and Nutitional Council of America, who defines it: “Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. Continue reading “H is for Halal and Haram”